Discours de Netanyahou: Attention, une violation de protocole peut en cacher une autre ! (Purim on the Potomac: will the real leader of the Free world stand up ?)

4 mars, 2015
https://i2.wp.com/www.metmuseum.org/media/3599/natm_gentileschi_69.281.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.mrdrybones.com/blog/D15304_1.gifhttps://scontent-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/11018791_1043887128971546_2976276497768221024_n.jpg?oh=35b1b7fe71996c2f26716bf809d47256&oe=5591EDC2https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/11034190_1043885642305028_2789026816451313212_n.jpg?oh=08cb212b36b5b604bb4927dcc1c1eabb&oe=5592DBB0&__gda__=1433698528_17b29523095b941c8db12ddb13906cb2Ne t’imagine pas que tu échapperas seule d’entre tous les Juifs, parce que tu es dans la maison du roi; car, si tu te tais maintenant, le secours et la délivrance surgiront d’autre part pour les Juifs, et toi et la maison de ton père vous périrez. Et qui sait si ce n’est pas pour un temps comme celui-ci que tu es parvenue à la royauté? Esther 4: 13-14
L’affrontement entre la modernité et le médiévalisme ne doit pas être un affrontement entre modernité et tradition. Les traditions du peuple juif remontent à des milliers d’années. Elles sont la source de nos valeurs collectives et le fondement de notre force nationale. Dans le même temps, le peuple juif a toujours regardé vers l’avenir. Tout au long de l’histoire, nous avons été à l’avant-garde des efforts visant à étendre la liberté, à promouvoir l’égalité, et à faire progresser les droits de l’homme. Nous défendons ces principes non pas en dépit de nos traditions, mais à cause d’elles. Nous écoutons les paroles des prophètes juifs Isaïe, Amos, Jérémie, traitons tout le monde avec dignité et compassion, recherchons la justice, chérissons la vie et prions pour la paix. Ce sont les valeurs intemporelles de mon peuple et celles-ci sont le plus grand don du peuple juif à l’humanité. Engageons-nous aujourd’hui pour défendre ces valeurs afin que nous puissions défendre notre liberté et la protection de notre civilisation commune. Benjamin Netanyahou (ONU, 27/09/2012)
Parce que l’Amérique et Israël partagent un destin commun, le destin de terres promises qui chérissent la liberté et offrent de l’espoir. Israël est reconnaissant du soutien de l’Amérique – de la population de l’Amérique et des présidents de l’Amérique, de Harry Truman à Barack Obama.(…) Mes amis, je suis venu ici aujourd’hui parce que, en tant que Premier ministre d’Israël, je me sens une obligation profonde de vous parler d’une question qui pourrait bien menacer la survie de mon pays et l’avenir de mon peuple: la quête iranienne pour obtenir des armes nucléaires. Nous sommes un peuple ancien. Dans nos près de 4000 ans d’histoire, beaucoup ont essayé à plusieurs reprises de détruire le peuple juif. Demain soir, lors de la fête juive de Pourim, nous allons lire le Livre d’Esther. Nous lisons le récit d’un vice-roi de Perse puissant nommé Haman, qui complotait pour détruire le peuple juif il y a quelque 2500 ans. Mais une femme juive courageuse, reine Esther, a démontré ce complot et a donné au peuple juif le droit de se défendre contre ses ennemis. Le complot a été déjoué. Notre peuple a été sauvé. Aujourd’hui le peuple juif fait face à une autre tentative, d’un autre potentat perse, de nous détruire. Le Guide suprême l’ayatollah Khamenei crache sa haine la plus ancienne, la haine de l’antisémitisme, avec les nouvelles technologies. Il tweete qu’Israël doit être anéanti – il tweete ! Vous savez, en Iran, Internet n’est pas vraiment ce qu’on peut appeler livre. Mais il tweet en anglais qu’Israël doit être détruit. Pour ceux qui croient que l’Iran menace l’Etat juif, mais pas le peuple juif, écoutez Hassan Nasrallah, le chef du Hezbollah, chef mandataire terroriste de l’Iran. Il a dit: Si tous les Juifs se rassemblent en Israël, cela va nous épargner la fatigue de les pourchasser dans le monde entier. Mais le régime iranien n’est pas seulement un problème juif, pas plus que le régime nazi n’était qu’un problème juif. Les 6 millions de juifs assassinés par les nazis n’étaient qu’une fraction des 60 millions de personnes tuées dans la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Donc, si le régime de l’Iran constitue une grave menace non seulement pour Israël, c’est aussi le cas pour la paix du monde entier. Pour comprendre à quel point l’Iran serait dangereux avec des armes nucléaires, nous devons comprendre pleinement la nature du régime. Le peuple d’Iran est composé de gens très talentueux. Ils sont les héritiers d’une des plus grandes civilisations du monde. Mais en 1979, ils ont été détournés de leur histoire par des fanatiques religieux, des fanatiques religieux – qui ont imposé une dictature sombre et brutale. Cette année là, les fanatiques ont rédigé une constitution nouvelle pour l’Iran. Elle ordonne aux gardiens de la révolution de ne pas seulement protéger les frontières de l’Iran, mais aussi de remplir la mission idéologique du jihad. Le fondateur du régime, l’ayatollah Khomeini, a exhorté ses partisans à « exporter la révolution dans le monde entier. » Je suis ici à Washington, et la différence est tellement frappante. Le document fondateur de l’Amérique promet la vie, la liberté et la poursuite du bonheur. Le document fondateur de l’Iran s’engage dans la mort, la tyrannie, et la poursuite du djihad. Et alors que les États s’effondrent à travers le Moyen-Orient, l’Iran se charge d’occuper le vide pour faire exactement cela. Les hommes de main de l’Iran à Gaza, ses laquais au Liban, ses gardiens de la révolution sur le plateau du Golan entourent Israël avec trois tentacules de terreur. Soutenu par l’Iran, Assad massacre Syriens. Soutenu par l’Iran, les milices chiites sont lâchées en Irak. Soutenu par l’Iran, les Houthis prennent le contrôle du Yémen, menaçant les détroits stratégiques à l’embouchure de la mer Rouge. Avec le détroit d’Ormuz, ce serait donner à l’Iran une seconde point d’approvisionnement en pétrole du monde. (…) L’Iran a pris des dizaines d’Américains en otage à Téhéran, a assassiné des centaines de soldats américains, des Marines à Beyrouth, et est responsable de la mort et de mutilations des milliers d’hommes et de femmes, de militaires américains en Irak et en Afghanistan. Au-delà du Moyen-Orient, l’Iran attaque l’Amérique et ses alliés à travers son réseau mondial de terrorisme. Il a fait sauter le centre de la communauté juive et l’ambassade israélienne à Buenos Aires. Il a aidé Al Qaida à attaquer les ambassades américaines en Afrique. Il a même tenté d’assassiner l’ambassadeur saoudien, ici à Washington DC. Au Moyen-Orient, l’Iran domine désormais quatre capitales arabes, Bagdad, Damas, Beyrouth et Sanaa. Et si l’agression de l’Iran n’est pas défaite, d’autres suivront sûrement. Donc, à un moment où beaucoup espèrent que l’Iran se joindra à la communauté des nations, l’Iran est occupé engloutir les nations.(…) Ne soyez pas dupe. La bataille entre l’Iran et l’ISIS ne fait pas l’Iran dans un ami de l’Amérique. L’Iran et l’ISIS sont en compétition pour le trône de l’Islam militant. Le premier se nomme République Islamique, le second Etat Islamique. les deux veulent imposer un empire islamique militant, d’abord sur la région, puis sur le reste du monde. Ils sont simplement en désaccord sur celui qui sera le chef de cet empire. Dans cette lutte mortelle pour un trône, il n’y a pas de place pour l’Amérique ou pour Israël, pas de paix pour les chrétiens, les juifs ou les musulmans qui ne partagent pas la croyance médiévale islamiste, pas de droits pour les femmes, pas de libertés pour les peuples.(…) La différence est que l’ISIS est armé avec des couteaux de boucher, des armes saisies et YouTube, alors que l’Iran pourrait bientôt être armé avec des missiles balistiques intercontinentaux et des bombes nucléaires. Nous devons toujours nous rappeler – je vais le dire une fois de plus – que le plus grand danger auquel notre monde doit faire face, est le mariage de l’Islam militant avec des armes nucléaires. Vaincre l’Etat Islamique et laisser l’Iran obtenir des armes nucléaires serait comme gagner la bataille, mais perdre la guerre. (…) Vous n’avez pas à lire Robert Frost pour le savoir. Vous devez vivre votre vie afin de savoir que le chemin difficile est habituellement le moins fréquenté, mais il faudra savoir faire toute la différence pour l’avenir de mon pays, la sécurité du Moyen-Orient et la paix du monde, paix que nous avons tous pour désir.(…) Mes amis, se tenir debout face à l’Iran n’est pas simple. Etre debout face à des régimes sombres et meurtriers n’est jamais simple. Il y a parmi nous aujourd’hui un survivant de la Shoah et lauréat du prix Nobel, Elie Wiesel. Elie, votre vie et votre travail nous inspirent pour donner un sens aux mots, « plus jamais ça. » Et je souhaite pouvoir vous promettre, Elie, que les leçons de l’histoire ont été tirées. Je ne peux qu’encourager les dirigeants du monde à ne pas répéter les erreurs du passé. (…) Mais je ne peux vous garantir cela. Les jours où le peuple juif sont restés passifs face à des ennemis génocidaires, ces jours sont révolus. Nous ne sommes plus dispersé parmi les nations, impuissants pour nous défendre. Nous avons restauré notre souveraineté dans notre ancienne maison. Et les soldats qui défendent notre maison ont un courage sans bornes. Pour la première fois en 100 générations, nous, le peuple juif, pouvons nous défendre. Mais je sais qu’Israël n’est pas seul. Je sais que l’Amérique se tient avec Israël (…) parce que vous savez que l’histoire d’Israël n’est pas seulement l’histoire du peuple juif, mais de l’esprit humain qui refuse encore et encore de succomber à des horreurs de l’histoire. Face à moi, juste là dans cette galerie, on voit l’image de Moïse. Moïse a conduit notre peuple de l’esclavage aux portes de la terre promise. Et avant que le peuple d’Israël n’entre sur la terre d’Israël, Moïse nous a donné un message qui a endurci notre détermination depuis des milliers d’années. Je vous laisse avec son message aujourd’hui, « Soyez forts et déterminés, sans peurs ni craintes à leurs égards. » (…) Que Dieu bénisse l’Etat d’Israël et que Dieu bénisse les Etats-Unis d’Amérique. Benjamin Netanyahou
Nous essayons de rendre la décision d’attaquer l’Iran la plus dure possible pour Israël. Responsable de l’Administration Obama (au Washington Post, 02.03.12)
Aucun gouvernement israélien ne peut tolérer une arme nucléaire dans les mains d’un régime qui nie l’Holocauste, menace de rayer Israël de la carte et parraine des groupes terroristes engagés à la destruction d’Israël. Barak Obama (devant le groupe de pression pro-israélien AIPAC, 05.03.12)
Obama est le premier président américain élevé sans attaches culturelles, affectives ou intellectuelles avec la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Europe. Les Anglais et les Européens ont été tellement enchantés par le premier président américain noir qu’ils n’ont pu voir ce qu’il est vraiment: le premier président américain du Tiers-Monde. The Daily Mail
Culturellement, Obama déteste la Grande-Bretagne. Il a renvoyé le buste de Churchill sans la moindre feuille de vigne d’une excuse. Il a insulté la Reine et le Premier ministre en leur offrant les plus insignifiants des cadeaux. A un moment, il a même refusé de rencontrer le Premier ministre. Dr James Lucier (ancien directeur du comité des Affaires étrangères du sénat américain)
Je sais que c’est horrible à dire, mais je ne pense pas que le président aime l’Amérique. Il ne vous aime pas, il ne m’aime pas. Il n’a pas été élevé comme vous et moi dans l’amour de ce pays. Il critique l’Amérique. Il parle des croisades en disant que les chrétiens étaient des barbares, oubliant de finir sa phrase en disant que les musulmans étaient aussi des barbares. Rudolph Giuliani
Je ne remets pas en cause son patriotisme, je suis sûr qu’il est patriote. Mais dans sa rhétorique, je l’entends très rarement dire les choses que j’avais l’habitude d’entendre chez Ronald Reagan ou Bill Clinton concernant leur amour pour l’Amérique. Je l’entends critiquer l’Amérique beaucoup plus que d’autres présidents américains. Rudolph Giuliani
The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. (…) in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies. Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad (…) Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. (…) The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.” Iran also continues developing, while trying to keep them secret, new missiles and launch sites with devastatingly long-range capability. It continues to enrich uranium, including an allegedly secret program, to a level that’s a short jump-step from bomb strength. It has a lengthy record of lying and cheating about its military activities, its compliance with U.N. mandates (not that the U.N. is worth much anyway), and its protections of even the limited human rights it actually recognizes as such. About the only thing Iran never lies about is its absolute, unyielding determination to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It was only a few months ago, for example, that the “revolutionary” regime’s “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released a nine-point plan for how to “annihilate” the Jewish state. Yet Obama not only begrudges the Israeli prime minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy. Obama’s actions aren’t just wrongheaded; they are malignant. They pervert American tradition and American interests, and they attempt to deprive the entire free world of its single most clarion voice for enlightenment values. Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal. Quin Hillyer
Selon un sondage Gallup publié lundi (…)  45 % des Américains voient Netanyahu de manière positive – le record était en 1998 avec 46% d’opinions positives. 45% en 2015, c’est 10 points de plus qu’en 2012. A l’inverse, seulement 24% des américains voient Netanyahu de manière négative (et parmi eux de nombreux latinos et musulmans). Les républicains apprécient beaucoup plus Netanyahu (60%) que négativement (18%), tandis que les démocrates sont divisés: 31% favorables et 31% défavorables. Parmi les indépendants, 45% ont une opinion favorable de Netanyahu, tandis que 23% le considèrent défavorablement. Par comparaison avec les chiffres de Netanyahu, un sondage publié le 23 février par the Economist / YouGov, a révélé que 45% des Américains ont un avis favorable d’Obama, contre 50% ayant une mauvaise opinion négative. JSSnews
Le discours de Netanyahou au Congrès américain fut un moment grandiose. En mettant en garde le monde occidental contre la menace qui pèse sur lui, en l’exhortant à ne pas pratiquer de politique d’apaisement envers l’Iran, il constitue un événement d’importance mondiale. Aucun homme politique occidental, a fortiori israélien, n’est capable d’une telle audace. En privilégiant la sauvegarde du lien à Obama, le tandem Livni-Herzog ne propose qu’une politique de démission nationale sur tous les enjeux vitaux d’Israël. Le « camp sioniste » qu’ils représentent est dans l’orbite de la démission munichoise qui les fait ressembler à l’Union Européenne. Ce discours prend aussi une résonnance américaine ou un président qui n’a plus de majorité gouverne par ukases et coups de force. En se dressant contre sa politique démissionnaire, il invite aussi les élus américains à résister au dévoiement de la démocratie américaine. La présidence Obama a ruiné les intérêts et les défenses du monde libre. Elle a ouvert la voie à une multitude de conflits locaux et notamment à la décomposition du monde arabe. Elle a acculé Israël à un affaiblissement dans sa puissance qu’il n’a jamais connu, l’obligeant à réitérer la même guerre tous les deux ans. Elle a réveillé un climat de guerre froide avec la Russie. Mais ce qui est le plus important, c’est que Netanyahou a eu l’audace de nommer l’ennemi, ce dont les leaders juifs du monde entier n’ont plus la force. Il a eu l’audace d’affirmer que le « peuple juif » – c’est le terme employé – saura se tenir debout pour faire face à l’ennemi et n’hésitera pas à défendre son existence. En évoquant la leçon de la Shoah, il a clairement défini l’enjeu vital et total qui se joue pour le peuple juif aujourd’hui et qui nécessite une levée en masse des Juifs pour défendre le sanctuaire de leur existence comme peuple. Enfin, la touche juive de son propos est capitale. (…) Netanyahou a évoqué la figure d’Aman, un autre perse, et il a terminé sur la figure de Moïse. C’est là la tonalité d’un vrai leader du peuple juif, capable d’intégrer l’histoire éternelle d’Israël aux enjeux les plus contemporains. Shmuel Trigano
Pourquoi tant d’animosité envers le dirigeant d’un allié de longue date, la seule et unique démocratie du Moyen-Orient, et auquel Obama a juré de sa loyauté indéfectible ? Eh bien parce que la Maison Blanche s’est déclarée exaspérée par cette visite dont elle n’a pas été informée par Israël, et qu’elle a donc perçue comme une « violation au protocole ». Laquelle l’emporte sur les bénéfices que le Congrès pourrait retirer de la présence – et du point de vue – du leader du pays le plus immédiatement concerné par les négociations actuellement menées avec l’Iran. Remarquablement, ce n’est guère la première fois que la question du protocole se situe au cœur d’une menace de destruction du peuple juif posée par l’Iran. On en trouve un précédent biblique. Sinistre écho de l’histoire contemporaine, le Livre d’Esther relate la toute première occurrence d’une tentative de génocide visant les Juifs dans l’empire antique de Perse, actuellement connu comme l’Iran. Quand, plus de deux millénaires en arrière, Mardochée apprend qu’Aman complote de « détruire, tuer, et exterminer tous les Juifs, jeunes et vieux, petits enfants et femmes, en un seul jour » (Esther 3,13), il persuade sa fille adoptive, devenue reine, d’intercéder en leur faveur. Mais Esther a peur. Si elle se présentait devant son mari pour faire appel contre le décret d’Aman, ce serait rompre avec le protocole royal. « Tous les serviteurs du roi et la population des provinces du roi savent bien, réplique-t-elle à Mardochée, que toute personne, homme ou femme, qui pénètre chez le roi, dans la cour intérieure, sans avoir été convoquée, une loi égale pour tous, la rend passible de la peine de mort; celui-là seul à qui le roi tend son sceptre d’or a la vie sauve. Or, moi, je n’ai pas été invitée à venir chez le roi voilà trente jours. » (Esther 4,11) Néanmoins, le Livre d’Esther nous raconte qu’après avoir supplié les Juifs de prier et de jeûner en sa faveur, Esther choisit de faire fi du protocole face à la menace d’extermination qui plane sur son peuple. Et elle parvient à abroger ce funeste décret. En conséquence, les Juifs, à ce jour, célèbrent la fête de Pourim. Dans la tradition juive, le récit de Pourim marque la commémoration d’un autre type de miracle. Le scénario du Livre d’Esther est fait d’une série de coïncidences si statistiquement improbables qu’il témoigne de la main divine cachée derrière la nature. C’est la raison pour laquelle c’est le seul livre de tout le canon biblique qui ne comporte pas la moindre mention du nom de Dieu. Dans ce monde, Dieu cache Sa face, mais Il est tout aussi impliqué dans la direction du monde que lorsqu’Il sépara la mer devant les Hébreux qui fuyaient les Égyptiens. Pour les commentateurs juifs, Pourim incarne donc cet adage célèbre – et ironiquement anonyme – affirmant que « la coïncidence est le moyen que Dieu choisit pour conserver Son anonymat. » Et dans cette optique, il est tout à fait remarquable que le discours du Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou « coïncide » avec la veille du jeûne d’Esther, lequel commémore l’héroïsme d’une reine qui décida que la survie de son peuple avait préséance sur le respect du protocole. Rabbin Benjamin Blech

Attention: un chef du Monde libre peut en cacher un autre !

Citations du poète national (Robert Frost), références bibliques (Esther, Mardochée, Haman), analogies historiques (l’Iran comme nouveau régime nazi), hommage au plus respecté des prix Nobel de la paix et survivants de la Shoah (Elie Wiesel), slogans digne de « Game of Thrones » …

Au lendemain d’un nouveau discours aussi attendu que controversé de Benjamin Netanyahou sur le dossier nucléaire iranien au sein même cette fois, alors qu’il n’est plus ou pas encore premier ministre, du Congrès américain  …

Alors que du Liban à Gaza et à présent de la Syrie à l’Irak et au Yemen et tout en préparant sa Solution finale, la Révolution islamique n’en finit pas de faire ce qu’elle a toujours fait depuis 35 ans, à savoir mettre le Moyen-Orient à feu et à sang …

Pendant qu’à la tête du Monde libre et face à un Congrès où il a perdu tout appui, le Tergiverseur-en-chef qui n’arrive toujours pas à nommer l’ennemi tente de sauver sa place dans l’histoire en s’accrochant désespérement à ses rêves de rapprochement avec, de Cuba à l’Iran, tout ce que la planète peut contenir de régimes renégats …

Et qu’un mois à peine après le prétendu « sursaut républicain » de Paris, le déni politiquement correct a repris comme de plus belle et nos belles âmes n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour dénoncer le « complexe d’Auschwitz » et la « diplomatie du bulldozer » du dirigeant israélien …

Mais que face aux horreurs si longtemps tolérées et même subventionnées de nos nouveaux damnés de la terre et trois décennies à peine après les faits, la Belle au bois des bois de la justice commence à peine tant en France qu’aux Etats-Unis à se réveiller …

Comment en cette vieille de la fête juive des Sorts dite de Pourim …

Ne pas voir avec nombre de juifs, d’Israéliens et de simples connaisseurs de la Bible …

L’étrange parallèle avec une autre tentative d’interférence dans les affaires de la superpuissance de l’époque …

A savoir celle d’Esther dont Pourim est justement la fête ?

Et comment ne pas saluer, avec  Shmuel Trigano, l’incroyable audace et la magistrale leçon d’histoire …

D’un des descendants, plus populaire et peut-être plus « américain » que ce moins américain des présidents des Etats-Unis, de cette même courageuse reine juive …

Qui devant une énième tentative d’annihilation par les ancêtres, de surcroit, des dirigeants iraniens actuels …

Osa elle aussi pour sauver son peuple …

Défier la bien-pensance et le protocole du moment ?

Quand Bibi Netanyahou viole le protocole
Échos de la reine Esther qui fit entorse au protocole royal pour défendre son peuple face à la menace de destruction posée par l’Iran d’antan…
rabbin Benjamin Blech
Aish.com
24/2/2015

La prochaine apparition du Premier ministre israélien sur la colline du Capitole se retrouve au centre d’une véritable tempête diplomatique.

Convié par le président républicain de la Chambre des représentants, John Boehner, à s’exprimer devant le Congrès sur les menaces posées par les ambitions nucléaires de l’Iran, Benyamin Netanyahou a saisi cette occasion rêvée de partager l’inquiétude existentielle de son pays à l’heure où le régime des Mollahs s’apprête plus que jamais à atteindre son objectif avoué de l’annihilation totale d’Israël. Mais la Maison Blanche a fait part de son irritation. Un nombre croissant de législateurs démocrates ont annoncé qu’ils boycotteraient son discours. Le vice président américain Joe Biden qui, en sa qualité de président du Sénat, devrait traditionnellement superviser l’allocution de Netanyahou, a fait savoir qu’il serait « en déplacement à l’étranger » à ce moment-là. Quant à Nancy Pelosi, chef de la minorité démocrate, elle a carrément déclaré qu’elle espérait que le « discours n’aurait pas lieu. »

Pourquoi tant d’animosité envers le dirigeant d’un allié de longue date, la seule et unique démocratie du Moyen-Orient, et auquel Obama a juré de sa loyauté indéfectible ? Eh bien parce que la Maison Blanche s’est déclarée exaspérée par cette visite dont elle n’a pas été informée par Israël, et qu’elle a donc perçue comme une « violation au protocole ». Laquelle l’emporte sur les bénéfices que le Congrès pourrait retirer de la présence – et du point de vue – du leader du pays le plus immédiatement concerné par les négociations actuellement menées avec l’Iran.

Remarquablement, ce n’est guère la première fois que la question du protocole se situe au cœur d’une menace de destruction du peuple juif posée par l’Iran. On en trouve un précédent biblique. Sinistre écho de l’histoire contemporaine, le Livre d’Esther relate la toute première occurrence d’une tentative de génocide visant les Juifs dans l’empire antique de Perse, actuellement connu comme l’Iran. Quand, plus de deux millénaires en arrière, Mardochée apprend qu’Aman complote de « détruire, tuer, et exterminer tous les Juifs, jeunes et vieux, petits enfants et femmes, en un seul jour » (Esther 3,13), il persuade sa fille adoptive, devenue reine, d’intercéder en leur faveur.

Mais Esther a peur. Si elle se présentait devant son mari pour faire appel contre le décret d’Aman, ce serait rompre avec le protocole royal. « Tous les serviteurs du roi et la population des provinces du roi savent bien, réplique-t-elle à Mardochée, que toute personne, homme ou femme, qui pénètre chez le roi, dans la cour intérieure, sans avoir été convoquée, une loi égale pour tous, la rend passible de la peine de mort; celui-là seul à qui le roi tend son sceptre d’or a la vie sauve. Or, moi, je n’ai pas été invitée à venir chez le roi voilà trente jours. » (Esther 4,11)

Néanmoins, le Livre d’Esther nous raconte qu’après avoir supplié les Juifs de prier et de jeûner en sa faveur, Esther choisit de faire fi du protocole face à la menace d’extermination qui plane sur son peuple. Et elle parvient à abroger ce funeste décret. En conséquence, les Juifs, à ce jour, célèbrent la fête de Pourim.

Dans la tradition juive, le récit de Pourim marque la commémoration d’un autre type de miracle. Le scénario du Livre d’Esther est fait d’une série de coïncidences si statistiquement improbables qu’il témoigne de la main divine cachée derrière la nature. C’est la raison pour laquelle c’est le seul livre de tout le canon biblique qui ne comporte pas la moindre mention du nom de Dieu. Dans ce monde, Dieu cache Sa face, mais Il est tout aussi impliqué dans la direction du monde que lorsqu’Il sépara la mer devant les Hébreux qui fuyaient les Égyptiens. Pour les commentateurs juifs, Pourim incarne donc cet adage célèbre – et ironiquement anonyme – affirmant que « la coïncidence est le moyen que Dieu choisit pour conserver Son anonymat. »

Et dans cette optique, il est tout à fait remarquable que le discours du Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou « coïncide » avec la veille du jeûne d’Esther, lequel commémore l’héroïsme d’une reine qui décida que la survie de son peuple avait préséance sur le respect du protocole.

Voir aussi:

Le discours de Netanyahou : Enfin !
Shmuel Trigano
Desinfos
3 mars 2015

Le discours de Netanyahou au Congrès américain fut un moment grandiose. En mettant en garde le monde occidental contre la menace qui pèse sur lui, en l’exhortant à ne pas pratiquer de politique d’apaisement envers l’Iran, il constitue un événement d’importance mondiale. Aucun homme politique occidental, a fortiori israélien, n’est capable d’une telle audace. En privilégiant la sauvegarde du lien à Obama, le tandem Livni-Herzog ne propose qu’une politique de démission nationale sur tous les enjeux vitaux d’Israël. Le « camp sioniste » qu’ils représentent est dans l’orbite de la démission munichoise qui les fait ressembler à l’Union Européenne.

Ce discours prend aussi une résonnance américaine ou un président qui n’a plus de majorité gouverne par ukases et coups de force. En se dressant contre sa politique démissionnaire, il invite aussi les élus américains à résister au dévoiement de la démocratie américaine.

La présidence Obama a ruiné les intérêts et les défenses du monde libre.

Elle a ouvert la voie à une multitude de conflits locaux et notamment à la décomposition du monde arabe.

Elle a acculé Israël à un affaiblissement dans sa puissance qu’il n’a jamais connu, l’obligeant à réitérer la même guerre tous les deux ans.

Elle a réveillé un climat de guerre froide avec la Russie.

Mais ce qui est le plus important, c’est que Netanyahou a eu l’audace de nommer l’ennemi, ce dont les leaders juifs du monde entier n’ont plus la force.

Il a eu l’audace d’affirmer que le « peuple juif » – c’est le terme employé – saura se tenir debout pour faire face à l’ennemi et n’hésitera pas à défendre son existence.

En évoquant la leçon de la Shoah, il a clairement défini l’enjeu vital et total qui se joue pour le peuple juif aujourd’hui et qui nécessite une levée en masse des Juifs pour défendre le sanctuaire de leur existence comme peuple.

Enfin, la touche juive de son propos est capitale.

On est loin des discours insipides et bureaucratiques à la Livni !

Netanyahou a évoqué la figure d’Aman, un autre perse, et il a terminé sur la figure de Moïse.

C’est là la tonalité d’un vrai leader du peuple juif, capable d’intégrer l’histoire éternelle d’Israël aux enjeux les plus contemporains.

Nous devons y trouver la force d’un sursaut !

Voir également:

Analyse: discours de Netanyahou, une belle entrée mais un final décevant
L’impact de l’intervention du PM israélien ne sera mesurable qu’au terme des négociations avec l’Iran

Tal Shalev

i24news

04 Mars 2015

 « Tellement de choses ont été écrites sur un discours qui n’a pas encore été prononcé », a déclaré le Premier ministre israélien lundi soir, avec un sourire fier.

Netanyahou a pu observer les drames que l’annonce de son allocution a provoqués des deux côtés de l’océan Atlantique dans les semaines et les jours qui ont précédé sa venue à Washington.

Ce même sourire s’affichait à nouveau sur son visage mardi soir, après plus d’une vingtaine d’ovations, prouvant, à ses yeux, que toutes les paroles prononcées visant à provoquer le président américain face aux centaines d’élus présents dans l’assistance en valaient la peine.

Aux yeux de Netanyahou, ce discours au Congrès restera dans l’histoire comme une brillante allocution de plus de l’orateur acclamé.

Comme prévu, Netanyahou a fait preuve de ses talents d’orateur.

Après une entrée grandiose et de chaleureux applaudissements, il a entamé son discours avec quelques paroles bienveillantes pour le président américain. S’il a admis les tensions provoquées par sa collaboration avec le président républicain de la Chambre des représentants John Bohner, il a salué l’engagement d’Obama en faveur de la sécurité d’Israël et a été acclamé lorsqu’il a souligné la force de l’alliance américano-israélienne.

Mais le Premier ministre a fait son exposé, et c’en était alors fini des ovations bipartisanes – des deux côtés de l’hémicycle.

Les observateurs ont relevé l’expression sur le visage de Nancy Pelosi, représentante des démocrates à la Chambre. Après le discours, Pelosi, qui soutient avec force Israël, a déclaré par la suite qu’elle avait presque pleuré pendant le discours, blessée par « l’insulte faite aux renseignements des États-Unis ».

Netanyahou avait de nombreux atouts en poche pour renforcer son message, sans attaquer directement la Maison Blanche : les citations de Robert Frost sur le chemin qui n’a pas été pris, les références aux personnages de Pourim Esther et Haman, l’analogie incontestable entre l’Iran et le régime nazi, ses slogans digne de « Game of Thrones », et l’hommage au prix Nobel de la paix et survivant de la Shoah Elie Wiesel, invité pour apporter un appui moral dans l’assistance.

Il a également fait des déclarations fortes et convaincantes sur la menace nucléaire iranienne, et lancé un avertissement au monde face devant la pression iranienne et sur la nécessité de parvenir à un meilleur accord plutôt qu’en accepter un mauvais.

Mais sans le nommer, il a continué ses attaques détournées contre Obama, sous-entendant que celui-ci est naïf, qu’il ne fait pas son travail, et qu’il restera dans l’histoire comme quelqu’un qui a mis l’Etat juif et peut-être même le monde entier en danger.

Le président lui-même n’a pas pris la peine d’assister au discours et a programmé une conférence téléphonique internationale exactement à la même heure. Cinquante députés démocrates ont fait de même, étant absents du Congrès pour montrer leur soutien au président et protester contre l’invité israélien.

Toutefois, le “lobby Netanyahou” au Congrès a réalisé un travail incroyable en effaçant l’absence des démocrates et les sièges vides ont été remplis par de fervents partisans. Quand les démocrates ont cessé d’applaudir, les applaudissements du milliardaire Sheldon Adelson, du leader conservateur Newt Gringrinch, de Elie Wiesel et de la délégation israélienne ont résonné de plus fort.

Réagissant à ce discours, l’administration a marqué un autre point, en minimisant son importance, le qualifiant de simple rhétorique, notant qu’ « il n’y avait rien de nouveau ». Simplement exiger de l’Iran qu’il capitule complètement n’est pas un projet ou une idée nouvelle, comme l’a relevé un haut fonctionnaire. Après que tant de choses ont été écrites sur le “Congress Gate” et après les applaudissements, il y avait au final un sentiment de déception.

Netanyahou a fait son show, mais le résultat de son intervention ne sera connu qu’après la tentative américaine de parvenir à un accord sur le programme nucléaire de Téhéran. Pendant ce temps, les relations toxiques entre Jérusalem et Washington ne vont pas disparaître, et le choc des intérêts sur la question iranienne continuera de déranger les partisans de la précieuse alliance américano-israélienne.

Netanyahou, de son côté, peut envisager les choses à plus court terme. Deux semaines avant les élections, son spectacle de deux jours à Washington lui a procuré le public parfait pour reprendre la main sur l’agenda, et distraire l’attention d’Israël des récents scandales et de la crise du logement qui se profile.

Selon les prochains sondages, Netanyahou aurait entre 2 et 3 points de moins que ses rivaux de l’Union Sioniste. Avant de quitter Washington dimanche, Netanyahou s’est rendu au Mur des Lamentations à Jérusalem pour y trouver de l’inspiration. Sur le chemin du retour, il priera pour que son discours au Congrès lui permette d’obtenir au moins quelques voix supplémentaires.

Tal Shalev est la correspondante diplomatique de la chaîne i24news.

Voir de plus:

Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us

While under fierce attack from President Obama, the Israeli prime minister defends Western values and speaks the truth about Iran.

Quin Hillyer

National review on line

March 2, 2015

The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. The American president is doing everything possible to undermine him.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a nation surrounded by enemies, a nation so small that it narrows at one point to just 9.3 miles. Yet, in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies.

Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad, Netanyahu talks like this (from his speech to the United Nations on September 27, 2012):

The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition. The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years. They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.

At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights. We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.

We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace. These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.

Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

When Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel last year, Netanyahu, in his necessary military response, did something almost unprecedented in the history of warfare. As he accurately described in his U.N. speech last year, on September 29:

Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies

As Barack Obama complains (with scant grasp of the historical context) about how Christians were such gosh-darn meanies a thousand years ago in the Crusades, Netanyahu protects the ability of Muslims today to have free access to the Old City of Jerusalem, even as Jews and Christians are prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount. At the beginning of his first term, in his first trip overseas as president, Obama delivered a speech to Turkey’s parliament, under the thumb of the repressive Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” he confessed, sounding like America’s therapist-in-chief. “Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”

Netanyahu, in contrast, in a 2011 Meet the Press interview, offered unabashed words of praise for the United States: “Israel is the one country in which everyone is pro-American, opposition and coalition alike. And I represent the entire people of Israel who say, ‘Thank you, America.’ And we’re friends of America, and we’re the only reliable allies of America in the Middle East.” (Netanyahu was accurate in his description of how much Israelis appreciate Americans, as I saw last summer during a visit to the country.)

In thanking America, Netanyahu was not posturing for political advantage. Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. He also speaks and acts, quite obviously, to preserve security — for Israel, of course, but more broadly for the civilized world. On Tuesday, as he has done for more than 30 years, Netanyahu will talk about the threat to humanity posed by Iran.

It’s mind-boggling to imagine that any national leader in the free world would fail to understand the danger. The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.”

Iran also continues developing, while trying to keep them secret, new missiles and launch sites with devastatingly long-range capability. It continues to enrich uranium, including an allegedly secret program, to a level that’s a short jump-step from bomb strength. It has a lengthy record of lying and cheating about its military activities, its compliance with U.N. mandates (not that the U.N. is worth much anyway), and its protections of even the limited human rights it actually recognizes as such.

About the only thing Iran never lies about is its absolute, unyielding determination to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It was only a few months ago, for example, that the “revolutionary” regime’s “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released a nine-point plan for how to “annihilate” the Jewish state.

Yet Obama not only begrudges the Israeli prime minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy. Obama’s actions aren’t just wrongheaded; they are malignant. They pervert American tradition and American interests, and they attempt to deprive the entire free world of its single most clarion voice for enlightenment values.

Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal.

— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online.

Voir aussi:

Nétanyahou agite une menace imminente du nucléaire iranien… depuis 20 ans
Elvire Camus

Le Monde

03.03.2015

Depuis plus de vingt ans, les interventions de Benyamin Nétanyahou sur le nucléaire iranien se suivent et se ressemblent. A quinze jours des élections législatives anticipées en Israël, le premier ministre prononce, mardi 3 mars, un discours devant le Congrès américain, afin de dissuader une nouvelle fois le groupe P5 + 1 (Etats-Unis, Russie, Chine, France, Royaume-Uni et Allemagne) de parvenir à un accord sur le nucléaire iranien.

« Mes amis, pendant plus d’un an on nous a dit qu’aucun accord était préférable à un mauvais accord. C’est un mauvais accord, le monde se portera mieux sans lui », a déclaré le premier ministre israélien mardi. Selon lui, cet accord, qui vise à limiter le programme nucléaire de l’Iran mais dont les contours ne sont pas connus, y compris d’Israël, permettrait à la République islamique de « s’empresser de fabriquer une bombe » atomique. « Le régime iranien représente une grande menace pour Israël, mais aussi pour la paix du monde entier », a encore lancé M. Netanyahu, mardi, très applaudi par les élus américains présents.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que Benyamin Nétanyahou alerte sur l’imminence de la nucléarisation de l’Iran – et il oublie parfois que ses anciennes prédictions ne se sont pas vérifiées.

En 1996 : « Le temps nous est compté »

Comme le relève le site d’information The Intercept, dès 1992, alors qu’il n’est pas encore premier ministre, le député Nétanyahou avertit le Parlement israélien, que l’Iran sera capable de fabriquer une arme nucléaire dans « trois à cinq ans ».

Quatre ans plus tard, la République islamique n’est pas en capacité de se doter de l’arme atomique. Le premier ministre israélien se contente de répéter, lors de son premier discours devant le Congrès américain, au mois de juillet 1996, qu’il faut tout faire pour empêcher, sans tarder, « la nucléarisation d’Etats terroristes », en l’occurrence l’Iran et l’Irak. « Mais la date limite pour atteindre cet objectif se rapproche fortement », prévient-il alors, avant de poursuivre :

« Mesdames et Messieurs, le temps nous est compté. […] Il ne s’agit pas de dramatiser la situation plus qu’elle ne l’est déjà. »

En 2011, soit quinze ans plus tard, Nétanyahou s’adresse une deuxième fois à la Chambre des représentants américains et répète la même formule, sans tenir compte de ses calculs de 1992 ou de 1996 :

« Maintenant, le temps nous est compté […]. Car le plus grand de tous les dangers pourrait bientôt s’abattre sur nous : un régime islamique militant doté de l’arme nucléaire. de la bombe nucléaire. »

En 2012 : « quelques mois, peut-être quelques semaines »

En 2012, Benyamin Nétanyahou brandit, lors d’un célèbre discours aux Nations unies, une pancarte représentant schématiquement une bombe. Il assure que la République islamique a atteint le seuil dangereux de 70 % d’enrichissement de son uranium et qu’aux alentours du printemps, voire de l’été 2013 « au plus tard », le pays pourrait passer à « l’étape finale », soit un enrichissement à 90 %, seuil minimum pour pouvoir fabriquer une bombe.

« Ils n’ont besoin que de quelques mois, peut-être quelques semaines, avant d’avoir suffisamment d’uranium enrichi pour la première bombe. »

Or, un câble diplomatique obtenu par Al-Jazira révèle que les services secrets israéliens étaient à l’époque parvenus à des conclusions opposées : l’Iran ne « fournit pas l’activité nécessaire à la production d’armes » nucléaires, affirmait le Mossad.

En 2013 : à nouveau « une question de semaines »

Un an plus tard, dans un entretien accordé au Monde en octobre 2013, peu avant la reprise des discussions entre l’Iran et le groupe P 5+1, le premier ministre israélien tient encore le même discours, mais en changeant l’échéance :

« Si on laisse aux Iraniens la capacité d’enrichir à un faible degré, ils seront capables d’enrichir rapidement l’uranium à haute dose, c’est une question de semaines. »

Lire l’entretien : « L’Iran veut développer 200 bombes nucléaires »

Après un accord préliminaire conclu en novembre 2013 entre le groupe P5+1 et l’Iran, qui prévoyait que la République islamique accepte de limiter son programme nucléaire, en échange d’un allégement des sanctions économiques, M. Nétanyahou dénonce une « erreur historique » et son ministre de l’économie met en garde contre la possibilité pour l’Iran de fabriquer une bombe nucléaire dans un délai très court :

« L’accord laisse intacte la machine nucléaire iranienne et pourrait permettre à l’Iran de produire une bombe dans une période de six à sept semaines. »

Cette rhétorique récurrente peut expliquer pourquoi Barack Obama a minimisé la portée des derniers propos de Benyamin Nétanyahou, quelques heures avant le discours de ce dernier au Congrès américain. Le président américain a ainsi tenu à souligner que le premier ministre israélien s’était déjà « trompé par le passé » en présentant l’accord de novembre 2013 comme un « mauvais accord » que l’Iran ne respecterait pas.

Voir encore:

Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
03/02/2015

Netanyahu views that his destiny is to protect the Jewish state, and — by extension — the future of the Jews. In his mind, this is why he was fated to come to power. Nothing less.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday, he will likely make reference to Purim, that holiday that will begin Wednesday night commemorating the Jews’ salvation from the hands of Haman and the Persians thousands of years ago.

How could he not; it’s a slam dunk.

Then the Persians wanted to destroy the Jews; today the Persians want to destroy the state of the Jews. Same peoples, same tired story line.

And in this modern day version of the Biblical Book of Esther that many of the US legislators he will be speaking to are familiar with from their Sunday school days, Netanyahu — at least judging from his rhetoric over the last few weeks — sees himself cast as a combination of Mordechai and Esther.

Mordechai was the character in the Book of Esther who recognized the threats to his people in real time; Esther the one who — through the right words, at the right time, in the right situation — took action to thwart them. Netanyahu sees himself playing both roles.

In his mind he is the one who, going back to his first speech to Congress in 1996 where he already identified the danger of a nuclear Iran as the biggest threat facing Israel, is the Mordechai character. He is also the one lobbying the King, in this case US President Barack Obama in the role of King Ahashverush, to get him to squelch the Persian plot against the Jews.

One of the most poignant moments in the Book of Esther comes toward the end of Chapter 4, when Mordechai has alerted Esther to the dangers hovering above the Jews, and entreats her to plead her people’s case before the King. Her answer was to hem-and-haw a bit and say she was not invited to meet the King, and those who approach him without being invited face death.

Mordechai’s reply: « If you remain silent at such a time as this, relief and deliverance for the Jews will appear from some other quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows, perhaps it is for such a time as this that you have come to your royal position. »

Netanyahu’s critics say this speech is all about the elections. But Judging from everything that Netanyahu has said over the years, not just for this election cycle, he views that this — protecting his people and his country from destruction — is the reason he came to power.

Other prime ministers, such as Yitzhak Rabin or Shimon Peres, viewed their reason for rule as becoming The Peacemaker. Netanyahu never cast himself in that role. He views that his destiny is to protect the Jewish state, and — by extension — the future of the Jews. In his mind, this is why he was fated to come to power. Nothing less.

Netanyahu, the best English orator Israel has ever had at its helm, also believes — much like Obama — in the power of words. That he is going forward with a speech that he obviously knows will severely complicate his life with Obama until the end of the President’s term, indicates that he — as sources close to him have said — believes in the possibility that words can convince key policy makers that the concessions being offered to Iran are much too much.

Esther saved the Jewish people not through a great military achievement, but with daring to speak to the King. Netanyahu seems to see himself playing a similar role.

It is worth noting that in recent days Netanyahu, including Monday in his address to AIPAC, has noted other Israeli Prime Ministers who at key crossroads have been willing to take action even when it ran contrary to US policy.

Netanyahu has mentioned David Ben-Gurion, who declared statehood in 1948, even though the US State Department was adamantly opposed. He has mentioned Levi Eshkol, who took preemptive action in June 1967 against the Egyptians, even though the US president at the time, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was firmly against. He mentioned Menachem Begin, who took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 even though then president Ronald Reagan was so incensed at the move that he temporarily halted the delivery of fighter planes to Israel. And he cited Ariel Sharon, who continued with Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, even when president George W. Bush called on him to stop.

(Netanyahu also could have mentioned Ehud Olmert, who — according to foreign reports — issued the order in 2007 to take out a Syrian nuclear facility, even though the US preferred to deal with the matter at the UN).

By raising these cases, Netanyhau is saying that the prime minister is joining the ranks of other Israeli premiers who took brave action even if it risked a rocky patch in the relationship with the US.

But the parallels are far from perfect. Ben-Gurion, Eshkol, Begin and Sharon all took concrete actions to further what they viewed as vital Israeli interests, even if these ran up against American wishes. What Netanyahu is doing is giving a speech — not ordering a military strike.

But Netanyahu has shown over his long career that he believes in the efficacy of the speech, and how the right words, at the right time, delivered in the right way, can change history. One precedent he is leaning on is the Book of Esther.

Some are likening Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as a duel with Obama and calling it High Noon. Considering the season, however, it may be more apt to call it Purim on the Potomac.

Voir aussi:

Why Religious Jews See a Parallel Between the Netanyahu-Obama Rift on Iran and the Bible’s Book of Esther
Sharona Schwartz
The Blaze
Feb. 25, 2015

Religious Jews are drawing parallels between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address next week to Congress, which has earned the ire of the Obama administration, and the experiences of the biblical Esther who made the case to Persia’s king on behalf of the Jewish people to halt the designs of a hate-consumed official to annihilate the Jews.

The faithful have been sharing their thoughts on social media and have pointed to the the timing of Netanyahu’s speech, March 3, which happens to fall of the eve of the Fast of Esther, when Jews commemorate the three-day fast Queen Esther asked the Jews to undertake while they repented and prayed she would succeed in her mission to convince King Ahasuerus to scuttle the evil Haman’s genocidal plans.

The Obama administration has lambasted Israel over Netanyahu’s accepting an invitation from House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to speak to Congress, which it described as a break in diplomatic protocol.

Some religious leaders have noted that the same kind of break in protocol was key to the Jews’ redemption in the Book of Esther. The Jewish holiday of Purim, which this year is celebrated March 5, marks Esther’s success in her mission to thwart Haman’s destructive plan.

“Remarkably, this is not the first time the issue of protocol lies at the heart of an Iranian threat to destroy the Jewish people,” Yeshiva University Professor Rabbi Benjamin Blech wrote in an article for the Jewish educational organization Aish Hatorah. “There is biblical precedent. Eerily echoing today’s story, the Book of Esther recounts the first recorded instance of attempted genocide against Jews in the ancient empire of Persia, today known as Iran.”

In the Book of Esther, Mordechai learns of Haman’s plot to exterminate all the Jews “in a single day.” Mordechai urges his adopted daughter Esther to intercede with her husband, the king.

“But Esther is afraid. If she were to approach her husband to appeal Haman’s decree, she would be breaking royal protocol” by approaching the king when she had not been summoned, which could lead to a death penalty for her, Blech explained.

After begging the Jews to fast and pray, “Esther chose to disregard protocol in the face of possible extermination of her people. Esther succeeded in averting the evil decree. As a result, Jews to this day around the world celebrate the Festival of Purim,” Blech wrote.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida also likened Mordechai and Esther to Netanyahu.

“Why did we ultimately triumph over Haman such that we are here today and he is a distant memory? The answer is simple: Mordechai and Esther, two heroes stood up and, like an alarm, rang and rang until they woke up our people from their practically comatose sleep,” Goldberg wrote. “Like Mordechai and Esther before him, on the eve of Ta’anis Esther [Fast of Esther] this year, the Prime Minister of Israel will speak before a joint a session of Congress and seek to sound the alarm, to awaken from their sleep the decision-makers who can stop the wicked plans of modern day Persia.”

Goldberg recalled a lesson shared by the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, considered one of the leading rabbinical figures of Orthodox Judaism.

Purim is often celebrated as commemorating a miracle, but Soloveitchik offered a unique view on what the real miracle was.

“A madman rose and articulated his intentions to destroy the Jewish people. The miracle was that we didn’t ignore him, we didn’t excuse him, and we didn’t seek to reinterpret him. The miracle was that we actually believed him and sought to do something about it,” Goldberg wrote, citing Soloveitchik’s lesson.

Rabbi Benzion “Benny” Hershcovich, an emissary of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who directs the Cabo Jewish Center, pointed out that the redemption of the Jews as told in the Book of Esther was described as occurring by natural means, with no overt divine miracle recounted.

Indeed, God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, though religious Jews note the improbable string of coincidences that led to the Jews’ salvation, suggesting God’s invisible hand was at work.

Hershcovich told TheBlaze Wednesday that like Esther, “here Netanyahu is trying to go about ensuring Israel’s survival through political means” and is not “depending on a miracle.”

The rabbi explained that the current Jewish month of Adar in which Purim is celebrated is considered to be a joyous month.

“Adar is the month where the Jewish people are victorious against Persia so the timing of Netanyahu’s speech – not only in political sense – but from a religious point of view, there’s probabaly no better time for him to speak out against the modern day Haman than in the proximity to Purim,” Hershcovich said.

He noted that the 1991 Gulf War even ended on the Purim holiday.

“So in general, Purim is a good day for Jews,” Hershcovich said.

Voir également:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2012/0307/Netanyahu-gives-Obama-the-Book-of-Esther.-Biblical-parable-for-nuclear-Iran

Netanyahu gives Obama the Book of Esther. Biblical parable for nuclear Iran?
Esther tells of a Persian plot against the Jews that was thwarted through cunning and the intercession of a gentile king. Purim, the holiday that celebrates the story, starts tonight.
Dan Murphy
The Christian Science Monitor
March 7, 2012

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama the Book of Esther as a gift a few days ago, the message was only slightly less subtle than if he had constructed a massive neon billboard across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the message « Mr. President, please help me destroy Iran before they destroy us. »

The Book of Esther is from the Old Testament, and it’s a story that Jews across the world will celebrate tonight and tomorrow with the holiday of Purim. Unlike much of the good book, there are hardly any mentions of God. Instead it’s a tale of backroom maneuvering ending in victory for the Jews and destruction of their enemies, with a woman in the rare role of hero. Did this 2,500-year-old tale of double-dealing and deceit, set in the old Persian Empire, really happen? Well, your mileage may vary. Does it contain lessons for today? Bibi certainly thinks so.

One of his aides told a reporter that gift was meant to provide “background reading” on Iran for Obama. In a speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, Netanyahu described Haman, the villain of the tale, as « a Persian anti-Semite [who] tried to annihilate the Jewish people. » The context of his speech was that Iran, the modern successor to Persia, presents the greatest danger to peace and security on the planet.

While I’m not sure foreign policy is well-crafted with ancient biblical texts as a guide, the lessons of the Esther story are taken seriously by Netanyahu and millions of Jews. Some Jewish traditions say Hitler is not a historical aberration, but a descendent of Haman (who, in turn, was a descendant of the Jews’ enemies in Egypt). The story of a proposed genocide of the Jews in ancient Persia? Evidence for why the modern state of Israel had to be established – there could be no guaranteed security or safety for Jews living in a Gentile-majority state.

What happened? The Persian king Ahasuerus is displeased with his wife and casts her aside, ordering his men to scour the country for a new bride. The beautiful orphan Esther, being fostered by her cousin Mordechai, is brought before Ahasuerus and he takes her as his wife. Mordechai tells her to keep her Jewish identity a secret.

Some time later, Mordechai overhears a plot against the king and transmits the warning through Esther. But Mordechai’s role is unknown and he runs into trouble when some time after that, Haman is elevated to vizier – the king’s prime minister and right-hand man. Haman is not a nice man. After Mordechai refuses to bow down before the vain and bullying Haman, the vizier decides to eradicate all Jews in Persia in revenge. With a honeyed tongue in the king’s ear warning that Jews are disloyal and dangerous, he wins approval. On a set date, all the Jews in the empire will be slaughtered.

Mordechai learns of the plot, and sends word to Esther that she must intercede with the king. He beseeches her: « If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this. » (As quoted in the New International Version of the Bible.)

So she arrays herself in finery and presents herself to Ahasuerus, who promises to give her anything she wants. She finally reveals she’s a Jew and that Haman’s plan means the destruction of her own people, and Mordechai – whose role in uncovering the assassination plot against the king has by now been revealed.

The furious king shifts positions, and gives the Jews permission to destroy their enemies. The story ends with Haman, his brothers, and 75,000 other Persians put to the sword. Mordechai is elevated to vizier, and given wide latitude to make policy.

It appears that in a modern context, Netanyahu sees himself as Mordechai, Iran’s leaders as Haman, and Obama perhaps as Ahasuerus, the powerful but easily influenced king who almost led to the Jews’ downfall but saved them in the nick of time. There isn’t an obvious Esther figure at the moment (though fans of the evangelical Christian politician Sarah Palin often compared her to Queen Esther, come to save her people « at a time such as this, » during her vice presidential run). But I think that’s enough of the plot to get the point.

The holiday itself, though very Jewish, is really a celebration of man (and woman) taking action to save themselves rather than waiting for divine intervention. There are no miracles but human ingenuity and intelligence, no great lessons beyond a reminder that the Jews have enemies, and when the chips are down they’d better look to themselves first (as Netanyahu told AIPAC, « The purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. »)

The holiday has evolved down the centuries into a cross between Halloween and Hogmanay. There will be readings from Esther in synagogues tonight, but also kids running around in costumes gobbling sweet Hamantaschen (« Haman’s hats, » though in modern Hebrew they’re called « Haman’s ears »). Their elders generally indulge in the harder stuff. It’s a celebration of victory and survival.

In the modern tale being told by Netanyahu, with his frequent warnings that Iran’s nuclear program is the gathering storm of a new Holocaust, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the one « trying to kill us. » War talk has been quieted slightly by Obama’s skillful handling of his own meetings with Netanyahu and AIPAC this week. But the biblical underpinnings of Netanyahu’s and many others Jews fears promise to, eventually, ratchet up the heat again.

Voir par ailleurs:

Selon l’institut Gallup, Netanyahu est plus populaire qu’Obama aux Etats-Unis !
Jack Philip

JSSNews

3 mars 2015

Malgré les attaques violentes lancées par une certaine presse américaine, la côte de popularité du Premier Ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu est quasiment à un niveau record, selon un sondage Gallup publié lundi.

Les résultats du sondage montrent que les tensions avec l’administration du président Barack Obama sur son discours prévu au Congrès mardi n’ont pas nui à son image auprès du public américain, et les Américains le voient à peu près aussi favorablement aujourd’hui que depuis 1996 et sa prise de pouvoir en Israël.

Dans ce sondage, on apprend que 45 % des américains voient Netanyahu de manière positive – le record était en 1998 avec 46% d’opinions positives. 45% en 2015, c’est 10 points de plus qu’en 2012.

A l’inverse, seulement 24% des américains voient Netanyahu de manière négative (et parmi eux de nombreux latinos et musulmans).

Les républicains apprécient beaucoup plus Netanyahu (60%) que négativement (18%), tandis que les démocrates sont divisés: 31% favorables et 31% défavorables. Parmi les indépendants, 45% ont une opinion favorable de Netanyahu, tandis que 23% le considèrent défavorablement.

Par comparaison avec les chiffres de Netanyahu, un sondage publié le 23 février par the Economist / YouGov, a révélé que 45% des américains ont un avis favorable d’Obama, contre 50% ayant une mauvaise opinion négative.

Voir enfin:

Le discours intégral et en français de Benjamin Netanyahu devant le Congrès américain
JSSnews

3 mars 2015

Voici l’adaptation en français de la transcription intégrale de l’allocution du Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu devant le Congrès américain, le 3 Mars 2015.

Merci.

(Applaudissements)

Merci …

(Applaudissements)

… Le Président de la Chambre John Boehner, le président Pro Tem sénateur Orrin Hatch, sénateur de la minorité – leader de la majorité Mitch McConnell, leader de la minorité Nancy Pelosi, chef de la majorité et de la Chambre Kevin McCarthy.

Je tiens également à remercier le sénateur, leader démocrate Harry Reid. Harry, il est bon de vous voir revenir sur vos pieds.

(Applaudissements)

Je suppose que ce qu’ils disent est vrai, vous ne pouvez pas garder un homme bon en mauvais état.

(Rires)

Mes amis, je suis profondément honoré par la possibilité de parler pour la troisième fois devant le corps législatif le plus important au monde, le Congrès américain.

(Applaudissements)

Je tiens à vous remercier tous d’être ici aujourd’hui. Je sais que mon discours a fait l’objet de nombreuses controverses. Je regrette profondément que certains perçoivent ma présence ici comme politique. Cela n’a jamais été mon intention.

Je tiens à vous remercier, démocrates et républicains, pour votre soutien commun à Israël, année après année, décennie après décennie.

(Applaudissements)

Je sais que peu importe de quel côté de l’allée vous vous asseyez, vous vous tenez avec Israël.

(Applaudissements)

L’alliance remarquable entre Israël et les Etats-Unis a toujours été au-dessus de la politique. Elle doit toujours rester dessus de la politique.

(Applaudissements)

Parce que l’Amérique et Israël partagent un destin commun, le destin de terres promises qui chérissent la liberté et offrent de l’espoir. Israël est reconnaissant du soutien de l’Amérique – de la population de l’Amérique et des présidents de l’Amérique, de Harry Truman à Barack Obama.
(Applaudissements)

Nous apprécions tout ce que le président Obama a fait pour Israël.

Mais vous savez déjà tout cela.

(Applaudissements)

Vous savez que nous apprécions le renforcement de la coopération sécuritaire et le partage des renseignements, nous apprécions que vous vous opposez aux résolutions anti-israélienne à l’ONU.

Mais il y a certaines choses que le Président Obama a fait, qui sont moins connues…

Je l’ai appelé en 2010, lorsque nous avons eu l’incendie de la forêt Carmel, et il a immédiatement accepté de répondre à ma demande d’aide urgente.

En 2011, nous avons eu notre ambassade au Caire en état de siège, et de nouveau, il a fourni une aide vitale en ce moment crucial.

Il a également soutenu nos demandes pour notre défense anti-missile au cours de l’été dernier, lorsque nous étions face aux terroristes du Hamas.

(Applaudissements)

View image | gettyimages.com
Dans chacun de ces moments, j’ai appelé le président, et il était là.

Et certaines choses de ce que le président a fait pour Israël ne peuvent pas être dites, parce que cela touche aux questions sensibles et stratégiques qui ne peuvent être dites qu’entre un Président américain et un Premier Ministre israélien.

Mais je sais cela, et je serai toujours reconnaissant au président Obama pour ce soutien.

(Applaudissements)

Et Israël vous est reconnaissant, reconnaissant le Congrès américain, pour votre soutien, pour nous soutenir à bien des égards, en particulier dans l’aide militaire généreuse et la défense antimissile, y compris le Dôme de Fer.

(Applaudissements)

L’été dernier, des millions d’Israéliens ont été protégée contre les milliers de roquettes du Hamas, grâce à ce Dôme construit avec vous.

(Applaudissements)

Merci, l’Amérique. Merci pour tout ce que vous avez fait pour Israël.

Mes amis, je suis venu ici aujourd’hui parce que, en tant que Premier ministre d’Israël, je me sens une obligation profonde de vous parler d’une question qui pourrait bien menacer la survie de mon pays et l’avenir de mon peuple: la quête iranienne pour obtenir des armes nucléaires .

Nous sommes un peuple ancien. Dans nos près de 4000 ans d’histoire, beaucoup ont essayé à plusieurs reprises de détruire le peuple juif. Demain soir, lors de la fête juive de Pourim, nous allons lire le Livre d’Esther. Nous lisons le récit d’un vice-roi de Perse puissant nommé Haman, qui complotait pour détruire le peuple juif il y a quelque 2500 ans. Mais une femme juive courageuse, reine Esther, a démontré ce complot et a donné au peuple juif le droit de se défendre contre ses ennemis

Le complot a été déjoué. Notre peuple a été sauvé.

(Applaudissements)

Aujourd’hui le peuple juif fait face à une autre tentative, d’un autre potentat perse, de nous détruire. Le Guide suprême l’ayatollah Khamenei crache sa haine la plus ancienne, la haine de l’antisémitisme, avec les nouvelles technologies. Il tweete qu’Israël doit être anéanti – il tweete ! Vous savez, en Iran, Internet n’est pas vraiment ce qu’on peut appeler livre. Mais il tweet en anglais qu’Israël doit être détruit.

Pour ceux qui croient que l’Iran menace l’Etat juif, mais pas le peuple juif, écoutez Hassan Nasrallah, le chef du Hezbollah, chef mandataire terroriste de l’Iran. Il a dit: Si tous les Juifs se rassemblent en Israël, cela va nous épargner la fatigue de les pourchasser dans le monde entier.
Mais le régime iranien n’est pas seulement un problème juif, pas plus que le régime nazi n’était qu’un problème juif. Les 6 millions de juifs assassinés par les nazis n’étaient qu’une fraction des 60 millions de personnes tuées dans la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Donc, si le régime de l’Iran constitue une grave menace non seulement pour Israël, c’est aussi le cas pour la paix du monde entier. Pour comprendre à quel point l’Iran serait dangereux avec des armes nucléaires, nous devons comprendre pleinement la nature du régime.

Le peuple d’Iran est composé de gens très talentueux. Ils sont les héritiers d’une des plus grandes civilisations du monde. Mais en 1979, ils ont été détournés de leur histoire par des fanatiques religieux, des fanatiques religieux – qui ont imposé une dictature sombre et brutale.

Cette année là, les fanatiques ont rédigé une constitution nouvelle pour l’Iran. Elle ordonne aux gardiens de la révolution de ne pas seulement protéger les frontières de l’Iran, mais aussi de remplir la mission idéologique du jihad. Le fondateur du régime, l’ayatollah Khomeini, a exhorté ses partisans à « exporter la révolution dans le monde entier. »

Je suis ici à Washington, et la différence est tellement frappante. Le document fondateur de l’Amérique promet la vie, la liberté et la poursuite du bonheur. Le document fondateur de l’Iran s’engage dans la mort, la tyrannie, et la poursuite du djihad. Et alors que les États s’effondrent à travers le Moyen-Orient, l’Iran se charge d’occuper le vide pour faire exactement cela.

Les hommes de main de l’Iran à Gaza, ses laquais au Liban, ses gardiens de la révolution sur le plateau du Golan entourent Israël avec trois tentacules de terreur. Soutenu par l’Iran, Assad massacre Syriens. Soutenu par l’Iran, les milices chiites sont lâchées en Irak. Soutenu par l’Iran, les Houthis prennent le contrôle du Yémen, menaçant les détroits stratégiques à l’embouchure de la mer Rouge. Avec le détroit d’Ormuz, ce serait donner à l’Iran une seconde point d’approvisionnement en pétrole du monde.

La semaine dernière, près d’Ormuz, l’Iran a procédé à un exercice militaire en détruisant une maquette d’un porte-avions américain. C’est juste la semaine dernière, alors qu’ils négocient avec les Etats-Unis sur le nucléaire. Mais malheureusement, depuis les 36 dernières années, les attaques de l’Iran contre les Etats-Unis ont été tout sauf sur des maquettes. Et les objectifs n’ont été que trop réels.

L’Iran a pris des dizaines d’Américains en otage à Téhéran, a assassiné des centaines de soldats américains, des Marines à Beyrouth, et est responsable de la mort et de mutilations des milliers d’hommes et de femmes, de militaires américains en Irak et en Afghanistan.

Au-delà du Moyen-Orient, l’Iran attaque l’Amérique et ses alliés à travers son réseau mondial de terrorisme. Il a fait sauter le centre de la communauté juive et l’ambassade israélienne à Buenos Aires. Il a aidé Al Qaida à attaquer les ambassades américaines en Afrique. Il a même tenté d’assassiner l’ambassadeur saoudien, ici à Washington DC.

Au Moyen-Orient, l’Iran domine désormais quatre capitales arabes, Bagdad, Damas, Beyrouth et Sanaa. Et si l’agression de l’Iran n’est pas défaite, d’autres suivront sûrement.
Donc, à un moment où beaucoup espèrent que l’Iran se joindra à la communauté des nations, l’Iran est occupé engloutir les nations.

(Applaudissements)

Nous devons tous unir nos efforts pour arrêter la marche de l’Iran par les conquêtes, l’asservissement et de la terreur.

(Applaudissements)

Il y a deux ans, on nous a dit de donner au Président Rouhani et aux ministre des Affaires étrangères Zarif, une chance d’apporter des changements et de la modération en Iran. Quels changements! Quelle modération!

Le gouvernement de Rouhani pend gays, persécute les chrétiens, emprisonne des journalistes et exécute encore plus de prisonniers que par le passé.

L’année dernière, le même Zarif qui charme diplomates occidentaux a déposé une gerbe sur la tombe d’Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh est le cerveau terroriste qui a fait verser le plus de sang plus américain que tout autre terroriste outre Oussama ben Laden. Je aimerais voir quelqu’un lui poser une question à ce sujet.

Le régime iranien est plus radical que jamais, il scande « Mort à l’Amérique », et surnomme l’Amérique « le grand satan. »

Maintenant, cela ne devrait pas être surprenant, parce que l’idéologie du régime révolutionnaire de l’Iran est profondément enracinée dans l’islam militant, et c’ est pourquoi ce régime sera toujours un ennemi de l’Amérique.

Ne soyez pas dupe. La bataille entre l’Iran et l’ISIS ne fait pas l’Iran dans un ami de l’Amérique.

L’Iran et l’ISIS sont en compétition pour le trône de l’Islam militant. Le premier se nomme République Islamique, le second Etat Islamique. les deux veulent imposer un empire islamique militant, d’abord sur la région, puis sur le reste du monde. Ils sont simplement en désaccord sur celui qui sera le chef de cet empire.

Dans cette lutte mortelle pour un trône, il n’y a pas de place pour l’Amérique ou pour Israël, pas de paix pour les chrétiens, les juifs ou les musulmans qui ne partagent pas la croyance médiévale islamiste, pas de droits pour les femmes, pas de libertés pour les peuples.

Alors, quand il s’agit de l’Iran et de l’ISIS, l’ennemi de votre ennemi est votre ennemi.
(Applaudissements)

La différence est que l’ISIS est armé avec des couteaux de boucher, des armes saisies et YouTube, alors que l’Iran pourrait bientôt être armé avec des missiles balistiques intercontinentaux et des bombes nucléaires. Nous devons toujours nous rappeler – je vais le dire une fois de plus – que le plus grand danger auquel notre monde doit faire face, est le mariage de l’Islam militant avec des armes nucléaires. Vaincre l’Etat Islamique et laisser l’Iran obtenir des armes nucléaires serait comme gagner la bataille, mais perdre la guerre. Nous ne pouvons pas laisser cela se produire.

(Applaudissements)

Mais cela, mes amis, c’est exactement ce qui pourrait arriver, si l’accord en cours de négociation est accepté par l’Iran. Cet accord ne va pas empêcher l’Iran de développer des armes nucléaires. Il fait tout sauf garantir que l’Iran n’obtienne ces armes, beaucoup d’armes.

Permettez-moi de vous expliquer pourquoi. Alors que l’accord final n’a pas encore été signé, certains éléments de tout accord potentiel sont maintenant de notoriété publique. Vous n’avez pas besoin des agences de renseignement et des informations secrètes pour le savoir. Cherchez cela sur Google.

En l’absence d’un changement radical, nous savons pour sûr que tout accord avec l’Iran comprendra deux grandes concessions à l’Iran.

La première concession majeure serait de laisser l’Iran avec une vaste infrastructure nucléaire, en l’obligeant pendant une courte période de construire une bombe. Cette pause est le temps nécessaire pour obtenir suffisamment d’uranium de qualité militaire ou de plutonium pour une bombe nucléaire.

Selon l’accord, pas une seule installation nucléaire ne serait démolie. Des milliers de centrifugeuses utilisées pour enrichir l’uranium seraient laissés libres. Des milliers d’autres seraient déconnectés temporairement, mais pas détruites.
Le programme nucléaire de l’Iran resterait en grande partie intacte, notamment parce que cette pause, d’environ un an pour laisser aux Etats-Unis le temps d’observer la situation, cette pause serait encore plus courte pour Israël.

Et si le travail de l’Iran sur ses centrifugeuses avancées, plus rapides et de meilleures qualités, si ces centrifugeuses ne sont pas stoppées, cette pause pourrait être encore plus courte, beaucoup plus courte !

Certes, certaines restrictions seraient imposées sur le programme nucléaire de l’Iran et ce pays devrait accepter des visites supervisées par des inspecteurs internationaux…  Mais voici le problème:  les inspecteurs documentent les violations; ils ne les arrêtent pas.

Les inspecteurs savaient quand la Corée du Nord était prête à obtenir la bombe, mais cela n’a pas empêché quoi que ce soit. La Corée du Nord a éteint les caméras, expulsé les inspecteurs. Et en quelques années, il ont obtenus la bombe.

Maintenant, nous savons que dans les cinq ans, la Corée du Nord pourrait avoir un arsenal de 100 bombes nucléaires.

Comme la Corée du Nord, l’Iran aussi a défié les inspecteurs internationaux. Cela a été fait à au moins 3 occasions distinctes en 2005, 2006 et 2010. Comme la Corée du Nord, l’Iran a brisé les serrures et éteint les caméras.

Je sais que ce que je vais vous dire ne va pas vous choquer, personne, mais l’Iran ne défie pas que les inspecteurs… Il joue également de manière très habile à cache-cache avec eux, il triche avec eux.

L’Agence de surveillance nucléaire de l’ONU, l’AIEA, a dit encore hier que l’Iran refuse toujours de faire le ménage dans son programme nucléaire militaire. L’Iran a également été pris la main dans le sac – pris deux fois, pas une fois, deux fois – à exploiter des installations nucléaires secrètes à Natanz et Qom, des installations dont les inspecteurs ne connaissaient même pas l’existence.

À l’heure actuelle, l’Iran pourrait cacher des installations nucléaires que nous ne connaissons pas. Comme l’ancien chef des inspections de l’AIEA l’a déclaré en 2013, «S’il n’y a aucune installation non déclarée aujourd’hui en Iran, ce sera la première fois en 20 ans que ce serait le cas. » L’Iran a prouvé à maintes reprises qu’on ne peut pas lui faire confiance. Et c’est pourquoi la première concession majeure est une grande source de préoccupations. Cela laisse l’Iran avec une vaste infrastructure nucléaire tout en s’appuyant uniquement sur les inspecteurs surveiller cela. Cette concession crée un réel danger : celui de voir l’Iran obtenir la bombe en violant l’accord.

Mais la deuxième concession majeure crée un danger encore plus grand ; l’Iran pourrait construire la bombe tout en signant l’accord… Parce que presque toutes les restrictions sur le programme nucléaire de l’Iran expireront automatiquement dans environ une décennie.
Une décennie peut sembler une longue période dans la vie politique, mais c’est un clin d’oeil dans la vie d’une nation. C’est un clin d’œil dans la vie de nos enfants. Nous avons tous la responsabilité d’imaginer ce qui se passera lorsque les capacités nucléaires de l’Iran seront pratiquement illimitées et que toutes les sanctions ont été levées. L’Iran serait alors libre de construire une énorme capacité nucléaire qui pourrait produire beaucoup, beaucoup de bombes nucléaires.

Le Guide suprême de l’Iran le dit ouvertement. Il dit, l’Iran prévoit d’avoir 190.000 centrifugeuses, pas 6.000 ou pas 19.000 comme aujourd’hui, mais 10 fois cela: 190.000 centrifugeuses d’enrichissement d’uranium. Avec cette capacité importante, l’Iran pourrait fabriquer du carburant pour l’ensemble d’un arsenal nucléaire et ce en quelques semaines à partir du moment où la décision est prise.

Mon ami de longue date, John Kerry, le secrétaire d’État, a confirmé la semaine dernière que l’Iran pourrait obtenir légalement toutes ces centrifugeuses lorsque l’accord arriverait à expiration.

Maintenant, je veux que vous pensiez à ce sujet. Le parrain du terrorisme mondial ne pourrait être qu’à quelques semaines d’obtenir assez d’uranium pour tout un arsenal d’armes nucléaires… Et cela avec une pleine légitimité internationale.

Et en passant, le programme de missiles balistiques intercontinentaux de l’Iran ne fait pas partie de la transaction… Et jusqu’à présent, l’Iran refuse de même le mettre sur la table des négociations ces missiles. Eh bien, avec cela l’Iran pourrait avoir les moyens d’utiliser cet arsenal nucléaire dans tous les coins de la terre, y compris au coeur de l’Amérique.

Donc, vous voyez, mes amis, cet accord a deux concessions majeures: une, quitter l’Iran avec un vaste programme nucléaire et deux, la levée des restrictions sur ce programme dans environ une décennie. C’est pourquoi cet accord est si mauvais. Il ne bloque pas le chemin de l’Iran vers la bombe; il ouvre le chemin de l’Iran vers la bombe.

Alors pourquoi quelqu’un devrait signer ce deal ? Parce qu’ils espèrent que l’Iran va changer pour le mieux dans les années à venir, ou qu’ils croient que l’alternative à cet accord est pire?

Eh bien, je suis en désaccord avec ça. Je ne crois pas que le régime radical de l’Iran va changer pour le mieux après cet accord. Ce régime est au pouvoir depuis 36 ans, et son appétit vorace pour l’agression augmente chaque année qui passe. Cet accord ne va faire que donner plus d’appétit à l’Iran.
L’Iran serait-elle moins agressive en retirant des sanctions et avec une meilleure économie ? Si l’Iran est engloutit quatre pays en ce moment alors qu’il est soumis à des sanctions, combien de pays plus l’Iran va pouvoir dévorer quand les sanctions seront levées ? Est-ce que l’Iran va moins financer le terrorisme quand des montagnes d’argent se déverseront sur le pays ?

Pourquoi le régime radical iranien se dé-radicaliserait alors qu’ils pourraient profiter de ce qu’il y a de mieux: le terrorisme à l’étranger et la prospérité à la maison ?

C’est une question que tout le monde se pose dans notre région. Les voisins d’Israël – les voisins de l’Iran savent que l’Iran va devenir encore plus agressif et parrainer le terrorisme encore plus quand son économie sera libérée et que la voix vers la bombe sera sans encombres.

Et beaucoup de ces voisins disent qu’ils vont réagir dans cette course, pour s’armer avec des bombes au plus vite. Donc, cet accord ne changera pas l’Iran pour le mieux; il ne fera que changer le Moyen-Orient pour le pire. Un accord qui est censé empêcher la prolifération nucléaire va plutôt déclencher une course aux armements nucléaires dans la partie la plus dangereuse de la planète.

Cet accord ne sera pas un adieu aux armes. Il serait un adieu à la maîtrise des armements. Et le Moyen-Orient sera bientôt traversé par un réseaux de fils liés à des armes nucléaires. Une région où de petites escarmouches peuvent déclencher des grandes guerres se transformerait en une poudrière nucléaire.

Si quelqu’un pense – si quelqu’un pense que cet accord est le début du chemin, détrompez-vous. Quand nous prendront ce chemin, nous devrons faire face à un Iran beaucoup plus dangereux, un Moyen-Orient jonché de bombes nucléaires et un compte à rebours pour un possible cauchemar nucléaire.

Mesdames et Messieurs, Je suis venu ici aujourd’hui pour vous dire que nous n’avons pas à parier sur la sécurité du monde en espérant que l’Iran va changer pour le mieux. Nous n’avons pas à jouer avec notre avenir et l’avenir de nos enfants.

Nous devons insister pour que les restrictions sur le programme nucléaire de l’Iran ne soient pas levées aussi longtemps que l’Iran continue ses agressions dans la région et dans le reste du monde.

(Applaudissements)

Avant de lever ces restrictions, le monde devrait exiger que l’Iran fasse trois choses. Tout d’abord, arrêter son agression contre ses voisins du Moyen-Orient. Deuxièmement…

(Applaudissements)

Deuxièmement, cesser de soutenir le terrorisme dans le monde entier.

(Applaudissements)

Et troisièmement, cesser de menacer d’anéantir mon pays, Israël, le seul et unique Etat juif.

(Applaudissements)
Merci.

Si les puissances mondiales ne sont pas prêtes à insister pour que l’Iran change son comportement avant qu’un accord est signé, à tout le moins, ils devraient insister pour que l’Iran change son comportement avant l’expiration d’un accord.

(Applaudissements)

Si l’Iran change son comportement, les restrictions seraient levées. Si l’Iran ne change pas son comportement, les restrictions ne devraient pas être levées.

(Applaudissements)

Si l’Iran veut être traité comme un pays normal, il doit agir comme un pays normal.

(Applaudissements)

Mes amis, que dire de l’argument selon lequel il n’y a pas d’alternative à cet accord, que le savoir-faire nucléaire de l’Iran ne peut pas être effacé, que son programme nucléaire est tellement avancé que le mieux que nous puissions faire est de retarder l’inévitable, ce qui est essentiellement ce que l’accord actuel cherche à faire ?

Eh bien, le savoir-faire nucléaire sans infrastructures ne vous permets pas de faire beaucoup. Un pilote de course sans voiture ne peut pas conduire. Un pilote sans avion ne peut pas voler. Sans milliers de centrifugeuses, des tonnes d’uranium ou des installations d’eau lourde, l’Iran ne peut pas fabriquer des armes nucléaires.

(Applaudissements)

Le programme nucléaire de l’Iran peut être annulé bien au-delà de la proposition actuelle en insistant sur un meilleur accord et en maintenant la pression sur un régime très vulnérable, surtout étant donné l’effondrement récent du prix du pétrole.

(Applaudissements)

Maintenant, si l’Iran menace de s’éloigner de la table des négociations- et cela arrive souvent dans un bazar persan – c’est du bluff. Ils vont revenir, parce qu’ils ont besoin de cet accord beaucoup plus que nous.

(Applaudissements)

Et en maintenant la pression sur l’Iran et sur les personnes qui font des affaires avec l’Iran, vous avez le pouvoir de les rendre encore plus dans le besoin.

Mes amis, depuis plus d’un an, nous répétons qu’aucun accord vaut mieux qu’un mauvais accord. Et bien là, c’est un mauvais accord. C’est un très mauvais accord. Et nous serions mieux sans.

(Applaudissements)

Maintenant on nous dit que la seule alternative à cette mauvaise affaire est la guerre. C’est tout simplement pas vrai.

L’alternative à ce mauvais accord, c’est un meilleur accord.
(Applaudissements)

Un meilleur accord qui ne laisse pas l’Iran avec une vaste infrastructure nucléaire et une courte pause. Un meilleur accord qui maintient les restrictions sur le programme nucléaire de l’Iran en place jusqu’à ce que l’agression de l’Iran se termine.

(Applaudissements)

Un meilleur accord qui ne va pas donner à l’Iran une voie facile pour accéder à la bombe. Un meilleur accord qu’Israël et ses voisins ne peuvent pas aimer, mais avec lequel nous pourrions vivre, littéralement. Et aucun pays …

(Applaudissements)

… Aucun pays n’a une plus grand intérêt qu’Israël dans un bon accord qui supprime pacifiquement cette menace.

Mesdames et Messieurs, l’histoire nous a placé à un carrefour fatidique. Nous devons maintenant choisir entre deux chemins. Un chemin qui mène à un mauvais accord qui, au mieux, restreindrait les ambitions nucléaires de l’Iran pendant un certain temps, mais qui conduira inexorablement à un Iran nucléaire, dont l’agression débridée conduira inévitablement à la guerre.

La deuxième voie, aussi difficile, pourrait conduire à un bien meilleur accord qui empêcherait un Iran nucléaire, un Moyen-Orient nucléarisé et des conséquences horribles sur toute l’humanité.

Vous n’avez pas à lire Robert Frost pour le savoir. Vous devez vivre votre vie afin de savoir que le chemin difficile est habituellement le moins fréquenté, mais il faudra savoir faire toute la différence pour l’avenir de mon pays, la sécurité du Moyen-Orient et la paix du monde, paix que nous avons tous pour désir.

(Applaudissements)

Mes amis, se tenir debout face à l’Iran n’est pas simple. Etre debout face à des régimes sombres et meurtriers n’est jamais simple. Il y a parmi nous aujourd’hui un survivant de la Shoah et lauréat du prix Nobel, Elie Wiesel.

(Applaudissements)

Elie, votre vie et votre travail nous inspirent pour donner un sens aux mots, « plus jamais ça. »
(Applaudissements)

Et je souhaite pouvoir vous promettre, Elie, que les leçons de l’histoire ont été tirées. Je ne peux qu’encourager les dirigeants du monde à ne pas répéter les erreurs du passé.

(Applaudissements)

Ne pas sacrifier l’avenir au présent; ne pas ignorer l’agression dans l’espoir de gagner une paix illusoire.

Mais je ne peux vous garantir cela. Les jours où le peuple juif sont restés passifs face à des ennemis génocidaires, ces jours sont révolus.

(Applaudissements)

Nous ne sommes plus dispersé parmi les nations, impuissants pour nous défendre. Nous avons restauré notre souveraineté dans notre ancienne maison. Et les soldats qui défendent notre maison ont un courage sans bornes. Pour la première fois en 100 générations, nous, le peuple juif, pouvons nous défendre.

(Applaudissements)

C’est pourquoi – c’est pourquoi, en tant que Premier ministre d’Israël, je peux vous promettre une chose: Même si Israël doit seul, Israël tiendra.

(Applaudissements)

Mais je sais qu’Israël n’est pas seul. Je sais que l’Amérique se tient avec Israël.

(Applaudissements)

Je sais que vous êtes avec Israël.

(Applaudissements)

Vous vous tenez avec Israël, parce que vous savez que l’histoire d’Israël n’est pas seulement l’histoire du peuple juif, mais de l’esprit humain qui refuse encore et encore de succomber à des horreurs de l’histoire.

(Applaudissements)

Face à moi, juste là dans cette galerie, on voit l’image de Moïse. Moïse a conduit notre peuple de l’esclavage aux portes de la terre promise.

Et avant que le peuple d’Israël n’entre sur la terre d’Israël, Moïse nous a donné un message qui a endurci notre détermination depuis des milliers d’années. Je vous laisse avec son message aujourd’hui, « Soyez forts et déterminés, sans peurs ni craintes à leurs égards. »

Mes amis, Israël et l’Amérique doivent toujours se tenir ensemble, forts et déterminés. Puissions-nous n’avoir ni peurs ni craintes face aux défis à venir. Puissions-nous faire face à l’avenir avec confiance, force et espoir.

Que Dieu bénisse l’Etat d’Israël et que Dieu bénisse les Etats-Unis d’Amérique.

(Applaudissements)

Merci. Merci beaucoup. Merci à tous.

Vous êtes merveilleux.

Merci, l’Amérique. Merci.

Merci.

Par Benjamin Netanyahu – adaptation JSSNews
Texte original en anglais disponible sur The Algemeiner

Voir par ailleurs:

Attentats en Israël : un jury américain condamne les Palestiniens à verser des millions en indemnités 
23 février 2015
Reuters/Ici Radio Canada

Un jury populaire de l’État de New York a condamné lundi l’Autorité palestinienne (AP) et l’Organisation de libération de la Palestine (OLP) à verser 218 millions de dollars d’indemnités aux familles de victimes d’attentats commis en Israël pendant la seconde Intifada, entre 2002 et 2004.

La justice américaine avait été saisie par les familles de 11 victimes israélo-américaines de six attentats survenus à Jérusalem et attribués aux Brigades des martyrs d’Al-Aqsa et au Hamas. Ces attentats ont fait au total 33 morts et plus de 450 blessés.

Les plaignants réclamaient des indemnités de 350 millions de dollars. À l’issue de six semaines de procès, ils ont obtenu 218 millions de dollars, une somme susceptible d’être multipliée par trois en vertu de la loi antiterroriste américaine.

« L’OLP et l’AP savent désormais que le soutien au terrorisme a un coût », a déclaré Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, un des avocats des familles des victimes.

Selon ces familles, l’ancien dirigeant palestinien Yasser Arafat et son entourage faisaient en sorte que les employés de l’OLP qui voulaient commettre des attentats soient payés et que les familles de ceux qui y laissaient la vie soient dédommagées.

Les avocats de l’OLP et de l’AP ont de leur part plaidé le fait que les deux entités avaient condamné les attentats et que ceux-ci avaient été le fait de fonctionnaires subalternes n’obéissant pas à leur hiérarchie.

L’AP et l’OLP ont fait appel du verdict. Même si la condamnation est maintenue, il n’est pas sûr que les plaignants pourront percevoir les indemnités.

Ce procès devant le tribunal fédéral de Manhattan a suivi l’adhésion de l’AP à la Cour pénale internationale (CPI). La cour pourrait maintenant poursuivre des responsables israéliens, mais aussi palestiniens, pour crimes de guerre.

ÉTATS-UNIS

La justice américaine condamne l’Autorité palestinienne pour des attentats en Israël
Un jury de New York a condamné l’Autorité palestinienne et l’OLP à verser des dommages pour avoir soutenu des attaques terroristes en Israël lors desquelles des Américains ont été tués ou blessés.

Courrier international

24 février 2015

« Des organisations palestiniennes sont jugées coupables lors d’un procès concernant des actes de terrorisme », titre en une The New York Times ce 24 février. L’Autorité palestinienne et l’Organisation de libération de la Palestine (OLP) ont été condamnées par un jury d’un tribunal fédéral de Manhattan à payer 218,5 millions de dollars de dommages « pour avoir soutenu en connaissance de cause six attaques terroristes en Israël entre 2002 et 2004, lors desquelles des Américains ont été tués ou blessés », écrit le quotidien américain.

Ce verdict met fin à dix ans de bataille juridique, note The New York Times. S’il constitue « une immense victoire pour des dizaines de plaignants », il pourrait aussi « renforcer les allégations d’Israël selon lequelles les forces palestiniennes dites modérées ont un lien direct avec le terrorisme ».

La plainte avait été déposée en 2004 en vertu de la loi anti-terroriste de 1992, qui permet aux citoyens américains victimes de terrorisme international de porter plainte devant des tribunaux aux Etats-Unis, précise le quotidien. Cette loi prévoit le triplement automatique des dommages accordés par le jury, ce qui doit porter ces derniers à 655,5 millions de dollars.

Attentat rue des Rosiers en 1982: trois suspects recherchés par la France
Nouvel Obs

04-03-2015

Paris (AFP) – L’enquête sur l’attentat de la rue des Rosiers vient de s’accélérer, 32 ans après, avec la délivrance de mandats d’arrêt internationaux contre trois suspects d’origine palestinienne qui vivent en Norvège, en Jordanie et Cisjordanie.

Cette décision du juge d’instruction Marc Trévidic a été saluée comme « un message fort lancé à tous les terroristes » par la Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme (Licra). Elle sera cependant difficile à mettre en oeuvre, deux des trois suspects de l’attentat dans ce quartier juif du centre de Paris se trouvant au Proche-Orient.

Le 9 août 1982 à la mi-journée, une grenade avait été jetée dans le restaurant de Jo Goldenberg, explosant au milieu d’une cinquantaine de clients. Deux tueurs étaient ensuite entrés, ouvrant le feu.

Composé de trois à cinq hommes armés, selon une source proche du dossier, le commando avait ensuite remonté la rue, vidant en direction des passants les chargeurs de leurs pistolets-mitrailleurs « WZ-63″, de fabrication polonaise.

Bilan de cette attaque qui aura duré trois minutes: six morts et 22 blessés. Une opération attribuée à un groupe palestinien dissident de l’OLP, le Fatah-Conseil révolutionnaire (Fatah-CR) d' »Abou Nidal », décédé en 2002 dans des circonstances mystérieuses.

Dans cette enquête très ancienne, ce sont des témoignages anonymes qui ont permis l’identification des trois suspects d’origine palestinienne, des anciens du groupe d’Abou Nidal, après un travail de longue haleine d’un enquêteur de la Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI), a indiqué mercredi à l’AFP une source judiciaire, confirmant une information de RTL et Paris Match.

Deux des trois hommes sont soupçonnés d’avoir fait partie du commando, a précisé la source. Il s’agit de Mahmoud Khader Abed Adra alias « Hicham Harb », 59 ans, qui vit aujourd’hui à Ramallah, en Cisjordanie, et de Walid Abdulrahman Abou Zayed, alias « Souhail Othman », 56 ans, qui vit en Norvège.

Le troisième est Souhair Mouhamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, alias « Amjar Atta », 62 ans. Cet homme installé en Jordanie est soupçonné d’avoir supervisé l’attaque. Il était le numéro 3 du « comité des opérations spéciales » du Fatah-CR, un comité dirigé par « Abou Nizar », le bras droit d' »Abou Nidal ».

- « On fera tout pour les arrêter » -

Le 20 février, le juge antiterroriste Marc Trévidic, qui avait récupéré cette enquête instruite auparavant par Jean-Louis Bruguière, a délivré trois mandats d’arrêt à diffusion internationale contre ces hommes.

« Il s’agit d’un message extrêmement fort lancé à tous les terroristes, à tous ces assassins, qui montre que plus de trente ans après, on fera tout pour les arrêter, on fera tout pour les juger », a déclaré à l’AFP Me Alain Jakubowicz, président de la Licra, partie civile dans le dossier.

« On dit aux victimes qu’on ne les a pas oubliées et qu’on fera tout pour que justice soit rendue », a-t-il ajouté, en précisant que le juge réunirait lundi les parties civiles dans cette affaire.

« La question de l’exécution de ces mandats d’arrêt est très délicate », a cependant relevé l’avocat.

Une analyse partagée par le député UMP Alain Marsaud, qui était magistrat au parquet de Paris au moment de l’attaque.

« Il sera malheureusement difficile de rendre justice aux pauvres victimes de la rue des Rosiers assassinées par des membres du groupe Abu Nidal, sur commandite d’Hafez el-Assad », a-t-il dit dans un communiqué.

L’enquête avait longtemps piétiné sans connaître d’avancée notable, hormis la découverte d’une des armes de l’attentat dans un bosquet du bois de Boulogne, à Paris.

En 1982, la France résonnait déjà des soubresauts du conflit au Proche-orient, des luttes opposant Israéliens contre arabes, ou arabes contre arabes. Deux ans plus tôt, quatre personnes avaient trouvé la mort dans un attentat devant une synagogue rue Copernic. L’auteur présumé de cet attentat, le Libano-Canadien Hassan Diab, a finalement été mis en examen et écroué en novembre.


Obama: Le national-socialisme n’a rien à voir avec l’Allemagne ou le peuple allemand (President Franklin Delano Obama: Imagine Obama as an American president in 1939)

28 février, 2015

Photo via PJMedia

Sack cartoon: Obama's Islamic State strategy
 Mes bons amis, voici la seconde fois que nous rentrons d’Allemagne à Downing Street avec une paix honorable. Je crois qu’il s’agit de la paix pour notre temps. Nous vous remercions du fond du cœur. À présent, je vous conseille de rentrer chez vous, et dormez en paix. Neville Chamberlain
I do not believe we should be in the business of telling Muslims what their religion is or isn’t. So I kind of recoil from anyone who says it’s all this, or anyone who says it’s not any of that. I think we should be in the business of asking them, “Why is this happening?” We don’t know. We have an overwhelming number of Muslims who are American citizens living in this country and who are wonderful citizens. So we don’t have this problem. So maybe you could explain it to me, but I sort of recoil at anyone sitting back who’s not a Muslim, saying, “That is not Islam.” What the hell do you know what Islam is? “Oh, I read the Quran in college” … you don’t know anything, OK? And that’s not our job, it seems to me.So, the way I’ve written about it is that obviously this is emerging from their faith community. First of all, it’s not emerging from across their faith community. It’s not a problem in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim country. It’s not a problem in India, the world’s second-biggest Muslim country. We’re talking about a problem that has clearly been emerging from the Arab world and Pakistan, primarily. Now what is that about? » I think it’s a really complicated mix of a product of years of authoritarian government, mixing with the export of Wahhabi puritanical Islam from Saudi Arabia, all over that world, that has really leached out the more open, joyous, synchronistic Islam that you had in Egypt. You look at pictures of graduates from Cairo University in 1950, you’ll see none of the women were wearing veils. Today you look at the picture and probably most of the women will be wearing veils. Thank you, Saudi Arabia. That is the product of the export of a particular brand of Islam from Saudi Arabia with the wealth of that country. And that’s mixed in also with the youth bulge and unemployment. And so where Islam starts in that story and where authoritarian begins, how much people hate their own government, bleeding into Wahhabism, bleeding into massive amounts of young men who have never held power because they’re not allowed to in their country, never held a job, never held a girl’s hand. And when you have lots of young males who have never held power, a job, or a girl’s hand, that is real dynamite. Tom Friedman
Je sais que c’est horrible à dire, mais je ne pense pas que le président aime l’Amérique. Il ne vous aime pas, il ne m’aime pas. Il n’a pas été élevé comme vous et moi dans l’amour de ce pays. Il critique l’Amérique. Il parle des croisades en disant que les chrétiens étaient des barbares, oubliant de finir sa phrase en disant que les musulmans étaient aussi des barbares. Rudolph Giuliani
Je ne remets pas en cause son patriotisme, je suis sûr qu’il est patriote. Mais dans sa rhétorique, je l’entends très rarement dire les choses que j’avais l’habitude d’entendre chez Ronald Reagan ou Bill Clinton concernant leur amour pour l’Amérique. Je l’entends critiquer l’Amérique beaucoup plus que d’autres présidents américains. Rudolph Giuliani
L’agenda de ces négociations a été fixé en novembre 2013. Les deux précédentes dates butoirs, de juin 2014 et novembre 2014, n’ont pas permis d’arriver à un compromis. La nouvelle échéance est celle de juin 2015. Je ne suis pas optimiste car le dossier capotera toujours sur un détail ou sur un autre. Le programme nucléaire iranien répond au besoin hégémonique régional des mollahs. Il faut empêcher à tout prix ce régime d’arriver au seuil du nucléaire militaire. (…) La France est plus intransigeante que les États-Unis. Heureusement! Il y a chez les Américains une certaine forme de naïveté. Ils cherchent, en quelque sorte, à faire un nouveau Camp David, du nom des accords qu’ils ont obtenus en 1978 entre Israéliens et Égyptiens. Ils oublient que le nouveau président iranien, Hassan Rohani, présenté comme plus conciliant, n’a pas la main. C’est le guide Khamenei qui est important, et je ne pense pas que celui-ci acceptera que son programme nucléaire soit placé sous contrôle international. (…) Il est illusoire de penser que, face à la menace du radicalisme sunnite, la théocratie chiite iranienne peut être un allié. N’oublions pas que ces deux radicalismes ont un ennemi commun: la liberté, la démocratie, les droits de l’homme… Toutes les valeurs portées par l’Occident sont, pour eux, des poisons. N’oublions pas non plus que, bien avant al-Qaida et l’État islamique, Khomeyni a été le premier à lancer une fatwa contre l’écrivain Salman Rushdie. (…) Encore une fois, le régime n’y a aucun intérêt parce que sa survie en dépendrait à long terme, à quatre ou cinq ans. À court terme, les relations ne se réchaufferaient pas pour autant. Tout le monde marcherait sur des œufs et seuls les affairistes profiteraient de la situation. (…) Il n’y a qu’une seule bonne solution pour libérer mon pays: un mouvement populaire. Toute intervention militaire ne peut mener qu’à une situation encore plus catastrophique. Mais un soulèvement n’est possible que si la population se sent soutenue. Ce qui manque aujourd’hui, c’est une volonté politique des grandes démocraties pour soutenir les Iraniens dans leurs aspirations démocratiques. Les Iraniens ont en tête l’exemple de la révolution syrienne qui a débouché sur le chaos car les Occidentaux n’ont pas répondu présent. Que reste-t-il d’ailleurs de l’espoir placé dans les printemps arabes? Pas grand-chose malheureusement. (…) Je souhaite que la France et la communauté internationale mettent davantage la pression sur le régime à propos des droits de l’homme. Depuis l’arrivée d’Hassan Rohani, la situation s’est nettement détériorée. Beaucoup de prisonniers politiques me contactent et demandent que le monde libre fasse davantage. Je veux évoquer le cas de l’ayatollah Boroujerdi, torturé régulièrement en prison depuis sept ans car il défend la laïcité. Il faut se mobiliser pour sa libération, et aussi pour l’ensemble des prisonniers politiques. (…) Seuls des changements significatifs dans cette région permettront l’élimination à la source des réseaux djihadistes et contribueront à assurer la sécurité de tous partout dans le monde. Ces attentats montrent une fois encore à quel point nos destins sont liés. Reza Pahlavi
The real sticking point isn’t the speech; the sticking point is the deal.(…) Republican House Speaker John Boehner went around the Democratic White House to invite Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about the threat from Iran. The speech will come two weeks before Mr. Netanyahu is running for a new term at home, and three weeks before the deadline for the talks the U.S. and five other world powers are holding with Iran over a possible deal to curb its nuclear program.(…) The administration believes the deal it’s negotiating will reduce Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium so much that Tehran’s leaders would need a year to break out of the agreement and produce enough fissile material to build a bomb—sufficient time to allow the U.S. and its allies to stop any such breakout. Mr. Netanyahu thinks that the residual enrichment capability granted Iran would still leave it as a threshold nuclear state, and would in any case be too large to adequately monitor and inspect with any certainty. Gerald F. Seib
As the six-week trial revealed, the Palestinian Authority provided backing for terrorists—and continues to do so today. Palestinian military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yalowitz calculated, spend $50 million a year to keep terrorists on the payroll while they are held in Israeli jails. The Palestinian government also awards “martyr payments” to the families of suicide bombers. Monday’s verdict comes as something of a vindication for the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American who in 1985 was murdered by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists aboard the hijacked Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro. The Klinghoffer family filed a lawsuit, but U.S. federal courts had no jurisdiction over acts of terrorism outside the country. The case was dropped, and the PLO settled with the Klinghoffers out of court for an undisclosed sum in 1997. The 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act provides federal courts “with an explicit grant of jurisdiction over international terrorism” and a private right of action for “any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism.” The act also has the virtue of allowing American citizens to assign blame for supporting terrorism, even if politicians are reluctant to do so. Jessica Kasmer-Jacob
Let me be perfectly clear: Mr. Hitler is playing to a domestic audience. He adopts a sort of macho shtick, as a cut-up in the back of the class who appeals to disaffected countrymen. Our task is to demonstrate to Mr. Hitler that his current behavior is not really in his own interest, and brings neither security nor profit to Germany. As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted some folks in a store. (…) We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization that remains a manageable problem. (…) These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy, and all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like the SS somehow represent socialism because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorist narrative. So make no mistake about it: National Socialism has nothing to do with Germany or the German people but is rather a violent extremist organization that has perverted the culture of Germany. It is an extremist ideology that thrives on the joblessness of Germany and can be best opposed by the international community going to the root of German unemployment and economic hard times. Let us not confuse Nazism with legitimate expressions of German nationalism. Stiff-arm saluting and jack boots are legitimate tenets of Germanism, and the German Brotherhood, for example, is a largely peaceful organization. So we Americans must not get on our own high horse. We, too, have bullied our neighbors and invaded them. We, too, have struggled with racism and anti-Semitism, slavery and Jim Crow. And our own culture has at times treated American citizens in the same callous way as the National Socialist do Germans. Before we castigate the Nazis, let us remember the Inquisition and the Crusades. (…) Germany has always been a part of America, always a part of the American story. The future will not belong to those who slander German culture. I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Germany. President Franklin Delano Obama
No radical ideology, religious or otherwise, starts out coherently, much less representing the majority; but it eventually can if appeased and left unchallenged. Does Obama think that National Socialism could never have represented the Germany of Goethe and Schiller just because it only appealed to a minority of Germans in the 1932 election or was clearly a perversion of traditional German values? All that was true, but irrelevant two years later when Germans who once laughed at the barbarity of National Socialism suddenly were willing to look the other way at its thuggery, killings, and ethnic cleansing in exchange for the sense of pride it lent a public that felt itself victimized. (…) Hitler rose to power not because most Germans favored euthanasia and rounding up Jews, but because they were willing to overlook that and a lot more if Hitler were able to win back respect for traditional German influence and status. It matters little right now that most Muslims in theory reject ISIS and find its barbarity a perversion of what they see as traditional Islam, in the way National Socialism distorted classical socialism and German values and history. The key instead is to what degree by its success in gaining territory and numbers, and in humiliating the West, will ISIS gain adherents among Muslims? ISIS assumes that most Muslims, despite their present reservations over its methodology and religious contortions, harbor some quiet admiration that at least radical Islam strikes back at Muslims’ supposed oppressors. ISIS like Hitler expects that in time it will win psychological resonance for a large minority of Muslims — at least in sufficient numbers to ensure its existence and growth. The abyss from Bismarck and Hegel to Auschwitz was not inherently greater than from the Koran to ISIS, given the unchanging nature of humankind. Psychoanalyzing Hitler or declaring that National Socialism was a betrayal of classical Germany or fearing conflating Nazism with Germany itself was a useless parlor game in the 1930s. All that mattered was whether Hitler’s thuggery could be humiliated — its bluff called in the Rhineland or at Munich — and shown to be weak and a prescription for disaster before it became too strong. Victor Davis Hanson

Vous avez dit « paix pour notre temps » ?

A l’heure où le prétendu Monde libre pourrait s’acheminer vers un accord nucléaire que tout le monde sait incontrolable fin mars …

Avec un pays qui, du Liban à l’Irak et au Yemen, étend chaque jour un peu plus son influence mortifère …

Et qu’un leader dudit  prétendu Monde libre se refusant, lui et sa claque médiatique politiquement correcte y compris dans sa version light à la Tom Friedman, à prononcer même le nom de son ennemi …

N’a pas de mots assez durs pour le dirigeant d’un Etat qui refuse de faire les frais d’un accord qui pourrait signifier pour son pays rien de moins que son rayage, depuis longtemps claironné, de la carte du monde …

Pendant que face au secret de polichinelle de l’organisation et du financement du terrorisme par l’Autorité palestinienne depuis des décennies, une cour de justice américaine est contrainte de se substituer à la pusillanimité de ses dirigeants politiques qui financent ladite Autorité …

Comment ne pas voir avec l’historien militaire américain Victor Davis Hanson …

Via l’exemple, hypothétique mais ô combien parlant, d’un President Franklin Delano Obama …

La véritable catastrophe que nous prépare une telle approche ?

President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism
Imagine Obama as an American president in 1939

Victor Davis Hanson

PJMedia

February 23, 2015

“The United States has made significant gains [2] in our struggle against violent extremism in Europe. We are watching carefully aggressions in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and in Eastern Europe. My diplomatic team has made it very clear that aggression against neighbors is inappropriate and unacceptable. We live in the 20th century, where the 19th century practice [3] of changing borders by the use of force has no place in the present era.

“Let me be perfectly clear: Mr. Hitler is playing to a domestic audience. He adopts a sort of macho shtick, as a cut-up in the back of the class who appeals to disaffected countrymen. Our task is to demonstrate to Mr. Hitler that his current behavior is not really in his own interest, and brings neither security nor profit to Germany.

“As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted [4] some folks in a store. My job is sort of like a big-city mayor, to monitor these terrorist acts that are said to be done in the name of the German people. Let us not overreact and begin to listen to radio commentators who whip us up into a frenzy as if we were on the verge of war. We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization [5] that remains a manageable problem.

“Here let me just say that we must never fall into the trap of blaming the German people abroad, but especially our German community here at home. National Socialism by no means has anything to do with socialism [6]. These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy, and all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like the SS somehow represent socialism because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorist narrative. It is true that America and Germany have a complicated history, but there is no clash of civilizations. The notion that America would be at war with Germany is an ugly lie.

“So make no mistake about it: National Socialism has nothing to do with Germany or the German people [7] but is rather a violent extremist organization that has perverted the culture of Germany. It is an extremist ideology that thrives on the joblessness of Germany [8] and can be best opposed by the international community going to the root of German unemployment and economic hard times. Let us not confuse Nazism with legitimate expressions of German nationalism. Stiff-arm saluting and jack boots are legitimate tenets of Germanism, and the German Brotherhood, for example, is a largely peaceful organization [9].

“So we Americans must not get on our own high horse [10]. We, too, have bullied our neighbors and invaded them. We, too, have struggled with racism and anti-Semitism, slavery and Jim Crow. And our own culture has at times treated American citizens in the same callous way as the National Socialist do Germans. Before we castigate the Nazis, let us remember the Inquisition and the Crusades [11].

“In the face of Nazi challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home — opposing workplace violence and man-caused disasters. We know that overseas contingency operations [12] alone cannot solve the problem of Nazi aggression. Nor can we simply take out [13] SS troopers who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists working for Dr. Goebbels and Herr Himmler, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in man-caused disasters themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so. One of the chief missions of our new aeronautics board will be to reach out to Germans to make them feel proud [14] of German achievement. I want to remind Americans that Germans fostered the Renaissance, and helped create sophisticated navigation, mathematics, and medicine. This week, we will take an important step forward, as governments, civil society groups and community leaders from more than 60 nations will gather in Washington for a global summit on countering violent extremism. We hope that the efforts of those like Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Daladier and others will focus on empowering local communities, especially in Britain and France.

“Groups like the SS offer a twisted interpretation of German culture that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s German-speaking communities. The world must continue to lift up the voices of moderate German pastors and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of German culture. We can echo the testimonies of former SS operatives and storm troopers who know how these terrorists betray Germany. We can help German entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop media tools to counter extremist Nazi narratives on radio and in newspapers.

“We know from experience that the best way to protect all people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists like the SS and the National Socialists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders throughout Germany and Western Europe in general.

“More broadly, groups like those headed by Herr Hitler and the National Socialists exploit the anger that festers when people in Germany feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today’s youth something better. Here I would remind ourselves of our past behavior in waging wars near the homeland of Germany. I opposed the Great War, and further opposed the Versailles Treaty that disturbed the region and stirred up violent passions and extremism.

“Governments like those in Europe that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter such violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances [15] through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity. It does no good to talk of wars against Germany or Italy, or to demonize particular political movements as if they are monolithic or in any way represent the feeling of the majority of Germans and Italians.

“Finally — with Nazism and fascism peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Germany and Italy — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including German and Italian Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds. Germany has always been a part of America [16], always a part of the American story. The future will not belong to those who slander German culture. I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Germany.

“That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various nations. We’ve seen tragic killings directed at particular groups in our country, among them German Americans.

“We do not yet know why at times Germans have been attacked here in the United States.  But we know that many German Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with the German community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.

“Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week’s summit here at Washington, we’ll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.”

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://pjmedia-new.pjmedia.netdna-cdn.com/victordavishanson/user-content/2/files/2015/02/obama_fdr_fireside_chat_2-22-15-1.jpg

[2] has made significant gains: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-obama-terrorism-conference-20150218-story.html

[3] the 19th century practice: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CEMQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Farticles%2FSB10001424052702304914904579441752139339602&ei=QD3qVP-rBYHEggTJxIHYBg&usg=AFQjCNHwHv2jKDxUqKjGWG_KMLNjUrI7BQ&sig2=dblN6k69fR9hAM6wwfbscQ&

[4] randomly targeted: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2015/02/11/jewishlivesmatter/

[5] jayvee organization: http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/384723/remember-when-obama-called-isis-jayvee-jim-geraghty

[6] with socialism: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2008/01/11/long-live-mussolini-long-live-socialism/

[7] or the German people: http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/peaceful_majority_irrelevant/

[8] the joblessness of Germany: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/11/01/ezra-klein-gleichschaltung/

[9] is a largely peaceful organization: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/02/10/dni_james_clapper_muslim_brotherhood_a_largely_secular_group.html

[10] on our own high horse: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/2015/02/09/get-off-high-horse-mr-obama/

[11] the Crusades: http://tinyurl.com/kftmprc

[12] overseas contingency operations: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032402818.html

[13] simply take out: http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/02/16/harf-we-cant-kill-our-way-out-of-war-against-isis/

[14] to make them feel proud: http://michellemalkin.com/2010/07/06/the-left-stuff-nasas-muslim-outreach/

[15] legitimate grievances: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/02/18/obama-extremists-have-legitimate-grievances-you-know-n1958902

[16] has always been a part of America: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/20/obama-islam-woven-into-the-fabric-of-our-country-since-founding/

Voir aussi:

The Administration’s Adolescent Rants about ISIS
Victor Davis Hanson

NRO- The Corner

February 23, 2015

It is disheartening to listen to Obama and his administration voices childishly reiterating that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam because it does not represent the majority of Muslims or what Westerners perceive as normative values distilled from the Koran.

No radical ideology, religious or otherwise, starts out coherently, much less representing the majority; but it eventually can if appeased and left unchallenged.

Does Obama think that National Socialism could never have represented the Germany of Goethe and Schiller just because it only appealed to a minority of Germans in the 1932 election or was clearly a perversion of traditional German values?

All that was true, but irrelevant two years later when Germans who once laughed at the barbarity of National Socialism suddenly were willing to look the other way at its thuggery, killings, and ethnic cleansing in exchange for the sense of pride it lent a public that felt itself victimized.

Western European observers of the 1930s who were worried at what was going on in Germany did not, like our president, insist that National Socialism had nothing to with socialism or Germany, but rather feared that it might exploit both and end up not just representing Germany, but enthusiastically embraced by a majority of Germans. They were right. Hitler rose to power not because most Germans favored euthanasia and rounding up Jews, but because they were willing to overlook that and a lot more if Hitler were able to win back respect for traditional German influence and status.

It matters little right now that most Muslims in theory reject ISIS and find its barbarity a perversion of what they see as traditional Islam, in the way National Socialism distorted classical socialism and German values and history. The key instead is to what degree by its success in gaining territory and numbers, and in humiliating the West, will ISIS gain adherents among Muslims?

ISIS assumes that most Muslims, despite their present reservations over its methodology and religious contortions, harbor some quiet admiration that at least radical Islam strikes back at Muslims’ supposed oppressors. ISIS like Hitler expects that in time it will win psychological resonance for a large minority of Muslims — at least in sufficient numbers to ensure its existence and growth. The abyss from Bismarck and Hegel to Auschwitz was not inherently greater than from the Koran to ISIS, given the unchanging nature of humankind.

Psychoanalyzing Hitler or declaring that National Socialism was a betrayal of classical Germany or fearing conflating Nazism with Germany itself was a useless parlor game in the 1930s. All that mattered was whether Hitler’s thuggery could be humiliated — its bluff called in the Rhineland or at Munich — and shown to be weak and a prescription for disaster before it became too strong.

Voir également:

The Palestinian Authority’s Bad Day in Court
The government of the West Bank, which receives hundreds of millions in U.S. foreign aid, is found liable for financing terrorism in Israel.
Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs
WSJ
Feb. 26, 2015

For the better part of a decade, Congress has annually allocated $400 million to the Palestinian Authority in foreign aid, ostensibly to build schools, renovate hospitals and repair roads. On Monday in a U.S. federal court, a Manhattan jury found that this same Palestinian government financed and supported six terrorist acts that killed dozens of people in 2002-04 during the Second Intifada against Israel.

The verdict held the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for $218.5 million in damages. Under the 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act, the sum automatically triples to $655.5 million, roughly 15% of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget. The Palestinian groups said they will appeal.

For the 10 American families who were injured or lost relatives more than a decade ago in the terrorist attacks, the ruling is overdue justice. Mark Sokolow, the lead plaintiff, had narrowly escaped the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and was in Jerusalem four months later. He and his family were outside a shoe store when a suicide bomb detonated. Mr. Sokolow’s wife, Rena, recalled in testimony hearing “a whoosh, and I started spinning around like I was in a washing machine.” She looked at her leg and saw “the bone sticking out.” Nearby, Ms. Sokolow said, “I saw a severed head of a woman.”

The families in the lawsuit were represented by Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat Ha’Din, an Israeli law firm. Representing the Palestinians was Mark Rochon of Miller & Chevalier, who told the jury that the attacks were carried out by agents “acting on their own for their own reasons” and not by the government he was defending. Those agents were “crazy, wrong, contemptible,” said Mr. Rochon, “but not my clients.”

Yet as the six-week trial revealed, the Palestinian Authority provided backing for terrorists—and continues to do so today. Palestinian military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yalowitz calculated, spend $50 million a year to keep terrorists on the payroll while they are held in Israeli jails. The Palestinian government also awards “martyr payments” to the families of suicide bombers.

Monday’s verdict comes as something of a vindication for the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American who in 1985 was murdered by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists aboard the hijacked Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro. The Klinghoffer family filed a lawsuit, but U.S. federal courts had no jurisdiction over acts of terrorism outside the country. The case was dropped, and the PLO settled with the Klinghoffers out of court for an undisclosed sum in 1997.

The 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act provides federal courts “with an explicit grant of jurisdiction over international terrorism” and a private right of action for “any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism.” The act also has the virtue of allowing American citizens to assign blame for supporting terrorism, even if politicians are reluctant to do so. A jury in New York has spoken about the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Congress might want to consider that fact as it prepares next year’s foreign-aid budget.

Ms. Kasmer-Jacobs is an assistant books editor at the Journal.

Voir encore:

Capital Journal
White House-Netanyahu Rift Isn’t Over the Speech, but the Deal
Israeli leader seems almost certain to oppose deal the U.S. is negotiating with Iran on nuclear program
Gerald F. Seib
WSJ
Feb. 27, 2015

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington for a controversial speech to Congress next week, the immediate problem isn’t that he and the Obama administration disagree. At the moment, the problem actually is that they seem to agree on this: As things stand now, the Israeli leader seems almost certain to oppose and try to block the deal the U.S. is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.

That is a change, and a significant one, from just a few months ago, when it seemed possible there could be a negotiated deal that both Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could embrace, if not exactly love. This change is why Mr. Netanyahu thinks it’s worth undermining his entire relationship with an American president by making a speech the White House didn’t know about and fumed about once it became known. And it’s why the White House has taken on Mr. Netanyahu so directly.

In short, the real sticking point isn’t the speech; the sticking point is the deal.

All of which raises a broader question: Does it have to be this way, or is there still hope of closing the rift? Despite all the tension, the possibility of common ground may not have disappeared entirely.

But first consider the immediate situation in Washington, where the controversy in coming days will be more about a speech rather than the substance of the Iran question. By now, the saga is well known. Republican House Speaker John Boehner went around the Democratic White House to invite Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about the threat from Iran. The speech will come two weeks before Mr. Netanyahu is running for a new term at home, and three weeks before the deadline for the talks the U.S. and five other world powers are holding with Iran over a possible deal to curb its nuclear program.

The White House was miffed. Very. But not, as is commonly assumed, simply because the speech represented a breach of diplomatic protocol, in which world leaders deal with each other rather than through their countries’ respective opposition parties.

The deeper cause for concern within the administration was a feeling that the speech means Mr. Netanyahu has concluded that there is no version of the deal currently being negotiated with Iran that he can endorse—and that he is embarked on a strategy of using his strong connections with Republicans in Congress to find a way to use the legislative branch to block an agreement negotiated by the executive branch.

“He’s advocating against any deal. That’s just not diplomacy,” a senior administration official said. “And he’s not putting forward an alternative deal.”

Little that Mr. Netanyahu has done in recent weeks suggests otherwise. He said this week that it appears the “world powers” negotiating with Iran “have given up” on their commitment to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

In a nutshell, here’s the substantive disagreement. The administration believes the deal it’s negotiating will reduce Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium so much that Tehran’s leaders would need a year to break out of the agreement and produce enough fissile material to build a bomb—sufficient time to allow the U.S. and its allies to stop any such breakout. Mr. Netanyahu thinks that the residual enrichment capability granted Iran would still leave it as a threshold nuclear state, and would in any case be too large to adequately monitor and inspect with any certainty.

There was a time, not long ago, when Mr. Netanyahu appeared to be pleased enough with the economic pressure the U.S. and the West were putting on Iran that he thought it might produce a deal he considered good enough. By all appearances, that’s what has changed.

Is there any alternative to this impasse? Dennis Ross, a Middle East diplomat under several American presidents, including Mr. Obama, thinks there might be. He suggests a new kind of anywhere, any-time inspections regime, enshrined in both a deal and legislation passed by Congress. If that legislation also mandated explicit consequences for Iranian violations, including use of military force, it might create the kind of American assurance Mr. Netanyahu could accept.

“There is a way to bridge the difference,” Mr. Ross says. Next week, though, that may be hard to see.

Voir encore:

Thomas L. Friedman on what’s wrong with Islam
Thomas Friedman

February 8, 2015

The following is excerpted from remarks New York Times columnist Tom Friedman gave Feb. 8 at Stanford University at the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture. We’re reprinting here because it is one of the most succinct and cogent approaches to the heated debate over whether Islam is inherently violent. A student journalist asked Friedman to address the Muslim nature of the Muslim extremist problem. This was Friedman’s response. Below is video of the full presentation:

I do not believe we should be in the business of telling Muslims what their religion is or isn’t. So I kind of recoil from anyone who says it’s all this, or anyone who says it’s not any of that.

I think we should be in the business of asking them, “Why is this happening?” We don’t know. We have an overwhelming number of Muslims who are American citizens living in this country and who are wonderful citizens. So we don’t have this problem. So maybe you could explain it to me, but I sort of recoil at anyone sitting back who’s not a Muslim, saying, “That is not Islam.” What the hell do you know what Islam is? “Oh, I read the Quran in college” … you don’t know anything, OK? And that’s not our job, it seems to me.

So, the way I’ve written about it is that obviously this is emerging from their faith community. First of all, it’s not emerging from across their faith community. It’s not a problem in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim country. It’s not a problem in India, the world’s second-biggest Muslim country. We’re talking about a problem that has clearly been emerging from the Arab world and Pakistan, primarily. Now what is that about?

I think it’s a really complicated mix of a product of years of authoritarian government, mixing with the export of Wahhabi puritanical Islam from Saudi Arabia, all over that world, that has really leached out the more open, joyous, synchronistic Islam that you had in Egypt. You look at pictures of graduates from Cairo University in 1950, you’ll see none of the women were wearing veils. Today you look at the picture and probably most of the women will be wearing veils. Thank you, Saudi Arabia. That is the product of the export of a particular brand of Islam from Saudi Arabia with the wealth of that country. And that’s mixed in also with the youth bulge and unemployment.

And so where Islam starts in that story and where authoritarian begins, how much people hate their own government, bleeding into Wahhabism, bleeding into massive amounts of young men who have never held power because they’re not allowed to in their country, never held a job, never held a girl’s hand. And when you have lots of young males who have never held power, a job, or a girl’s hand, that is real dynamite.

And so I like to talk about it in its full complexity. But I also don’t want to excuse it. We need to have a serious conversation. But we should be in the business of asking them, not excusing them, not accusing everyone.

We need to understand there is a pattern here. You can talk about the Crusades in the 13th century — we’re not living in the 13th century anymore, OK? It’s very hard, I think, for us to get into someone else’s narrative. Only they can get into that narrative. And we need to leave it to them. But I think it is important to ask, to probe, and to challenge in a serious way and stop telling them who they are.

Voir enfin:

Reza Pahlavi: «Face au terrorisme, nos destins sont liés»
Le Figaro
06/02/2015
Reza Pahlavi, fils aîné du dernier chah d’Iran, mercredi à Paris. Crédits photo : FRANCOIS BOUCHON
INTERVIEW – Le fils aîné du dernier chah d’Iran a été reçu cette semaine par des députés français, à Paris. Selon lui, «il est illusoire de penser que, face à la menace du radicalisme sunnite, la théocratie chiite iranienne peut être un allié».

Le dernier chah d’Iran a été chassé de Téhéran en février 1979, sans avoir abdiqué officiellement. Il est mort en 1980. Son fils aîné a été reçu mercredi par la commission des affaires étrangères de l’Assemblée nationale, présidée par Élisabeth Guigou. Il a exposé, à cette occasion, son analyse des négociations sur le programme nucléaire iranien et son point de vue sur la situation dans son pays. Âgé de 54 ans, Reza Pahlavi, qui vit aux États-Unis, prône la désobéissance civile pour venir à bout du régime des mollahs.

LE FIGARO – Les négociations engagées par le groupe 5+1 (Chine, États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Russie et Allemagne) avec Téhéran sur le programme nucléaire iranien ont-elles une chance d’aboutir?

Reza PAHLAVI – L’agenda de ces négociations a été fixé en novembre 2013. Les deux précédentes dates butoirs, de juin 2014 et novembre 2014, n’ont pas permis d’arriver à un compromis. La nouvelle échéance est celle de juin 2015. Je ne suis pas optimiste car le dossier capotera toujours sur un détail ou sur un autre. Le programme nucléaire iranien répond au besoin hégémonique régional des mollahs. Il faut empêcher à tout prix ce régime d’arriver au seuil du nucléaire militaire.

Quel rôle joue la France dans ces négociations?

La France est plus intransigeante que les États-Unis. Heureusement! Il y a chez les Américains une certaine forme de naïveté. Ils cherchent, en quelque sorte, à faire un nouveau Camp David, du nom des accords qu’ils ont obtenus en 1978 entre Israéliens et Égyptiens. Ils oublient que le nouveau président iranien, Hassan Rohani, présenté comme plus conciliant, n’a pas la main. C’est le guide Khamenei qui est important, et je ne pense pas que celui-ci acceptera que son programme nucléaire soit placé sous contrôle international.

Certains Occidentaux pensent qu’il faut se rapprocher de l’Iran pour contrer l’État islamique en Irak et en Syrie. Qu’en pensez-vous?

Il est illusoire de penser que, face à la menace du radicalisme sunnite, la théocratie chiite iranienne peut être un allié. N’oublions pas que ces deux radicalismes ont un ennemi commun: la liberté, la démocratie, les droits de l’homme… Toutes les valeurs portées par l’Occident sont, pour eux, des poisons. N’oublions pas non plus que, bien avant al-Qaida et l’État islamique, Khomeyni a été le premier à lancer une fatwa contre l’écrivain Salman Rushdie.

«Il n’y a qu’une seule bonne solution pour libérer l’Iran : un mouvement populaire. Toute intervention militaire ne peut mener qu’à une situation encore plus catastrophique»
Si accord il y a, que se passera-t-il?

Encore une fois, le régime n’y a aucun intérêt parce que sa survie en dépendrait à long terme, à quatre ou cinq ans. À court terme, les relations ne se réchaufferaient pas pour autant. Tout le monde marcherait sur des œufs et seuls les affairistes profiteraient de la situation.

La population iranienne souffre des sanctions économiques infligées à son pays, peut-elle encore tenir longtemps ainsi?

Il n’y a qu’une seule bonne solution pour libérer mon pays: un mouvement populaire. Toute intervention militaire ne peut mener qu’à une situation encore plus catastrophique. Mais un soulèvement n’est possible que si la population se sent soutenue. Ce qui manque aujourd’hui, c’est une volonté politique des grandes démocraties pour soutenir les Iraniens dans leurs aspirations démocratiques. Les Iraniens ont en tête l’exemple de la révolution syrienne qui a débouché sur le chaos car les Occidentaux n’ont pas répondu présent. Que reste-t-il d’ailleurs de l’espoir placé dans les printemps arabes? Pas grand-chose malheureusement.

Quel rôle jouez-vous personnellement?

J’essaye précisément de créer les conditions de ce soulèvement intérieur. Je milite pour la désobéissance civile dans la non-violence. Cela pourrait commencer par une grève générale qui mettrait à mal le régime. Pour cela, il faut des moyens, réunir des fonds, obtenir des soutiens. En avril 2013, j’ai créé le Conseil national iranien pour des élections libres que je préside.

Que demandez-vous à la France?

Je souhaite que la France et la communauté internationale mettent davantage la pression sur le régime à propos des droits de l’homme. Depuis l’arrivée d’Hassan Rohani, la situation s’est nettement détériorée. Beaucoup de prisonniers politiques me contactent et demandent que le monde libre fasse davantage. Je veux évoquer le cas de l’ayatollah Boroujerdi, torturé régulièrement en prison depuis sept ans car il défend la laïcité. Il faut se mobiliser pour sa libération, et aussi pour l’ensemble des prisonniers politiques.

«Seuls des changements significatifs dans cette région permettront l’élimination à la source des réseaux djihadistes»
Êtes-vous encore entendu dans votre pays?

Je bénéficie d’un capital politique auprès de la génération des nostalgiques de mon père. Dans la nouvelle génération, beaucoup me voient comme un recours pour une transition vers un avenir meilleur.

Après les mollahs, à quoi voudriez-vous que ressemble l’Iran?

Je milite pour une démocratie laïque. Mais, avant des élections libres, nous devrons passer par une phase de réconciliation nationale. J’ai rédigé une charte en dix-sept points avec des activistes politiques menant la résistance à l’intérieur de l’Iran. Ce texte prévoit notamment la séparation de la religion et de l’État, l’égalité des droits entre les hommes et les femmes, le respect du traité de non-prolifération des armes nucléaires, l’abolition de la peine de mort…

Comment avez-vous réagi aux attaques islamistes de ce début d’année à Paris?

Dès le 7 janvier, jour de l’attaque contre Charlie Hebdo, j’ai écrit à François Hollande. Je lui disais que ce drame devait nous engager dans une politique volontariste de soutien aux démocrates des pays du Moyen-Orient, premières victimes du radicalisme religieux. Seuls des changements significatifs dans cette région permettront l’élimination à la source des réseaux djihadistes et contribueront à assurer la sécurité de tous partout dans le monde. Ces attentats montrent une fois encore à quel point nos destins sont liés.


Obama: Quand la légende devient réalité (Symptomatic of a culture in which truth has become relativized: It’s compression, stupid !)

14 février, 2015
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C’est ça, l’Ouest, monsieur le sénateur:  quand la légende devient réalité, c’est la légende qu’il faut publier. Maxwell Scott  (journaliste dans ‘L’Homme qui tua Liberty Valance’, John Ford, 1962)
Le grand ennemi de la vérité n’est très souvent pas le mensonge – délibéré, artificiel et malhonnête – mais le mythe – persistant, persuasif et irréaliste. John Kennedy
Pour moi, la morale consiste à faire ce qui est le mieux pour le maximum de gens. Saul Alinsky
Pourquoi cette apparence anticipée de triomphe pour le candidat dont le bilan des votes au Sénat est le plus à gauche de tout le parti Démocrate? L´électorat américain a-t-il vraiment basculé? Comment expliquer la marge énorme de différence entre les instituts de sondage à 3% et ceux à 12%? L´explication, me semble-t-il, réside dans la détermination sans faille du «peuple médiatique»; comme Mitterrand parlait du «peuple de gauche», les uns, français, habitaient la Gauche, les autres, américains, habitent les media, comme les souris le fromage. Le peuple médiatique, l´élite politico-intellectuelle, le «paysage audiovisuel», comme on dit avec complaisance, ont décidé que rien n´empêcherait l´apothéose de leur candidat. Tout ce qui pouvait nuire à Obama serait donc omis et caché; tout ce qui pouvait nuire à McCain serait monté en épingle et martelé à la tambourinade. On censurerait ce qui gênerait l´un, on amplifierait ce qui affaiblirait l´autre. Le bombardement serait intense, les haut-parleurs répandraient sans répit le faux, le biaisé, le trompeur et l´insidieux. C´est ainsi que toute assertion émise par Obama serait tenue pour parole d´Evangile. Le terroriste mal blanchi Bill Ayers? – «Un type qui vit dans ma rue», avait menti impudemment Obama, qui lui devait le lancement de sa carrière politique, et le côtoyait à la direction d´une fondation importante. Il semble même qu´Ayers ait été, si l´on ose oser, le nègre du best-seller autobiographique (!) d´Obama. Qu´importe! Nulle enquête, nulle révélation, nulle curiosité. «Je ne l´ai jamais entendu parler ainsi » -, mentait Obama, parlant de son pasteur de vingt ans, Jeremiah Wright, fasciste noir, raciste à rebours, mégalomane délirant des théories conspirationnistes – en vingt ans de prêches et de sermons. Circulez, vous dis-je, y´a rien à voir – et les media, pieusement, de n´aller rien chercher. ACORN, organisation d´activistes d´extrême-gauche, aujourd´hui accusée d´une énorme fraude électorale, dont Obama fut l´avocat – et qui se mobilise pour lui, et avec laquelle il travaillait à Chicago? Oh, ils ne font pas partie de la campagne Obama, expliquent benoîtement les media. Et, ajoute-t-on, sans crainte du ridicule, «la fraude aux inscriptions électorales ne se traduit pas forcément en votes frauduleux». Laurent Murawiec
Nous étions en formation avec plusieurs hélicoptères. Deux ont été abattus par des tirs, dont celui à bord duquel je me trouvais. Brian Williams (NBC, 2015)
J’étais dans un appareil qui suivait. J’ai fait une erreur en rapportant cet événement intervenu il y a douze ans. Brian Williams (NBC, 2015)
Il est tout à fait légitime pour le peuple américain d’être profondément préoccupé quand vous avez un tas de fanatiques vicieux et violents qui décapitent les gens ou qui tirent au hasard dans un tas de gens dans une épicerie à Paris. Barack Hussein Obama
Nous sommes devant toi des étrangers et des habitants, comme tous nos pères … I Chroniques 29: 15 (exorde de Rêves de mon père, 1995)
Même si ce livre repose principalement sur des journaux intimes ou sur des histoires orales de ma famille, les dialogues sont forcément approximatifs. Pour éviter les longueurs, certains personnages sont des condensés de personnes que j’ai connues et certains événements sont sans contexte chronologique précis. A l’exception de ma famille et certains personnages publics, les noms des protagonistes ont été changés par souci de respecter leur vie privée. Barack Hussein Obama jr. (préface des Rêves de mon père, 1995)
Je connais, je les ai vus, le désespoir et le désordre qui sont le quotidien des laissés-pour-compte, avec leurs conséquences désastreuses sur les enfants de Djakarta ou de Nairobi, comparables en bien des points à celles qui affectent les enfants du South Side de Chicago. Je sais combien est ténue pour eux la frontière entre humiliation et la fureur dévastatrice, je sais avec quelle facilité ils glissent dans la violence et le désespoir. Barack Hussein Obama jr. (préface de Rêves de mon père, l’histoire d’un héritage en noir et blanc, 2004)
He told the story in brilliant, painful detail in his first book, Dreams from My Father, which may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician. Joe Klein (Time, October 23, 2006)
Given what I do for a living, I suppose it’s only natural that I have a high degree of respect for those who write well. Good writing very often signals a strong intellect and in many cases a deep vision. It also shows its author to be a person of some discipline, in that even those who are born with a great deal of talent in this area still usually have to work hard and make sacrifices to develop their abilities. All of which is making me giddy at the prospect of Barack Obama’s coming presidency. Like many politicians Barack Obama is also an author. What makes him different is he’s also a good writer. Most books by today’s policies are glossy, self-serving, sometimes ghost-written puffery, which are designed to be sold as throwaway literature. Obama has written a couple of these books, and the best that can be said about them is that they’re a cut above the usual tripe politicians slap between two covers. Earlier, however, way back in 1995, Barack Obama penned another book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, which is easily the most honest, daring, and ambitious volume put out by a major US politician in the last 50 years. Rob Woodard (The Guardian)
Much has been made of Mr. Obama’s eloquence — his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world. Mr. Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father” (which surely stands as the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president), suggests that throughout his life he has turned to books as a way of acquiring insights and information from others — as a means of breaking out of the bubble of self-hood and, more recently, the bubble of power and fame. He recalls that he read James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois when he was an adolescent in an effort to come to terms with his racial identity and that later, during an ascetic phase in college, he immersed himself in the works of thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine in a spiritual-intellectual search to figure out what he truly believed. Michiko Kakutani (The New York Times)
I was interested really in him because of his book, « Song of Solomon. » It was quite extraordinary. I mean, he’s a real writer type. (…) Yeah, well, we said a few little things about « Song of Solomon, » and I sort of acknowledged that he was a writer, also, in my high esteem. (…) He’s very different. I mean, his ability to reflect on this extraordinary mesh of experiences that he has had, some familiar and some not, and to really meditate on that the way he does and to set up scenes in a narrative structure type of conversation, all of these things that you don’t often see, obviously, in the routine political memoir biography. But I think this was when he was much younger, like in his 30s or something. So that was impressive to me. But it’s unique. It’s his. There are no other ones like that. Toni Morrison
That’s a good book. Dreams of My Father, is that what it’s called? I read it with great interest, in part because it’d been written by this guy who was running for president, but I found it well done and very persuasive and memorable too. Philip Roth
Qu’est-ce que cela fait d’avoir un nouveau président des Etats-Unis qui sait lire ? Du bien. Cela fait du bien d’apprendre qu’il a toujours un livre à portée de la main. On a tellement flatté ses qualités d’orateur et ses dons de communicant qu’on a oublié l’essentiel de ce qui fait la richesse de son verbe : son côté lecteur compulsif. A croire que lorsqu’il sera las de lire des livres, il dirigera l’Amérique pour se détendre. Michiko Kakutani, la redoutée critique du New York Times, d’ordinaire si dure avec la majorité des écrivains, est tout miel avec ce non-écrivain auteur de trois livres : deux textes autobiographiques et un discours sur la race en Amérique. Elle vient de dresser l’inventaire de sa « bibliothèque idéale », autrement dit les livres qui ont fait ce qu’il est devenu, si l’on croise ce qu’il en dit dans ses Mémoires, ce qu’il en confesse dans les interviews et ce qu’on en sait. Adolescent, il lut avidement les grands auteurs noirs James Baldwin, Langston Hugues, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, W.E.B. Du Bois avant de s’immerger dans Nietzsche et Saint-Augustin en marge de ses études de droit, puis d’avaler la biographie de Martin Luther King en plusieurs volumes par Taylor Branch. Autant de livres dans lesquels il a piqué idées, pistes et intuitions susceptibles de nourrir sa vision du monde. Ce qui ne l’a pas empêché de se nourrir en permanence des tragédies de Shakespeare, de Moby Dick, des écrits de Lincoln, des essais du transcendantaliste Ralph Waldo Emerson, du Chant de Salomon de la nobélisée Toni Morrison, du Carnet d’or de Doris Lessing, des poèmes d’un autre nobélisé Derek Walcott, des mémoires de Gandhi, des textes du théologien protestant Reinhold Niebuhr qui exercèrent une forte influence sur Martin Luther King, et, plus récemment de Gilead (2004) le roman à succès de Marylinne Robinson ou de Team of rivals que l’historienne Doris Kearns Goodwin a consacré au génie politique d’Abraham Lincoln, « la » référence du nouveau président. Pardon, on allait oublier, le principal, le livre des livres : la Bible, of course. Pierre Assouline
Apart from other unprecedented aspects of his rise, it is a geographical truth that no politician in American history has traveled farther than Barack Obama to be within reach of the White House. He was born and spent most of his formative years on Oahu, in distance the most removed population center on the planet, some 2,390 miles from California, farther from a major landmass than anywhere but Easter Island. In the westward impulse of American settlement, his birthplace was the last frontier, an outpost with its own time zone, the 50th of the United States, admitted to the union only two years before Obama came along. Those who come from islands are inevitably shaped by the experience. For Obama, the experience was all contradiction and contrast. As the son of a white woman and a black man, he grew up as a multiracial kid, a « hapa, » « half-and-half » in the local lexicon, in one of the most multiracial places in the world, with no majority group. There were native Hawaiians, Japanese, Filipinos, Samoans, Okinawans, Chinese and Portuguese, along with Anglos, commonly known as haole (pronounced howl-lee), and a smaller population of blacks, traditionally centered at the U.S. military installations. But diversity does not automatically translate into social comfort: Hawaii has its own difficult history of racial and cultural stratification, and young Obama struggled to find his place even in that many-hued milieu. He had to leave the island to find himself as a black man, eventually rooting in Chicago, the antipode of remote Honolulu, deep in the fold of the mainland, and there setting out on the path that led toward politics. Yet life circles back in strange ways, and in essence it is the promise of the place he left behind — the notion if not the reality of Hawaii, what some call the spirit of aloha, the transracial if not post-racial message — that has made his rise possible. Hawaii and Chicago are the two main threads weaving through the cloth of Barack Obama’s life. Each involves more than geography. Hawaii is about the forces that shaped him, and Chicago is about how he reshaped himself. Chicago is about the critical choices he made as an adult: how he learned to survive in the rough-and-tumble of law and politics, how he figured out the secrets of power in a world defined by it, and how he resolved his inner conflicts and refined the subtle, coolly ambitious persona now on view in the presidential election. Hawaii comes first. It is what lies beneath, what makes Chicago possible and understandable. (…) « Dreams From My Father » is as imprecise as it is insightful about Obama’s early life. Obama offers unusually perceptive and subtle observations of himself and the people around him. Yet, as he readily acknowledged, he rearranged the chronology for his literary purposes and presented a cast of characters made up of composites and pseudonyms. This was to protect people’s privacy, he said. Only a select few were not granted that protection, for the obvious reason that he could not blur their identities — his relatives. (…) Keith and Tony Peterson (…) wondered why Obama focused so much on a friend he called Ray, who in fact was Keith Kukagawa. Kukagawa was black and Japanese, and the Petersons did not even think of him as black. Yet in the book, Obama used him as the voice of black anger and angst, the provocateur of hip, vulgar, get-real dialogues. (…) Sixteen years later, Barry was no more, replaced by Barack, who had not only left the island but had gone to two Ivy League schools, Columbia undergrad and Harvard Law, and written a book about his life. He was into his Chicago phase, reshaping himself for his political future … David Maraniss
Dans sa biographie du président, le journaliste David Maraniss décrit lui aussi un jeune homme qui se cherche, et qui, lorsqu’il devient politicien, cisèle sa biographie, Dreams from my Father, pour la rendre plus signifiante politiquement et romanesque littérairement qu’elle ne l’est en réalité. Non, son gran-père kenyan Hussein Onyango Obama n’a pas été torturé et emprisonné par les Britanniques; non, le père de son beau-père indonésien n’a pas été tué dans la lutte contre le colonisateur hollandais; non, il ne semble pas avoir sérieusement consommé de drogues lorsqu’il était au lycée puis à Occidental College avant de trouver la rédemption; non, l’assurance santé de sa mère n’a pas refusé de lui payer le traitement de base de son cancer. Tous ces détails ne sont pas des inventions ou des mensonges: ce sont des embellissements, souvent repris de mythes familiaux, qui donnent du sens à son parcours. Justin Vaïsse
It has recently been discovered by Washington Post editor and Obama biographer David Maraniss that Obama’s memoir likely went much farther than just the character « compression » and chronology rearrangement that Obama admitted to in his memoir’s introduction. Maraniss reveals in his new book that, much like Frey’s memoir, Dreams contains fabrications of material aspects of Obama’s life narrative. (…) Ultimately, what Maraniss did discover is that Obama’s actual upbringing was simply too comfortable and boring to lend itself to a compelling memoir. So he did what Frey did and turned an otherwise mundane life story into a more meaningful and interesting one. Mendy Finkel
Not only did he grow up in Indonesia and Hawaii, but he also grew up amid diversity in both places, which brought him into casual, daily contact with Africans, Asians, Natives and Caucasians, people of all kinds of ethnic variations and political and social differences. What he did not experience in his early life is mainland, American-style racism. Growing up in places that were diverse, he never had to confront his identity as a black man until his college years. There are no slaves in the Obama family tree, and he missed most of the tumultuous civil rights struggle because of his youth and the physical distance from the mainland. There is an amusing section on the future president’s more than casual acquaintance with marijuana as a high school student in Hawaii. I won’t ruin the fun, but if you get the e-book, search for « Choom Gang, » « Total Absorption » (the opposite of not inhaling) and « Roof Hits. » Enough said. Even when Barry, which is how he was known, finally made it to the mainland as a college freshman, he chose elite Occidental College in Los Angeles, a diverse environment in a sheltered section of the city that gave him virtually no taste of the typical experience of blacks in America. In fact, one of his Oxy college friends said that Barry, who was starting to refer to himself as Barack in part to reconnect to his black roots, decided to transfer after his sophomore year to Columbia in New York so that he could « discover blackness in America. » What hits home in Maraniss’ book is how race was, for Barack Obama, primarily an intellectual journey of study and self-discovery. He had to discover his blackness. This sets him apart from the dominant African American experience, and it accounts for some of the reluctance on the part of veteran civil rights advocates like Jesse Jackson to embrace his candidacy early on. Dave Cieslewicz 
It almost seemed too good to be true. When President Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir, « Dreams From My Father, » was re-published soon after the young politican catapulted onto the national stage with a charismatic speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, his amazing life story captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. But like many memoirs, which tend to be self-serving, it now appears that Obama shaped the book less as a factual history of his life than as a great story. A new biography, « Barack Obama: The Story, » by David Maraniss, raises questions about the accuracy of the president’s account and delivers fresh revelations about his pot-smoking in high school and college and his girlfriends in New York City. In his memoir, Obama describes how his grandfather, Hussein Onyango, was imprisoned and tortured by British troops during the fight for Kenyan independence. But that did not happen, according to five associates of Onyango interviewed by Maraniss. Another heroic tale from the memoir about Obama’s Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, being killed by Dutch soldiers during Indonesia’s fight for independence also is inaccurate, according to Maraniss. The president explains in his memoir that some of the characters in his book have been combined or compressed. Maraniss provides more details about the extent of that alteration. One of Obama’s « African American » classmates was based on Caroline Boss, a white student whose Swiss grandmother was named Regina, according to Maraniss, a Washington Post editor and author who has won a Pulitzer Prize. The president also described breaking up with a white girlfriend due to a « racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman, » writes Maraniss. But Obama’s next girlfriend in Chicago, an anthropologist, also was white. The young Obama’s lack of playing time on the high school basketball team was due more to his ability than the coach’s preference for white players, Maraniss writes. And Obama’s mother likely left his father — not the other way around — after domestic abuse, note reviews of the book in the Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed. The Huffington Post
In his 1995 memoir, [Mr. Obama] mentioned smoking “reefer” in “the dorm room of some brother” and talked about “getting high.” Before Occidental, he indulged in marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine as a high school student in Hawaii, according to the book. He made “some bad decisions” as a teenager involving drugs and drinking, Senator Obama, now a presidential candidate, told high school students in New Hampshire last November. Mr. Obama’s admissions are rare for a politician (his book, “Dreams From My Father,” was written before he ran for office.) They briefly became a campaign issue in December when an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s chief Democratic rival, suggested that his history with drugs would make him vulnerable to Republican attacks if he became his party’s nominee. Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details. He wrote about his two years at Occidental, a predominantly white liberal arts college, as a gradual but profound awakening from a slumber of indifference that gave rise to his activism there and his fears that drugs could lead him to addiction or apathy, as they had for many other black men. Mr. Obama’s account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic. In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana. Serge F. Kovaleski
Maraniss’s Barack Obama: The Story punctures two sets of falsehoods: The family tales Obama passed on, unknowing; and the stories Obama made up. The 672-page book closes before Obama enters law school, and Maraniss has promised another volume, but by its conclusion I counted 38 instances in which the biographer convincingly disputes significant elements of Obama’s own story of his life and his family history. The two strands of falsehood run together, in that they often serve the same narrative goal: To tell a familiar, simple, and ultimately optimistic story about race and identity in the 20th Century. The false notes in Obama’s family lore include his mother’s claimed experience of racism in Kansas, and incidents of colonial brutality toward his Kenyan grandfather and Indonesian step-grandfather. Obama’s deliberate distortions more clearly serve a single narrative: Race. Obama presents himself through the book as “blacker and more disaffected” than he really was, Maraniss writes, and the narrative “accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles his real life but could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white.” (…) Maraniss’s deep and entertaining biography will serve as a corrective both to Obama’s mythmaking and his enemies’. Maraniss finds that Obama’s young life was basically conventional, his personal struggles prosaic and later exaggerated. He finds that race, central to Obama’s later thought and included in the subtitle of his memoir, wasn’t a central factor in his Hawaii youth or the existential struggles of his young adulthood. And he concludes that attempts, which Obama encouraged in his memoir, to view him through the prism of race “can lead to a misinterpretation” of the sense of “outsiderness” that Maraniss puts at the core of Obama’s identity and ambition. (…) In Dreams, for instance, Obama writes of a friend named “Regina,” a symbol of the authentic African-American experience that Obama hungers for (and which he would later find in Michelle Robinson). Maraniss discovers, however, that Regina was based on a student leader at Occidental College, Caroline Boss, who was white. Regina was the name of her working-class Swiss grandmother, who also seems to make a cameo in Dreams. Maraniss also notices that Obama also entirely cut two white roommates, in Los Angeles and New York, from the narrative, and projected a racial incident onto a New York girlfriend that he later told Maraniss had happened in Chicago. (…) Across the ocean, the family story that Hussein Onyango, Obama’s paternal grandfather, had been whipped and tortured by the British is “unlikely”: “five people who had close connections to Hussein Onyango said they doubted the story or were certain that it did not happen,” Maraniss writes. The memory that the father of his Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, was killed by Dutch soldiers in the fight for independence is “a concocted myth in almost all respects.” In fact, Martodihardjo “fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes, presumably suffering a heart attack.” (…) Maraniss corrects a central element of Obama’s own biography, debunking a story that Obama’s mother may well have invented: That she and her son were abandoned in Hawaii in 1963. “It was his mother who left Hawaii first, a year earlier than his father,” Maraniss writes, confirming a story that had first surfaced in the conservative blogosphere. He suggests that “spousal abuse” prompted her flight back to Seattle. Obama’s own fairy-tales, meanwhile, run toward Amercan racial cliché. “Ray,” who is in the book “a symbol of young blackness,” is based on a character whose complex racial identity — half Japanese, part native American, and part black — was more like Obama’s, and who wasn’t a close friend. “In the memoir Barry and Ray, could be heard complaining about how rich white haole girls would never date them,” Maraniss writes, referring to Hawaii’s upper class, and to a composite character whose blackness is. “In fact, neither had much trouble in that regard.” Ben Smith
NBC Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams frequently fabricated a dramatic story that he was under enemy attack while reporting from Iraq. NBC is now investigating whether Williams also embellished events in New Orleans during his reporting on Hurricane Katrina. (…) Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather tried to pass off fake memos as authentic evidence about former President George W. Bush’s supposedly checkered National Guard record. CNN news host Fareed Zakaria, who recently interviewed President Obama, was caught using the written work of others as if it were his own. He joins a distinguished array of accused plagiarists, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to columnist Maureen Dowd. Usually, plagiarism is excused. Research assistants are blamed or clerical slips are cited — and little happens. In lieu of admitting deliberate dishonesty, our celebrities when caught prefer using the wishy-washy prefix “mis-” to downplay a supposed accident — as in misremembering, misstating, or misconstruing. Politicians are often the worst offenders. Vice President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race of 1988 once it was revealed that he had been caught plagiarizing in law school. In that campaign, he gave a speech lifted from British Labor party candidate Neil Kinnock. Hillary Clinton fantasized when she melodramatically claimed she had been under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was more overt in lying under oath in the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Former senator John Walsh (D., Mont.) was caught plagiarizing elements of his master’s thesis. President Obama has explained that some of the characters in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, were “composites” or “compressed,” which suggests that in some instances what he described did not exactly happen. What are the consequences of lying about or exaggerating one’s past or stealing the written work of others? It depends. Punishment is calibrated by the stature of the perpetrator. If the offender is powerful, then misremembering, misstating, and misconstruing are considered minor and aberrant transgressions. If not, the sins are called lying and plagiarizing, and deemed a window into a bad soul. Thus a career can be derailed. Young, upcoming lying reporters like onetime New York Times fabulist Jayson Blair and The New Republic’s past stable of fantasy writers — Stephen Glass, Scott Beauchamp, and Ruth Shalit — had their work finally disowned by their publications. Former Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke got her Pulitzer Prize revoked for fabricating a story. Obscure senator Walsh was forced out of his re-election race. Biden, on the other hand, became vice president. It did not matter much that the Obama biography by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Maraniss contradicted many of the details from Obama’s autobiography. Hillary Clinton may well follow her husband’s trajectory and become president. The Reverend Al Sharpton helped perpetuate the Tawana Brawley hoax; he is now a frequent guest at the White House. Why do so many of our elites cut corners and embellish their past or steal the work of others? For them, such deception may be a small gamble worth taking, with mild consequences if caught. Plagiarism is a shortcut to publishing without all the work of creating new ideas or doing laborious research. Padding a resume or mixing truth with half-truths and composites creates more dramatic personal histories that enhance careers. Our culture itself has redefined the truth into a relative idea without fault. Some academics suggested that Brian Williams may have lied because of “memory distortion” rather than a character defect. Contemporary postmodern thought sees the “truth” as a construct. The social aim of these fantasy narratives is what counts. If they serve progressive race, class, and gender issues, then why follow the quaint rules of evidence that were established by an ossified and reactionary establishment? (…) Our lies become accepted as true, but only depending on how powerful and influential we are — or how supposedly noble the cause for which we lie. Victor Davis Hanson

Attention: un mensonge peut en cacher un autre !

Emprisonnement et torture de son grand-père kenyan par les Britanniques, assassinat du père de son beau-père indonésien par les colons hollandais, exagération de son expérience du racisme ou de la drogue, passage sous silence ou colorisation de ses amis blancs, racialisation – entre deux relations avec des étudiantes blanches – d’une rupture sentimentale avec une autre copine blanche ou de son évincement de l’équipe de basket-ball de son lycée, rupture de sa mère avec un père violent présentée comme abandon dudit père, refus de traitement du cancer de sa mère …

Alors qu’après son abandon de l’Irak et bientôt de l’Afghanistan comme sa lâcheté face à l’Iran

Et suite à ses absences tant à Paris qu’à Auschwitz, avoir contre toute évidence mis en doute les mobiles antisémites du massacre de l’Hyper cacher

Le Tergiverseur en chef et « premier président musulman » dénonce à présent comme raciste le meurtre, suite apparemment à une querelle de voisinage par un homme se revendiquant comme athée et homophile militant, de trois étudiants musulmans de l’Université de Caroline du nord …

Pendant que de Moïse à Turing et de Solomon Northup à Martin Luther King, Hollywood réécrit sytématiquement l’histoire …

Comment s’étonner qu’après nos Dan Rather et nos Charles Enderlin et concernant ses états de service en Irak ou l’ouragan Katrina, un journaliste-vedette de la chaine NBC ait à son tour enjolivé la réalité ?

Et comment être surpris sans compter les notoires dénégations de sa longue fréquentation tant de l’ancien weatherman Bill Ayers que du pasteur suprémaciste noir Jeremiah Wright

Que le prix Nobel de la paix aux Grandes oreilles et aux bientôt 4 000 éliminations ciblées …

Et accessoirement notoire disciple d’Alinsky et auteur des « meilleurs mémoires jamais publiés par un homme politique américain » …

Ait pu accumuler sans être jamais contesté (« pour éviter les longueurs » et « donner du sens à son parcours ») comme le révélait son biographe David Maraniss il y a trois ans …

Pas moins de 38 contre-vérités dans une seule autobiographie ?

Brian Williams’s Truth Problem, and Ours
The NBC anchor’s lies are symptomatic of a culture in which truth has become relativized.
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
February 12, 2015

NBC Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams frequently fabricated a dramatic story that he was under enemy attack while reporting from Iraq. NBC is now investigating whether Williams also embellished events in New Orleans during his reporting on Hurricane Katrina.

Williams always plays the hero in his yarns, braving natural and hostile human enemies to deliver us the truth on the evening news.

Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather tried to pass off fake memos as authentic evidence about former President George W. Bush’s supposedly checkered National Guard record.

CNN news host Fareed Zakaria, who recently interviewed President Obama, was caught using the written work of others as if it were his own. He joins a distinguished array of accused plagiarists, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to columnist Maureen Dowd.

Usually, plagiarism is excused. Research assistants are blamed or clerical slips are cited — and little happens. In lieu of admitting deliberate dishonesty, our celebrities when caught prefer using the wishy-washy prefix “mis-” to downplay a supposed accident — as in misremembering, misstating, or misconstruing.

Politicians are often the worst offenders. Vice President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race of 1988 once it was revealed that he had been caught plagiarizing in law school. In that campaign, he gave a speech lifted from British Labor party candidate Neil Kinnock.

Hillary Clinton fantasized when she melodramatically claimed she had been under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was more overt in lying under oath in the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Former senator John Walsh (D., Mont.) was caught plagiarizing elements of his master’s thesis.

President Obama has explained that some of the characters in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, were “composites” or “compressed,” which suggests that in some instances what he described did not exactly happen.

What are the consequences of lying about or exaggerating one’s past or stealing the written work of others?

It depends.

Punishment is calibrated by the stature of the perpetrator. If the offender is powerful, then misremembering, misstating, and misconstruing are considered minor and aberrant transgressions. If not, the sins are called lying and plagiarizing, and deemed a window into a bad soul. Thus a career can be derailed.

Young, upcoming lying reporters like onetime New York Times fabulist Jayson Blair and The New Republic’s past stable of fantasy writers — Stephen Glass, Scott Beauchamp, and Ruth Shalit — had their work finally disowned by their publications. Former Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke got her Pulitzer Prize revoked for fabricating a story.

Obscure senator Walsh was forced out of his re-election race. Biden, on the other hand, became vice president. It did not matter much that the Obama biography by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Maraniss contradicted many of the details from Obama’s autobiography.

Hillary Clinton may well follow her husband’s trajectory and become president. The Reverend Al Sharpton helped perpetuate the Tawana Brawley hoax; he is now a frequent guest at the White House.

Why do so many of our elites cut corners and embellish their past or steal the work of others?

For them, such deception may be a small gamble worth taking, with mild consequences if caught. Plagiarism is a shortcut to publishing without all the work of creating new ideas or doing laborious research. Padding a resume or mixing truth with half-truths and composites creates more dramatic personal histories that enhance careers.

Our culture itself has redefined the truth into a relative idea without fault. Some academics suggested that Brian Williams may have lied because of “memory distortion” rather than a character defect.

Contemporary postmodern thought sees the “truth” as a construct. The social aim of these fantasy narratives is what counts. If they serve progressive race, class, and gender issues, then why follow the quaint rules of evidence that were established by an ossified and reactionary establishment?

Feminist actress and screenwriter Lena Dunham in her memoir described her alleged rapist as a campus conservative named Barry. After suspicion was cast on one particular man fitting Dunham’s book description, Dunham clarified that she meant to refer to someone else as the perpetrator.

Surely the exonerated Duke University men’s lacrosse players who were accused of sexual assault or the University of Virginia frat boys accused of rape in a magazine article in theory could have been guilty — even if they were proven not to be.

Michael Brown was suspected of committing a strong-arm robbery right before his death. He then walked down the middle of a street, blocking traffic, and rushed a policeman. Autopsy and toxicology reports of gunpowder residuals and the presence of THC suggest that Brown had marijuana in his system and was in close contact to the officer who fired. Do those details matter, if a “gentle giant” can become emblematic of an alleged epidemic of racist, trigger-happy cops who recklessly shoot unarmed youth?

The Greek word for truth was aletheia – literally “not forgetting.” Yet that ancient idea of eternal differences between truth and myth is now lost in the modern age.

Our lies become accepted as true, but only depending on how powerful and influential we are — or how supposedly noble the cause for which we lie.

Voir aussi:

The Real Story Of Barack Obama
A new biography finally challenges Obama’s famous memoir. And the truth might not be quite as interesting as the president, and his enemies, have imagined.
Ben Smith
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief
June 17, 2012

David Maraniss’s new biography of Barack Obama is the first sustained challenge to Obama’s control over his own story, a firm and occasionally brutal debunking of Obama’s bestselling 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.

Maraniss’s Barack Obama: The Story punctures two sets of falsehoods: The family tales Obama passed on, unknowing; and the stories Obama made up. The 672-page book closes before Obama enters law school, and Maraniss has promised another volume, but by its conclusion I counted 38 instances in which the biographer convincingly disputes significant elements of Obama’s own story of his life and his family history.

The two strands of falsehood run together, in that they often serve the same narrative goal: To tell a familiar, simple, and ultimately optimistic story about race and identity in the 20th Century. The false notes in Obama’s family lore include his mother’s claimed experience of racism in Kansas, and incidents of colonial brutality toward his Kenyan grandfather and Indonesian step-grandfather. Obama’s deliberate distortions more clearly serve a single narrative: Race. Obama presents himself through the book as “blacker and more disaffected” than he really was, Maraniss writes, and the narrative “accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles his real life but could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white.”

That the core narrative of Dreams could have survived this long into Obama’s public life is the product in part of an inadvertent conspiracy between the president and his enemies. His memoir evokes an angry, misspent youth; a deep and lifelong obsession with race; foreign and strongly Muslim heritage; and roots in the 20th Century’s self-consciously leftist anti-colonial struggle. Obama’s conservative critics have, since the beginnings of his time on the national scene, taken the self-portrait at face value, and sought to deepen it to portray him as a leftist and a foreigner.

Reporters who have sought to chase some of the memoir’s tantalizing yarns have, however, long suspected that Obama might not be as interesting as his fictional doppelganger. “Mr. Obama’s account of his younger self and drugs…significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use,” the New York Times’s Serge Kovaleski reported dryly in February of 2008, speculating that Obama had “added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.” (In one of the stranger entries in the annals of political spin, Obama’s spokesman defended his boss’s claim to have sampled cocaine, calling the book “candid.”)

Maraniss’s deep and entertaining biography will serve as a corrective both to Obama’s mythmaking and his enemies’. Maraniss finds that Obama’s young life was basically conventional, his personal struggles prosaic and later exaggerated. He finds that race, central to Obama’s later thought and included in the subtitle of his memoir, wasn’t a central factor in his Hawaii youth or the existential struggles of his young adulthood. And he concludes that attempts, which Obama encouraged in his memoir, to view him through the prism of race “can lead to a misinterpretation” of the sense of “outsiderness” that Maraniss puts at the core of Obama’s identity and ambition.

Maraniss opens with a warning: Among the falsehoods in Dreams is the caveat in the preface that “for the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology.”

“The character creations and rearrangements of the book are not merely a matter of style, devices of compression, but are also substantive,” Maraniss responds in his own introduction. The book belongs in the category of “literature and memoir, not history and autobiography,” he writes, and “the themes of the book control character and chronology.”

Maraniss, a veteran Washington Post reporter whose biography of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, helped explain one complicated president to America, dove deep and missed deadlines for this biography. And the book’s many fact-checks are rich and, at times, comical.

In Dreams, for instance, Obama writes of a friend named “Regina,” a symbol of the authentic African-American experience that Obama hungers for (and which he would later find in Michelle Robinson). Maraniss discovers, however, that Regina was based on a student leader at Occidental College, Caroline Boss, who was white. Regina was the name of her working-class Swiss grandmother, who also seems to make a cameo in Dreams.

Maraniss also notices that Obama also entirely cut two white roommates, in Los Angeles and New York, from the narrative, and projected a racial incident onto a New York girlfriend that he later told Maraniss had happened in Chicago.

Some of Maraniss’s most surprising debunking, though, comes in the area of family lore, where he disputes a long string of stories on three continents, though perhaps no more than most of us have picked up from garrulous grandparents and great uncles. And his corrections are, at times, a bit harsh.

Obama grandfather “Stanley [Dunham]’s two defining stories were that he found his mother after her suicide and that he punched his principal and got expelled from El Dorado High. That second story seems to be in the same fictitious realm as the first,” Maraniss writes. As for Dunham’s tale of a 1935 car ride with Herbert Hoover, it’s a “preposterous…fabrication.”

As for a legacy of racism in his mother’s Kansas childhood, “Stanley was a teller of tales, and it appears that his grandson got these stories mostly from him,” Maraniss writes.

Across the ocean, the family story that Hussein Onyango, Obama’s paternal grandfather, had been whipped and tortured by the British is “unlikely”: “five people who had close connections to Hussein Onyango said they doubted the story or were certain that it did not happen,” Maraniss writes. The memory that the father of his Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, was killed by Dutch soldiers in the fight for independence is “a concocted myth in almost all respects.” In fact, Martodihardjo “fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes, presumably suffering a heart attack.”

Most families exaggerate ancestors’ deeds. A more difficult category of correction comes in Maraniss’s treatment of Obama’s father and namesake. Barack Obama Sr., in this telling, quickly sheds whatever sympathy his intelligence and squandered promise should carry. He’s the son of a man, one relative told Maraniss, who is required to pay an extra dowry for one wife “because he was a bad person.”

He was also a domestic abuser.

“His father Hussein Onyango, was a man who hit women, and it turned out that Obama was no different,” Maraniss writes. “I thought he would kill me,” one ex-wife tells him; he also gave her sexually-transmitted diseases from extramarital relationships.

It’s in that context that Maraniss corrects a central element of Obama’s own biography, debunking a story that Obama’s mother may well have invented: That she and her son were abandoned in Hawaii in 1963.

“It was his mother who left Hawaii first, a year earlier than his father,” Maraniss writes, confirming a story that had first surfaced in the conservative blogosphere. He suggests that “spousal abuse” prompted her flight back to Seattle.

Obama’s own fairy-tales, meanwhile, run toward Amercan racial cliché. “Ray,” who is in the book “a symbol of young blackness,” is based on a character whose complex racial identity — half Japanese, part native American, and part black — was more like Obama’s, and who wasn’t a close friend.

“In the memoir Barry and Ray, could be heard complaining about how rich white haole girls would never date them,” Maraniss writes, referring to Hawaii’s upper class, and to a composite character whose blackness is. “In fact, neither had much trouble in that regard.”

As Obama’s Chicago mentor Jerry Kellman tells Maraniss in a different context, “Everything didn’t revolve around race.”

Those are just a few examples in biography whose insistence on accuracy will not be mistaken for pedantry. Maraniss is a master storyteller, and his interest in revising Obama’s history is in part an interest in why and how stories are told, a theme that recurs in the memoir. Obama himself, he notes, saw affectionately through his grandfather Stanley’s fabulizing,” describing the older man’s tendency to rewrite “history to conform with the image he wished for himself.” Indeed, Obama comes from a long line of storytellers, and at times fabulists, on both sides.

Dick Opar, a distant Obama relative who served as a senior Kenyan police official, and who was among the sources dismissing legends of anti-colonial heroism, put it more bluntly.

“People make up stories,” he told Maraniss.

David Maraniss Obama Biography Questions Accuracy Of President’s Memoir
Huffington post
06/20/2012

It almost seemed too good to be true. When President Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir, « Dreams From My Father, » was re-published soon after the young politican catapulted onto the national stage with a charismatic speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, his amazing life story captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans.

But like many memoirs, which tend to be self-serving, it now appears that Obama shaped the book less as a factual history of his life than as a great story. A new biography, « Barack Obama: The Story, » by David Maraniss, raises questions about the accuracy of the president’s account and delivers fresh revelations about his pot-smoking in high school and college and his girlfriends in New York City.

In his memoir, Obama describes how his grandfather, Hussein Onyango, was imprisoned and tortured by British troops during the fight for Kenyan independence. But that did not happen, according to five associates of Onyango interviewed by Maraniss. Another heroic tale from the memoir about Obama’s Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, being killed by Dutch soldiers during Indonesia’s fight for independence also is inaccurate, according to Maraniss.

The president explains in his memoir that some of the characters in his book have been combined or compressed. Maraniss provides more details about the extent of that alteration. One of Obama’s « African American » classmates was based on Caroline Boss, a white student whose Swiss grandmother was named Regina, according to Maraniss, a Washington Post editor and author who has won a Pulitzer Prize. The president also described breaking up with a white girlfriend due to a « racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman, » writes Maraniss. But Obama’s next girlfriend in Chicago, an anthropologist, also was white.

The young Obama’s lack of playing time on the high school basketball team was due more to his ability than the coach’s preference for white players, Maraniss writes. And Obama’s mother likely left his father — not the other way around — after domestic abuse, note reviews of the book in the Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed.

Here is a slideshow of the new biography’s major revelations:

Voir encore:

Though Obama Had to Leave to Find Himself, It Is Hawaii That Made His Rise Possible
David Maraniss
Washington Post
August 22, 2008

On weekday mornings as a teenager, Barry Obama left his grandparents’ apartment on the 10th floor of the 12-story high-rise at 1617 South Beretania, a mile and half above Waikiki Beach, and walked up Punahou Street in the shadows of capacious banyan trees and date palms. Before crossing the overpass above the H1 freeway, where traffic zoomed east to body-surfing beaches or west to the airport and Pearl Harbor, he passed Kapiolani Medical Center, walking below the hospital room where he was born on Aug. 4, 1961. Two blocks further along, at the intersection with Wilder, he could look left toward the small apartment on Poki where he had spent a few years with his little sister, Maya, and his mother, Ann, back when she was getting her master’s degree at the University of Hawaii before she left again for Indonesia. Soon enough he was at the lower edge of Punahou School, the gracefully sloping private campus where he studied some and played basketball more.

An adolescent life told in five Honolulu blocks, confined and compact, but far, far away. Apart from other unprecedented aspects of his rise, it is a geographical truth that no politician in American history has traveled farther than Barack Obama to be within reach of the White House. He was born and spent most of his formative years on Oahu, in distance the most removed population center on the planet, some 2,390 miles from California, farther from a major landmass than anywhere but Easter Island. In the westward impulse of American settlement, his birthplace was the last frontier, an outpost with its own time zone, the 50th of the United States, admitted to the union only two years before Obama came along.

Those who come from islands are inevitably shaped by the experience. For Obama, the experience was all contradiction and contrast.

As the son of a white woman and a black man, he grew up as a multiracial kid, a « hapa, » « half-and-half » in the local lexicon, in one of the most multiracial places in the world, with no majority group. There were native Hawaiians, Japanese, Filipinos, Samoans, Okinawans, Chinese and Portuguese, along with Anglos, commonly known as haole (pronounced howl-lee), and a smaller population of blacks, traditionally centered at the U.S. military installations. But diversity does not automatically translate into social comfort: Hawaii has its own difficult history of racial and cultural stratification, and young Obama struggled to find his place even in that many-hued milieu.

He had to leave the island to find himself as a black man, eventually rooting in Chicago, the antipode of remote Honolulu, deep in the fold of the mainland, and there setting out on the path that led toward politics. Yet life circles back in strange ways, and in essence it is the promise of the place he left behind — the notion if not the reality of Hawaii, what some call the spirit of aloha, the transracial if not post-racial message — that has made his rise possible. Hawaii and Chicago are the two main threads weaving through the cloth of Barack Obama’s life. Each involves more than geography.

Hawaii is about the forces that shaped him, and Chicago is about how he reshaped himself. Chicago is about the critical choices he made as an adult: how he learned to survive in the rough-and-tumble of law and politics, how he figured out the secrets of power in a world defined by it, and how he resolved his inner conflicts and refined the subtle, coolly ambitious persona now on view in the presidential election. Hawaii comes first. It is what lies beneath, what makes Chicago possible and understandable.

Hawaii involves the struggles of a teenage hapa at Punahou School who wanted nothing more than to be a professional basketball player. It is about his extraordinary mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, deeply loving if frequently absent. While politicians burnish their histories by laying claim to early years of community work and lives of public service, she was the real deal, devoting her career, unsung and underpaid, to helping poor women make their way in the modern world.

It is about his mysterious father, Barack Hussein Obama, an imperious if alluring voice gone distant and then missing. It is about his grandparents, Madelyn and Stan Dunham, Toot and Gramps, the white couple with whom he lived for most of his teenage years, she practical and determined, he impulsive, hokey, well-intentioned and, by his grandson’s account, burdened with the desperate lost hopes of a Willy Loman-style salesman. It is about their family’s incessant migration away from the heartland, from the Great Plains to the West Coast to Hawaii.

And that was not far enough for their daughter, who followed the Pacific farther to Indonesia and traveled the world until, at the too-early age of 52, she made her way back to Honolulu, taking an apartment next to her parents’ in the high-rise on the corner of Beretania and Punahou, to die there of cancer. It was the same year, 1995, that her son made his debut on the national stage with a book about himself that searched for the missing, the void — his dad, Kenya, Africa — and paid less attention to the people and things that had shaped his life, especially his mother.

The simple fact is that he would not exist as a human being, let alone as a politician, without his mother’s sensibility, naive or adventurous or both. Of all the relationships in Obama’s life, none has been deeper, more complex or more important. They lived under the same roof for only perhaps 12 years and were frequently apart during his adolescence, but her lessons and judgments were always with him. In some sense, because they were just 18 years apart, they grew up together, each following a singular path toward maturity.

Like many presidential aspirants before him, and perhaps most like Bill Clinton, Obama grew up surrounded by strong women, the male figures either weak or absent. Once, during the heat of the primary race between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, a claim came from Bill Clinton that he « understood » Obama. As different as their backgrounds and families were, it was no doubt this strong-female-weak-male similarity that he had in mind.

* * *

Who was Obama’s mother? The shorthand version of the story has a woman from Kansas marrying a man from Kenya, but while Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Wichita in the fall of 1942, it is a stretch to call her a Jayhawk. After leaving Kansas when she was a youngster, she and her parents lived in Berkeley, Calif., for two years, Ponca City, Okla., for two years, and Wichita Falls, Tex., for three years before they ventured to the Seattle area.

They arrived in time for her to enter ninth grade at the new high school on Mercer Island, a hilly slab of land in Lake Washington that was popping with tract developments during the western boom of the postwar 1950s. The island is not much more isolated than Staten Island on the other side of the country. Just east of Seattle, it is connected to the city by what was then called the floating bridge.

The population explosion, along with a nomadic propensity, brought the Dunhams to Mercer Island. Stan was in the furniture trade, a salesman always looking for the next best deal, and the middle-class suburbs of Seattle offered fertile territory: All the new houses going up would need new living room and dining room sets. He took a job in a furniture store in Seattle.

Madelyn, who brought home a paycheck most of her life, found a job in a banking real estate escrow office, and the family settled into a two-bedroom place in a quiet corner of the Shorewood Apartments, nestled near the lakeshore in view of the Cascade Mountains. Many islanders lived there temporarily as they waited for new houses to be finished nearby. But the Dunhams never looked for another home, and they filled their high-ceilinged apartment with the Danish modern furniture of that era.

Stanley Ann was an only child, and in those days she dealt head-on with her uncommon first name. No sense trying to hide it, even though she hated it. « My name is Stanley, » she would say. « My father wanted a boy, and that’s that. » Her mother softened it, calling her Stanny or Stanny Ann, but at school she was Stanley, straight up. « She owned the name, » recalled Susan Botkin, one of her first pals on Mercer Island. « Only once or twice was she teased. She had a sharp tongue, a deep wit, and she could kill. We all called her Stanley. »

In a high school culture of brawn and beauty, Stanley was one of the brains. Often struggling with her weight, and wearing braces her junior year, she had the normal teenage anxieties, according to her friends, though she seemed less concerned with superficial appearances than many of her peers. Her protective armor included a prolific vocabulary, free from the trite and cliched; a quick take on people and events; and biting sarcasm.

John W. Hunt said those traits allowed Stanley to become accepted by the predominantly male intellectual crowd, even though she had a soft voice. « She wasn’t a shouter, but sat and thought awhile before she put forth her ideas. She was one of the most intelligent girls in our class, but unusual in that she thought things through more than anyone else, » Hunt said.

Stanley would not use her wit to bully people, her classmates recalled, but rather to slice up prejudice or pomposity. Her signature expression of disdain was an exaggerated rolling of her big brown eyes.

Susan Botkin thought back to late afternoons when she and Stanley would go downtown to the Seattle library and then hitch a ride home with Stan and Madelyn. « We would climb into the car, and immediately he would start into his routine, » she recalled. In the back seat, the daughter would be rolling her eyes, while in the front, Madelyn — « a porcelain doll kind of woman, with pale, wonderful skin, red hair, carefully coiffed, and lacquered nails » — would try to temper her husband with occasional interjections of « Now, Stan . . . »

Another high school friend, Maxine Box, remembered that they enjoyed getting rides in the old man’s white convertible and that he was always ready and willing to drive them anywhere, wanting to be the life of the party. « Stanley would gladly take the transportation from him, » Box said, but would « just as soon that he go away. They had locked horns a lot of times. » The mother, she sensed, was « a buffer between Stan and Stanley. »

Stanley and her friends would escape across the bridge into Seattle, where they hung out at a small espresso cafe near the University of Washington. Anything, Hunt said, to « get away from the suburban view. We would go to this cafe and talk and talk and talk » — about world events, French cinema, the meaning of life, the existence of God.

Their curiosity was encouraged by the teachers at Mercer Island High, especially Jim Wichterman and Val Foubert, who taught advanced humanities courses open to the top 25 students. The assigned reading included not only Plato and Aristotle, Kierkegaard and Sartre, but also late-1950s critiques of societal conventions, such as « The Organization Man » by William H. Whyte, « The Lonely Crowd » by David Riesman and « The Hidden Persuaders » by Vance Packard, as well as the political theories of Hegel and Mill and Marx. « The Communist Manifesto » was also on the reading list, and it drew protests from some parents, prompting what Wichterman later called « Mothers Marches » on the school — a phrase that conjures up a larger backlash than really occurred but conveys some of the tension of the times. « They would come up in ones and twos and threes and berate the teacher or complain to the principal, » Hunt recalled.

Wichterman and Foubert, noted Chip Wall, were « instrumental in getting us to think, and anybody who tries to do that, particularly in high school, has trouble. ‘Make my kid a thinker, but make sure he thinks like I do.’  » In tracking the Obama story this year, some conservative Web sites have seized on the high school curriculum of his mother as evidence of an early leftist indoctrination. Wall, who has spent his life challenging dogma from any ideology, and whose take on the world often veers from the politically correct, answered this interpretation with a two-word dismissal: « Oh, crap. »

Stanley was decidedly liberal. She challenged the existence of God and championed Adlai Stevenson. But while some of her friends turned toward cynicism, she did not. « She was intrigued by what was happening in the world and embraced change, » Susan Botkin recalled. « During our senior year, the Doomsday Clock seemed as close as it had ever been to boom. And the thought affected people in our class. There was a sense of malaise that permeated the group: Why bother? The boom is going to happen. But Stanley was better able to laugh it off, to look beyond it. Come out of that bomb shelter and do something. »

Their senior class graduated in June 1960, at the dawn of the new decade. A few days after commencement, Stanley left for Honolulu with her parents. Decades later she told her son that she had wanted to go to the University of Chicago, where she had been accepted, but that her father would not let her be that far from them, since she was barely 17. Her friends from Mercer Island recalled that, like many of them, she intended to stay in Seattle and go to « U-Dub, » the University of Washington, but that again her father insisted that she was too young even for that and had to accompany them to Hawaii.

That was nearly a half-century ago. Time compresses, and the high school classmates of Stanley Ann Dunham now have an unusual vantage point from which to witness the presidential campaign of her son. « You see so much of her in his face, » Maxine Box said. « And he has his grandfather’s long chin. » In watching Obama speak and answer questions, Chip Wall could « instantly go back and recognize the person » he knew decades ago. Stanley is there, he said, in the workings of the son’s mind, « especially in his wry sense of speech pattern. » The fact that her son is black was surprising but not out of character; she was attracted to the different and untouched by racial prejudice.

The hardest thing for them to grasp was that Barack Obama Jr. came into being only a little more than a year after Stanley left Mercer Island. She seemed like such an unlikely candidate for teenage motherhood, not just because of her scholarly ways and lack of boyfriends, but because she appeared to have zero interest in babies. Botkin had two little brothers and was always babysitting, she recalled, but « Stanley never even babysat. She would come over to the house and just stand back, and her eyes would blink and her head would spin like, ‘Oh, my God, what’s going on here?’ « 

In the fall of 1960, as Botkin worried about whether she had the proper clothes to go through sorority rush at U-Dub, where they pinched the young women to make sure they were wearing girdles and where nylons were part of the uniform, she received her first letter from her friend in Hawaii. Stanley was enjoying newfound freedoms. She had ditched her first name and was now going by Ann. And no more nylons and perfect outfits, either. « I’m wearing shorts and muu muus to class, » she wrote.

In the next letter, she said she was dating an African student she had met in Russian class. Botkin was more interested in the fact that her friend was studying Russian than in whom she was dating. But soon enough came a card revealing that Ann was in love, and then another that said she was married and expecting a baby in the summer.

* * *

The first African student at the University of Hawaii, Barack Hussein Obama, reached Honolulu 11 months before Stanley Ann Dunham and her parents got there from Seattle. He was on the first airlift of Kenyan students brought to study at U.S. universities as part of a program organized by Kenyan nationalist Tom Mboya and funded primarily by hundreds of American supporters. At the time, there were no colleges in Kenya, which was in the last throes of British colonialism. His arrival in Honolulu was announced in an article in a local newspaper, the Star-Bulletin, under the headline: « Young Men from Kenya, Jordan and Iran Here to Study at U.H. »

Obama told the journalist, Shurei Hirozawa, that he grew up on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, in east Africa, and was a member of the Luo tribe. He said he had worked as an office clerk in Nairobi for several years to save money for college and settled on the University of Hawaii « when he read in an American magazine about its racial tolerance. »

Other accounts have said he went to Hawaii because it was the only U.S. university to offer him a scholarship, but that appears unlikely, based on this contemporaneous report. Obama told Hirozawa that he had enough money to stay in Hawaii only for two semesters unless he applied for a scholarship. He said he would study business administration and wanted to return to Kenya to help with its transition from tribal customs to a modern economy. He was concerned, he said, about his generation’s disorientation as Kenyans rejected old ways yet struggled with westernization.

Taking a room at the Charles H. Atherton branch of the YMCA, not far from campus, Obama quickly adapted to the rhythms of student life. One of his frequent hangouts was the snack bar in an old Army barracks-style building near his business classes. It was there that he met the Abercrombie brothers, first Neil and then Hal, who had escaped the darkness of Buffalo to attend graduate school in Honolulu, and their friends Peter Gilpin, Chet Gorman and Pake Zane. They were antiestablishment intellectuals, experimenters, outsiders, somewhere between beatniks and hippies, and they loved to talk and drink coffee and beer. They were immediately taken by the one and only African student in their midst.

« He was very black, probably the blackest person I’ve ever met, » recalled Zane, a Chinese Hawaiian, who now runs an antiques shop a few miles from the university. « Handsome in his own way. But the most impressive thing was his voice. His voice and his inflection — he had this Oxford accent. You heard a little Kenyan English, but more this British accent with this really deep, mellow voice that just resounded. If he said something in the room and the room was not real noisy, everybody stopped and turned around. I mean he just had this wonderful, wonderful voice. He was charismatic as a speaker. »

It was not just the voice, said Neil Abercrombie, who went on to become a congressman from Honolulu, but Obama’s entire outsize persona — the lanky 6-foot-1 frame, the horn-rimmed glasses, the booming laugh, the pipe and an « incredibly vital personality. He was brilliant and opinionated and avuncular and opinionated. Always opinionated. If you didn’t know him, you might be put off by him. He never hesitated to tell you what he thought, whether the moment was politic or not. Even to the point sometimes where he might seem a bit discourteous. But his view was, well, if you’re not smart enough to know what you’re talking about and you’re talking about it, then you don’t deserve much in the way of mercy. He enjoyed the company of people who were equally as opinionated as he was. »

An interesting note about the snack bar crowd is that, even decades later, they all pronounce the first name of their Kenyan friend « Bear-ick » — with the accent on the first syllable. That is how he referred to himself, they said. In Hawaii at least, they never heard him call himself « Buh-rock, » with the accent on the second syllable, the pronunciation his son would adopt in his adult life. Perhaps it was a minor accommodation to westernization.

In late November, a few months into Obama’s first semester, the Honolulu paper wrote another story about him, this time focusing on his positive conclusions about racial attitudes on the island. « No one seems to be conscious of color, » he said. But there were stereotypes to shatter on both sides — his of Hawaii and Hawaii’s of Africa. « When I first came here, I expected to find a lot of Hawaiians all dressed in native clothing and I expected native dancing and that sort of thing, but I was surprised to find such a mixture of races, » he acknowledged.

When asked if people questioned him about Kenya, he laughed and said: « Oh, yes. People are very interested in the Mau Mau rebellion [a long-standing uprising against the British] and they ask about race relations in Kenya. I tell them they’ve improved since the rebellion but are not perfect. They also ask if Kenya is ready for self-government. Some others ask me such questions as how many wives each man has back home, what we eat, how I dress at home, how we live, whether we have cars. »

He did not answer those questions in the story. Nor, on one matter, was he forthcoming with his friends at the university. Neither newspaper readers nor his fellow students knew that he had left a son and a pregnant wife back in Kenya.

The events in Africa intrigued Obama’s fellow students and were inevitably part of the movable discussion, which often went from the university snack bar over to the Stardust Lounge or George’s Inn, where beer pitchers cost two bucks, and then on to Peter Gilpin’s apartment nearby. As they listened to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the hi-fi, Obama pontificated on Kenya and nationalism and colonialism and his fears about what might happen. « He was very concerned that tribalism would trump nationalism, » Neil Abercrombie said. « And that people like himself would not be properly recognized, would not be fully utilized, and there would be discrimination and prejudice. Jomo Kenyatta [Kenya’s first postcolonial leader] was a Kikuyu, and Barack and Mboya were Luo, and Kikuyu were going to run things. We’d get into it that deeply. »

Late in the summer of 1960, at the start of his second year and the beginning of her first, Obama and Stanley Ann Dunham met in a beginning Russian class. He was 25; she was not yet 18. She called him « Bear-ick, » too. He called her Anna. Decades later, Ann would tell her son a story about their first date that he then depicted in his memoir, « Dreams From My Father. » « He asked me to meet him in front of the university library at one. I got there and he hadn’t arrived, but I figured I’d give him a few minutes. It was a nice day, so I laid out on one of the benches, and before I knew it I had fallen asleep. An hour later he showed up with a couple of friends. I woke up and three of them were standing over me and I heard him saying, serious as can be . . . ‘You see gentlemen, I told you she was a fine girl, and that she would wait for me.’ « 

Recounting the scene long after the fact, knowing how the relationship would end, the son was at his most lyrical. « My mother was that girl with the movie of beautiful black people in her head, flattered by my father’s attention, confused and alone, trying to break out of the grip of her own parents’ lives. The innocence she carried that day, waiting for my father, had been tinged with misconceptions, her own needs, but it was a guileless need, one without self-consciousness, and perhaps that’s how any love begins. »

This was the prelude to the beginning of the second Barack Obama, the hapa, and in the narrative he creates about his mother, here, as always after, he writes with the sensibility not so much of a son as of an acute if sympathetic psychologist, approaching condescension but not quite crossing that line.

During his time in Hawaii, the elder Obama seemed adept at walling off various aspects of his life. He eventually told Ann about a former marriage in Kenya but said he was divorced, which she would discover years later was a lie. While the scene in the book includes two friends who were with him when he arrived late for a first date with Ann, few members of the snack bar crowd remember the Obama-Dunham relationship. Hal Abercrombie said he never saw them together. Pake Zane, who left the island for a spell in 1961, could not recall Ann from those days but had precise memories of Obama.

Neil Abercrombie did remember her appearing at some of the weekend gatherings. Obama was such a strong personality, he said, that he could see how the young woman was awed and overwhelmed by him. « She was a girl, and what I mean by that is she was only 17 and 18, just out of high school. And he brought her at different times. She mostly observed because she was a kid. Everybody there was pretty high-powered grad-student types. »

Before the end of her first semester, Ann learned she was pregnant. The jolt that most parents might feel at such news from a teenage daughter was intensified for the Dunhams by the fact that the father was Obama. Madelyn Dunham has steadfastly declined requests for interviews this year, but a few years ago she talked to the Chicago Tribune’s David Mendell, who was researching his biography, « Obama: From Promise to Power. » Dunham, known for her practicality and skepticism in a family of dreamers, told Mendell that Stanley Ann had always been stubborn and nonconformist, and often did startling things, but none were more stubborn or surprising than her relationship with Obama.

When Mendell pressed her about Obama, she said she did not trust the stories the Kenyan told. Prodding further, the interviewer noted that Obama had « a great deal of charm » and that his father had been a medicine man. « She raised her eyebrows and nodded to herself, » Mendell wrote of Madelyn.  » ‘He was . . .’ she said with a long pause, ‘strange.’ She lingered on the a to emphasize ‘straaaaaange.’ « 

On Feb. 2, 1961, against Madelyn’s hopes, and against the desires of Obama’s father back in Kenya, Ann and Obama hopped a plane to Maui and got married. No guests, not even family members, were there. Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born six months later in Honolulu.

Ann, the earnest student, dropped out of school to take care of him. Her husband finished his degree, graduating in June 1962, after three years in Hawaii, as a Phi Beta Kappa straight-A student. Then, before the month was out, he took off, leaving behind his still-teenage wife and namesake child. He did not return for 10 years, and then only briefly. A story in the Star-Bulletin on the day he left, June 22, said Obama planned a several-weeks grand tour of mainland universities before he arrived at Harvard to study economics on a graduate faculty fellowship. The story did not mention that he had a wife and an infant son.

Many years later, Barack Jr., then in high school, found a clipping of the article in a family stash of birth certificates and old vaccination forms. Why wasn’t his name there, or his mother’s? He wondered, he later wrote, « whether the omission caused a fight between my parents. »

On his way east, Obama stopped in San Francisco and went to dinner at the Blue Fox in the financial district with Hal Abercrombie, who had moved to the city with his wife, Shirley. Abercrombie would never forget that dinner; he thought it showed the worst side of his old friend, a combination of anger and arrogance that frightened him. Shirley was a blonde with a high bouffant hairdo, and when she showed up at the side of Hal and Barack, the maitre d’ took them to the most obscure table in the restaurant. Obama interpreted this as a racial slight. When the waiter arrived, Obama tore into him, shouting that he was an important person on his way to Harvard and would not tolerate such treatment, Abercrombie recalled. « He was berating the guy and condescending every time the waiter came to our table. There was a superiority and an arrogance about it that I didn’t like. »

In the family lore, Obama was accepted into graduate school at the New School in New York and at Harvard, and if he had chosen the New School there would have been enough scholarship money for his wife and son to come along. However, the story goes, he opted for Harvard because of the world-class academic credentials a Crimson degree would bring. But there is an unresolved part of the story: Did Ann try to follow him to Cambridge? Her friends from Mercer Island were left with that impression. Susan Botkin, Maxine Box and John W. Hunt all remember Ann showing up in Seattle late that summer with little Barry, as her son was called.

« She was on her way from her mother’s house to Boston to be with her husband, » Botkin recalled. « [She said] he had transferred to grad school and she was going to join him. And I was intrigued with who she was and what she was doing. Stanley was an intense person . . . but I remember that afternoon, sitting in my mother’s living room, drinking iced tea and eating sugar cookies. She had her baby and was talking about her husband, and what life held in store for her. She seemed so confident and self-assured and relaxed. She was leaving the next day to fly on to Boston. »

But as Botkin and others later remembered it, something happened in Cambridge, and Stanley Ann returned to Seattle. They saw her a few more times, and they thought she even tried to enroll in classes at the University of Washington, before she packed up and returned to Hawaii.

* * *

By the time he was 6, Barry Obama was a hyper-aware boy with much to think about. His mother had returned to school at the University of Hawaii and had received a degree in what her family considered an unlikely major — math. She had divorced Barack Obama Sr., who had finished his graduate work at Harvard and was back in Kenya, now living with a third woman. Ann had moved on and was soon to wed another international student, Lolo Soetoro, and follow him back to his home country, Indonesia, bringing Barry along. Her brief first marriage was in the past, Seattle in the remote distance, and Kansas farther still.

It was at this point that Barry developed a way of looking at his mother that essentially would last until her death three decades later. His take on her — both the ways he wanted to be like her and how he reacted against her — shaped him permanently and is central to understanding his political persona today, the contrast of an embracing, inclusive sensibility accompanied by an inner toughness and wariness. Starting at an early age, he noticed how his mother was curious and open, eager to find the best in people and situations, intent on softening the edges of the difficult world for her hapa son. There were many times when this made him think that she was naive, sometimes heartbreakingly so, and that he had to be the realist in the family. To some degree, especially as he tried to explain himself later in « Dreams From My Father, » he seemed to use his mother as a foil, setting her up as the quintessential well-intentioned white liberal idealist as a contrast to his own coming of age as a modern black man.

Whether this perception reflected objective reality is open to question. In her dealings later as a community worker and anthropologist in Indonesia and around the world, Ann showed a keen appreciation of the power structure and how to work with it or around it, and her doctoral thesis and other writings reveal a complex understanding of people and their motivations, free of dreamy idealism and wishful thinking. But she certainly tried to present the world in the most hopeful, unthreatening light to her children, first Barry and then his little sister, Maya, the daughter she bore with Soetoro.

As Maya explained recently, looking back on the way she and her brother were raised: « [She wanted to] make sure that nothing ever became acrimonious and that everything was pretty and everything was sacred and everything was properly maintained and respected — all the cultural artifacts and ways of being and living and thinking. We didn’t need to make choices. We didn’t need to discard anything. We could just have it all and keep it all. It was this sense of bounty and beauty. »

The son’s notion of his loving mother’s naivete began in Indonesia, when they arrived in the capital city, Jakarta, in 1967, joining Soetoro, who had returned to his home country several months earlier. The place was a fantasia of the unfamiliar and grotesque to young Barry, with the exotic scent of danger. Monkeys, chickens and even crocodiles in the back yard. A land of floods, exorcisms, cockfights. Lolo was off working for Union Oil, Ann taught English at the U.S. Embassy, and Barry was overwhelmed in this strange new world. He recalled those days in his memoir with more acuity than he possibly could have had as a 6-year-old, but the words reflect his perceptions nonetheless.

His mother taught him history, math, reading and social studies, waking him at 4 each morning to give him special tutoring, pouring her knowledge into his agile brain. But it was left to his stepfather to orient him in the cruel ways of the world. Soetoro taught him how to fight and defend himself, how not to give money to beggars, how to deal strictly with servants, how to interact with the world on its own unforgiving terms, not defining everything as good or bad but merely as it is.  » ‘Your mother has a soft heart,’ he told me after she tried to take the blame for knocking a radio off the dresser, » Obama quoted Soetoro in his memoir.  » ‘That’s good in a woman, but you will be a man someday, and a man needs to have more sense.’  » Men, Soetoro explained, take advantage of weakness in other men.  » ‘They’re like countries that way.’ « 

All of this, as Obama later interpreted it, related to the exercise of power, hidden and real. It was power that forced Soetoro to return to Indonesia in the first place. He had been summoned back to his country from Hawaii in 1966 and sent to work in New Guinea for a year because the ruling regime, after a widespread, bloody purge of communists and leftists, was leery of students who had gone abroad and wanted them back and under control. To his mother, power was ugly, Obama determined: « It fixed in her mind like a curse. » But to his stepfather, power was reality — and he « made his peace » with it.

Which response to the world had a deeper effect on the person Barry Obama would become? Without doubt it was his mother’s. Soetoro, described later by his daughter Maya as a sweet and quiet man, resigned himself to his situation and did not grow or change. He became a nondescript oilman, befriending slick operators from Texas and Louisiana who probably regarded him with racial condescension. He went to their parties and played golf at the country club and became western and anonymous, slipping as far away as possible from the dangers of the purge and the freedom of his student days.

Ann certainly had more options, but the one she eventually chose was unusual. She decided to deepen her connection to this alien land and to confront power in her own way, by devoting herself to understanding the people at the core of Indonesian culture, artisans and craftsmen, and working to help them survive.

Here was an early paradox that helped shape Obama’s life, one he would confront again and again as he matured and remade himself: A certain strain of realism can lead to inaction. A certain form of naivete can lead to action.

By the time Maya was born in 1970, Ann’s second marriage was coming apart. This time, there was no sudden and jarring disappearance. The relationship lingered off and on for another 10 years, and Lolo remained part of Maya’s life in a way that Barack Obama did not for Barry.

As Maya analyzed her parents’ relationship decades later, she concluded that she came along just as her mother was starting to find herself. « She started feeling competent, perhaps. She acquired numerous languages after that. Not just Indonesian, but her professional language and her feminist language. And I think she really got a voice. So it’s perfectly natural that she started to demand more of those who were near her, including my father. And suddenly his sweetness wasn’t enough to satisfy her needs. »

* * *

« Dreams From My Father » is as imprecise as it is insightful about Obama’s early life. Obama offers unusually perceptive and subtle observations of himself and the people around him. Yet, as he readily acknowledged, he rearranged the chronology for his literary purposes and presented a cast of characters made up of composites and pseudonyms. This was to protect people’s privacy, he said. Only a select few were not granted that protection, for the obvious reason that he could not blur their identities — his relatives. And so it is that of all the people in the book, the one who takes it on the chin the most is his maternal grandfather, Stan Dunham.

It is obvious from the memoir, and from interviews with many people who knew the family in Hawaii, that Dunham loved his grandson and did everything he could to support him physically and emotionally. But in the memoir, Gramps comes straight out of the plays of Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill, a once-proud soul lost in self-delusion, struggling against the days.

When Barry was 10, his mother made the difficult decision to send him back to Honolulu to live with her parents so he could get better schooling. He had been accepted into the prestigious Punahou School, and Madelyn and Stan had moved from a large house on Kamehameha Avenue to the apartment on Beretania, only five blocks from the campus.

Gramps now seemed as colorful and odd as those monkeys in the back yard in Jakarta. He cleaned his teeth with the red cellophane string from his cigarette packs. He told off-color jokes to waitresses. A copy of Dale Carnegie’s « How to Win Friends and Influence People » was always near at hand — and only those who lived with him knew the vast distance between his public bonhomie and his private despair. The most powerful scene in the memoir, as devastating as it is lovingly rendered, described how Stan, by then out of the furniture business and trying his hand as a John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance salesman, prepared on Sunday night for the week ahead.

« Sometimes I would tiptoe into the kitchen for a soda, and I could hear the desperation creeping out of his voice, the stretch of silence that followed when the people on the other end explained why Thursday wasn’t good and Tuesday not much better, and then Gramps’s heavy sigh after he had hung up the phone, his hands fumbling through the files in his lap like those of a card player who’s deep in the hole. »

By the time Barry returned to Hawaii, Toot had become the stable financial source in the family, well known in the local lending community. In the library of the Honolulu Advertiser, no clippings mention Stan Dunham, but Madelyn Dunham crops up frequently in the business pages. A few months before Barry arrived from Indonesia, his grandmother had been promoted to vice president at the Bank of Hawaii along with Dorothy K. Yamamoto — the first two female vice presidents in the bank’s history.

It was during Barry’s first year at Punahou School that his long-lost father stepped briefly into his life, and just as quickly disappeared again. He came for the month of December, and his mother returned from Indonesia beforehand to prepare Barry for the visit. She taught him more about Kenya and stories of the Luo people, but all of that knowledge dissolved at the first sight of the old man. He seemed far skinnier than Barry had imagined him, and more fragile, with his spectacles and blue blazer and ascot and yellowish eyes.

It was not an easy month, and what stuck in the boy’s memory were the basketball that his dad gave him as a present and two dramatic events: when his father ordered him, in front of his mother and grandparents, to turn off the TV and study instead of watching « How the Grinch Stole Christmas, » and when his father came to Miss Mabel Hefty’s fifth-grade class at Punahou’s Castle Hall to talk about Kenya. The first moment angered Barry; the second made him proud. But nothing much lingered after his father was gone.

That visit to Honolulu was bracketed by two trips that Obama’s old snack bar friends from the University of Hawaii made to see him in Kenya. Late in 1968, Neil Abercrombie and Pake Zane traveled through Nairobi on a year-long backpacking trip around the world and stayed with Obama for several days before they made their way on to the port city of Mombasa and to India. No mention was made of Ann or the boy, but it was clear to Abercrombie that his old friend’s life was not turning out as he had planned. « He seemed very frustrated, and his worst fears in his mind were coming true — that he was being underutilized, » Abercrombie said. « Everybody’s virtue is his vice, and his brilliance and his assertiveness was obviously working against him as well. »

Five years later, in 1973, Zane returned during another trip around the world.

« This time when I met Barack [Bear-ick, he said], he was a shell of what he was prior to that, » Zane recalled. « Even from what he was in 1968. . . . He was drinking very heavily, and he was very depressed and as you might imagine had an amount of rage. He felt totally vulnerable. »

Meanwhile, Barry’s circumstances had changed somewhat. His mother, separated from Lolo, was back in Hawaii with little Maya. Barry joined them in an apartment at Poki and Wilder, even closer to Punahou School. Ann was now fully engaged in the artisan culture of Indonesia and was beginning her master’s degree work in anthropology. They had no money beyond her graduate school grants.

Maya’s earliest memories go back to those years. Thirty-five years later, she can remember a filing cabinet and a rocking chair, and how she and her big brother would sit in the chair and keep rocking harder until it flipped over, which is what they wanted it to do. There was a television across from the rocker, and she would purposely stand in front of it during basketball games to irritate him. There were picnics at Puu Ualakaa State Park with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Madelyn’s homemade baked beans and coleslaw and potato salad with the skins still on. And there was Big Sandwich Night, when Gramps would haul out all the meats and cheeses and vegetables.

After three years in Hawaii, Ann had to go back to Indonesia to conduct her fieldwork. Barry had absolutely no interest in returning to that strange place, so he stayed behind with his grandparents.

* * *

Keith and Tony Peterson were rummaging through the discount bin at a bookstore in Boulder, Colo., one afternoon and came across a copy of « Dreams From My Father » several years after it was first published. « We’ve got to buy this, » Keith said to his brother. « Look who wrote it. » Barry Obama. Their friend from Punahou School. They both bought copies and raced through the memoir, absorbed by the story and especially by the sections on their high school years. They did not recognize any of the names, since they were all pseudonyms, but they recognized the smells and sounds and sensibility of the chapters and the feelings Obama expressed as he came of age as a black teenager.

This was their story, too. They wondered why Obama focused so much on a friend he called Ray, who in fact was Keith Kukagawa. Kukagawa was black and Japanese, and the Petersons did not even think of him as black. Yet in the book, Obama used him as the voice of black anger and angst, the provocateur of hip, vulgar, get-real dialogues.

But what interested the Petersons more was Obama’s interior dialogue with himself, his sense of dislocation at the private school, a feeling that no matter what he did, he was defined and confined by the expectations and definitions of white people. Keith Peterson had felt the same way, without being fully able to articulate his unease. « Now keep in mind I am reading this before [Obama] came on the national scene, » he said later. « So I am reading this still person to person, not person to candidate, and it meant a lot more for that reason. It was a connection. It was amazing as I read this book, so many decades later, at last I was feeling a certain amount of closure, having felt so isolated for so long. I wasn’t alone. I spent a good portion of my life thinking I had experienced something few others had. It was surprisingly satisfying to know I wasn’t crazy. I was not the only one struggling with some of these issues. »

But his brother Tony, who reached Punahou first, said he had regular discussions with Obama about many issues, including race. Tony was a senior when Obama was a freshman. The Petersons lived miles away, out in Pearl City, having grown up in a military family that was first based at Schofield Barracks. While Obama walked only five blocks to school, Tony had to ride city buses for an hour and a half each morning to get there.

As he remembered it, he was one of a handful of black students at Punahou then, a group that included Obama, Lewis Anthony, Rik Smith and Angie Jones. Peterson, Smith and Obama would meet on the steps outside Cooke Hall for what, with tongue in cheek, they called the Ethnic Corner. Obama and Smith were biracial, one black and white, the other black and Indian. Both of Peterson’s parents were black, but he felt uneasy because he was an academically inclined young man whom people thought « sounded white. »

« Barry had no personal reference for his blackness. All three of us were dealing with it in different ways, » Peterson recalled. « How do we explore these things? That is one thing we talked about. We talked about time. We talked about our classes. We talked about girls. We talked specifically about whether girls would date us because we were black. We talked about social issues. . . . But our little chats were not agonizing. They were just sort of fun. We were helping each other find out who we were. We talked about what we were going to be. I was going to be a lawyer. Rick was going to be a lawyer. And Barry was going to be a basketball player. »

Obama’s interest in basketball had come a long way since his absent father showed up and gave him his first ball. Now it was his obsession. He was always dribbling, always playing, either on the outdoor courts at Punahou or down at the playground on King Street across from the Baskin-Robbins where he worked part-time. He was a flashy passer with good moves to the basket but an uneven and unorthodox jump shot, pulling the ball back behind his head so far that it almost disappeared behind him. Basketball dominated his time so much that his mother worried about him. In ninth grade, at least, he was the naive one, believing he could make a life in the game.

In Tony Peterson’s senior yearbook, Obama wrote: « Tony, man, I sure am glad I got to know you before you left. All those Ethnic Corner trips to the snack bar and playing ball made the year a lot more enjoyable, even though the snack bar trips cost me a fortune. Anyway, great knowing you and I hope we keep in touch. Good luck in everything you do, and get that law degree. Some day when I am a pro basketballer, and I want to sue my team for more money, I’ll call on you. »

Barry’s mother, who had a wry sense of humor, once joked to friends that she was a pale-skinned Kansan who married a Kenyan and an Indonesian so she could have brown children who would not have to worry about sunburn. Her understanding of race was far deeper than that joke; she was always sensitive to issues of identity and made a point of inculcating her children in the cultures of their fathers. Still, there were some problems she could not resolve for them. Maya later said that her mother’s overriding desire that her children not suffer perhaps got in the way.

« She didn’t want us to suffer with respect to identity. She wanted us to think of it as a gift that we were multilayered and multidimensional and multiracial. This meant that she was perhaps unprepared when we did struggle with issues of identity. She was not really able to help us grapple with that in any nuanced way. Maybe it would make her feel like she hadn’t succeeded in surrounding us with enough love. I remember Mom wanting it not to be an issue. »

In an apparent effort to show a lifelong plot to power, some opponents last year pushed a story about Obama in which he predicted in kindergarten that one day he would be president. The conspiracy certainly seemed to go off the rails by the time he reached high school. Unlike Bill Clinton, who was the most political animal at Hot Springs High in Arkansas — organizing the marching band as though it was his own political machine, giving speeches at the local Rotary, maneuvering his way into a Senate seat at the American Legion-sponsored Boys Nation — Obama stayed away from student leadership roles at Punahou and gave his friends no clues that a few decades later he would emerge as a national political figure.

« When I look back, one of the things that stood out was that he didn’t stand out, » said Keith Peterson, who was a year younger than Obama. « There was absolutely nothing that made me think this is the road he would take. » His friends remember him as being kind and protective, a prolific reader, keenly aware of the world around him, able to talk about foreign affairs in a way that none of the rest of them could, and yet they did not think of him as politically or academically ambitious. In a school of high achievers, he coasted as a B student. He dabbled a little in the arts, singing in the chorus for a few years and writing poetry for the literary magazine, Ka Wai Ola.

The group he ran with was white, black, brown and not identified with any of the traditional social sets at the school: the rich girls from the Outrigger Canoe Club, the football players, the math guys, the drama crew, the volleyball guys. Among Obama’s friends, « there were some basketball players in there, but it was kind of eclectic, » recalled Mike Ramos, also a hapa, his mother Anglo and his father Filipino. « Was there a leader? Did we defer to Barry? I don’t think so. It was a very egalitarian kind of thing, also come as you are. »

They body-surfed at Sandy Beach Park on the south shore, played basketball day and night, went camping in the hills above the school, sneaked into parties at the university and out at Schofield Barracks, and listened to Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Miles Davis and Grover Washington at Greg and Mike Ramos’s place across from the school or in Barry’s room at his grandparents’ apartment. (« You listen to Grover? I listen to Grover, » Mike Ramos still remembers Barry saying as a means of introducing himself during a conversation at a party.)

And they smoked dope. Obama’s drug use is right there in the memoir, with no attempt to make him look better than he was. He acknowledged smoking marijuana and using cocaine but said he stopped short of heroin. Some have suggested that he exaggerated his drug use in the book to hype the idea that he was on the brink of becoming a junkie; dysfunction and dissolution always sell in memoirs.

But his friends quickly dismissed that notion. « I wouldn’t call it an exaggeration, » Greg Ramos said. Keith Peterson said: « Did I ever party with Barack? Yes, I did. Do I remember specifically? If I did, then I didn’t party with him. Part of the nature of getting high is you don’t remember it 30 minutes later. Punahou was a wealthy school with a lot of kids with disposable income. The drinking age in Hawaii then was 18, so a lot of seniors could buy it legally, which means the parent dynamic was not big. And the other partying materials were prevalent, being in Hawaii. There was a lot of partying that went on. And Barack has been very open about that. Coming from Hawaii, that would have been so easy to expose. If he hadn’t written about it, it would have been a disaster. »

If basketball was Obama’s obsession during those years, it also served as a means for him to work out some of his frustrations about race. In the book and elsewhere, he has emphasized that he played a « black » brand of ball, freelancing his way on the court, looking to drive to the hoop rather than wait around for a pick and an open shot. His signature move was a double-pump in the lane. This did not serve him well on the Punahou varsity team. His coach, Chris McLachlin, was a stickler for precisely where each player was supposed to be on the court and once at practice ordered his team to pass the ball at least five times before anyone took a shot. This was not Obama’s style, and he had several disagreements with the coach. He never won the arguments, and the team did well enough anyway. Adhering to McLachlin’s deliberate offense, the Buffanblu won the state championship, defeating Moanalua 60-28. Obama came off the bench to score two points. So much for the dream of becoming a rich NBA star.

His senior year, his mother was back home from Indonesia and concerned that her son had not sent in his college applications. In their tensest confrontation in the memoir, he eggs her on by saying it that was no big deal, that he might goof off and stay in Hawaii and go to school part-time, because life was just one big crapshoot anyway.

Ann exploded. She had rebelled herself once, at his very age, reacting against her own parents — and perhaps against luck and fate — by ignoring their advice and getting pregnant and marrying a man she did not know the way she thought she did. Now she was telling her son to shape up, that he could do anything he wanted if he put in the effort. « Remember what that’s like? Effort? Damn it, Bar, you can’t just sit around like some good-time Charlie, waiting for luck to see you through. »

* * *

Sixteen years later, Barry was no more, replaced by Barack, who had not only left the island but had gone to two Ivy League schools, Columbia undergrad and Harvard Law, and written a book about his life. He was into his Chicago phase, reshaping himself for his political future, but now was drawn back to Hawaii to say goodbye to his mother. Too late, as it turned out. She died on Nov. 7, 1995, before he could get there.

Ann had returned to Honolulu early that year, a few months before « Dreams From My Father » was published. She was weakened from a cancer that had been misdiagnosed in Indonesia as indigestion. American doctors first thought it was ovarian cancer, but an examination at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York determined that it was uterine cancer that had spread to her ovaries. Stan had died a few years earlier, and Madelyn still lived in the apartment on Beretania. Ann took an apartment on the same floor, and underwent chemotherapy treatments while keeping up with her work as best she could. « She took it in stride, » said Alice Dewey, chair of the University of Hawaii anthropology department, where Ann did her doctoral dissertation. « She never complained. Never said, ‘Why me?’ « 

Ann’s career had reached full bloom. Her dissertation, published in 1992, was a masterwork of anthropological insight, delineating in 1,000 pages the intricate world of peasant metalworking industries in Indonesia, especially traditional blacksmithing, tracing the evolution of the crafts from Dutch colonialism through the regime of General Suharto, the Indonesian military strongman. Her deepest work was done in Kajar, a blacksmithing village near Yogyakarta. In clear, precise language, she described the geography, sociology, architecture, agriculture, diet, class structure, politics, business and craftsmanship of the village, rendering an arcane subject in vivid, human terms.

It was a long time coming, the product of work that had begun in 1979, but Dewey said it was worth the wait: Each chapter as she turned it in was a polished jewel.

Her anthropology in Indonesia was only part of Ann’s focus. She had also worked in Lahore, Pakistan; New Delhi; and New York, helping to develop microfinancing networks that provided credit to female artisans in rural communities around the world. This was something she had begun in Jakarta for the Ford Foundation in the early 1980s, when she helped refine Bank Rakyat, set up to provide loans to farmers and other rural entrepreneurs in textiles and metalwork, the fields she knew best. David McCauley, who worked with her then, said she had earned a worldwide reputation in the development community. She had a global perspective from the ground up, he said, and she passed it along to her children, Barack and Maya.

Maya was in New York, about to start graduate school at New York University, when her mother got sick. She and her brother were equally slow to realize that the disease was advancing so rapidly. Maya had seen Ann during that visit to Sloan-Kettering, and « she didn’t look well. She was in a wheelchair . . . but I guess I thought that was the treatment. I knew that someday she would die, but it never occurred to me that it would be in November. I think children are capable of stretching out the boundaries of denial. » School always came first with Ann, and she had urged Maya to stay at NYU until the December break.

But by November her condition had worsened. She was put on morphine to ease the pain and moved from her apartment to the Straub Clinic. One night she called Maya and said she was scared. « And my last words to her, where she was able to respond, were that I was coming. I arrived on the seventh. My grandmother was there and had been there for some time, so I sent her home and talked to Mom and touched her and hugged her, and she was not able to respond. I read her a story — a book of Creole folk tales that I had with me about renewal and rebirth — and I said it was okay with me if she decided to go ahead, that I couldn’t really bear to see her like that. And she died. It was about 11 that night. »

Barack came the next day. He had just finished a book about his missing father, but now it was more clear to him than ever that his mother had been the most significant force in shaping his life. Even when they were apart, she constantly wrote him letters, softly urging him to believe in himself and to see the best in everyone else.

A small memorial service was held in the Japanese Garden behind the East-West Center conference building on the University of Hawaii campus. Photographs from her life were mounted on a board: Stanley Ann in Kansas and Seattle, Ann in Hawaii and Indonesia. Barack and Maya « talked story, » a Hawaiian phrase that means exactly what it sounds like, remembering their uncommon mother. They recalled her spirit, her exuberance and her generosity, a worldliness that was somehow very fresh and naive, maybe deliberately naive, sweet and unadulterated. And her deep laugh, her Midwestern sayings, the way she loved to collect batiks and wear vibrant colors and talk and talk and talk.

About 20 people made it to the service. When it was over, they formed a caravan and drove to the south shore, past Hanauma Bay, stopping just before they reached Sandy Beach, Barry’s favorite old haunt for body surfing. They gathered at a lookout point with a parking lot, and down below, past the rail and at the water’s edge, a stone outcropping jutting over the ocean in the shape of a massive ironing board. This was where Ann wanted them to toss her ashes. She felt connected to Hawaii, its geography, its sense of aloha, the fact that it made her two children possible — but the woman who also loved to travel wanted her ashes to float across the ocean. Barack and Maya stood together, scattering the remains. The others tossed flower petals into the water.

Suddenly, a massive wave broke over the ironing board and engulfed them all. A sign at the parking lot had warned visitors of the dangers of being washed to sea. « But we felt steady, » Maya said. « And it was this very slippery place, and the wave came out of nowhere, and it was as though she was saying goodbye. »

Barack Obama left Hawaii soon after and returned to his Chicago life.

Self-Made Man
Barack Obama’s autobiographical fictions
Andrew Ferguson
June 18, 2012

There’s a DVD that’s been sitting in its jewel box on my desk for a few years (I’ve been busy​—​no time to tidy up), and the other day, after reading through two brand-new books about Barack Obama, one admiring, the other ferociously disapproving, I snapped the cellophane at last and slid the disk into my computer drive.

I bought the video on a visit to Occidental College in Los Angeles, not long after Obama took office. He attended Oxy from 1979 to 1981, then lit out after his sophomore year and never returned. It must be a tricky business for a college publicist, marketing your school as the place that one of the world’s most famous men couldn’t wait to get away from, but these are highly competitive times in the liberal arts college racket, and a flack will work with what he’s got. During my visit the campus was transforming itself into a three-dimensional tribute to its most famous dropout.

In the common room of the library a shrine of sorts had been set up in a glass display case, under the famous Shepard Fairey Hope poster. The display promised to document “Barack Obama’s Occidental College Days,” but the pickings were slim. Every item on display was derivative and indirect in its relation to the man being honored. There were photos of three of his professors, a copy each of his two memoirs, an invitation that someone had received to his inauguration, and an issue of Time magazine showing a recently discovered cache of posed pictures taken of Obama by a classmate in 1980. Obama’s Occidental years have the same waterbug quality that so many periods of his life seem to have in retrospect: You see a figure traveling lightly and swiftly over the surface of things, darting away before he could leave an impression that might last. Archivists have combed college records and come up empty, mostly. Barry Obama, as he then was known, published two poems in the campus literary magazine his sophomore year. The testimony of the handful of professors who remembered him, four by my count, is hazy. He was never mentioned in the student newspaper, never wrote a letter to the editor or appeared in a photo; he failed to have his picture taken for the yearbook, so his likeness isn’t there either. A photo from 1981 celebrating Oxy’s 94th anniversary was in the display case, labeled, with eager insouciance: “An all-campus photo .  .  . included students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Perhaps Obama is included?” We can hope.

I found my DVD, called “Barack Obama’s Occidental College Days,” in the student bookstore, where shelves groaned under stacks of Obama merchandise​—​paperweights, caps, pennants, T-shirts, pencils, shot glasses​—​in which the “O” from Obama was graphically entwined with the “O” from Occidental. (You work with what you’ve got.) The film, with a cover showing a rare photo of Obama on campus, lasts no more than 15 minutes and seems padded even so. Our host is a large and enthusiastic man named Huell Howser. He sports a Hawaiian shirt and a crewcut. With an Oxy flack as guide and a cameraman in tow, he strides the sun-drenched campus and pauses here and there as if simply overwhelmed.

“This place is full of history,” he says.

“There’s a lot of history to be marked here,” the flack agrees.

On the steps of the school administration building they are almost struck dumb. Almost.

“On this spot,” our host says, Obama may have given his first political speech​—​a two-minute blast at the college for investing in South Africa’s apartheid regime. But we can’t be sure.

“There are no photographs,” says Howser, “but then there are very few photographs of Barack Obama at Occidental.”

“That’s right,” the flack says glumly.

Howser’s passion burns undiminished. His every glance, this way and that, says, Isn’t this something? He finds a professor who taught Obama political science. The professor says he remembers Obama, but only because of his Afro hairstyle and his improbable name. A chinwag with a former dorm-mate from freshman year​—​Obama moved to an apartment several miles off campus his second year, removing himself even further from the school’s day-to-day life​—​isn’t much help either. Howser’s imperturbable smile shows no sign of desperation even when he collars the head of alumni affairs, who boasts that his alumni association is one of only 25 in the world that could claim attachment to a U.S. president.

The host is beside himself.

“Is that right? How involved has he been in the alumni association?”

“Well, I have to admit he hasn’t been to any alumni events .  .  . ”

“Has he been a big contributor?”

The man gives one of those nods that are more headshake than nod. “He​—​he is on our mailing list.”

“Uh huh!”

“We have big plans to ask Mr. Obama back to campus to speak.”

Howser beams. History has that effect on people.

And there we are. You can’t help but sympathize with our host, with the flack, with the curators at the college library. They faced a challenge known to anyone who tries to account for Barack Obama: How do you turn him into a man as interesting and significant as the world-historical figure that so many people, admirers and detractors alike, presume him to be? There’s not a lot of material here. Obama had an unusual though hardly Dickensian childhood complicated by divorce, and at age 33 he wrote an extremely good book about it, the memoir Dreams from My Father. He followed it with an uneventful and weirdly passive career in politics, and he wrote an extremely not-very-good book about it, The Audacity of Hope. Then, lacking any original ideas or platform to speak of, he ran as the first half-black, half-white candidate for president and, miraculously, won. It’s a boffo finish without any wind-up​—​teeth-shattering climax, but no foreplay.

There are two ways to aggrandize Obama, to inflate the reality so that it meets the expectation: through derogation or reverence. The facts warrant neither approach, but they don’t deter the Obama fabulists, two of whom have just published those brand-new books I mentioned.

The Amateur, by a former New York Times magazine editor named Edward Klein, takes the first approach. Pure Obama-hatred was enough to shoot the book to the top of the Times bestseller list for the first three weeks after its release. Klein is best known as a Kennedy-watcher, author of such panting chronicles as All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy and Farewell, Jackie: A Portrait of Her Final Days; among the many info-bits he has tossed onto the sprawling slagheap of Kennedy lore is the news that Jackie lost her virginity in an elevator (the elevator was in Paris, where else). More recently Klein has honed his hatchet with books on Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric. Now The Amateur proves that he has mastered the techniques of such anti-Obama pioneers as Dinesh (The Roots of Obama’s Rage) D’Souza and David (The Great Destroyer) Limbaugh. He knows how to swing the sledgehammer prose, combine a leap of logic with a baseless inference, pad the paragraphs with secondary material plucked from magazine articles you’ve already read, and render the most mundane details in the most scandalized tones.

Sure, “Michelle now likes to pretend that she plays no part in personnel decisions or in formulating policy.” We’ve all heard that. And you believe it? “The facts tell quite a different story.” Facts are stubborn things! In truth, “Michelle’s aides meet regularly with the president’s senior communications team and select public events that will maximize and reinforce the Obamas’ joint message.” Wait. It gets worse. Klein has made a source of “one of Barack’s closest confidants.” And here’s what this confidant reveals: “Barack has always listened to what she has to say.” A direct quote, from source’s mouth to author’s ear. I wonder if they met in a darkened garage.

Klein has a problem with his sources​—​or rather, the reader should have a problem with Klein’s use of his sources, whoever they are. Blind quotes appear on nearly every page; there are blind quotes within blind quotes. The book cost him a year to research and write, he says proudly​—​“an exhilarating experience that took me to more than a half-dozen cities, either in person or by telephone or email.” (I visited several cities by email just this morning.) And it’s clear that all this dialing, emailing, dialing, emailing, bore little fruit. “I was at a dinner where Valerie [Jarrett] sat at our table for nearly 10 minutes,” another anonymous source divulges. “And I wasn’t particularly impressed.” Now it can be told. The book’s big revelation comes from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He claims, in an on-the-record interview with Klein, that in 2008 an unnamed friend of an unnamed friend of Obama sent Wright an email offering him $150,000 “not to preach at all until the November presidential election.” Republicans may seethe, but it’s odd that they would suddenly take the word of Jeremiah Wright, a publicity-seeking narcissist who says AIDS was invented by the government.

With such thin material, the only way to keep a book like The Amateur chugging along is with gallons of high-octane contempt. Yet because Klein provides so little to provoke fresh outrage​—​or to support the theme that Obama is “something new in American politics,” a historically unprecedented threat to the Republic​—​readers will have to come to the book well-stocked with outrage of their own. They will be satisfied with sentences that begin with an appeal to phony-baloney authority (“According to those who know him best”) and continue with assertions that no Obama intimate would make to Edward Klein, on or off the record: “inept in the arts of management .  .  . make[s] our economy less robust and our nation less safe .  .  .” and so on. And they’ll admire his ability to fit his theme of Obama’s villainy to any set of facts. After his election, for example, Obama didn’t take a wise man’s advice to disregard his old Chicago friends​—​a sign of Obama’s weakness and amateurism, Klein says. A few pages later Obama and Valerie Jarrett are accused of ignoring their old Chicago friends​—​a sign of coldness and amateurism. Klein gets him  coming and going.

If Klein makes Obama something he’s not by hating him more than he should, David Maraniss, a reporter for the Washington Post and a biographer of Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi, takes the opposite approach. Klein is an Obama despiser, Maraniss is a big fan​—​big fan. Klein assumes the worst of his subject at every turn, Maraniss gives Obama every benefit of the doubt, sometimes with heroic effort. Klein writes hastily and crudely, Maraniss writes with great care, veering now and then into those pastures of purple prose that Obama frequently trod in his own memoir. Klein’s book aims for a limited but sizable audience of readers who already despise Obama as much as he does, and therefore don’t require footnotes or any other apparatus of verification; Maraniss, with 30 pages of notes, has grander ambitions to satisfy anyone curious about Obama’s upbringing and family life. Klein’s book is a squalid little thing, Maraniss’s is not.

It is not, however, the book that Obama lovers will hope for​—​maybe not the book that Maraniss thinks it is. Prepublication, his splashiest piece of news has been the extent of the future president’s love for, and consumption of, marijuana. Through high school​—​he apparently lost the taste for pot sometime in college​—​Obama’s ardor reached Cheech and Chong levels. His circle of dopers called themselves the “Choom Gang,” after a Hawaiian word for inhaling pot, and the phrase is already threatening to enter the common language, ironically or otherwise. (I Googled it today and got 560,000 hits, pardon the expression.)

Obama politically indemnified himself against charges of youthful drug use by admitting them in his memoir, though he was smart enough to avoid the words “Choom Gang.” Even at 33, when he wrote his book, he had his eye on a political landscape that would require acknowledgment if not full disclosure of youthful “experimentation,” as the charming euphemism went. In Dreams, he treats the drug use as another symptom of his singular youthful confusion. Maraniss’s explanation is less complicated: Obama really, really liked to get high. Maraniss offers similarly unblinkered portraits of Obama’s appalling father, a vain, wife-beating bigamist and drunk, and of Obama’s maternal grandfather, who comes off in Dreams as a latter-day Micawber, innocent and luckless. Maraniss hints at a darker, even slightly menacing figure. And he discovers some sharp edges beneath the flowing muumuu of Obama’s mother, more often depicted as an idealistic flower-child-turned-scholar (or, in the Klein-reading camp, a Communist agitator).

Maraniss’s book is most interesting for the light it casts on Obama’s self-invention, which is of course the theme of Dreams from My Father: a sensitive and self-aware young man’s zig-zagging search for a personal identity in a world barely held together by fraying family ties, without a cultural inheritance, confused and tormented by the subject of race. Dreams is a cascade of epiphanies, touched off one by one in high school, at Oxy, in New York and Chicago, and, at book’s end, before his father’s grave in Africa. Years before Obama haters could inflate him into an America-destroying devil or Obama worshippers spied those rolling swells of greatness that have yet to surface, Barack Obama was carefully fashioning from his own life something grander than what was there. He was the first Obama fabulist.

Obama himself drops hints of this in Dreams. He writes in his introduction that the dialogue in the book is only an “approximation” of real conversations. Some of the characters, “for the sake of compression,” are “composites”; the names of others have been changed. All of this is offered to the reader as acceptable literary license, and it is, certainly by the standards of the early 1990s, back in the day when publishers flooded bookstores with memoirs of angst-ridden youth and there were still bookstores to flood. Yet the epiphany-per-page ratio in Obama’s memoir is very high. The book derives its power from the reader’s understanding that the events described were factual at least in the essentials. Maraniss demonstrates something else: The writer who would later use the power of his life story to become a plausible public man was making it up, to an alarming extent.

At least it should be alarming to admirers of Dreams. Early on Obama signals that his book will be more self-aware, more detached and ironical, than most youthful memoirs, especially those involving the humid subject of race. Thus we meet Ray, a classmate at Punahou School in Hawaii. Ray is black and radicalized, and given to racially charged rants about “white folks,” a term the narrator comes to despise.

 “Sometimes, after one of his performances,” Obama writes, “I would question his judgment, if not his sincerity. We weren’t living in the Jim Crow South, I would remind him. We weren’t consigned to some heatless housing project in Harlem or the Bronx. We were in goddamned Hawaii.”

Still Ray’s rants continue, and Obama continues to listen. Ray complains the football coach won’t start him, despite his superior skill, because he’s black; Obama is clearly being passed up by the basketball coach on account of his race, too. The white girls refuse to go out with them​—​for the same reason.

“Tell me we wouldn’t be treated different if we was white. Or Japanese.”

Racial resentment is the key to Ray. In Maraniss’s words, he’s “a symbol of young blackness, a mix of hot anger and cool detachment,” racially authentic in a way none of Obama’s other friends were. He provides a crucial example of the resentment that Obama is tempted by but at last outgrows.

But Ray wasn’t really there​—​didn’t exist, in fact. Ray is a “reinvention” of one of Obama’s friends, Maraniss tells us. His mother was half-black and half-American Indian; his father was .  .  . Japanese. His name was Keith Kakugawa, and he had no trouble dating white girls; his girlfriend at the time was the base admiral’s daughter. Maraniss discovered that Obama’s luck with girls, whatever their melanin count, was just as robust as Keith’s. With a Japanese name, Kakugawa would have trouble​—​more trouble than half-black Barry Obama​—​identifying himself as an African American and speaking as one. If Kakugawa was Ray, then the rants and the attitudes they represent are in this instance made up, and the story line of Dreams​—​the story of Obama’s life as we have learned it​—​loses an essential foil.

“Somewhere between pseudonymous and fictitious,” Maraniss writes, gently as always, “Ray was the first of several distorted or composite characters employed in Dreams for similar purposes.” But it’s the purposes themselves that are worrisome. Maraniss cuts Obama much more slack than he would, say, if he were an editor at the Washington Post magazine fact-checking a memoir he hoped to publish. He’s right to accept some invention from a memoirist who insists on telling his story through precise rendering of scenes and dialogue. But a memoir is just realist fiction unless the “composite” says and does things that were done and said by someone. In Dreams many of the crucial epiphanies, the moments that advance the narrator’s life and understanding to its closing semi-resolution, didn’t happen.

That first year at Oxy, Obama writes, he was “living one long lie,” crippled by self-consciousness and insecurity. (Many freshmen have known the feeling.) But then Barry Obama meets Regina.

“Regina .  .  . made me feel like I didn’t have to lie,” he writes. The two are introduced by a mutual friend, Marcus, in the campus coffee shop. She asks him about the name Barry​—​and becomes, in a liberating moment, one of the first to call him by his given name, Barack. More important, “she told me about her childhood in Chicago.” It was an authentic black American experience, he learns: “the absent father and struggling mother,” the rundown six-flat on the South Side, along with the compensations of an extended family​—​“uncles and cousins and grandparents, the stew of voices bubbling up in laughter.”

“Her voice evoked a vision of black life in all its possibility, a vision that filled me with longing​—​a longing for place, and a fixed and definite history.”

The afternoon with Regina transforms Barack. “Strange how a single conversation can change you,” he writes, setting up the ol’ epiphany.

“I had felt my voice returning to me that afternoon with Regina .  .  . [and] entering sophomore year I could feel it growing stronger, sturdier, that constant, honest portion of myself, a bridge between my future and my past.”

And the rest is history.

Except .  .  . there is layer upon layer of confusion here. When Maraniss inquired, Obama’s closest black friend at Occidental couldn’t recognize any real-life counterparts to the characters of Regina and Marcus, and in fact neither of them existed. Regina, Maraniss thinks, was the combination of a wealthy white girl (there were lots of them at Oxy, then and now, none overly familiar with the authentic black American experience) and a female black upperclassman who grew up middle class. Which part of Regina belonged to which real person isn’t mentioned and probably not discoverable. But that crucial background that Regina recounts to the narrator​—​the upbringing that inspired Obama to discover his voice and set in motion a train of events that led him to leave Occidental and the West for New York City and Columbia University​—​belonged to neither of Obama’s friends. The background, Maraniss says, may have been drawn from Michelle Robinson (later Obama), whom Obama would not meet for another 10 years. It’s like an epiphany in a time warp. And even then the facts are obscured: Michelle’s father never left his family, as Regina’s did.

Going back to Dreams after several years, and after reading Maraniss’s impressive book, you can get a bad case of the jumps. Take this spat between Regina and Barry, occurring the evening after his big antiapartheid speech, given on those steps that years later would wow Huell Howser:

    Regina came up to me and offered her congratulations. I asked her what for.

“For that wonderful speech you gave.”

.  .  . “It was short anyway.”
Regina continues:

“That’s what made it so effective. .  .  . You spoke from the heart, Barack. It made people want to hear more. .  .  .”

“Listen, Regina,” I said, cutting her off, “you are a very sweet lady. And I’m happy you enjoyed my little performance today. But that’s the last time you will ever hear another speech out of me. .  .  . I’m going to leave the preaching to you.” .  .  .

“And why is that?”

I sipped my beer, my eyes wandering over the dancers in front of us.

“Because I’ve got nothing to say, Regina .  .  .”

Knowing what we know now​—​that this intelligent, socially aware, fatherless girl from the South Side didn’t exist, by whatever name​—​we can only hope that there was some “very sweet lady” at Occidental who actually did flatter Barack Obama in this way, at that moment. If it’s pure invention it reads like a testy exchange between Norman Bates and his mother.

What’s dispiriting is that throughout Dreams, the moments that Obama has invented are precisely the occasions of his epiphanies​—​precisely those periodic aha! moments that carry the book and bring its author closer to self-discovery. Without them not much is left: a lot of lovely writing, some unoriginal social observations, a handful of precocious literary turns. Obama wasn’t just inventing himself; he was inventing himself inventing himself. It made for a story, anyway.

We can see the dilemma he faced. Obama signed a contract to write a racial memoir. They were all the rage in those days, but in fact their moment had passed. Even with the distant father and absent mother, the schooling in Indonesia and the remote stepfather, Obama lived a life of relative ease. He moved, however uncomfortably, into one elite institution after another, protected by civil rights laws, surrounded by a popular culture in which the African-American experience has embedded itself ineradicably. As Obama’s best biographer, David Remnick, observed, this wasn’t the stuff of Manchild in the Promised Land; you couldn’t use it to make the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass or the Auto-biography of Malcolm X. So Obama moved the drama inside himself, and said he’d found there an experience both singular and universal, and he brought nonexistent friends like Regina and Ray to goose the story along.

He did in effect what so many of us have done with him. He created a fable about an Obama far bigger and more consequential than the unremarkable man at its center. He joins us, haters and idolaters, as we join Huell Howser, looking this way and that, desperately trying to see what isn’t there. Isn’t that something?

Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.  A graduate of Occidental College, he reviewed Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope in our February 12, 2007, issue.

The shaping of a president: David Maraniss chronicles Obama’s early years
Dave Cieslewicz

Isthmus

07/19/2012

This is a story about a girl named Stan.

David Maraniss’ Barack Obama: The Story (Simon & Schuster, $33) might have been better titled Stanley Ann Dunham: Her Story.

Stanley Ann Dunham was the president’s mother, and she is the central character in Madison native Maraniss’ 600-page epic, which ends long before her son enters politics, much less the Oval Office.

If you’re disappointed by this, don’t be. Read the book. Stanley Ann Dunham’s unlikely, uneven, unconventional weaving together of a life is fascinating in itself. But it is significant in history because along for much of that weaving was a little boy and young man who was shaped by following her through her world, and now that man shapes our world as the leader of its most powerful nation.

Barack Obama’s namesake, his father, appears, but relatively briefly, probably playing more of a role in the book than he did in his son’s life. The senior Obama is portrayed as brilliant (stopping just short of earning a doctorate in economics from Harvard in three years), driven, charismatic, but also arrogant and abusive both psychologically and physically. And, as he grew older, all of his less endearing traits were magnified by a deepening relationship with alcohol. Maraniss suggests it was lucky for his son that Barack Obama Sr. stayed out his life.

The real story is Stanley Ann, named, some say, after her father Stanley Dunham, though Maraniss advances a more or less convincing theory that it was really her mother, Madelyn, who named her after a character in a B movie played by Bette Davis. Madelyn Payne Dunham of small-town Kansas longed for sophistication. Bette Davis personified it, and the film in which Davis played a woman named Stanley seemed to embody the bold breaking loose of convention that Madelyn wanted and that was passed along to her daughter.

Parenthetically, Madelyn Payne Dunham played a small role in Madison’s connection to the historic 2008 campaign of her grandson. Near the end of the campaign, Barack Obama canceled what would have been a massive Madison rally so he could return to Hawaii and be at her side in her final days.

In Maraniss’ book, Madelyn’s grandson does not even make an appearance until chapter six, and then he’s mostly tagging along as his mother marries and divorces his father, moves from Seattle to Hawaii and back to Seattle, and then goes to Jakarta, where she marries an Indonesian man and has with him a daughter, Barack’s half-sister. Along the way, Dunham acquires a college degree and works a series of academic odd jobs on her way to a Ph.D. in anthropology.

The senior Barack Obama is eventually killed in a car accident fueled by alcohol, but by that point it hardly matters. His contribution to history is his genes, all nature, no nurture. The nurturing role belonged mostly to Stanley Ann.

Maraniss shows us in intricate detail how the personality of the president was shaped. How a young boy of high intelligence and good humor adapted to his constantly changing and sometimes odd surroundings, learning, absorbing, finding a way to get along and to blend in, but also staying apart, since he never knew what was around the next corner with his footloose mom.

He acquired a lifelong habit of holding some of himself back, watching what played out in front of him and, to use Maraniss’ central theme, « avoiding the traps » of life.

Barack Obama may be one of the least qualified men ever to occupy his office. His experience on the national stage amounts to four years as a junior U.S. senator. And yet, thanks to his mother, there were few who understood the world better.

His face is a map of the world. Maraniss reports that Obama’s heritage is 50% Lou (an African tribe), 37.4% English, 4.4% German, 3.125% Irish, 3.125% Scottish, 1.56% Welsh, 0.195% Swiss, and 0.097% French. Maraniss proves conclusively that the president is not a Muslim, but reveals he is French. For Rush Limbaugh conservatives, which is worse?

More important than Obama’s genetic makeup is his life experience. Not only did he grow up in Indonesia and Hawaii, but he also grew up amid diversity in both places, which brought him into casual, daily contact with Africans, Asians, Natives and Caucasians, people of all kinds of ethnic variations and political and social differences.

What he did not experience in his early life is mainland, American-style racism. Growing up in places that were diverse, he never had to confront his identity as a black man until his college years. There are no slaves in the Obama family tree, and he missed most of the tumultuous civil rights struggle because of his youth and the physical distance from the mainland.

There is an amusing section on the future president’s more than casual acquaintance with marijuana as a high school student in Hawaii. I won’t ruin the fun, but if you get the e-book, search for « Choom Gang, » « Total Absorption » (the opposite of not inhaling) and « Roof Hits. » Enough said.

Even when Barry, which is how he was known, finally made it to the mainland as a college freshman, he chose elite Occidental College in Los Angeles, a diverse environment in a sheltered section of the city that gave him virtually no taste of the typical experience of blacks in America.

In fact, one of his Oxy college friends said that Barry, who was starting to refer to himself as Barack in part to reconnect to his black roots, decided to transfer after his sophomore year to Columbia in New York so that he could « discover blackness in America. »

What hits home in Maraniss’ book is how race was, for Barack Obama, primarily an intellectual journey of study and self-discovery. He had to discover his blackness.

This sets him apart from the dominant African American experience, and it accounts for some of the reluctance on the part of veteran civil rights advocates like Jesse Jackson to embrace his candidacy early on. The feeling was apparently mutual. As a student at Columbia, Obama saw Jackson speak at a rally and came back unimpressed.

The argument can be made that Barack Obama, raised by a white mother and white grandparents, is half white genetically and more than that culturally. But the reality of race in America is that skin color trumps everything. It is not, still and sadly, the content of your character that shapes how you are perceived, at least initially.

This is a central theme of Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father, which Maraniss dissects in his own book. In what is probably the memoir’s most memorable scene, one Obama referred to often in the 2008 campaign, his white, Kansas-bred grandmother expresses fear of a black man she encounters at a bus stop simply because he is black.

That incident happened while the most important person in his life, his mother, was off doing her graduate research in Indonesia. During this period and for the rest of Obama’s life, Stanley Ann Dunham makes only cameo appearances in Maraniss’ book, but he leaves little doubt that the choices she made in her life, and for her son, set him on a trajectory that made him the man he became.

And even in death in 1995, at the age of 52, she had an impact on her son. Her struggle with cancer was a theme he used often as he argued for a health care overhaul.

Most of the press about Maraniss’ book has focused on the discrepancies between what he found and what Obama wrote in Dreams From My Father, or on the revelations of college girlfriends. Neither strikes me as all that important compared to the narrative surrounding Stanley Ann. Maraniss forgives most of the discrepancies as poetic license that Obama admits to at the start of his memoir. He was trying to write literature as much as a factual account of his life, and he didn’t try to deceive.

As for the girlfriends’ accounts of a charismatic but ultimately distant lover, they make for interesting reading. But his character had already been shaped by his experiences with his mother and grandparents. By the time we meet the girlfriends, they are reporting on what we already know.

If the book has a flaw, it’s that there is too much of it. For example, did I really need to learn that Obama’s grandmother’s high school Latin class met on the second floor of the southeast corner of the school? Or what Obama’s phone number was when he was a student at Columbia in 1981? (It was 401-2857.)

The book also wanders into countless narrative cul de sacs, detailing the lives, and sometimes the deaths, of people who have only a tangential relationship to Obama. We get pages of detail on the funeral of Tom Mboya, a Kenyan political operative and an important figure in Obama’s father’s life, but a man the younger Obama never met.

But in the end, when a reader is in the hands of a skilled writer it’s a small complaint to say that there’s too much good writing.

Maraniss is a reporter and editor for The Washington Post. He grew up in Madison and spends his summers here, where he wrote much of the book.

Whatever else you’ve got going this summer, it’s worth your time to read Barack Obama: The Story, if only to marvel at the twists and spellbinding turns in the life of the girl named Stanley who shaped – almost entirely for the better – the personality of the most powerful human being on the planet.

As Obama wrote, « It was my mother’s fundamental faith – in the goodness of people and in the ultimate value of this brief life we’ve been given – that channeled [my] ambitions. »

Dave Cieslewicz is the former mayor of Madison. He blogs as Citizen Dave at TheDailyPage.com.

Will Oprah Give Our President the James Frey Treatment?
Mendy Finkel

American thinker

June 27, 2012

Back in 2006, Oprah Winfrey admitted to feeling embarrassed after learning that James Frey, whose memoir she had praised and promoted, fabricated many of his life stories. And as we would expect from a woman who rose from poverty to build a powerful media empire, Oprah did not take this sitting down. She invited Frey back on her show to confront him face-to-face.

The interview, for anyone who missed it, was not for the faint of heart. Throughout the interview, Oprah supplied a healthy serving of indignation and anger to a hapless Mr. Frey. In describing the interview, TIME magazine noted that a « public flogging » would have been civil in comparison. Indeed, Oprah told Frey that her feelings of disgust towards him were so strong that it was « difficult for her to talk to [him]. »

Most of the media applauded Oprah’s performance. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen labeled Oprah the « Mensch of the year. » And Maureen Dowd thought « [i]t was a huge relief, after our long national slide into untruth and no consequences, into Swift boating and swift bucks, to see the Empress of Empathy icily hold someone accountable for lying. » In other words, many members of the media agreed with Oprah that fabricating stories in a memoir is no small matter.

So if Oprah and much of the media had this strong a reaction to misrepresentations made by a previously unknown man who was just trying to make his life story sound a little exciting, one can only imagine how strong her reaction would be to a politician who was misrepresenting his life story to further his political career.

Which brings us to our president. After watching Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Oprah became Obama’s most prominent supporter. And much as with Frey, Oprah’s initial support for Obama was based largely on his life story. Not only did she invite Obama on her show to discuss his memoir, Dreams from My Father, but in 2006, even before he officially entered the presidential race, Oprah publicly endorsed Obama for president. Oprah’s endorsement received tremendous media attention, prompting TIME magazine to put Obama on the cover with the caption « Why Barack Obama could be the next president. »

According to a CBS poll, more than a third of all American’s said that most people they knew were more inclined to vote for Obama as a result of Oprah’s endorsement. It would no exaggeration to say that Oprah’s endorsement played a significant role in Obama becoming president.

So what could possibly undermine Oprah’s admiration of our president? Well, it has recently been discovered by Washington Post editor and Obama biographer David Maraniss that Obama’s memoir likely went much farther than just the character « compression » and chronology rearrangement that Obama admitted to in his memoir’s introduction. Maraniss reveals in his new book that, much like Frey’s memoir, Dreams contains fabrications of material aspects of Obama’s life narrative.

In his review of Maraniss’ book, Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard details the extent to which Obama’s memoirs depart from Obama’s actual life story. Ferguson writes:

[W]hat’s dispiriting is that throughout Dreams, the moments that Obama has invented are precisely the occasions of his epiphanies​- — precisely those periodic aha! moments that carry the book and bring its author closer to self-discovery. Without them not much is left[.]

He explains that all the episodes in Dreams where Obama faced any character defining struggle were simply made up; the conversations never happened, and the characters never existed. This wasn’t a case of Obama combining several events, which together lead him to the same place anyway; it’s Obama inventing events that perfectly suited the narrative he was trying create for himself.

To be sure, Maraniss is not the first person to discover fabrications in Obama’s memoir. In fact, conservative writers and bloggers have been noting many of these inconsistencies and misstatements for the past couple of years. The only difference is that as an editor of the Washington Post, Maraniss is too prominent a liberal for the media to ignore. Indeed, many of these fabrications have been covered by news media outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Buzzfeed since his book was published.

Ultimately, what Maraniss did discover is that Obama’s actual upbringing was simply too comfortable and boring to lend itself to a compelling memoir. So he did what Frey did and turned an otherwise mundane life story into a more meaningful and interesting one.

At this point, it would hardly be surprising if Oprah felt embarrassed, having endorsed Obama’s presidency and praised his memoir. Ever since she did so, her career has been in a steep decline. With enough encouragement from the media, perhaps she’ll even try to arrange another interview to confront Obama on these charges. That is, if she could even stand to talk to him at this point.

The Obama-Ayers Connection
Dick Morris
Real Clear politics
October 8, 2008

In the best tradition of Bill Clinton’s famous declaration that the answer to the question of whether or not he was having an affair with Monica depended on « what the definition of ‘is’ is, » Barack Obama was clearly splitting hairs and concealing the truth when he said that William Ayers was « just a guy who lives in my neighborhood. »

The records of the administration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), released last week by the University of Illinois, show that the Ayers-Obama connection was, in fact, an intimate collaboration and that it led to the only executive or administrative experience in Obama’s life.

After Walter Annenberg’s foundation offered several hundred million dollars to American public schools in the mid-’90s, William Ayers applied for $50 million for Chicago. The purpose of his application was to secure funds to « raise political consciousness » in Chicago’s public schools. After he won the grant, Ayers’s group chose Barack Obama to distribute the money. Between 1995 and 1999, Obama distributed the $50 million and raised another $60 million from other civic groups to augment it. In doing so, he was following Ayers’s admonition to grant the funds to « external » organizations, like American Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to pair with schools and conduct programs to radicalize the students and politicize them.

Reading, math and science achievement tests counted for little in the CAC grants, but the school’s success in preaching a radical political agenda determined how much money they got.

Barack Obama should have run screaming at the sight of William Ayers and his wife, Bernadette Dohrn. Ayers has admitted bombing the U.S. Capitol building and the Pentagon, and his wife was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in which two police officers were killed. Far from remorse, Ayers told The New York Times in September 2001 that he « wished he could have done more. »

Ayers only avoided conviction when the evidence against him turned out to be contained in illegally obtained wiretaps by the FBI. He was, in fact, guilty as sin.

That Obama should ally himself with Ayers is almost beyond understanding. The former terrorist had not repented of his views and the education grants he got were expressly designed to further them.

So let’s sum up Obama’s Chicago connections. His chief financial supporter was Tony Rezko, now on his way to federal prison. His spiritual adviser and mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of « God damn America » fame. And the guy who got him his only administrative job and put him in charge of doling out $50 million is William Ayers, a terrorist who was a domestic Osama bin Laden in his youth.

Even apart from the details of the Obama/Ayers connection, two key points emerge:

a) Obama lied and misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm’s-length; and

b) Obama was consciously guided by Ayers’s radical philosophy, rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, in his distribution of CAC grant funds.

Since Obama is asking us to let him direct education spending by the federal government and wants us to trust his veracity, these are difficulties he will have to explain in order to get the votes to win.

Now that Obama is comfortably ahead in the polls, attention will understandably shift to him. We will want to know what kind of president he would make. The fact that, within the past 10 years, he participated in a radical program of political education conceptualized by an admitted radical terrorist offers no reassurance.

Why did Obama put up with Ayers? Because he got a big job and $50 million of patronage to distribute to his friends and supporters in Chicago. Why did he hang out with Jeremiah Wright? Because he was new in town, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and having been educated at Columbia and Harvard, and needed all the local introductions he could get to jump-start his political career. Why was he so close to Rezko?

Because he funded Obama’s campaigns and helped him buy a house for $300,000 less than he otherwise would have had to pay.

Not a good recommendation for a president.
//Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of « Outrage. » To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to http://www.dickmorris.com.

Exclusive – The Vetting – Senator Barack Obama Attended Bill Ayers Barbecue, July 4, 2005
Joel B. Pollak
Breitbart
4 Jun 2012

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama disavowed any connection with former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, the Weather Underground radical who was one of Obama’s early backers and his colleague on the board of the Woods Fund in Chicago. We now have proof that Obama’s association with Ayers continued even after Obama had been elected to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate–in the form of a now-scrubbed blog post placing Obama at the home of Ayers and his wife, fellow radical Bernardine Dohrn, on July 4, 2005.
Dr. Tom Perrin, Assistant Professor of English at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, was a graduate student at the University of Chicago at the time, and maintained a blog called “Rambling Thomas.” He lived next door to Ayers and Dohrn in Hyde Park. He wrote at 8:44 a.m. on July 6, 2005:

Guess what? I spent the 4th of July evening with star Democrat Barack Obama! Actually, that’s a lie. Obama was at a barbecue at the house next door (given by a law professor who is a former member of the Weather Underground) and we saw him over the fence at our barbecue. Well, the others did. It had started raining and he had gone inside be the time I got there. Nevertheless.
Dohrn is a Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University, and Chicago did, in fact, record rainfall on the Fourth of July holiday in 2005.

Breitbart News attempted to contact Dr. Perrin for further comment:

Dear Dr. Perrin,

My name is Joel Pollak, and I am the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News.

We came across your blog entry from July 2005 in which you mentioned that then-Senator Obama had been a guest at the Ayers/Dohrn house next door.

http://ramblingthomas.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_archive.html

I was wondering if you could provide more detail.

Many thanks,

Joel Pollak
Dr. Perrin did not respond. He did, however, delete his entire blog from the Internet.

Of course, Breitbart News had saved a screen grab of the blog beforehand:

Obama’s presence–as a U.S. Senator–at the Ayers barbecue has been confirmed by another source, who told Breitbart News: “I too saw Obama at a picnic table in the Ayers/Dohrn backyard, munching away–on the 4th of July.”

The fact that Obama socialized with Ayers and Dorn contradicts the statement that Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt gave the New York Times in 2008:

Mr. LaBolt said the men first met in 1995 through the education project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and have encountered each other occasionally in public life or in the neighborhood. He said they have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park.
That statement now appears to be “Clintonian” in its dance around the truth. Obama and Ayers may not have emailed or spoken by phone, but they had, we now know, spoken face to face–at least on July 4, 2005, and perhaps at other times as well.

The continued connection between Obama and his radical, domestic terrorist associates until mere months before he launched his presidential campaign is sharply at odds with the way Obama minimized the relationship, as well as the way the media largely sought to portray it as an insignificant part of Obama’s past.

Whatever differences may have emerged between Obama and Ayers–and other far-left fellow travelers–since Obama took office and grappled with the realities of governing, Obama’s migration towards the mainstream of American politics is very recent, and likely opportunistic. His intellectual and political roots remain extreme.

Obama’s Third-Party History
New documents shed new light on his ties to a leftist party in the 1990s.
Stanley Kurtz
National Review
June 7, 2012

On the evening of January 11, 1996, while Mitt Romney was in the final years of his run as the head of Bain Capital, Barack Obama formally joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic party and even to American capitalism. In 2008, candidate Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines, as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s goal.

In late October 2008, when I wrote here at National Review Online that Obama had been a member of the New Party, his campaign sharply denied it, calling my claim a “crackpot smear.” Fight the Smears, an official Obama-campaign website, staunchly maintained that “Barack has been a member of only one political party, the Democratic Party.” I rebutted this, but the debate was never taken up by the mainstream press.

Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.

Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.
Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.

Knowing that Obama disguised his New Party membership helps make sense of his questionable handling of the 2008 controversy over his ties to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). During his third debate with John McCain, Obama said that the “only” involvement he’d had with ACORN was to represent the group in a lawsuit seeking to compel Illinois to implement the National Voter Registration Act, or motor-voter law. The records of Illinois ACORN and its associated union clearly contradict that assertion, as I show in my political biography of the president, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

Why did Obama deny his ties to ACORN? The group was notorious in 2008 for thug tactics, fraudulent voter registrations, and its role in popularizing risky subprime lending. Admitting that he had helped to fund ACORN’s voter-registration efforts and train some of their organizers would doubtless have been an embarrassment but not likely a crippling blow to his campaign. So why not simply confess the tie and make light of it? The problem for Obama was ACORN’s political arm, the New Party.

The revelation in 2008 that Obama had joined an ACORN-controlled, leftist third party could have been damaging indeed, and coming clean about his broader work with ACORN might easily have exposed these New Party ties. Because the work of ACORN and the New Party often intersected with Obama’s other alliances, honesty about his ties to either could have laid bare the entire network of his leftist political partnerships.

Although Obama is ultimately responsible for deceiving the American people in 2008 about his political background, he got help from his old associates. Each of the two former political allies who helped him to deny his New Party membership during campaign ’08 was in a position to know better.

The Fight the Smears website quoted Carol Harwell, who managed Obama’s 1996 campaign for the Illinois senate: “Barack did not solicit or seek the New Party endorsement for state senator in 1995.” Drawing on her testimony, Fight the Smears conceded that the New Party did support Obama in 1996 but denied that Obama had ever joined, adding that “he was the only candidate on the ballot in his race and never solicited the endorsement.”

We’ve seen that this is false. Obama formally requested New Party endorsement, signed the candidate contract, and joined the party. Is it conceivable that Obama’s own campaign manager could have been unaware of this? The notion is implausible. And the documents make Harwell’s assertion more remarkable still.

The Long Run
Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama’s Young Life
Serge F. Kovaleski
The New York Times
February 9, 2008

Nearly three decades ago, Barack Obama stood out on the small campus of Occidental College in Los Angeles for his eloquence, intellect and activism against apartheid in South Africa. But Mr. Obama, then known as Barry, also joined in the party scene.

Years later in his 1995 memoir, he mentioned smoking “reefer” in “the dorm room of some brother” and talked about “getting high.” Before Occidental, he indulged in marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine as a high school student in Hawaii, according to the book. He made “some bad decisions” as a teenager involving drugs and drinking, Senator Obama, now a presidential candidate, told high school students in New Hampshire last November.

Mr. Obama’s admissions are rare for a politician (his book, “Dreams From My Father,” was written before he ran for office.) They briefly became a campaign issue in December when an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s chief Democratic rival, suggested that his history with drugs would make him vulnerable to Republican attacks if he became his party’s nominee.

Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details. He wrote about his two years at Occidental, a predominantly white liberal arts college, as a gradual but profound awakening from a slumber of indifference that gave rise to his activism there and his fears that drugs could lead him to addiction or apathy, as they had for many other black men.

Mr. Obama’s account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.

In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.

Vinai Thummalapally, a former California State University student who became friendly with Mr. Obama in college, remembered him as a model of moderation — jogging in the morning, playing pickup basketball at the gym, hitting the books and socializing.

“If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag. We’d smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus,” recounted Mr. Thummalapally, an Obama fund-raiser. “He was not even close to being a party animal.”

Mr. Obama declined to be interviewed for this article. A campaign spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in an e-mail message that the memoir “is a candid and personal account of what Senator Obama was experiencing and thinking at the time.”

“It’s not surprising that his friends from high school and college wouldn’t recall personal experiences and struggles that happened more than twenty years ago in the same way, and to the same extent, that he does,” he wrote.

What seems clear is that Mr. Obama’s time at Occidental from 1979 to 1981 — where he describes himself arriving as “alienated” — would ultimately set him on a course to public service. He developed a sturdier sense of self and came to life politically, particularly in his sophomore year, growing increasingly aware of harsh inequities like apartheid and poverty in the third world.

He also discovered that he wanted to be in a larger arena; one professor described Occidental back then as feeling small and provincial. Mr. Obama wrote in his memoir that he needed “a community that cut deeper than the common despair that black friends and I shared when reading the latest crime statistics, or the high fives I might exchange on a basketball court. A place where I could put down stakes and test my commitments.”

Mr. Obama wrote that he learned of a transfer program that Occidental had with Columbia and applied. “He was so bright and wanted a wider urban experience,” recalled Anne Howells, a former English professor at Occidental who taught Mr. Obama and wrote him a recommendation for Columbia.

Mr. Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said her brother focused more on his future at Occidental. “I think he felt it was time to do some heavy thinking and assessing and time to start making a more meaningful contribution,” Ms. Soetoro-Ng said. “He felt New York was an interesting place to be in terms of the exchange of ideas, overlapping cultures and rigorous academics.”

As for Mr. Obama’s use of marijuana and, occasionally, cocaine, she said, “He wasn’t a drug addict or dealer. He was a kid searching for answers and a place who had made some mistakes.” After arriving in New York, Mr. Obama wrote in his memoir, he stopped getting high.

In the 442-page book, published when he was 33, Mr. Obama’s references to drug use are limited to the equivalent of about a page and a half. He got the book contract after becoming the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. At first, he considered writing a more scholarly book about the law, race and society, but scrapped that in favor of writing about his search for identity.

The son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, Mr. Obama wrote that he would get high to help numb the confusion he felt about himself. “Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man,” he penned in the memoir. “Except the highs hadn’t been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was.”

“I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind.”

At Punahou, a preparatory school that had few black students, Keith Kakugawa and Mr. Obama were close friends. They met when Mr. Obama was a freshman and Mr. Kakugawa, who is Japanese-Hawaiian, was a junior.

Mr. Kakugawa remembered that the two often discussed wealth and class and that their disaffection would surface. He said race would come up in the conversations, usually when talking about white girls they thought about dating.

“We were dealing with acceptance and adaptation, and both had to do with the fact that we were not part of the moneyed elite,” Mr. Kakugawa said.

Mr. Kakugawa, who spent seven years in and out of prison for drug offenses beginning in 1996, said he pressured Mr. Obama into drinking beer.

But Mr. Obama did not smoke marijuana during the two years they spent time together even though it was readily available, Mr. Kakugawa said, adding that he never knew Mr. Obama to have done cocaine. “As far as pot, booze or coke being a prevalent part of his life, I doubt it,” Mr. Kakugawa said. He had graduated, however, by the time Mr. Obama was in his junior and senior years, when he wrote that he most frequently used marijuana and cocaine “when you could afford it.”

Mr. Obama describes a scene in that period where, in the meat freezer of a deli, he watched someone named Micky — “my potential initiator” — pull out “the needle and the tubing,” apparently to shoot up heroin. Alarmed, Mr. Obama wrote that he imagined how an air bubble could kill him. Neither Mr. Kakugawa or the others interviewed for this article who knew Mr. Obama at Punahou recalled hearing that story from him.

In his freshman year at Occidental, Mr. Obama and his dormitory mates would gather around a couch in the hallway of their floor while stereos blasted songs by bands like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the B-52’s and the Flying Lizards. The conversations revolved around topics like the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter’s proposed revival of draft registration and the energy crisis.

Mr. Obama displayed a deft but unobtrusive manner of debating.“When he talked, it was an E. F. Hutton moment: people listened,” said John Boyer, who lived across the hall from Mr. Obama. “He would point out the negatives of a policy and its consequences and illuminate the complexities of an issue the way others could not.” He added, “He has a great sense of humor and could defuse an argument.”

Mr. Obama seemed interested in thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Jean-Paul Sartre, whom he studied in a political thought class in his sophomore year.

The professor, Roger Boesche, has memories of him at a popular burger joint on campus.

“He was always sitting there with students who were some of the most articulate and those concerned with issues like violence in Central America and having businesses divest from South Africa,” he said. “These were the kids most concerned with issues of social justice and who took classes and books seriously.”

Mr. Obama was involved in the Black Students’ Association and in the divestment campaign to pressure the college to pull its money out of companies doing business in South Africa. To make a point, students camped out in makeshift shantytowns on campus.

In his book, Mr. Obama said that his role in the divestment push started as kind of a lark, “part of the radical pose my friends and I sought to maintain.” But then he became more engaged, contacting members of the African National Congress to have them speak at the college and writing letters to the faculty.

He was one of a few students who spoke at a campus divestment rally. Rebecca Rivera, then a member of a similar Hispanic students’ group, said: “He clearly understood our social responsibility and the way the college’s money was impacting the lives of black people in South Africa and preventing the country from progressing.” She added, “There was passion, absolutely, but not incoherent fieriness.”

While he would sometimes attend parties held by black students and Latinos, Amiekoleh Usafi, a classmate who also spoke at the rally, recalled seeing him at parties put together by the political and artistic set.

Ms. Usafi, whose name at Occidental was Kim Kimbrew, said the most she saw Mr. Obama indulging in were cigarettes and beer.

“I would never say that he was a druggie, and there were plenty there,” she said. “He was too cool for all that.”

Voir encore:

Les livres qui ont fait Obama

Pierre Assouline

20 janvier 2009

Qu’est-ce que cela fait d’avoir un nouveau président des Etats-Unis qui sait lire ? Du bien. Cela fait du bien d’apprendre qu’il a toujours un livre à portée de la main. On a tellement flatté ses qualités d’orateur et ses dons de communicant qu’on a oublié l’essentiel de ce qui fait la richesse de son verbe : son côté lecteur compulsif. A croire que lorsqu’il sera las de lire des livres, il dirigera l’Amérique pour se détendre. Michiko Kakutani, la redoutée critique du New York Times, d’ordinaire si dure avec la majorité des écrivains, est tout miel avec ce non-écrivain auteur de trois livres : deux textes autobiographiques et un discours sur la race en Amérique. Elle vient de dresser l’inventaire de sa « bibliothèque idéale », autrement dit les livres qui ont fait ce qu’il est devenu, si l’on croise ce qu’il en dit dans ses Mémoires, ce qu’il en confesse dans les interviews et ce qu’on en sait.

    Adolescent, il lut avidement les grands auteurs noirs James Baldwin, Langston Hugues, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, W.E.B. Du Bois avant de s’immerger dans Nietzsche et Saint-Augustin en marge de ses études de droit, puis d’avaler la biographie de Martin Luther King en plusieurs volumes par Taylor Branch. Autant de livres dans lesquels il a piqué idées, pistes et intuitions susceptibles de nourrir sa vision du monde. Ce qui ne l’a pas empêché de se nourrir en permanence des tragédies de Shakespeare, de Moby Dick, des écrits de Lincoln, des essais du transcendantaliste Ralph Waldo Emerson, du Chant de Salomon de la nobélisée Toni Morrison, du Carnet d’or de Doris Lessing, des poèmes d’un autre nobélisé Derek Walcott, des mémoires de Gandhi, des textes du théologien protestant Reinhold Niebuhr qui exercèrent une forte influence sur Martin Luther King, et, plus récemment de Gilead (2004) le roman à succès de Marylinne Robinson ou de Team of rivals que l’historienne Doris Kearns Goodwin a consacré au génie politique d’Abraham Lincoln, « la » référence du nouveau président.

   Pardon, on allait oublier, le principal, le livre des livres : la Bible, of course.

Voir aussi:

La star de NBC, Brian Williams est suspendu pour six mois
Accusé d’avoir menti lors de reportages en Irak, Brian Williams, l’un des présentateurs les plus célèbres des Etats-Unis, est suspendu pour six mois sans salaire
Brian Williams (AFP)
Nebia Bendjebbour
Le Nouvel Obs
09-02-2015

C’est un énorme scandale aux Etats-Unis. Brian Williams, 55 ans, présentateur vedette du journal de NBC, depuis 2004, quitte l’antenne après avoir été pris en flagrant délit de mensonges sur ses souvenirs de reportage en Irak en 2003. Il vient d’être suspendu pour six mois sans salaire.

« Brian a déformé des événements qui s’étaient produits lorsqu’il couvrait la guerre en Irak en 2003. Il est ensuite devenu clair que, dans d’autres occasions, Brian avait fait la même chose en racontant cette histoire. Il a eu tort, c’était complètement inapproprié pour quelqu’un dans la position de Brian », a écrit Deborah Turness, la présidente de NBC News.

Alors qu’il couvrait la guerre pour la chaîne, comme reporter de guerre, il avait toujours affirmé que l’hélicoptère à bord duquel il était embarqué avec des militaires avait été attaqué au lance-roquettes. En fait, l’hélicoptère attaqué est celui qui se trouvait devant lui. Ses mensonges ont fini par en agacer plus d’un, en particulier les soldats qui ont réagi en reprochant au journaliste de s’attribuer un acte de courage qu’il ne méritait pas.

Sur le site Stars and Stripes, spécialisé dans les forces armées, ils donnent leur version. Selon Joe Summerlin, le pilote de l’hélicoptère qui transportait Brian Williams et son équipe se trouvait à plus d’une demi-heure de l’attaque. Cité par le New York Times Summerlin fait donc voler en éclat la thèse du journaliste héroïque, car non seulement son appareil n’a pas été visé mais n’était pas proche. Il avait dû en revanche se poser en raison d’une tempête de sable et ne s’est pas fait tirer dessus.

J’ai commis une erreur en rapportant cet événement datant d’il y a douze ans».

Pris dans la tourmente, Brian Williams, a présenté ses regrets lors de son journal de mercredi soir. Il a confessé avoir fait une « erreur » sur ses déclarations « Je veux m’excuser. J’ai dit que je me trouvais à bord d’un hélicoptère qui a essuyé des tirs, alors que j’étais dans un appareil qui suivait. J’ai commis une erreur en rapportant cet événement datant d’il y a douze ans».

Ses excuses n’ont pas suffi à redorer son blason. Son image en a été écornée. D’autres affirmations qu’il a faites sont mises en doute. Lors de l’ouragan Katrina, il avait ainsi dit avoir vu flotter un cadavre depuis sa chambre d’hôtel à la Nouvelle Orléans. L’ancien directeur des services de santé de la ville, le Dr Lutz a déclaré que le quartier français n’avait pas subi les mêmes dégâts que le reste de la ville.

Brian Williams se retire provisoirement de l’antenne
Samedi, Brian Williams a déclaré dans un communiqué de NBC « J’ai décidé de me retirer de la présentation quotidienne pour les prochains jours. Dans une carrière passée à couvrir et consommer l’information, j’ai compris avec douleur que je suis actuellement trop devenu une partie de cette information, en raison de mes actions », a-il ajouté.
Il est remplacé provisoirement par Lester Holt, présentateur des journaux du week-end.

La chaîne a lancé une enquête en interne, pour étudier les suites à donner aux déclarations de son présentateur vedette, qui en décembre avait renouvelé son contrat pour cinq ans, d’un montant de 10 millions de dollars par an. NBC va-t-elle céder aux critiques très virulentes des médias et d’Internet pour se séparer de sa vedette regardée par 9 millions d’américains ?

Voir enfin:

Exclusif : les confidences de Barack Obama
Le Figaro
15/03/2008

Le Figaro publie en avant-première les meilleurs extraits des Mémoires du candidat à l’investiture démocrate. Dans Les Rêves de mon père (éditions Presse de la Cité), qui paraît jeudi 20 mars en France, Barack Obama raconte l’histoire de sa famille et celle de son ascension. Jusqu’à la Maison-Blanche ?

La promesse du rêve américain
J’appris que mon père était africain, kényan, de la tribu des Luos, né sur les rives du lac Victoria dans une localité appelée Alego. Il gardait les chèvres de son père et fréquentait l’école construite par l’administration coloniale britannique, où il se révéla très doué. Il obtint une bourse pour aller étudier à Nairobi. C’est là que, à la veille de l’indépendance du Kenya, il fut sélectionné par des chefs kényans et des sponsors américains pour aller étudier dans une université américaine, rejoignant la première grande vague d’Africains envoyés à l’étranger pour y apprendre la technologie occidentale et la rapporter dans leur pays afin de forger une nouvelle Afrique moderne.

En 1959, à l’âge de vingt-trois ans, il arriva à l’université de Hawaii. C’était le premier étudiant africain accueilli dans cette institution. […] À un cours de russe, il rencontra une jeune Américaine timide, modeste, âgée seulement de dix-huit ans, et ils tombèrent amoureux. Les deux jeunes gens se marièrent et eurent un fils, auquel Barack transmit son prénom. Il obtint une nouvelle bourse, cette fois pour poursuivre son Ph.D., son doctorat, à Harvard, mais non les fonds nécessaires pour emmener sa nouvelle famille avec lui. Il y eut donc séparation, à la suite de laquelle il retourna en Afrique pour tenir sa promesse vis-à-vis du continent. Il laissa derrière lui sa femme et son enfant, mais le lien d’amour perdura malgré la distance… […]

Mon père ne ressemblait en rien aux gens qui m’entouraient, il était noir comme le goudron alors que ma mère était blanche comme le lait, mais cela me traversait à peine l’esprit.

De fait, je ne me souviens que d’une seule histoire traitant explicitement du problème racial. Cette histoire racontait qu’un soir, après avoir passé de longues heures à travailler, mon père avait rejoint mon grand-père et plusieurs autres amis dans un bar de Waikiki. L’ambiance était joyeuse, on mangeait et on buvait au son d’une guitare hawaïenne, lorsqu’un Blanc, à haute et intelligible voix, se plaignit tout à coup au propriétaire d’être obligé de boire du bon alcool «à côté d’un nègre». Le silence s’installa dans la salle et les gens se tournèrent vers mon père, en s’attendant à une bagarre. Mais mon père se leva, se dirigea vers l’homme, lui sourit et entreprit de lui administrer un sermon sur la folie de l’intolérance, sur la promesse du rêve américain et sur la déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme.

«Quand Barack s’est tu, le gars s’est senti tellement mal à l’aise qu’il lui a filé aussi sec un billet de cent dollars, racontait Gramps. Ça nous a payé toutes nos consommations pour le reste de la soirée… et le loyer de ton père jusqu’à la fin du mois !»

Il s’était fait passer pour un Blanc
Ma mère m’installa dans la bibliothèque pendant qu’elle retournait à son travail. Je finis mes bandes dessinées et les devoirs qu’elle m’avait fait apporter, puis je me levai pour aller flâner à travers les rayons. Dans un coin, je découvris une collection de Life, tous soigneusement présentés dans des classeurs de plastique clair. Je parcourus les publicités accrocheuses et me sentis vaguement rassuré. Plus loin, je tombai sur une photo qui illustrait un article, et j’essayai de deviner le sujet avant de lire la légende. Une photo de petits Français qui couraient dans des rues pavées : c’était une scène joyeuse, un jeu de cache-cache après une journée de classe et de corvées, et leurs rires évoquaient la liberté. La photo d’une Japonaise tenant délicatement une petite fille nue dans une baignoire à peine remplie : ça, c’était triste. La petite fille était malade, ses jambes étaient tordues, sa tête tombait en arrière contre la poitrine de sa mère, la figure de la mère était crispée de chagrin, peut-être se faisait-elle des reproches…

Puis j’en arrivai à la photo d’un homme âgé qui portait des lunettes noires et un imperméable. Il marchait le long d’une route déserte. Je ne parvins pas à deviner de quoi parlait cette photo ; le sujet n’avait rien d’extraordinaire. Sur la page suivante, il y en avait une autre : c’était un gros plan sur les mains du même homme. Elles montraient une étrange pâleur, une pâleur qui n’était pas naturelle, comme si la peau avait été vidée de son sang. Je retournai à la première photo, et je remarquai les cheveux crépus de l’homme, ses lèvres épaisses et larges, son nez charnu, et le tout avait cette même teinte irrégulière, spectrale.

Il est sans doute gravement malade, me dis-je. Victime d’une irradiation, peut-être, ou albinos. J’avais vu un albinos dans la rue quelques jours auparavant, et ma mère m’avait donné des explications. Mais lorsque je lus les mots qui accompagnaient la photo, je vis que ce n’était pas cela du tout. L’homme avait reçu un traitement chimique pour éclaircir sa peau, disait l’article. Il l’avait payé de ses propres deniers. Il disait regretter d’avoir essayé de se faire passer pour un Blanc, se désolait de la manière catastrophique dont l’expérience avait tourné. Mais les résultats étaient irréversibles. Il existait des milliers de gens comme lui en Amérique, des Noirs, hommes et femmes, qui s’étaient soumis au même traitement à la suite de publicités qui leur avaient promis le bonheur, une fois devenus blancs.

Je sentis la chaleur envahir mon visage et mon cou. Mon estomac se serra ; les caractères devinrent flous. Ma mère était-elle au courant ? Et son patron ? Pourquoi était-il si calme, à lire ses rapports, quelques mètres plus loin, au bout du couloir ? Je ressentis le besoin urgent de sauter à bas de mon siège, de leur montrer ce que je venais d’apprendre, de leur demander de m’expliquer, ou de me rassurer. Mais quelque chose me retint. Comme dans les rêves, j’étais privé de voix, incapable d’articuler les mots traduisant cette peur nouvelle pour moi.

Lorsque ma mère vint me chercher pour me ramener à la maison, mon visage était souriant, et les magazines avaient retrouvé leur place. La pièce, l’atmosphère étaient aussi tranquilles qu’avant.

Si tu veux devenir un être humain
Ma mère avait toujours favorisé mon intégration rapide dans la culture indonésienne (Sa mère et son second mari se sont installés à Djakarta en 1968, NDLR). Cela m’avait appris à devenir relativement autonome, à ne pas me montrer exigeant quand le budget était serré. J’étais extrêmement bien élevé comparé aux autres enfants américains, et grâce à son éducation je considérais avec dédain le mélange d’ignorance et d’arrogance qui caractérise trop souvent les Américains à l’étranger. Dès le début, elle avait concentré ses efforts sur mon instruction. N’ayant pas les revenus nécessaires pour m’envoyer à l’école internationale que fréquentait la majorité des enfants étrangers de Djakarta, elle s’était arrangée dès notre arrivée pour compléter ma scolarité par des cours par correspondance envoyés des États-Unis.

Désormais, elle redoublait d’efforts. Cinq jours par semaine, elle venait dans ma chambre à quatre heures du matin, me forçait à prendre un petit déjeuner copieux, puis me faisait travailler mon anglais pendant trois heures, avant mon départ pour l’école et le sien pour son travail. J’opposais une rude résistance à ce régime, mais à toutes mes stratégies, les moins convaincantes («J’ai mal à l’estomac») comme les plus véridiques (mes yeux se fermaient toutes les cinq minutes), elle exposait patiemment sa défense :

«Et moi, mon petit gars, tu crois que ça m’amuse ?

»[…] Si tu veux devenir un être humain, me disait-elle, il te faudra avoir certaines valeurs. L’honnêteté : Lolo n’aurait pas dû cacher le réfrigérateur dans la remise quand les inspecteurs des impôts sont venus, même si tout le monde, les inspecteurs y compris, s’attendait à cela. La justice : les parents des élèves plus riches ne devraient pas offrir des postes de télévision aux professeurs pendant le ramadan, et leurs enfants n’ont pas à être fiers des bonnes notes qu’ils reçoivent en remerciement. La franchise : si la chemise que je t’ai offerte pour ton anniversaire ne t’a pas plu, tu aurais dû le dire au lieu de la garder roulée en boule au fond de ton placard. L’indépendance de jugement : ce n’est pas parce que les autres enfants se moquent d’un pauvre garçon à cause de sa coupe de cheveux que tu dois faire la même chose.

Elle n’avait qu’un seul allié en tout cela, c’était l’autorité lointaine de mon père. De plus en plus souvent, elle me rappelait son histoire, son enfance pauvre, dans un pays pauvre, dans un continent pauvre ; la dureté de sa vie. J’allais suivre son exemple, ainsi en décida ma mère. Je n’avais pas le choix. C’était dans les gènes.

Vous devez être en colère quelque part
En 1983, je décidai de devenir organisateur de communautés.

Quand mes amis, à l’université, me demandaient quel était le rôle d’un organisateur de communautés, je n’étais pas capable de leur répondre directement : je discourais sur la nécessité du changement. Du changement à la Maison-Blanche, où Reagan et ses sous-fifres se livraient à leur sale besogne. Du changement au Congrès, qui était complaisant et corrompu. Du changement dans l’état d’esprit du pays, obsessionnel et centré sur lui-même. Le changement ne viendra pas d’en haut, disais-je. Le changement ne viendra que de la base, c’est pourquoi il faut la mobiliser.

Voilà ce que je vais faire. Je vais travailler à organiser les Noirs. La base. Pour le changement.

Et mes amis, blancs et noirs, me félicitaient chaudement de mon idéal, avant de mettre le cap sur le bureau de poste pour envoyer leurs demandes d’admission dans les grandes écoles. […]

Finalement, une société de conseil financier pour multinationales accepta de m’embaucher comme assistant de recherche. J’arrivais tous les jours dans mon bureau au cœur de Manhattan. J’étais le seul homme noir de la société. Ike, l’agent de sécurité noir bourru qui officiait dans le hall, n’y alla pas par quatre chemins et me dit tout net que je commettais une erreur.

«Organisateur ? C’est un genre de politique, c’est ça ? Pourquoi vous voulez faire un truc comme ça ?

» J’essayai de lui expliquer mes idées politiques, combien il était important de mobiliser les pauvres et de redistribuer les richesses à la communauté. Ike secoua la tête.

«Monsieur Barack, me dit-il, j’espère que vous ne le prendrez pas mal si je vous donne un petit conseil. Oubliez ces histoires d’organisation et faites quelque chose qui pourra vous rapporter du blé.» […]

J’avais pratiquement renoncé à devenir organisateur lorsque je reçus un appel d’un certain Marty Kaufman. Celui-ci m’expliqua qu’il avait monté une organisation à Chicago et qu’il souhaitait engager un stagiaire. Son aspect ne m’inspira pas grande confiance. Un Blanc grassouillet, de taille moyenne, portant un costume fripé. Son visage était mangé par une barbe de trois jours ; derrière d’épaisses lunettes cerclées de fer, ses yeux restaient plissés en permanence. Quand il se leva pour me serrer la main, il renversa un peu de thé sur sa chemise.

«Eh bien, dit-il en épongeant la tache avec une serviette en papier, pourquoi veut-on devenir organisateur quand on vient de Hawaii?»

Je m’assis et lui parlai un peu de moi.

«Hum, fit-il en hochant la tête, tout en prenant quelques notes sur un calepin. Vous devez être en colère, quelque part.

Que voulez-vous dire ?

Il haussa les épaules.

Je ne sais pas exactement. Mais il y a sûrement quelque chose. Ne le prenez pas mal : la colère, c’est obligatoire pour faire ce boulot. C’est la seule raison qui pousse quelqu’un à s’engager là-dedans. Les gens bien dans leur peau trouvent un boulot plus calme.»

La meilleure part de notre histoire
J’entrai à la Harvard Law School, où je passai la plus grande partie de mon temps, durant trois années, dans des bibliothèques faiblement éclairées, plongé dans les études de cas et les textes de lois. Les études de droit peuvent être parfois décevantes, car il s’agit d’apprendre à appliquer des règles rigides et des procédures obscures à une réalité qui n’est pas. Mais le droit n’est pas que cela. Le droit est aussi la mémoire ; le droit note aussi le déroulement d’une longue conversation, celle d’une nation qui discute avec sa conscience.

«Nous tenons ces vérités pour évidentes par elles-mêmes…»

Dans ces mots, j’entends l’esprit de Douglass et de Delany, celui de Jefferson et de Lincoln, les luttes de Martin et de Malcolm et de ceux qui manifestèrent pour que ces mots deviennent réalité. J’entends les voix des familles japonaises enfermées derrière des barbelés, des jeunes Juifs russes exploités dans les fabriques de confection du Lower East Side de Chicago, des fermiers anéantis par la sécheresse qui chargent sur leurs camions ce qui reste de leurs vies brisées. J’entends les voix des habitants des Altgeld Gardens, et les voix de ceux qui restent de l’autre côté des frontières de ce pays, les cohortes affaiblies, affamées, qui traversent le Rio Grande. J’entends toutes ces voix réclamer la reconnaissance, et toutes elles posent exactement les questions qui en sont venues à déterminer ma vie, les questions que parfois, tard dans la nuit, je me surprends à poser au Vieil Homme. Quelle est notre communauté, et comment cette communauté peut-elle être conciliée avec notre liberté ? Jusqu’où vont nos obligations ? Comment transformons-nous un pur pouvoir en justice, un simple sentiment en amour ? À mon retour à Chicago, je découvris une accélération des signes de détérioration dans tout le South Side : les quartiers étaient devenus plus délabrés, les enfants plus agressifs, les familles moyennes déménageaient de plus en plus dans les banlieues, les prisons étaient remplies à craquer de jeunes à l’œil sombre, mes frères sans perspectives.

J’essaie d’apporter ma modeste participation au renversement de cette tendance. Dans mon cabinet d’avocat, je travaille principalement avec des églises et des groupes communautaires, des hommes et des femmes qui construisent tranquillement des épiceries et des cliniques dans les quartiers déshérités, et des logements pour les pauvres. De temps en temps, je travaille sur une affaire de discrimination, pour défendre des clients qui viennent dans mon cabinet avec des histoires dont nous aimons nous dire qu’elles ne devraient plus exister. La plupart de ces clients sont un peu embarrassés de ce qui leur arrive, tout comme les collègues blancs qui acceptent de témoigner en leur faveur ; car personne n’a envie de passer pour quelqu’un qui sème la zizanie. Et pourtant, il arrive un moment où les plaignants aussi bien que les témoins se disent que c’est une question de principe, que malgré tout ce qui s’est passé, ces mots posés sur le papier il y a deux cents ans ont sûrement une importance. Noirs et Blancs, ils se réclament de cette communauté que nous appelons l’Amérique. Ils choisissent la meilleure partie de notre histoire.

Voir par ailleurs:

Obama Administration: Our Goal is Not to Eliminate Iran’s Nuke Program
Senators grill officials for capitulating to Tehran
Adam Kredo
January 21, 2015

A senior official in the State Department admitted on Wednesday that the Obama administration’s goal during negotiations with Iran is delaying the regime’s development of nuclear weapons rather than shutting down the Islamic Republic’s contested nuclear program.

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken acknowledged during a tense exchange with senators on Capitol Hill a deal being sought by the Obama administration that would constrain its nuclear breakout capability without eliminating its nuclear program.

Blinken also floated the possibility of extending nuclear talks past the June deadline should additional time be needed to finalize details of a possible deal with Iran.

Leading senators on both sides of the aisle grilled Blinken and other officials in the administration over Iran’s nuclear program, which has continued despite restrictions imposed under an interim nuclear agreement made in November 2013.

Many believe that the interim deal has done little to halt the program and allows the regime to continue some of its most controversial nuclear operations, including the construction of new reactors and work on ballistic missiles.

“Let me ask you this, isn’t it true that even the deal that you are striving towards is not to eliminate any Iranian [nuclear] breakout capability, but to constrain the time in which you’ll get the notice of such breakout capability?” Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a vocal critic of the White House’s dealings with Iran, asked Blinken during Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “Is that a fair statement, yes or no?”

“Yes, it is,” Blinken responded.

This admission appeared to frustrate and anger Menendez, who accused the administration of issuing “talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

“We’re not eliminating Iran’s ability to break out,” Menendez said. “We’re just getting alarm bells, and the question is how long are we going to get those alarm bells for?”

Asked at a later point in the hearing if the administration would consider prolonging talks yet again, Blinken said that this is a possibility.

“We might want a little more time,” he said. “That’s possible. I wouldn’t want to rule it out.”

Under the terms of the interim agreement, which the administration claims has “halted” Iran’s progress, Tehran can still enrich uranium up to a point, pursue unlimited construction of plutonium light water reactors, and advance its ballistic missile program.

Iran has enriched enough uranium to fuel two nuclear bombs in the past year, according to experts.

Menendez expressed particular frustration with the administration’s attempts to appease Iran, even as it blatantly continues nuclear work during the talks.

“The bottom line is, they get to cheat in a series of ways—and I’ll call it ‘cheat,’ you won’t—but they get to cheat in a series of ways and we get to worry about their perceptions,” Menendez said.

Despite the pressure from Menendez and others, Blinken was adamant that the administration opposes any new sanctions on Iran, even if they were scheduled to take effect only if negotiations fail.

Bliken also made clear his opposition to Congress holding an up or down vote on any possible deal that the administration may agree to.

“Why would you oppose Congress weighing in on an issue of this importance?” asked Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), the committee’s chairman, who has championed legislation that would give Congress a final say over the deal.

Corker described a White House that “continues to stiff arm every effort” and “push away Congress, who represents more fully this nation than the negotiators.”

Blinken said that the administration is apprehensive about a possible congressional role in the process.

“In terms of the negotiations themselves, the knowledge that there would be very early on this kind of vote, in our judgment, could actually undermine the credibility of the commitments we would make [to Iran] in the context of negotiations,” Blinken said.

“There’s a concern that if a judgment is reached immediately [by Congress], yea or nay on this, it may be too soon to see if Iran has complied with its agreements,” Blinken added.

Corker seemed to find these explanations wanting.

“I’m very disappointed that in essence what the administration is saying is, ‘We really don’t want, even though Congress put us in this place, we really don’t want Congress to play a role in one of the most important geopolitical agreements that may take place during this administration,’” he said.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Vir.) expressed fear during the hearing that the United States is ignoring Iran’s pattern of deception on the nuclear front.

“Iran has made it plain in the course of this negotiation [that] this is not a negotiation about Iran dismantling a nuclear weapons program,” Kaine said. “It’s a negotiation about trying to buy a year of time to have an alarm bell ring and act.”

The administration is giving up too much, particularly on the issue of uranium-enriching centrifuges, he said.

“The kinds of things I’ve been hearing about the number of centrifuges contemplated in this deal, this is not consistent with a purely civilian program,” Kaine said.

Voir enfin:

Mainstreaming Jew hatred in America
Caroline Glick
The Jerusalem Post

13 February 2015

Barack Obama is mainstreaming anti-Semitism in America.

Last week (2/09), apropos of seemingly nothing, in an interview with Mathew Yglesias from the Vox.com website, Obama was asked about terrorism. In his answer the president said the terrorism threat is overrated. And that was far from the most disturbing statement he made.

Moving from the general to the specific, Obama referred to the jihadists who committed last month’s massacres in Paris as « a bunch of violent vicious zealots, » who « randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. »

In other words, Ahmedy Coulibaly, the Moslem terrorist at Hyper Cacher, the kosher supermarket he targeted, was just some zealot. The Jews he murdered while they were shopping for Shabbat were just « a bunch of folks in a deli, » presumably shot down while ordering their turkey and cheese sandwiches.

No matter that Coulibaly called a French TV station from the kosher supermarket and said he was an al-Qaida terrorist and that he chose the kosher supermarket because he wanted to kill Jews.

As far as the leader of the free world is concerned, his massacre of four Jews at the market can teach us nothing about anything other than that some random people are mean and some random people are unlucky.

And anyway, Obama explained, we’re only talking about this random act of senseless violence because as he said, « If it bleeds, it leads. » The media, desperate for an audience, inflates the significance of these acts of random violence, for ratings.

Obama’s statement about the massacre of Jews in Paris is notable first and foremost for what it reveals about his comfort level with anti-Semitism.

By de-judaizing the victims, who were targets only because they were Jews, Obama denied the uniqueness of the threat jihadist Islam and its adherents pose to Jews. By pretending that Jews are not specifically targeted for murder simply because they are Jews, he dismissed the legitimate concerns Jews harbor for their safety, whether in Diaspora communities or in Israel.

If nothing distinguished Coulibaly’s massacre at Hyper Cacher from a mugging or an armed robbery gone bad, then Jews have no right to receive unique consideration – whether for their community’s security in London or Paris, or San Francisco – or for Israel’s security.

As subsequent statements from administration spokespeople made clear, Obama’s statement was not a gaffe. When questioned about his remarks, both White House spokesman Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki doubled down on Obama’s denial of the anti-Semitic nature of the massacre at Hyper Cacher. Earnest said that the Jews who were murdered were people who just « randomly happened to be » at the supermarket.

Psaki said that the victims didn’t share a common background or nationality, pretending away the bothersome fact that they were all Jews.

Just as bad as their denials of the anti-Jewish nature of the attack on Hyper Cacher, were Psaki’s and Earnest’s belated revisions of their remarks. After coming under a storm of criticism from American Jews and from the conservative media, both Psaki and Earnest turned to their Twitter accounts to walk back their remarks and admit that indeed, the massacre at Hyper Cacher was an anti-Semitic assault.

Their walk back was no better than their initial denial of the anti-Jewish nature of the Islamist attack, because it amplified the very anti-Semitism they previously promoted.

As many Obama supporters no doubt interpreted their behavior, first Obama and his flaks stood strong in their conviction that Jews are not specifically targeted. Then after they were excoriated for their statements by Jews and conservatives, they changed their tune.

The subtext is clear. The same Jews who are targeted no more than anyone else, are so powerful and all controlling that they forced the poor Obama administration to bow to their will and parrot their false and self-serving narrative of victimization.

The administration’s denial of the unique threat Jews face from jihadists is not limited to its anti-Semitic characterizations of the attack at Hyper Cacher.

It runs as well through Obama’s treatment of Israel and its actions to defend itself against its jihadist enemies from Hamas to Hezbollah to Iran.

Today, the most outstanding example of Obama’s exploitation of anti-Semitic tropes to diminish US support for Israel is his campaign to delegitimize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of his scheduled speech before the joint houses of Congress on March 3.

As we belatedly learned from a small correction at the bottom of a New York Times article on January 30, contrary to the White House’s claim, Netanyahu did not blindside Obama when he accepted Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to address the Congress. He informed the White House of his intention to accept Boehner’s offer before he accepted it.

Netanyahu did not breach White House protocol.

He did not behave rudely or disrespectfully toward Obama.

The only one that behaved disrespectfully and rudely was Obama in his shabby and slanderous treatment of Netanyahu.

It was Obama who peddled the lie that Netanyahu was using the speech not to legitimately present Israel’s concerns regarding the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran, but to selfishly advance his political fortunes on the back of America’s national security interests and the independence of its foreign policy.

It was Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who spearheaded efforts to coerce Democrat lawmakers to boycott Netanyahu’s speech by announcing that they would refuse to meet with the leader of the US’s closest ally in the Middle East during his stay in Washington.

So far only 15 members of the House and three Senators have announced their intention to boycott Netanyahu’s speech. But even if all the other Democrats do attend his speech, the impact of Obama’s campaign to defame Netanyahu will long be felt.

First of all, if all goes as he hopes, the media and his party members will use his demonization of Netanyahu’s character as a means to dismiss the warnings that Netanyahu will clearly sound in his address.

Second, by boycotting Netanyahu and encouraging Democrats to do the same, Obama is mainstreaming the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to isolate Israel.

Moreover, he is mobilizing Democrat pressure groups like J Street and MoveOn.org to make it costly for Democrat politicians to continue to support Israel.

There is another aspect of the Hyper Cacher massacre, which was similarly ignored by the White House and that bears a direct relationship to Obama’s attempt to destroy the credibility of Netanyahu’s warnings about his Iran policy.

Whereas the journalists murdered at Charlie Hebdo magazine were killed because their illustrations of Mohammed offended Moslem fascists, the Jews murdered at Hyper Cacher were targeted for murder because they were Jews. In other words, the Islamist hatred of Jews is inherently genocidal, not situational.

If Islamists have the capacity to annihilate the Jews, they will do so. And this brings us back to Obama’s statement to Vox.com. As is his habit, Obama refused to use the term Islamic to describe the « violent, vicious zealots » who randomly targeted Jews at the Hyper Cacher.

Since the outset of his presidency, Obama has vigilantly denied the connection between Islamism and terrorism and has mischaracterized jihad as peaceful self-reflection, along the lines of psychotherapy.

His denial of the Islamist nature of jihadist assaults worldwide rose to new heights when in his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast he compared today’s jihadists to the Crusaders from a thousand years ago. And whereas he identified the Crusaders as Christians, he refused to acknowledge that today’s mass murdering zealots act in the name of Islam.

Obama’s stubborn, absurd and dangerous refusal to mention the word Islam in connection with the war being waged worldwide by millions in its name, coupled with his eagerness to always compare this unnamed scourge to the past evils of Western societies, indicates that his defense of Islamic supremacism is not merely a policy preference but rather reflects a deeper ideological commitment.

The perception that Obama either does not oppose or embraces Islamic extremism is strengthened when coupled with his appalling attempts to ignore the fact of Islamic Jew-hatred and its genocidal nature and his moves to demonize Netanyahu for daring to oppose his policy toward Iran.

It is in this policy and in Obama’s wider Middle East strategy that we find the real world consequences of Obama’s denial of the unique victimization and targeting of Jews and the Jewish state by Islamic terrorists and Islamist regimes.

Loopholes in Obama’s interim nuclear framework deal with Iran from November 2013 have allowed Iran to make significant advances in its nuclear weapons program while still formally abiding by its commitments under the agreement.

Iran has stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent purity levels, and sufficed with enriching uranium to 3.5% purity. But at the same time it has developed and begun using advanced centrifuges that enrich so quickly that the distinction between 3.5% and 20% enrichment levels becomes irrelevant.

Iran has made significant advances in its ballistic missile program, including in its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. It has continued its development of nuclear bombs, and it has enriched sufficient quantities of uranium to produce one to two nuclear bombs.

According to leaked reports, the permanent nuclear deal that Obama seeks to convince Iran to sign would further facilitate Iran’s ascension to the nuclear club. Among other things, the deal will place a time limit on the already ineffective inspections regime, thus blinding the world entirely to Iran’s nuclear activities.

At the same time that Obama is facilitating Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, he is doing nothing to stop its regional empowerment.

Today Iran controls Syria, Iraq and Yemen and holds sway over Lebanon and Gaza. It threatens Saudi Arabia, and its Moslem Brotherhood allies threaten Egypt and Jordan.

As for Obama’s allied campaign against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the largest beneficiary to date of the US-led campaign has been Iran. Since the US-led campaign began last fall, Iran has achieved all but public US support for its control over the Iraqi military and for the survival of the Assad regime in Syria.

The trajectory of Obama’s policies is obvious. He is clearing the path for a nuclear armed Iran that controls large swathes of the Arab world through its proxies.

It is also clear that Iran intends to use its nuclear arsenal in the same way that Coulibaly used his Kalashnikov – to kill Jews, as many Jews as possible.

Perhaps Obama is acting out of anti-Semitism, perhaps he acts out of sympathy for Islamic fascism. Or both.

Whatever the case may be, what is required from Israel, and from Netanyahu, is clear. Speaking to Congress may be a necessary precondition for that action, but it is not the action itself.

Caroline Glick is Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post. She is the author of The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.


Dhimmitude: Un tas de fanatiques qui tirent au hasard dans un tas de gens dans une épicerie à Paris (Wrong place, wrong time: Paris shooter ‘randomly’ selected deli and targets, Obama)

12 février, 2015
https://i0.wp.com/dailycaller.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2015-01-10T121710Z_1_LYNXMPEB0905B_RTROPTP_4_FRANCE-SHOOTING-e1423507138892.jpg
https://i2.wp.com/tundratabloids.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/saudi-flag.jpg
https://i0.wp.com/prophecytracker.org/wp/uploads/2013/09/president-obama-bows-to-saudi-king-abdullah-and-receives-saudi-medal-of-honor.jpgQuatre Saoudiens condamnés à mort pour meurtre et vol et un Pakistanais jugé pour trafic de drogue ont été décapités jeudi en Arabie saoudite, portant à 26 le nombre de personnes exécutées dans ce royaume ultraconservateur depuis le début de l’année. (…) Viol, meurtre, apostasie, vol à main armée et trafic de drogue sont passibles de la peine capitale en Arabie saoudite, royaume régi par une version rigoriste de la charia, la loi islamique. Peine de mort.org (5 février 2015)
Nous tentons d’éviter de décrire quelqu’un comme un terroriste, ou un geste comme étant terroriste. (…) Les Nations unies ont tenté pendant une décennie de définir ce mot, sans y parvenir. C’est très délicat. Nous savons ce qu’est la violence politique, nous savons ce que sont les meurtres, les attentats et les fusillades et nous pouvons les décrire. Et cela explique bien plus de choses, à nos yeux, qu’utiliser le mot ‘terrorisme’. » Tarik Kafala (service arabophone de la BBC)
Personne ne souffre plus que le peuple palestinien. Barack Obama (Des Moines, le 27 avril 2007)
Mon père était originaire du Kenya, et beaucoup de gens dans son village étaient musulmans. Il ne pratiquait pas l’islam. La vérité est qu’il n’était pas très religieux. Il a rencontré ma mère. Ma mère était une chrétienne originaire du Kansas, et ils se marièrent puis divorcèrent. Je fus élevé par ma mère. Aussi j’ai toujours été chrétien. Le seul lien que j’ai eu avec l’islam est que mon grand-père du côté de mon père venait de ce pays. Mais je n’ai jamais pratiqué l’islam. Pendant un certain temps, j’ai vécu en Indonésie parce que ma mère enseignait là-bas. Et c’est un pays musulman. Et je suis allé à l’école. Mais je ne pratiquais pas. Mais je crois que cela m’a permis de comprendre comment pensaient ces gens, qui partagent en partie ma façon de voir, et cela revient à dire que nous pouvons instaurer de meilleurs rapports avec le Moyen-Orient ; cela contribuerait à nous rendre plus assurés si nous pouvons comprendre comment ils pensent sur certains sujets. Barack Hussein Obama (Oskaloosa, Iowa, décembre 20007)
Je n’ai jamais été musulman. (…) à part mon nom et le fait d’avoir vécu dans une population musulmane pendant quatre ans étant enfant [Indonésie, 1967-1971], je n’ai que très peu de lien avec la religion islamique. Barack Hussein Obama (février 2008)
Nous cherchons à ouvrir un nouveau chemin en direction du monde musulman, fondé sur l’intérêt mutuel et le respect mutuel. (…) Nous sommes une nation de chrétiens, de musulmans, de juifs, d’hindous et de non croyants. Barack Hussein Obama (discours d’investiture, le 20 janvier 2009)
… une nation de musulmans, de chrétiens et de juifs … Barack Hussein Obama (Entretien à la télévision saoudienne Al-Arabiya, 27 janvier, 2009)
Nous exprimerons notre appréciation profonde de la foi musulmane qui a tant fait au long des siècles pour améliorer le monde, y compris mon propre pays. Barack Hussein Obama (Ankara, avril 2009)
Les Etats-Unis et le monde occidental doivent apprendre à mieux connaître l’islam. D’ailleurs, si l’on compte le nombre d’Américains musulmans, on voit que les Etats-Unis sont l’un des plus grands pays musulmans de la planète. Barack Hussein Obama (entretien pour Canal +, le 2 juin 2009)
Salamm aleïkoum (…) Comme le dit le Saint Coran, « Crains Dieu et dis toujours la vérité ». (…) Je suis chrétien, mais mon père était issu d’une famille kényane qui compte des générations de musulmans. Enfant, j’ai passé plusieurs années en Indonésie où j’ai entendu l’appel à la prière (azan) à l’aube et au crépuscule. Jeune homme, j’ai travaillé dans des quartiers de Chicago où j’ai côtoyé beaucoup de gens qui trouvaient la dignité et la paix dans leur foi musulmane. Barack Hussein Obama (Prêche du Caire)
En tant que citoyen, en tant que président, je crois que les musulmans ont autant le droit de pratiquer leur religion que quiconque dans ce pays. Cela inclut le droit de construire un lieu de culte et un centre socio-culturel sur un terrain privé dans le lower Manhattan, en respect des lois et décrets locaux. Nous sommes en Amérique. Notre engagement en faveur de la liberté de religion doit être inébranlable. Barack Hussein Obama
L’avenir ne doit pas appartenir à ceux qui calomnient le prophète de l’Islam. Barack Obama (siège de l’ONU, New York, 26.09.12)
Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié par le Christ. Barack Hussein Obama
Il est tout à fait légitime pour le peuple américain d’être profondément préoccupé quand vous avez un tas de fanatiques vicieux et violents qui décapitent les gens ou qui tirent au hasard dans un tas de gens dans une épicerie à Paris. Barack Hussein Obama
Il ressort clairement de la bouche des terroristes et de certains des écrits qu’ils ont fait circuler par la suite ce qui était leur motivation. L’adverbe que le président a choisi a été utilisé pour indiquer que les personnes qui ont été tuées dans cet incident terrible et tragique ont été tuées non en raison de qui elles étaient, mais au hasard de l’endroit où elles se sont trouvées être. (…) Ces individus n’ont pas été ciblés par nom. (…) Il n’y avait pas que des juifs dans cette épicerie. Josh Earnest (porte-parole de la Maison blanche)
Yes, Charlie Hebdo was a magazine that delighted in controversy and provocation. Yes, it skewered religion and took joy in giving offense. Yes, the magazine knowingly antagonized extremists — Charlie Hebdo’s web site had been hacked and its offices firebombed before today; French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had asked of its cartoons, « Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire? » And yes, Charlie Hebdo’s editor said in 2012, prophetically, that « I prefer to die than live like a rat. » But this isn’t about Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, any more than a rape is about what the victim is wearing, or a murder is about where the victim was walking. What happened on Wednesday, according to current reports, is that two men went on a killing spree. Their killing spree, like most killing sprees, will have some thin rationale. Even the worst villains believe themselves to be heroes. But in truth, it was unprovoked slaughter. The fault lies with no one but them and their accomplices. Their crime isn’t explained by cartoons or religion. Plenty of people read Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and managed to avoid responding with mass murder. Plenty of people follow all sorts of religions and somehow get through the day without racking up a body count. The answers to what happened today won’t be found in Charlie Hebdo’s pages. They can only be found in the murderers’ sick minds. (…) Part of Charlie Hebdo’s point was that respecting these taboos strengthens their censorial power. Worse, allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists’ premises: that free speech and religion are inherently at odds (they are not), and that there is some civilizational conflict between Islam and the West (there isn’t). These are also arguments, by the way, made by Islamophobes and racists, particularly in France, where hatred of Muslim immigrants from north and west Africa is a serious problem. And that is exactly why Charlie Hebdo’s « Love is stronger than hate » cover so well captures the magazine’s oft-misunderstood mission and message. Yes, the slobbery kiss between two men is surely meant to get under the skin of any conservative Muslims who are also homophobic, but so too is it an attack on the idea that Muslims or Islam are the enemy, rather than extremism and intolerance. Allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists’ premises. That was true in the criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s covers, and it’s even truer in today’s crimes. These murders can’t be explained by a close read of an editorial product, and they needn’t be condemned on free speech grounds. They can only be explained by the madness of the perpetrators, who did something horrible and evil that almost no human beings anywhere ever do, and the condemnation doesn’t need to be any more complex than saying unprovoked mass slaughter is wrong. This is a tragedy. It is a crime. It is not a statement, or a controversy. Ezra Klein (Vox)
I was stunned that the president could say something so at once banal and offensive. Here we are now two days away from an act shocking barbarism, the burning alive of a prisoner of war, and Obama’s message is that we should remember the crusades and the inquisition. I mean, for him to say that all of us have sinned, all religions have been transgressed, is, you know, is adolescent stuff. Everyone knows that. What’s important is what’s happening now. Christianity no longer goes on crusades and it gave up the inquisition a while ago. The Book of Joshua is knee deep in blood. That story is over too. The story of today, of our generation, is the fact that the overwhelming volume of the violence and the barbarism that we are seeing in the world from Nigeria to Paris all the way to Pakistan and even to the Philippines, the island of Mindanao in the Philippines — is coming from one source. And that’s from inside Islam. It is not the prevalent idea of Islam, but it is coming from Islam, as many Islamic leaders including the president of Egypt and many others have admitted. And there needs to be a change in Islam. It is not a coincidence that all of these attacks on other religions are happening, all over the world, in a dozen countries, two dozen countries, all in the name of one religion. It’s not a coincidence. And for the president to be lecturing us and to say we shouldn’t get on our high horse and to not remember our own path is ridiculous. The present issue is Muslim radicalism and how to attack it. (…) From Obama’s first speech at West Point in December 2009, ironically announcing the surge in Afghanistan, you could tell that his heart has never been in this fight, never. He’s the commander in chief and yet he announces one sentence after he talks about the surge, he talks about the day to withdraw. Everyone in the region knows that. Everyone in the Middle East knows that he took on the fight on ISIS only because of the public reaction to the video of the beheading of the two Americans. He never would have lifted a finger otherwise. He hasn’t helped the rebels in Syria. He has not given the weapons that Jordan needs. The Kurds, who are actually able, courageous, and well — and committed to the fight against is, still cannot get direct arms from the United States. Charles Krauthammer
His secretary of defense says “the world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism. Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Not to worry, says his national security adviser: This is not World War II. As if one should be reassured because the current chaos has yet to achieve the level of the most devastating conflict in human history. Indeed, insists the president, the real source of our metastasizing anxiety is . . . the news media. Russia pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and now Sanaa. And America watches. Obama calls the policy “strategic patience.” That’s a synonym for “inaction,” made to sound profoundly “strategic.” (…) Such on-the-ground appeasement goes well with the linguistic appeasement whereby Obama dares not call radical Islam by name. And whereby both the White House and State Department spend much of a day insisting that the attack on the kosher grocery in Paris had nothing to do with Jews. It was just, as the president said, someone “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.” (By the end of the day, the administration backed off this idiocy. By tweet.) Charles Krauthammer
At least Obama was kind enough to acknowledge that Americans had some reason to be concerned about “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks.” As it turns out, these random people who got themselves shot in a “deli” in Paris happen to have been Jewish. The random people getting themselves shot at a satirical newspaper happened to have mocked Mohammad. And those 10 random people who were murdered and had their churches burned down by mobs in Niger last week, well they happened to be Christian folks. It’s likely that all these victims would – with astonishing precision – be able to pinpoint both the religious affiliation and rationale of those responsible for their deaths. President Obama refuses to do the same. For the president, acknowledging who the victims of Islamic terrorism are means acknowledging the motives that drive it. Recognizing what drives a terrorist undermines the progressive theory that says this movement is merely a byproduct of shiftlessness, criminality and poverty rather than a movement driven by faith and political goals. Gone are the days when were allowed to make (appropriate) distinctions between peaceful and radical Islam. Now we’re supposed to accept that these string of events are executed by aimless zealots, detached from any tradition or faith. Random. We are supposed to believe that this problem can be dealt with, as the president notes, in “the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.” Dealing with political Islam is just like getting rid of graffiti and waiting for gentrification. You know, if only Saudi Arabia had a few extra bucks laying around, we’d rid the world of all of these delinquents. For Jews, there is another reality that wishful thinking can’t change. According to Pew, there is rampant anti-Semitism in the Islamic world. Not only among radical factions, but everywhere. In moderate Jordan, 97 percent of the folks unfavorable view of Jews (not Zionists, Jews). The ADL found that 74 percent of the folks surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa had anti-Semitic attitudes. The number was 24 percent in Western Europe and 34 percent in Eastern Europe. Not all of this aversion to Jews is equality vitriolic or dangerous, of course. But it is undeniable that in Europe there is increasing violence, and much of it comes from Muslims. (…) Put it this way: the president is more inclined to call out Christian crimes against the Rhineland Jews of 1096 than Islamic crimes against Jews today. He’d rather dissemble for the sake of political correctness, using heavy-handed historical comparisons that aren’t only irrelevant to contemporary discussions about religious violence, but a stretch even if we discussed them in the context of history. David Harsanyi
Sous la pression de critiques grandissantes, qui se plaignent que le Président Obama n’a aucune stratégie susceptible de combattre l’Etat Islamique, la Conseillère à la Sécurité Nationale, Susan Rice, a dû déployer une nouveau plan de bataille, la semaine dernière. Loin de résorber cette volée de mises en cause, les omissions, inexactitudes et incohérences ne feront qu’ajouter aux accusations formulées par les détracteurs de l’Administration Obama qu’elle ne connaît rien en matière de sécurité nationale. L’une des erreurs les plus flagrantes de la nouvelle stratégie, c’est la façon dont elle colle à la pratique spécieuse de l’équipe Obama, dans la manière de faire référence aux groupes terroristes comme l’EI et Al Qaïda, en les désignant comme de « violents extrémistes », en refusant de les nommer selon les termes « d’Islam radical », « Islamistes radicaux » et « Jihadistes ». Cette stratégie répète à l’infini la mauvaise interprétation du Président, en situant cette extrémisme violent comme une simple idéologie, tout en ne parvenant pas à reconnaître l’idéologie réelle qui guide Al Qaïda et l’EI, dans leur campagne mondiale de déclenchement d’actes de violence : l’Islam radical et la doctrine de la Chari’a.  Plutôt que de reconnaître que ces groupes sont motivés par l’Islam radical, cette stratégie prétend affirmer qu’il ne s’agit que d’opportunistes qui exploitent l’instabilité, l’oppression et le manque d’opportunités économiques. Les preuves abondent pourtant que ce n’est pas le cas. Osama Ben Laden n’a pas formé Al Qaïda parce qu’il était pauvre : son père était milliardaire. L’Etat Islamique reçoit des financements de richissimes donneurs d’Arabie Saoudite, du Qatar et du Koweit. Les fameux terroristes islamistes « autoradicalisés » sont recrutés ou simplement inspirés par Internet, pour commettre des actes de terreur aux Etats-Unis,au Canada, en Australie, au Royaume-Uni, en France et, pourtant, ils vivent bien dans des sociétés où se présentent des opportunités économiques. Et il y a même pire que le refus de cette « nouvelle stratégie de sécurité nationale » de reconnaître la menace provenant de l’Islam radical. Elle minorise, en effet, totalement l’urgence d’agir contre cette menace, en affirmant que les Etats-Unis doivent faire preuve de « patience stratégique ».  Susan Rice et le Président Obama a, récemment, déclenché une controverse, lorsqu’ils ont fait des déclarations identiques, qui minimisaient la menace venant de ces groupes terroristes, en prétendant que le terrorisme ne représente pas une « menace existentielle » pour les Etats-Unis. Fred Fleitz

Cachez cet islam que je ne saurai voir !

Un mois après le massacre djihadiste de Paris …

Et la Marche républicaine contre le terrorisme et la liberté d’expression …

Pendant qu’entre la Syrie et l’Irak mais aussi de l’Afrique sahélienne au Mahgreb, les djihadistes imposent leur barbarie à des millions de personnes …

Et qu’alors que du Liban au Yemen et au Soudan, nos futurs amis iraniens continuent à attiser les flammes du terrorisme tout en préparant leur bombe, chez nos amis saoudiens, on en est déjà à 26 décapitations en un peu plus d’un mois …

Comment ne pas voir avec l’interview de l’ « Equivocater » et « Executioner in chief  » (bientôt 4 000 discrètes éliminations ciblées) …

Qui après avoir comparé l’actuelle violence djihadiste à nos croisades et refusé de recevoir un dirigeant israélien invité à parler devant le Congrès, réduit le massacre de quatre juifs dans l’épicerie cachère Hyper cacher il y avait exactement un mois jour pour jour  …

A un « tas de fanatiques vicieux et violents qui tirent au hasard dans un tas de gens dans une épicerie à Paris » …

Sur le blog d’une belle âme qui affirmait deux jours plus tôt …

Que ledit massacre n’avait « rien à voir avec les caricatures ou la religion » …

Confirmant l’absence remarquée de tout officiel américain de premier plan tant à la Marche de Paris qu’au 70e anniversaire de la libération d’Auschwitz

L’incapacité presque congénitale de l’Administration Obama, à l’instar de la BBC elle-même, à prendre la véritable mesure de ce qui se joue actuellement ?

Et ne pas s’inquiéter, avec nombre de commentateurs américains, de l’efficacité face à ladite menace de concepts tels que celui de « patience stratégique » ?

Attentat de l’Hyper Cacher : aucun caractère antijuif pour Obama, juste le « hasard »

Katty Scott

Le Monde Juif .info

11 février 2015

Le président américain, Barack Obama, a créé lundi une polémique après avoir expliqué que les quatre victimes françaises de confession juive assassinées début janvier par un djihadiste français dans une épicerie casher, ont été abattues « au hasard ».

« Il est tout à fait légitime pour le peuple américain d’être profondément préoccupé quand vous avez un tas de fanatiques vicieux et violents qui décapitent les gens ou qui tirent au hasard dans un tas de gens dans une épicerie à Paris », a déclaré le dirigeant américain lors d’une interview accordée à la chaine allemande Vox.

L’auteur de l’attentat, Amédy Coulibaly, avait déclaré à BFMTV qu’il avait ciblé les clients de l’épicerie casher « parce qu’ils étaient Juifs » ainsi que « pour venger les Palestiniens ».

Embarrassés par la sortie de leur président, les porte-paroles de l’administration Obama ont expliqué que les victimes ont été probablement tuées parce que présentes « au mauvais moment, au mauvais endroit » et ont rappelé que les États-Unis avaient qualifié « d’antisémite » l’attaque contre le commerce juif.

L’absence de Barack Obama à la marche républicaine à Paris en soutien aux victimes des attentats parisiens avait été vivement critiquée par la presse française et américaine.

Voir aussi:

Le refus radical d’Obama de regarder en face les dégâts commis par la Chari’a exaspère les experts en Amérique

Fred Fleitz

World tribune

Adaptation : Marc Brzustowski/J Forum

Obama :  comment lutter contre le terrorisme dont on occulte les causes ? Telle semble bien la question centrale que pose la polémique gonflée à bloc autour de la visite controversée de Binyamin Netanyahu et de son discours devant le Congrès.

Sous la pression de critiques grandissantes, qui se plaignent que le Président Obama n’a aucune stratégie susceptible de combattre l’Etat Islamique, la Conseillère à la Sécurité Nationale, Susan Rice, a dû déployer une nouveau plan de bataille, la semaine dernière.

Loin de résorber cette volée de mises en cause, les omissions, inexactitudes et incohérences ne feront qu’ajouter aux accusations formulées par les détracteurs de l’Administration Obama qu’elle ne connaît rien en matière de sécurité nationale.

L’une des erreurs les plus flagrantes de la nouvelle stratégie, c’est la façon dont elle colle à la pratique spécieuse de l’équipe Obama, dans la manière de faire référence aux groupes terroristes comme l’EI et Al Qaïda, en les désignant comme de « violents extrémistes », en refusant de les nommer selon les termes « d’Islam radical », « Islamistes radicaux » et « Jihadistes ». Cette stratégie répète à l’infini la mauvaise interprétation du Président, en situant cette extrémisme violent comme une simple idéologie, tout en ne parvenant pas à reconnaître l’idéologie réelle qui guide Al Qaïda et l’EI, dans leur campagne mondiale de déclenchement d’actes de violence : l’Islam radical et la doctrine de la Chari’a.

Plutôt que de reconnaître que ces groupes sont motivés par l’Islam radical, cette stratégie prétend affirmer qu’il ne s’agit que d’opportunistes qui exploitent l’instabilité, l’oppression et le manque d’opportunités économiques.

Les preuves abondent pourtant que ce n’est pas le cas. Osama Ben Laden n’a pas formé Al Qaïda parce qu’il était pauvre : son père était milliardaire. L’Etat Islamique reçoit des financements de richissimes donneurs d’Arabie Saoudite, du Qatar et du Koweit.

Les fameux terroristes islamistes « autoradicalisés » sont recrutés ou simplement inspirés par Internet, pour commettre des actes de terreur aux Etats-Unis,au Canada, en Australie, au Royaume-Uni, en France et, pourtant, ils vivent bien dans des sociétés où se présentent des opportunités économiques.

Et il y a même pire que le refus de cette « nouvelle stratégie de sécurité nationale » de reconnaître la menace provenant de l’Islam radical. Elle minorise, en effet, totalement l’urgence d’agir contre cette menace, en affirmant que les Etats-Unis doivent faire preuve de « patience stratégique ».

Susan Rice et le Président Obama a, récemment, déclenché une controverse, lorsqu’ils ont fait des déclarations identiques, qui minimisaient la menace venant de ces groupes terroristes, en prétendant que le terrorisme ne représente pas une « menace existentielle » pour les Etats-Unis.

Le fatras de propositions incohérentes, en matière de politique étrangère, fait partie des autres aspects de cette soi-disant « stratégie » : « le pouvoir en douceur » (smart power) et des prétentions douteuses à des succès en matière de relations extérieures. Ignorant totalement la détérioration de la sécurité en Irak et en Afghanistan depuis 2009, cette stratégie tisse des couronnes au retrait des troupes américaines de ces pays et affirme que les Etats-Unis y ont engagés dans des efforts en matière de contre-terrorisme, aussi bien que dans un effort complet en vue de détériorer et de vaincre finalement l’Etat Islamique.

Selon cette stratégie, les progrès du programme nucléaire iranien ont été stoppés et « nous avons clairement fait comprendre à l’Iran qu’il doit remplir ses obligations internationales et exposer la réalité de son programme nucléaire ». En se fondant sur les concessions énormes faites par les Etats-Unis à l’Iran, au cours de l’année passée et du fait que l’Iran n’a pas réduit son programme d’enrichissement d’uranium, ces prétentions apparaissent fausses. La stratégie souligne les succès d’un « rebalancement américain vers l’Asie » (qu’on connaît sous le nom de pivot vers l’Asie), même si, finalement, l’Administration a fait très peu dans ce domaine pour instaurer efficacement cette initiative.

Le changement climatique a aussi été ajouté à la liste prioritaire des menaces stratégiques des Etats-Unis. Les Etats-Unis ont un besoin urgent d’une stratégie nationale de sécurité claire, reconnaissant la menace de l’Islam radical comme une idéologie globale qui a déclaré la guerre à la civilisation occidentale. La nouvelle stratégie de sécurité nationale d’Obama est une occasion manquée qui démontre que le Président Obama demeure déterminé à nier l’évidence et à ne reconnaître d’aucune façon l’ampleur et la réalité de cette menace.

Le Centre d’étude des Politiques de Sécurité a présenté, dans son rapport, la Chari’a et l’Islam radical comme des menaces graves qui ne peuvent être vaincues aussi longtemps que les responsables américains refusent de les regarder en face. Ce Centre parraine, le mercredi 11 février, à Washington DC : « Le Sommet de la Défaite du Jihad ». Ce programme évoquera lanature de la menace isalmiste, une évaluation des politiques américaines pour y faire face et les meilleures approches en vue de vaincre cette menace.

Les participants attendus comprennent Le Sénateur du Texas, Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, l’ancien Procureur Général Michael Mukaseyl’ancien porte-parole du Congrès, Newt Gingrich, le député hollandais Geert Wilders, Lord Malcolm Pearson de Grande-Bretagne, L’ancien Président de la Commission des Renseignements  Pete Hoekstra, Le défenseur danois de la liberté d’expression Lars Hedegaard, et l’ancien procureur fédéral Andrew McCarthy.

Cet évènement sera rediffusé en direct sur le site du Centre pour les Politiques de Sécurité :

http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/, de 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. le 11 Fev.

Fred Fleitz a couvert le programme nucléaire iranien pour la CIA, le Départment d’Etat,et la Commission des renseignements du Congrès. Il est actuellement chercheur principal au Centre des Politiques de Sécurité.

Voir également:

 White House stands behind Obama’s claim that Paris shooter ‘randomly’ selected kosher deli and targets – but admits Jewish heritage was a factor
In an interview released Monday Obama referred to ‘violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris’
Today the White House argued Obama merely meant to say the victims ‘were not specifically targeted’ and ‘happened to randomly be in this deli’
The president’s spokesman eventually said that Obama has ‘no’ doubt the grocery was selected because it was frequented by Jews
But not before stating ‘there were people other than just Jews who were in that…deli’
Francesca Chambers

Dailymail.com

10 February 2015

President Barack Obama’s claim that a gunman who last month killed four French Jews inside a kosher deli ‘randomly’ selected the location and his targets came under heavy scrutiny today at a White House briefing, with multiple reporters badgering the president’s spokesman to admit a tie between the victims’ religion and their murders.

In an interview with Vox published on Monday Obama said, ‘It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.’

Today the White House Press Secretary argued that his boss merely meant to say they ‘were not specifically targeted’ and ‘were individuals who happened to randomly be in this deli.’

The shooter, Amedy Coulibaly, told French television station BFM-TV in a newly released interview that he picked kosher grocery Hyper Cacher because, according to the station, ‘he was targeting Jews.’

A journalist with the station says he also explained ‘why he did this: to defend oppressed Muslims…notably in Palestine.’

‘He claimed to be part of the Islamic State [ISIS] very clearly,’ BFM reporter Sarah-Lou Cohen said of the phone conversation with Coulibaly. ‘He said he had instructions from the caliphate. And then another very important element, evidently, as we were saying in the afternoon, he established a link with the Kouachi brothers.’

Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the brothers allegedly behind the attack on the Paris-based satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, were later killed in stand off with police, as was Couilbaly.

Coulibaly’s ties to ISIS are documented by a propaganda video taped by his wife, possibly a co-conspirator in the grocery store siege, in which she calls for French Muslims to carry out additional acts of terror.

The White House found itself in several testy back and forths with reporters this afternoon over Obama’s statement – provided to Vox more than a week ago but released just yesterday.

First asked about Obama’s remark by CNN’s Jim Acosta, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied, ‘I believe the point that the president was trying to make is that these individuals were not specifically targeted.’

He added: ‘These were individuals who happened to randomly be in this deli and were shot while they were there. And that is the point that the president was making.’

Flabbergasted, ABC News’ Jon Karl pressed Earnest to confirm that president believes the deli goers’ Jewish heritage were related to the assault.

‘It is clear from the terrorists and some of the writings they’ve put out afterward what their motivation was,’ Obama’s spokesman told him.

‘The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.

Not satisfied, Karl again pointed out that they were in a kosher deli when they were killed, moments later contending that even if they weren’t personally targeted they were attacked because of their religion, to which Earnest told him ‘there were people other than just Jews who were in that…deli.’

‘Does he have any doubt…that deli was attacked because it was a kosher deli, it was not any random deli, it was a kosher deli,’ Karl eventually shouted at Earnest, who interrupted him to say, ‘no,’ Obama does not doubt that.

Picking up where Karl left off, seconds later Fox News’ White House Correspondent Ed Henry asked, why then, ‘didn’t the president acknowledge that? If he knows that, and it’s obvious, why didn’t he say that?’

‘The president has acknowledged that on many occasions when he’s had the opportunity to speak about this incident,’ Earnest tersely told him

‘But he didn’t there!’ Henry noted before moving on to another topic.

Voir encore:

One of the alleged Charlie Hebdo shooters called a French reporter. Here’s what he said.
Libby Nelson

Vox

January 9, 2015

Chérif Kouachi, one of the alleged perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, spoke to a French journalist by phone at around 10 a.m. Paris time on Friday, according to the reporter. Shortly after, Kouachi was killed by police. In the call, he stated that he had been sent by al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch.

« I was sent, me, Chérif Kouachi, by al-Qaeda of Yemen, » he says in the call, mentioning Anwar al-Awlaki specifically.

He spoke to Igor Sahiri, a journalist from BFM-TV, who recorded the conversation. In a video clip above, the TV news channel plays part of the tape and discusses the call that yielded it. The channel chose not to broadcast the phone conversations because, at the time, Kouachi was still in a standoff with police.

According to BFM journalist Sarah-Lou Cohen, Koauchi went on to say that he was seeking revenge for the Prophet Mohammed.

« They explained as well that they deny having killed civilians, » Cohen said, paraphrasing from parts of the call that were not played on-air. « That’s important, because for them, the journalists at Charlie Hebdo were not civilians, they were targets, » Cohen said. « Then he continued, very calmly, explaining that they did not come to kill women and children but it’s us, the Westerners, he said, who are killing children in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Syria. »

« He spoke in a manner … that was very calm and very determined, » Cohen said, « as if he had also prepared answers. » It was « extremely troubling, » she said. « The message was to pass along his claim of responsibility. He intended that his claims be publicly known. »

In a separate interview slightly after 3 p.m. Paris time, the channel also spoke with Amedy Coulibaly. « That was a different situation, because we got a phone call, » Cohen said. « He called us because in fact he was looking to contact the police. »

« He claimed to be part of the Islamic State [ISIS] very clearly, » Cohen said. « He said he had instructions from the caliphate. And then another very important element, evidently, as we were saying in the afternoon, he established a link with the Kouachi brothers. »

Coulibaly told Alexis Delahousse, another BFM journalist, that he and the Kouachi brothers had planned their attacks together but had not been in touch since they began the operations. This detail has puzzled terrorism analysts, as al-Qaeda and ISIS are rivals rather than allies.

« Finally, he explained also why he did this: to defend oppressed Muslims, he said, notably in Palestine, » Cohen said. « And finally he explained his target, why this kosher store: because he was targeting Jews. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Don’t let murderers pretend their crimes are about cartoons
Ezra Klein

Vox

January 7, 2015

Yes, Charlie Hebdo was a magazine that delighted in controversy and provocation. Yes, it skewered religion and took joy in giving offense. Yes, the magazine knowingly antagonized extremists — Charlie Hebdo’s web site had been hacked and its offices firebombed before today; French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had asked of its cartoons, « Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire? » And yes, Charlie Hebdo’s editor said in 2012, prophetically, that « I prefer to die than live like a rat. »

But this isn’t about Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, any more than a rape is about what the victim is wearing, or a murder is about where the victim was walking.

What happened on Wednesday, according to current reports, is that two men went on a killing spree. Their killing spree, like most killing sprees, will have some thin rationale. Even the worst villains believe themselves to be heroes. But in truth, it was unprovoked slaughter. The fault lies with no one but them and their accomplices. Their crime isn’t explained by cartoons or religion. Plenty of people read Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and managed to avoid responding with mass murder. Plenty of people follow all sorts of religions and somehow get through the day without racking up a body count. The answers to what happened today won’t be found in Charlie Hebdo’s pages. They can only be found in the murderers’ sick minds.

Today is a good day to honor Charlie Hebdo and to share its work. It’s a good day to do that because good people died today and we should remember them. It’s a good day to do that because much of the work in Charle Hebdo was brilliant and any day is a good day to share it.

Don’t allow extremists to set the terms of the conversation

But we shouldn’t buy into the bullshit narrative of a few madmen that their murders were a response to some cartoons. We shouldn’t buy into it even if we’re saying that murdering in response to cartoons is always wrong. This is related to a point Charlie Hebdo made often and well. As my colleague Max Fisher wrote about the magazine’s wonderful cover, « Love is Stronger Than Hate » (pictured above):

Part of Charlie Hebdo’s point was that respecting these taboos strengthens their censorial power. Worse, allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists’ premises: that free speech and religion are inherently at odds (they are not), and that there is some civilizational conflict between Islam and the West (there isn’t).

These are also arguments, by the way, made by Islamophobes and racists, particularly in France, where hatred of Muslim immigrants from north and west Africa is a serious problem.

And that is exactly why Charlie Hebdo’s « Love is stronger than hate » cover so well captures the magazine’s oft-misunderstood mission and message. Yes, the slobbery kiss between two men is surely meant to get under the skin of any conservative Muslims who are also homophobic, but so too is it an attack on the idea that Muslims or Islam are the enemy, rather than extremism and intolerance.
Allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists’ premises. That was true in the criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s covers, and it’s even truer in today’s crimes.

These murders can’t be explained by a close read of an editorial product, and they needn’t be condemned on free speech grounds. They can only be explained by the madness of the perpetrators, who did something horrible and evil that almost no human beings anywhere ever do, and the condemnation doesn’t need to be any more complex than saying unprovoked mass slaughter is wrong.

This is a tragedy. It is a crime. It is not a statement, or a controversy.

Voir de même:

A War on ‘Random’ Terror
Kayla Jean Mueller and the nature of the Islamist threat.
WSJ

Feb. 10, 2015

Each day seems to bring new testament to the nature of the Islamist terror threat, the latest casualty another American. If only it brought more clarity from the U.S. government about the threat.

On Tuesday U.S. officials confirmed the death of Kayla Jean Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian from Arizona who was snatched by the Islamic State while helping Syrian refugees. Neither the U.S. nor her family disclosed details of how she died, though in a statement President Obama blamed “unconscionable evil” and promised to “find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.”

In a different context, however, the Commander in Chief was more equivocal. In an interview with the liberal Vox.com website, Mr. Obama explained that while terrorism is merely one danger among many such as climate change or cybersecurity, “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

His choice of words was strange, given that the Charlie Hedbo assassins were explicit about their ideological and anti-Semitic reasons for targeting a kosher grocery. White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday didn’t help with his explanation: “The adverb that the President chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

The State Department’s Jen Psaki also refused to explore the motivations of the killers, adding that “there were not all victims of one background or one nationality.” All the victims were Jewish.

This is the confusion that arises among those who are unwilling to confront the character of America’s enemies.

Voir aussi:

There’s Nothing ‘Random’ About Islamic Terrorism, Mr. President

Acknowledging who the victims of Islamic terrorism are means acknowledging its motivations

During his sycophantic conversation with President Barack Obama, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias poses a “question” that I imagine reflects the opinion of many on the Left these days: “Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?”

Obama:

Look, the point is this: my first job is to protect the American people. It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.

The president, in his own peripatetic way, ends up concurring with Yglesias’ appraisal of the world. Terrorism, the violent arm of a religious movement that threatens innocent lives and liberal ideals on every continent and people of every faith (including other Muslims), is entirely overblown when compared to a slight variation in the climate or some highly debatable assumptions about the future of human progress.

And, as you all know, there is a dearth of chilling stories about climate change in the media.

At least Obama was kind enough to acknowledge that Americans had some reason to be concerned about “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks.” As it turns out, these random people who got themselves shot in a “deli” in Paris happen to have been Jewish. The random people getting themselves shot at a satirical newspaper happened to have mocked Mohammad. And those 10 random people who were murdered and had their churches burned down by mobs in Niger last week, well they happened to be Christian folks.

It’s likely that all these victims would – with astonishing precision – be able to pinpoint both the religious affiliation and rationale of those responsible for their deaths. President Obama refuses to do the same. For the president, acknowledging who the victims of Islamic terrorism are means acknowledging the motives that drive it. Recognizing what drives a terrorist undermines the progressive theory that says this movement is merely a byproduct of shiftlessness, criminality and poverty rather than a movement driven by faith and political goals.

Gone are the days when were allowed to make (appropriate) distinctions between peaceful and radical Islam. Now we’re supposed to accept that these string of events are executed by aimless zealots, detached from any tradition or faith. Random. We are supposed to believe that this problem can be dealt with, as the president notes, in “the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”

Dealing with political Islam is just like getting rid of graffiti and waiting for gentrification. You know, if only Saudi Arabia had a few extra bucks laying around, we’d rid the world of all of these delinquents.

For Jews, there is another reality that wishful thinking can’t change. According to Pew, there is rampant anti-Semitism in the Islamic world. Not only among radical factions, but everywhere. In moderate Jordan, 97 percent of the folks unfavorable view of Jews (not Zionists, Jews). The ADL found that 74 percent of the folks surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa had anti-Semitic attitudes. The number was 24 percent in Western Europe and 34 percent in Eastern Europe. Not all of this aversion to Jews is equality vitriolic or dangerous, of course. But it is undeniable that in Europe there is increasing violence, and much of it comes from Muslims.

All of which makes Obama’s politically correct construing of events even more disturbing.

Put it this way: the president is more inclined to call out Christian crimes against the Rhineland Jews of 1096 than Islamic crimes against Jews today. He’d rather dissemble for the sake of political correctness, using heavy-handed historical comparisons that aren’t only irrelevant to contemporary discussions about religious violence, but a stretch even if we discussed them in the context of history.

It should go without saying that Americans deserve a more accurate conversation about the threats they face.  Maintaining precision of language throughout a long interview is probably tough. So I imagine Obama’s liberal use of “folks” wasn’t meant in a dismissive way. I don’t believe he has a problem with Jews – though, as Jonathan Tobin puts it, he sure has a blind spot. And his contention that terrorism isn’t tied to any specific religion comports well with things he’s said before. There was little chance the president would say the words “Islamic terrorists” – actually, “Islam” doesn’t make an appearance at all– to strip the conversation of a reality.  But there was nothing “random” or senseless about these events. The message was sent. It’s why French soldiers have to stand outside synagogues and satirical newspapers today.

It’s also why, incidentally, a random bunch of folks with a nuclear weapon might make the Jews even more nervous.

Voir également:

Obama’s Blind Spot About Anti-Semitism
Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary

02.09.2015

There has been a great deal of justified criticism about President Obama’s unwillingness to respond to terrorist outrages with the sort of moral leadership that can rally the West to fight back. His comments at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in which he sought to create a false moral equivalency between ISIS’s horrific burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot and the Christian West’s past sins during the Inquisition and even the Crusades have been rightly blasted for his tone-deaf approach to terrorism. The president seems so mired in his deep ambivalence about the West’s role in world history that he is unable to play his part as leader of the free world in what is, like it or not, a life-and-death struggle against truly evil forces. It is also revealed in his administration’s refusal to call Islamist terrorism by that name. But just as troubling is his unwillingness to address one of the primary characteristics of this brand of terror: anti-Semitism. In an interview with Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, he described the terror attack on a Paris kosher market as a “random” event rather than an act of murder motivated by Jew hatred. Though it won’t get the same attention as his outrageous speech last week, it gives us just as much insight into the president’s foreign-policy mindset.

It should be recalled that in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at the Hyper Cacher market by killers associated with those who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo massacre days earlier, President Obama also refused to call it an act of anti-Semitism. That was, in its own way, as shocking as the president’s decision to not send any high-ranking U.S. official to the Paris unity march that took place to protest the murders or to go himself as did many other Western leaders.

But official American statements that did mention anti-Semitism and the subsequent rally boycott overtook this controversy. The kerfuffle over that initial comment was soon forgotten. But the president’s return to this topic has brought that statement back to mind.

His Vox comments are, in fact, far worse than his initial reaction which was more a matter of omission than a conscious twisting of events. Here’s what the president said in response to a question about whether the media is blowing terrorist incidents out of proportion:

It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.
Let’s first note that his characterization of the assailants again omits their Islamist loyalties and the fact that religion was the motivating factor for their crime. This is consistent with administration policy that seeks to cleanse ISIS, al-Qaeda, or other Islamists of any connection with the Muslim faith. This is absurd not just because it is wrong. It also puts Obama in the position of trying to play the pope of Islam who can decide who is or is not a real Muslim, a responsibility that no American president should try to usurp.

But it is also significant that once again the president chooses to treat a deliberate targeting of a Jewish business filled with Jewish customers as something that is random rather than an overt act of anti-Semitism. Doing so once might be excused as an oversight. The second time makes it a pattern that can’t be ignored.

This is a peculiar talking point especially since the increase of anti-Semitism in Europe with violent incidents going up every year is something that even the Obama State Department has dubbed a “rising tide” of hate.

Why does the president have such a blind spot when it comes to anti-Semitism? His critics will jump to conclusions that will tell us more about their views of Obama than about his thinking. But suffice it to say that this is a president who finds it hard to focus on the siege of Jews in Europe or of the State of Israel in the Middle East. Nor can it be entirely coincidental that a president who treats Israeli self-defense and concerns for its security as a bothersome irritant to his foreign policy or seeks to blame the Jewish state’s leaders for obstructing a peace process that was actually blown up by the Palestinians would have a blind spot about anti-Semitism.

To address the spread of violent anti-Semitism in Europe would require the administration to connect the dots between slaughters such as the ones that took place at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher and the hate spread by the Islamists of Iran with whom Obama is so keen on negotiating a new détente. To put these awful events in a context that properly labels them an outbreak of violent Muslim Jew-hatred would require the administration to rethink its policies toward Israel as well as Iran. And that is something this president has no intention of doing.

You can’t defeat an enemy that you refuse to call by his right name. That’s why ignoring Islamism and calling ISIS and the Paris killers mere “zealots” or “extremists” not only misses the point but also hampers the West’s ability to resist them. By the same token, the omission of any discussion of anti-Semitism about an event that was an unambiguous act of Jew hatred similarly undermines the effort to strike back at such atrocities. When a president calls one of the more egregious acts of anti-Semitism in recent years a mere “random” shooting, it trivializes the victims and places the U.S. on the wrong side of the moral divide. In doing so, Obama does the nation and the cause of freedom a grave disservice.

Voir encore:

Obama Keeps Bowing In The Middle East
David Harsanyi
The Federalist
January 27, 2015

At the World Economic Forum last week, Secretary of State John Kerry argued that while extremists may cite Islam as a justification for terrorism, the world should refrain from using the term “Islamic radicals.” Extremism, Kerry maintained, is apart from Islam, and the millions who support or engage in violence in its name are driven by “criminal conduct rooted in alienation, poverty, thrill-seeking and other factors.”

This soothing half-baked philosophy is cant in the Obama Administration. So when ISIS takes credit for beheading the Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, it shouldn’t have been surprising that the most important thing Rick Stengel, an undersecretary of state for happy thoughts, could think to tweet to his followers was that the decapitation had, “Nothing religious about it.”

We’ve gone from incessantly offering (appropriate) distinctions between factions of Islam to fantasizing that terrorists are a bunch of shiftless underprivileged adrenaline junkies with no particular philosophy at all. Religion is an organized collection of beliefs that makes sense of existence. Under no definition of “faith” is there a stipulation that it must be devoid of any violence. And whether or not violence used in Islam is a distortion of the faith is for people of that religion to work out for themselves, not for a talking head from Vermont to decree.

If the administration is interested in seeing how this works, we don’t have to look farther than our good allies in Saudi Arabia, where the national flag features an inscription of the Islamic creed – “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God” – which is neatly underlined by a sword. This, I think is fair to say, may insinuate that a coupling of violence and faith is indeed possible in modern religion.

Perhaps Barack Obama can ask new Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz when he pays his respects (an honor the victims in Paris did not receive) what the deal is. He could ask how women are thrown into the streets for public beheadings has anything to do with religion and violence. The Saudi government, after all, has defended the recent decapitation of a Burmese woman (caught on video) as compulsory to “implement the rulings of God.” It’s the ninth such execution this year. (All these beheadings sure are a weird coincidence, no?) Perhaps Saudi monarchs are driven by alienation and poverty when they are induced to flog writers who insult them? And perhaps Kerry has a better grasp of Islamic law than the Wahhabi sect running the religious police force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam? I imagine he thinks he does.

I don’t propose invading the Arabian Peninsula, or anyone else for that matter. But George Bush, another House of Saud coddler, used to claim that U.S.’s fight in the Middle East was about promoting democracy. Obama has talked about how important it is for our diplomacy to mirror our values. In reality, of course, friendly autocrats help us fight stateless Islamic extremism and offer stability. King Abdullah and his successor have also acted as a counterbalance to Iran – a precarious situation we helped establish. (Though, under this president, we do not afford an Egyptian army that scuttled the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of that nation the same courtesy.)

So everyone understands why we ignore the fact that King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia became the world’s largest source of funds of Salafist jihadism and the fact that religious state institutions are the leading voices perpetuating that jihadism. Obama will pay his respects to the government in a nation that has no real elections, political parties or dissent. We ignore that, too. And Saudi Arabia also proves that governments run by certain faiths have been more inclined to create alienation, poverty and a whole lot of thrillseekers – even when in the fortuitous position of sitting on a wealth-producing commodity.

But surely there is some kernel of moral duty among American leaders to promote liberal values around the world. Juxtapose how this administration treats allies; how the president admonishes and undermines an elected leader he doesn’t particularly care for and, at the same time, reveres and celebrates the life of a degenerate dictator. King Abdullah had “about” 30 wives, and fathered “about” 35 children, according to sources. Some of them were only young teens when they were forced to wed the then middle-aged King. Some of these women remained prisoners for many decades against their will. Considering the human trafficking and white slavery that is generally overlooked by the monarchs, perhaps he really is a moderate. The freshly deceased King Abdullah, says the president, was “a candid leader who had the courage of his convictions, including his passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East.”

While this administration is having a meltdown over the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking to congress about the threat Iranian nuclear ambitions, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is sponsoring an essay competition in the United States to Honor former Saudi King. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, the president of the National Defense University, want to challenge future students “while honoring the late king.” “This scholarly research competition presents NDU students with a unique opportunity to focus their research and writing efforts on relevant issues at the intersection of U.S. security interests and the Arab-Muslim world,” the release said.

It’s fair to say that every administration has gone out of its way to avoid insulting these immoral dictatorships. It’s just that so few have been as consistent and obsequious as this one.

ETATS-UNIS Selon les conservateurs, le président «insulte» les chrétiens…

Obama attaqué pour avoir comparé la violence djihadiste aux croisades
Philippe Berry
20 minutes

07.02.2015

Il y a trois thèmes qui font démarrer les républicains au quart de tour: Obamacare, l’oléoduc Keystone et l’islam. Jeudi, à l’occasion du petit-déjeuner annuel de prière, le président américain a voulu jouer les rassembleurs, dans un moment d’union spirituelle. C’est raté: toute la journée de vendredi, les conservateurs ont tiré à boulets rouges sur ses remarques.

Evoquant les violences et les actes «barbares» des djihadistes de Daesh (Isis, en anglais), Obama a invité les chrétiens à ne pas jeter la première pierre. «Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié» par la religion.

«S’occuper de la menace de l’islam radical»
«Les commentaires du président au petit-déjeuner de prière sont les plus insultants que j’ai entendus de ma vie», a attaqué le républicain Jim Gilmore. «Il a insulté tous les Chrétiens des Etats-Unis. Cela prouve une fois de plus que Mr Obama ne croit pas en nos valeurs américaines et ne les partage pas.»

L’ex-candidat Rick Santorum, très catholique, estime, lui, que les mots présidentiels étaient «inappropriés alors que des Chrétiens sont décapités et persécutés au Moyen-Orient». «La menace chrétienne médiévale est sous contrôle, Mr le président. Il serait temps de s’occuper de la menace de l’islam radical d’aujourd’hui», a renchéri Bobby Jindal, qui pourrait se lancer dans la primaire républicaine. L’outrage est parfois une arme politique.

Voir aussi:

Krauthammer: Obama’s prayer breakfast remarks ‘banal and offensive’

Fox news
February 05, 2015

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome back to « Hannity. » Now more on the big two top stories of the day. Catching headlines, Brian Williams caught red handed and the president lecturing Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast.  Here with reaction, author of the number one New York Times bestseller « Things that Matter, » Fox News contributor, the one and only Charles Krauthammer. Charles, good to see you, my friend.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Pleasure to be with you again.

HANNITY: What was your reaction to the prayer breakfast?

KRAUTHAMMER: I was stunned that the president could say something so at once banal and offensive. Here we are now two days away from an act shocking barbarism, the burning alive of a prisoner of war, and Obama’s message is that we should remember the crusades and the inquisition.

I mean, for him to say that all of us have sinned, all religions have been transgressed, is, you know, is adolescent stuff. Everyone knows that.

What’s important is what’s happening now. Christianity no longer goes on crusades and it gave up the inquisition a while ago. The Book of Joshua is knee deep in blood. That story is over too. The story of today, of our generation, is the fact that the overwhelming volume of the violence and the barbarism that we are seeing in the world from Nigeria to Paris all the way to Pakistan and even to the Philippines, the island of Mindanao in the Philippines –

HANNITY: Australia –

KRAUTHAMMER: — is coming from one source. And that’s from inside Islam. It is not the prevalent idea of Islam, but it is coming from Islam, as many Islamic leaders including the president of Egypt and many others have admitted. And there needs to be a change in Islam.

It is not a coincidence that all of these attacks on other religions are happening, all over the world, in a dozen countries, two dozen countries, all in the name of one religion. It’s not a coincidence. And for the president to be lecturing us and to say we shouldn’t get on our high horse and to not remember our own path is ridiculous. The present issue is Muslim radicalism and how to attack it.

HANNITY: I actually think –

KRAUTHAMMER: A lot of people are dying.

HANNITY: I think it’s not only ridiculous but it’s dangerous that he can’t identify this enemy. A quick example, the Jordanian reaction to the killing of the mass murder — the murder of this Jordanian pilot burned to death and then bulldozed, you know, compare the president’s reaction to James Foley and his beheading, a quick, you know, three-minute comment.  Three minutes later he’s on the golf course for five hours, and no strong statement or reaction from the president.

KRAUTHAMMER: From Obama’s first speech at West Point in December 2009, ironically announcing the surge in Afghanistan, you could tell that his heart has never been in this fight, never. He’s the commander in chief and yet he announces one sentence after he talks about the surge, he talks about the day to withdraw. Everyone in the region knows that. Everyone in the Middle East knows that he took on the fight on ISIS only because of the public reaction to the video of the beheading of the two Americans. He never would have lifted a finger otherwise. He hasn’t helped the rebels in Syria. He has not given the weapons that Jordan needs. The Kurds, who are actually able, courageous, and well — and committed to the fight against is, still cannot get direct arms from the United States.

HANNITY: Yes.

KRAUTHAMMER: The world knows this. Our enemies know it and our friends know it.

HANNITY: And so not only West Point but the first summer being president when he goes to a foreign country apologizing at foreign capitals for America for sins real and even imagined.

Let me transition and ask you, we work in the media business. You’ve been following the story of Brian Williams of NBC News.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes.

HANNITY: To me it’s bewildering. I’ve met him. He seemed like a nice guy. Why would somebody risk their credibility in a totally fabricated story that got bigger and bigger and bigger every time he told it?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, this is a big mistake on his part. I don’t like to pile on. I mean, all of us have embellished. Once you start to embellish you’re trapped in it and you can’t escape. Let’s remember Hillary made the story about being shot at in Bosnia.

HANNITY: I know. That’s true.

KRAUTHAMMER: And she is the odds on favorite to be the Democratic nominee of the presidency. So course you expect a politician to lie and not a broadcaster. So I can understand the difference. But what stuns me is how dumb this is. If you’re going to make up a story, do it when there aren’t other people around. You know, you tell a story –

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: If you’re going to tell a lie, don’t have witnesses, is that what you’re saying?

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. You tell a story about wrestling a lion to the ground because generally speaking lions don’t have access to the Internet. But you don’t do it about an event that everybody saw.

HANNITY: That’s a good point.

KRAUTHAMMER: You know in the end you’re going to be unmasked about it.

HANNITY: All right, last question. The phenomenon of « American Sniper, » I’ve interviewed Chris Kyle’s wife, brother, his father. They’re amazing people. He was an amazing man, more confirmed kills than anybody else in military history. But yet people still pile on. The latest person is Jesse Ventura on our mutual friend Alan Colmes’ radio show. Here’s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ALAN COLMES RADIO, FEB. 3)

JESSE VENTURA: He was obviously a great sniper. He’s obviously a great shot. He obviously did his job correctly. Alan, let me fire this one at you. Do you think the Nazis have heroes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: What is it about people that just have total contempt and lack of understanding for what it is that we are given as a gift from those brave men and women that the American people obviously responded to at the box office?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it’s fairly simple. I think the whole fight over the meaning and popularity of the movie is a surrogate for rearguing the war in Iraq. What worries the left is that they thought they won the argument. And here’s a movie amazingly popular that actually acknowledges the courage and heroism and sacrifice of those who fought in Iraq. And I think that is sort of unpalatable.

Remember, Hollywood put out half a dozen anti-war, anti-Iraq, we are the bad guy movies, and nobody went to see any of them. And here is one movie which celebrates a courageous soldier, and it is extremely popular and actually rather artistically done, well-done by Clint Eastwood. And the left has to now re-litigate the war because they thought they had won the argument and they want to make sure that they retain that at least ideological victory.

HANNITY: All right, Charles Krauthammer, always good to see you.  Thank you so much for being with us.

KRAUTHAMMER: Pleasure.

Voir de plus:

Obama défend son refus de rencontrer Nétanyahou
La presse

09 février 2015
Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON
Le premier ministre israélien Benyamin Nétanyahou a dit lundi sa détermination à prononcer un discours sur le nucléaire iranien en mars à Washington, mais n’y verra pas Barack Obama, qui a invoqué des raisons protocolaires pour justifier son refus.
«Je suis déterminé à prononcer un discours devant le Congrès, c’est pourquoi je suis décidé à me rendre à Washington et à présenter la position d’Israël» sur le dossier iranien, a lancé M. Nétanyahou lors d’une réunion électorale, à un peu plus d’un mois des législatives, prévues le 17 mars.

La Maison-Blanche a fait part de son irritation à la suite de l’annonce de l’invitation lancée par des élus républicains du Congrès à M. Nétanyahou.

Le vice-président américain Joe Biden a annoncé qu’il serait absent lors du discours qui doit avoir lieu le 3 mars.

Et Barack Obama a de nouveau explicité lundi sa décision de ne pas rencontrer M. Nétanyahou lors de son séjour à Washington.

«Notre politique est de ne jamais organiser de rencontres avec des dirigeants avant les élections», a déclaré le président américain lors d’une conférence de presse conjointe avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel.

La relation entre les États-Unis et Israël «transcende les partis. C’est un lien indestructible, nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, nous partageons des valeurs», a-t-il ajouté.

Mais le président américain a reconnu avoir «un vrai différend» avec Israël au sujet de l’Iran, surtout depuis que M. Nétanyahou a annoncé qu’il allait s’exprimer devant le Congrès, dont des élus menacent d’adopter de nouvelles sanctions contre Téhéran.

En Israël, plusieurs chefs de file de l’opposition centriste et de gauche en Israël, ainsi que de nombreux commentateurs ont multiplié les appels à Benyamin Nétanyahou à annuler son discours pour ne pas fragiliser la «relation spéciale» entre les États-Unis et leur pays.

M. Nétanyahou a rejeté toutes ces pressions en expliquant qu’un «mauvais accord est en préparation avec l’Iran qui va mettre en danger l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Il est de mon devoir de tout faire pour l’empêcher».

«Depuis la création de l’État d’Israël jusqu’à aujourd’hui, il y a eu des divergences de fond entre Israël et les États-Unis, mais nos relations sont restées solides et il en sera de même cette fois-ci», a prédit le premier ministre.

En novembre, l’Iran et le groupe 5+1 (États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Chine et Allemagne) se sont entendus pour parvenir d’abord à un accord politique avant le 31 mars et ensuite en finaliser les détails techniques pour un accord global avant le 1er juillet.

Mais ces négociations piétinent, laissant craindre une nouvelle extension des discussions, déjà prorogées à deux reprises.

M. Obama a prévenu lundi l’Iran qu’il n’y aurait pas de prolongation au-delà du 31 mars et que Téhéran devait dorénavant se décider.

«Les problèmes ne sont plus techniques. Les problèmes sont maintenant de savoir si l’Iran a la volonté politique et le désir de conclure un accord», a-t-il souligné.

Voir par ailleurs:

ROYAUME-UNI

Pour la BBC, il ne faut pas qualifier de « terroristes » les tueurs de « Charlie Hebdo »
Le responsable du service arabophone de la BBC refuse que les journalistes de la radio utilisent le terme de « terrorisme » pour parler des tueurs de Charlie Hebdo. C’est un terme trop connoté politiquement, a-t-il expliqué hier à The Independent.

Courrier international
27 janvier 2015

Non, les frères Kouachi ne sont pas des terroristes. Du moins pas aux yeux des journalistes du service arabophone de la BBC, le plus important service hors langue anglaise de la radio publique britannique, suivi chaque semaine par près de 36 millions d’auditeurs. Son responsable, Tarik Kafala, s’en est expliqué le 26 janvier dans une interview au quotidien The Independent : « Nous tentons d’éviter de décrire quelqu’un comme un terroriste, ou un geste comme étant terroriste. »

La raison ? La notion de « terrorisme » est politiquement trop connotée, note Tarik Kafala, qui explique que sa chaîne évite d’employer le terme « terroriste ». Dans le cas des attentats de Paris, on a immédiatement entendu parler d' »attaques terroristes » et du déploiement de la « police anti-terroriste » dans les rues de la capitale française. « Clairement, tous les officiels et les commentateurs utilisent ce mot pour qu’il soit repris par tous les médias », ajoute le journaliste.

Aucune définition internationale claire

D’une manière générale, la BBC a des règles éditoriales spécifiques concernant le terme « terrorisme », rappelle The Independent. Sans interdire l’utilisation de ce terme, la chaîne demande à ses journalistes d’être « très attentifs » lorsqu’ils évoquent des actes considérés comme des actes de terreur, expliquant qu’il y a des termes plus précis pour les expliquer que le mot « terrorisme ». En anglais, le mot « terroriste » n’a pas non plus été utilisé par la BBC pour désigner les frères Kouachi.

Même s’il est sans doute l’un des plus utilisés aujourd’hui dans le monde, le terme « terrorisme » ne fait l’objet d’aucune définition internationale claire, rappelle enfin Tarik Kafala : « Les Nations unies ont tenté pendant une décennie de définir ce mot, sans y parvenir. C’est très délicat. Nous savons ce qu’est la violence politique, nous savons ce que sont les meurtres, les attentats et les fusillades et nous pouvons les décrire. Et cela explique bien plus de choses, à nos yeux, qu’utiliser le mot ‘terrorisme’. »

Voir enfin:

 OBAMA

The Vox conversation

Februray 9, 2015

In his 2007 book The Audacity of Hope, then-Sen. Barack Obama laid out his theory of America’s political and policy problems as it stood on the eve of his first presidential campaign. He worried, he said, about « the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics. »

On January 23, he sat down with Vox for a wide-ranging interview about his theory of America’s political and policy problems as it stands at the beginning of the seventh year of his presidency. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the first part of the conversation, which focused on domestic policy and politics. You can find the second half, which focuses on America’s role in the world, here.

Ezra Klein
The economy is growing. We have very high corporate profits. We have a record stock market. And yet for decades now, we’ve not been seeing significant wage increases for the American people. How have we gotten to a point where businesses can be doing so well but workers don’t necessarily share in that prosperity? 1

1 Corporate profits and workers’ wages
as a share of GDP

Source: St. Louis Fed
Barack Obama
Well, this has been at least a three-decade-long trend. And this was a major topic in my State of the Union address. We obviously came in at a time of enormous crisis, and the first task was making sure we didn’t have a complete global economic meltdown. The steps we took, whether making sure the financial system was functioning — saving the auto industry, encouraging state and local spending — all those things made a difference in buoying the economy. And then it’s been a hard but steady slog to the point where now we’re growing at a robust pace and unemployment has come down faster than any time in the last 30 years.

Obama on why income inequality has skyrocketed

In some ways we’re now back to the position where we can focus on what is this longer-term trend, and that is a larger and larger share of wealth and income going to the very top, and the middle class or folks trying to get into the middle class feeling increasingly squeezed because their wages have stagnated.

Now, there are a whole bunch of reasons for that. Some of it has to do with technology and entire job sectors being eliminated — travel agents, bank tellers, a lot of middle management — because of efficiencies with the internet and a paperless office. A lot of it has to do with globalization and the rest of the world catching up. Post-World War II, we just had some enormous structural advantages because our competitors had been devastated by war, and we had also made investments that put us ahead of the curve, whether in education or infrastructure or research and development.

And around the ’70s and ’80s and then accelerating beyond that, those advantages went away at the same time as, because of technology, companies are getting a lot more efficient. One last component of this is that workers increasingly had less leverage because of changes in labor laws and the ability for capital to move and labor not to move. 2 You combine all that stuff, and it’s put workers in a tougher position. So our job now is to create additional tools that, number one, make sure that everybody’s got a baseline of support to be able to succeed in a constantly moving economy. Whether it’s health care that survives job loss. Whether it is making sure we have child care that allows a two-working-household family to prosper while still caring for their kids. Having a certain baseline in terms of wages, through the minimum wage. 3 So that’s one set of issues.

2 Union membership, in millions

Source: Pew Research Center
3 Because of inflation, today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth significantly less than the minimum wage in the ’70s. The Obama administration has proposed raising it to $10.10.
A second set of issues then becomes: how do we make sure that everybody has the tools to succeed in an economy where they constantly have to adapt? And how do they move up the value chain, essentially because they can work in higher-wage, higher-skill professions, and were able to compete for those jobs internationally?

Then the third thing is making sure that we have an economy that’s productive. Now, if we do all those things, then what I’m confident about is that we can continue to lower the unemployment rate, increase the participation rate, and continue to grow and increase productivity. We’re still going to have a broader, longer-term, global question, and that is: how do we make sure that the folks at the very top are doing enough of their fair share? The winner-take-all aspect of this modern economy means that you’ve got some people who just control enormous amounts of wealth. We don’t really resent their success; on the other hand, just as a practical matter, if we’re going to pay for schools, roads, et cetera, and you’ve got, you know, 50 people or 80 people having as much wealth as 3 billion, you know you’re going to have problems making sure that we’re investing enough in the common good to be able to move forward. 4 So that’s a long-term question. But right now, there’s some very specific things we can do that can make a difference and help middle-class families. And that’s why I called it middle-class economics.

4 It’s worth noting that this statistic is as much a reflection of global indebtedness as global wealth.
Ezra Klein
To focus a bit on that long-term question, does that put us in a place where redistribution becomes, in a sense, a positive good in and of itself? Do we need the government playing the role not of powering the growth engine — which is a lot of what had to be done after the financial crisis — but of making sure that while that growth engine is running, it is ensuring that enough of the gains and prosperity is shared so that the political support for that fundamental economic model remains strong?

Barack Obama
That’s always been the case. I don’t think that’s entirely new. The fact of the matter is that relative to our post-war history, taxes now are not particularly high or particularly progressive compared to what they were, say, in the late ’50s or the ’60s. 5 And there’s always been this notion that for a country to thrive there are some things, as Lincoln says, that we can do better together than we can do for ourselves. And whether that’s building roads, or setting up effective power grids, or making sure that we’ve got high-quality public education — that teachers are paid enough — the market will not cover those things. And we’ve got to do them together. Basic research falls in that category. So that’s always been true.

5 The history of effective federal tax rates in America

Source: Quartz/The Tax Foundation
I think that part of what’s changed is that a lot of that burden for making sure that the pie was broadly shared took place before government even got involved. 6 If you had stronger unions, you had higher wages. If you had a corporate culture that felt a sense of place and commitment so that the CEO was in Pittsburgh or was in Detroit and felt obliged, partly because of social pressure but partly because they felt a real affinity toward the community, to re-invest in that community and to be seen as a good corporate citizen. Today what you have is quarterly earning reports, compensation levels for CEOs that are tied directly to those quarterly earnings. You’ve got international capital that is demanding maximizing short-term profits. And so what happens is that a lot of the distributional questions that used to be handled in the marketplace through decent wages or health care or defined benefit pension plans — those things all are eliminated. And the average employee, the average worker, doesn’t feel any benefit.

6 What Obama is talking about here is the difference between pre-tax and post-tax inequality. It’s possible to have low inequality either because the market itself spreads gains widely, or because the government intervenes at tax time to spread gains widely. Germany and Britain have higher pre-tax inequality than the US, but lower actual inequality because the government does so much through taxes and transfers.
So part of our job is, what can government do directly through tax policy? What we’ve proposed, for example, in terms of capital gains — that would make a big difference in our capacity to give a tax break to a working mom for child care. And that’s smart policy, and there’s no evidence that would hurt the incentives of folks at Google or Microsoft or Uber not to invent what they invent or not to provide services they provide. It just means that instead of $20 billion, maybe they’ve got 18, right? But it does mean that Mom can go to work without worrying that her kid’s not in a safe place.

We also still have to focus on the front end. Which is even before taxes are paid, are there ways that we can increase the bargaining power: making sure that an employee has some measurable increases in their incomes and their wealth and their security as a consequence of an economy that’s improving. And that’s where issues like labor laws make a difference. That’s where say in shareholder meetings and trying to change the culture in terms of compensation at the corporate level could make a difference. And there’s been some interesting conversations globally around issues like inclusive capitalism and how we can make it work for everybody.

Ezra Klein
When you drill into that pre-tax portion, one thing you can find in wages is health-care costs.

Barack Obama
Yeah.

Ezra Klein
And when you drill deeper into the health-care costs, one thing you find is that a major piece of why Americans pay so much more is that when we go to a hospital, an MRI, or an appendectomy, or even a bottle of cholesterol drugs just costs much more for an American to buy than it does in Germany, in Japan, in Canada, in Great Britain. Why do you think Americans pay so much higher health-care prices than folks in other countries? 7

7 The seminal paper on this is the wonderfully named « It’s the Prices, Stupid: Why the United States Is So Different From Other Countries. »
Barack Obama
Well, you know there are a lot of theories about this. But I think the evidence points to a couple of key factors. One is that we’ve got a third-party system. Mostly we’ve got a system where everybody gets their health insurance through their employers. Obviously the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, helps to cover the gap for those who aren’t in that system. But for those of us who have an insurer, we don’t track it. And the market then becomes really opaque and really hard to penetrate. Health providers are able to, I think, charge without much fear that somebody’s looking over their shoulders and asking, well, why does this cost that much?

That’s one of the reasons [that with] the Affordable Care Act, a lot of the attention’s been on making sure that the uninsured have peace of mind, and people who currently have insurance but at some point might lose it or have pre-existing conditions are going to have it. That’s obviously the moral basis for what we did. But people haven’t been paying as much attention to the delivery-system reforms that we’re trying to institute through the Affordable Care Act as well.

I can’t take credit for all four years of the lowest health-care inflation in the last 50 that we’ve seen since the Affordable Care Act passed. 8 Some of the trends, I think, were already on their way. But we are accelerating a lot of reforms. For example, what do we do to make sure that instead of paying a doctor in a hospital for just providing a service, let’s make sure that they’re being rewarded for a good outcome? Which may mean in some cases fewer tests or a less expensive generic drug, or just making sure that all your employees are washing your hands so that you’re cutting the infection rate, or making sure that hospitals are reimbursed when there’s a lower readmissions rate, as opposed to when they’re doing more stuff. And using Medicare as a lever, I think, is creating an environment in the health-care field where we can start getting better outcomes and lower costs at the same time. 9 There are still going to be those who argue that unless you get a single-payer system, you’re never going to get all the efficiencies. There’s certain areas like drugs, where the fact that Congress — and the Republican Party in particular — has been resistant to letting drug makers and Medicare negotiate for the lowest price. It results in us paying a lot more than we should. But if we’re paying 4, 5, 6, 8 percent more than other countries for the same outcomes, I’d be pretty happy where we’re only paying 2 or 3 percent more. Because that represents hundreds of billions of dollars, and means we can do a lot with that money.

8 Annual growth in health-care spending

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
9 The White House is proposing tying 85 percent of all Medicare payments to outcomes by the end of 2016 — rising to 90 percent by 2018.
Ezra Klein
When you talk about Medicare as a lever, Medicare tends to pay a lot less per service than private insurers by a margin. Before single-payer there’s also this idea you hear occasionally of letting private insurers band together with Medicare, with Medicaid, to jointly negotiate prices. 10 Do you think that’s a good idea?

10 The technical term for this is « all-payer rate setting. »
Barack Obama
You know, I think that moving in the direction where consumers and others can have more power in the marketplace, particularly when it comes to drugs, makes a lot of sense. Now, you’ll hear from the drug companies that part of the reason other countries pay less for drugs is they don’t innovate; we, essentially through our system, subsidize the innovation, and other countries are free riders. There’s probably a little bit of truth to that, but when you look at the number of breakthrough drugs and the amount of money that drug companies now are putting into research and where they’re putting it, a whole lot of it is actually in redesigning, modestly, existing drugs so they can renew patents and maintain higher prices and higher profits. That’s not entirely true, but there’s some of that. So there is a lot of savings that could be achieved while still making sure that our drug industry is the best in the world, and will still be making a healthy profit.

Obama on why he’s such a polarizing president

Ezra Klein
To turn a bit towards politics, at this point, according to the polls, you are the most polarizing president really since we began polling. 11 But before you, the record was set by George W. Bush, and before George W. Bush the record was set by Bill Clinton. It seems that there’s something structural happening there in terms of party polarization and the way it affects approval ratings and cooperation with presidents. In your State of the Union, you struck back at critics who say that the idea of healing some of these divisions is naïve or impossible. So when you welcome your successor into office, what would you tell them is worth trying that you think can still work, that would reduce the polarization?

11 Presidents’ popularity gaps

Source: Gallup
Barack Obama
Well, there are a couple of things that in my mind, at least, contribute to our politics being more polarized than people actually are. And I think most people just sense this in their daily lives. Everybody’s got a family member or a really good friend from high school who is on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum. And yet, we still love them, right? Everybody goes to a soccer game, or watching their kids, coaching, and they see parents who they think are wonderful people, and then if they made a comment about politics, suddenly they’d go, « I can’t believe you think that! » But a lot of it has to do with the fact that a) the balkanization of the media means that we just don’t have a common place where we get common facts and a common worldview the way we did 20, 30 years ago. And that just keeps on accelerating, you know. And I’m not the first to observe this, but you’ve got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh folks and then you’ve got the MSNBC folks and the — I don’t know where Vox falls into that, but you guys are, I guess, for the brainiac-nerd types. But the point is that technology which brings the world to us also allows us to narrow our point of view. That’s contributed to it.

Gerrymandering contributes to it. 12 There’s no incentive for most members of Congress, on the House side at least, in congressional districts, to even bother trying to appeal. And a lot of it has to do with just unlimited money. So people are absorbing an entirely different reality when it comes to politics, even though the way they’re living their lives and interacting with each other isn’t that polarizing. So my advice to a future president is increasingly try to bypass the traditional venues that create divisions and try to find new venues within this new media that are quirkier, less predictable.

12 For an interesting discussion of the evidence around gerrymandering and political polarization, see Vox’s gerrymandering card stack.
You know, yesterday I did three interviews with YouTube stars that generally don’t spend a lot of time talking about politics. And the reason we did it is because they’re reaching viewers who don’t want to be put in some particular camp. On the other hand, when you talk to them very specifically about college costs or about health care or about any of the other things that touch on their individual lives, it turns out that you can probably build a pretty good consensus.

Now, that doesn’t ignore the fact that I would love to see some constitutional process that would allow us to actually regulate campaign spending the way we used to, and maybe even improve it. I’d love to see changes at the state level that reduce political gerrymandering. So there’s all kinds of structural things that I’d like to see that I think would improve this but, you know, there’ve been periods in the past where we’ve been pretty polarized. I think there just wasn’t polling around. As I recall, there was a whole civil war — that was a good example of polarization that took place.

Ezra Klein
Do you think if we don’t get some of those structural reforms, and more to the point, if we continue along this path, in terms of where the parties are in Congress, are there ways to govern with polarization? It occurs to me that [this was] your argument when you came to office. But before you, Bush was a « uniter not a divider, » and before him Clinton, who was going to moderate and change the Democratic party with his sort of Third Way approach. The last couple of presidents have come to office promising the way they would get things done is to reduce polarization. Is there an argument or an approach that can be made to govern amidst polarization?

Barack Obama
A couple observations. Number one is that in American history — even during the so-called golden age where, you know, you had liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats and there was deal-cutting going on in Congress — generally speaking, big stuff didn’t get done unless there was a major crisis and/or you had big majorities of one party controlling the Congress and a president of the same party. I mean, that’s just been the history. There have been exceptions, but that’s often been the case in terms of big-muscle movements in the political system. And you know, my first two years in office when I had a Democratic majority and Democratic House and Democratic Senate, we were as productive as any time since Lyndon Johnson. And when the majority went away, stuff got blocked.

Probably the one thing that we could change without a constitutional amendment that would make a difference here would be the elimination of the routine use of the filibuster in the Senate. 13 Because I think that does, in an era in which the parties are more polarized, it almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties. There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires it. The framers were pretty good about designing a House, a Senate, two years versus six-year terms, every state getting two senators. There were a whole bunch of things in there to assure that a majority didn’t just run rampant. The filibuster in this modern age probably just torques it too far in the direction of a majority party not being able to govern effectively and move forward its platform. And I think that’s an area where we can make some improvement.

13 For more on the filibuster, see Vox’s card stack on Congressional dysfunction.
Ezra Klein
One of the powerful things that’s happened as polarization has increased politically is it’s begun structuring people’s other identities. The one I’m particularly interested in here is race. If you look back at polling around the OJ Simpson verdict or the Bernhard Goetz shooting in New York, Republicans and Democrats — you basically couldn’t tell them apart. Now you look at the Zimmerman verdict or you look at what’s going on in Ferguson, and opinion on racial issues is very sharply split by party. 14 Do you worry about the merging of racial and partisan identity?

In his 2007 book The Audacity of Hope, then-Sen. Barack Obama laid out his theory of America’s political and policy problems as it stood on the eve of his first presidential campaign. He worried, he said, about « the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics. »

On January 23, he sat down with Vox for a wide-ranging interview about his theory of America’s political and policy problems as it stands at the beginning of the seventh year of his presidency. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the first part of the conversation, which focused on domestic policy and politics. You can find the second half, which focuses on America’s role in the world, here.

Ezra Klein
The economy is growing. We have very high corporate profits. We have a record stock market. And yet for decades now, we’ve not been seeing significant wage increases for the American people. How have we gotten to a point where businesses can be doing so well but workers don’t necessarily share in that prosperity? 1

1 Corporate profits and workers’ wages
as a share of GDP

Source: St. Louis Fed
Barack Obama
Well, this has been at least a three-decade-long trend. And this was a major topic in my State of the Union address. We obviously came in at a time of enormous crisis, and the first task was making sure we didn’t have a complete global economic meltdown. The steps we took, whether making sure the financial system was functioning — saving the auto industry, encouraging state and local spending — all those things made a difference in buoying the economy. And then it’s been a hard but steady slog to the point where now we’re growing at a robust pace and unemployment has come down faster than any time in the last 30 years.

Obama on why income inequality has skyrocketed

See more videos from the Obama interview
In some ways we’re now back to the position where we can focus on what is this longer-term trend, and that is a larger and larger share of wealth and income going to the very top, and the middle class or folks trying to get into the middle class feeling increasingly squeezed because their wages have stagnated.

Now, there are a whole bunch of reasons for that. Some of it has to do with technology and entire job sectors being eliminated — travel agents, bank tellers, a lot of middle management — because of efficiencies with the internet and a paperless office. A lot of it has to do with globalization and the rest of the world catching up. Post-World War II, we just had some enormous structural advantages because our competitors had been devastated by war, and we had also made investments that put us ahead of the curve, whether in education or infrastructure or research and development.

And around the ’70s and ’80s and then accelerating beyond that, those advantages went away at the same time as, because of technology, companies are getting a lot more efficient. One last component of this is that workers increasingly had less leverage because of changes in labor laws and the ability for capital to move and labor not to move. 2 You combine all that stuff, and it’s put workers in a tougher position. So our job now is to create additional tools that, number one, make sure that everybody’s got a baseline of support to be able to succeed in a constantly moving economy. Whether it’s health care that survives job loss. Whether it is making sure we have child care that allows a two-working-household family to prosper while still caring for their kids. Having a certain baseline in terms of wages, through the minimum wage. 3 So that’s one set of issues.

2 Union membership, in millions

Source: Pew Research Center
3 Because of inflation, today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth significantly less than the minimum wage in the ’70s. The Obama administration has proposed raising it to $10.10.
A second set of issues then becomes: how do we make sure that everybody has the tools to succeed in an economy where they constantly have to adapt? And how do they move up the value chain, essentially because they can work in higher-wage, higher-skill professions, and were able to compete for those jobs internationally?

Then the third thing is making sure that we have an economy that’s productive. Now, if we do all those things, then what I’m confident about is that we can continue to lower the unemployment rate, increase the participation rate, and continue to grow and increase productivity. We’re still going to have a broader, longer-term, global question, and that is: how do we make sure that the folks at the very top are doing enough of their fair share? The winner-take-all aspect of this modern economy means that you’ve got some people who just control enormous amounts of wealth. We don’t really resent their success; on the other hand, just as a practical matter, if we’re going to pay for schools, roads, et cetera, and you’ve got, you know, 50 people or 80 people having as much wealth as 3 billion, you know you’re going to have problems making sure that we’re investing enough in the common good to be able to move forward. 4 So that’s a long-term question. But right now, there’s some very specific things we can do that can make a difference and help middle-class families. And that’s why I called it middle-class economics.

4 It’s worth noting that this statistic is as much a reflection of global indebtedness as global wealth.
Ezra Klein
To focus a bit on that long-term question, does that put us in a place where redistribution becomes, in a sense, a positive good in and of itself? Do we need the government playing the role not of powering the growth engine — which is a lot of what had to be done after the financial crisis — but of making sure that while that growth engine is running, it is ensuring that enough of the gains and prosperity is shared so that the political support for that fundamental economic model remains strong?

Barack Obama
That’s always been the case. I don’t think that’s entirely new. The fact of the matter is that relative to our post-war history, taxes now are not particularly high or particularly progressive compared to what they were, say, in the late ’50s or the ’60s. 5 And there’s always been this notion that for a country to thrive there are some things, as Lincoln says, that we can do better together than we can do for ourselves. And whether that’s building roads, or setting up effective power grids, or making sure that we’ve got high-quality public education — that teachers are paid enough — the market will not cover those things. And we’ve got to do them together. Basic research falls in that category. So that’s always been true.

5 The history of effective federal tax rates in America

Source: Quartz/The Tax Foundation
I think that part of what’s changed is that a lot of that burden for making sure that the pie was broadly shared took place before government even got involved. 6 If you had stronger unions, you had higher wages. If you had a corporate culture that felt a sense of place and commitment so that the CEO was in Pittsburgh or was in Detroit and felt obliged, partly because of social pressure but partly because they felt a real affinity toward the community, to re-invest in that community and to be seen as a good corporate citizen. Today what you have is quarterly earning reports, compensation levels for CEOs that are tied directly to those quarterly earnings. You’ve got international capital that is demanding maximizing short-term profits. And so what happens is that a lot of the distributional questions that used to be handled in the marketplace through decent wages or health care or defined benefit pension plans — those things all are eliminated. And the average employee, the average worker, doesn’t feel any benefit.

6 What Obama is talking about here is the difference between pre-tax and post-tax inequality. It’s possible to have low inequality either because the market itself spreads gains widely, or because the government intervenes at tax time to spread gains widely. Germany and Britain have higher pre-tax inequality than the US, but lower actual inequality because the government does so much through taxes and transfers.
So part of our job is, what can government do directly through tax policy? What we’ve proposed, for example, in terms of capital gains — that would make a big difference in our capacity to give a tax break to a working mom for child care. And that’s smart policy, and there’s no evidence that would hurt the incentives of folks at Google or Microsoft or Uber not to invent what they invent or not to provide services they provide. It just means that instead of $20 billion, maybe they’ve got 18, right? But it does mean that Mom can go to work without worrying that her kid’s not in a safe place.

We also still have to focus on the front end. Which is even before taxes are paid, are there ways that we can increase the bargaining power: making sure that an employee has some measurable increases in their incomes and their wealth and their security as a consequence of an economy that’s improving. And that’s where issues like labor laws make a difference. That’s where say in shareholder meetings and trying to change the culture in terms of compensation at the corporate level could make a difference. And there’s been some interesting conversations globally around issues like inclusive capitalism and how we can make it work for everybody.

Ezra Klein
When you drill into that pre-tax portion, one thing you can find in wages is health-care costs.

Barack Obama
Yeah.

Ezra Klein
And when you drill deeper into the health-care costs, one thing you find is that a major piece of why Americans pay so much more is that when we go to a hospital, an MRI, or an appendectomy, or even a bottle of cholesterol drugs just costs much more for an American to buy than it does in Germany, in Japan, in Canada, in Great Britain. Why do you think Americans pay so much higher health-care prices than folks in other countries? 7

7 The seminal paper on this is the wonderfully named « It’s the Prices, Stupid: Why the United States Is So Different From Other Countries. »

Barack Obama
Well, you know there are a lot of theories about this. But I think the evidence points to a couple of key factors. One is that we’ve got a third-party system. Mostly we’ve got a system where everybody gets their health insurance through their employers. Obviously the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, helps to cover the gap for those who aren’t in that system. But for those of us who have an insurer, we don’t track it. And the market then becomes really opaque and really hard to penetrate. Health providers are able to, I think, charge without much fear that somebody’s looking over their shoulders and asking, well, why does this cost that much?

That’s one of the reasons [that with] the Affordable Care Act, a lot of the attention’s been on making sure that the uninsured have peace of mind, and people who currently have insurance but at some point might lose it or have pre-existing conditions are going to have it. That’s obviously the moral basis for what we did. But people haven’t been paying as much attention to the delivery-system reforms that we’re trying to institute through the Affordable Care Act as well.

I can’t take credit for all four years of the lowest health-care inflation in the last 50 that we’ve seen since the Affordable Care Act passed. 8 Some of the trends, I think, were already on their way. But we are accelerating a lot of reforms. For example, what do we do to make sure that instead of paying a doctor in a hospital for just providing a service, let’s make sure that they’re being rewarded for a good outcome? Which may mean in some cases fewer tests or a less expensive generic drug, or just making sure that all your employees are washing your hands so that you’re cutting the infection rate, or making sure that hospitals are reimbursed when there’s a lower readmissions rate, as opposed to when they’re doing more stuff. And using Medicare as a lever, I think, is creating an environment in the health-care field where we can start getting better outcomes and lower costs at the same time. 9 There are still going to be those who argue that unless you get a single-payer system, you’re never going to get all the efficiencies. There’s certain areas like drugs, where the fact that Congress — and the Republican Party in particular — has been resistant to letting drug makers and Medicare negotiate for the lowest price. It results in us paying a lot more than we should. But if we’re paying 4, 5, 6, 8 percent more than other countries for the same outcomes, I’d be pretty happy where we’re only paying 2 or 3 percent more. Because that represents hundreds of billions of dollars, and means we can do a lot with that money.

8 Annual growth in health-care spending

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
9 The White House is proposing tying 85 percent of all Medicare payments to outcomes by the end of 2016 — rising to 90 percent by 2018.
Ezra Klein
When you talk about Medicare as a lever, Medicare tends to pay a lot less per service than private insurers by a margin. Before single-payer there’s also this idea you hear occasionally of letting private insurers band together with Medicare, with Medicaid, to jointly negotiate prices. 10 Do you think that’s a good idea?

10 The technical term for this is « all-payer rate setting. »
Barack Obama
You know, I think that moving in the direction where consumers and others can have more power in the marketplace, particularly when it comes to drugs, makes a lot of sense. Now, you’ll hear from the drug companies that part of the reason other countries pay less for drugs is they don’t innovate; we, essentially through our system, subsidize the innovation, and other countries are free riders. There’s probably a little bit of truth to that, but when you look at the number of breakthrough drugs and the amount of money that drug companies now are putting into research and where they’re putting it, a whole lot of it is actually in redesigning, modestly, existing drugs so they can renew patents and maintain higher prices and higher profits. That’s not entirely true, but there’s some of that. So there is a lot of savings that could be achieved while still making sure that our drug industry is the best in the world, and will still be making a healthy profit.

Obama on why he’s such a polarizing president

Ezra Klein
To turn a bit towards politics, at this point, according to the polls, you are the most polarizing president really since we began polling. 11 But before you, the record was set by George W. Bush, and before George W. Bush the record was set by Bill Clinton. It seems that there’s something structural happening there in terms of party polarization and the way it affects approval ratings and cooperation with presidents. In your State of the Union, you struck back at critics who say that the idea of healing some of these divisions is naïve or impossible. So when you welcome your successor into office, what would you tell them is worth trying that you think can still work, that would reduce the polarization?

11 Presidents’ popularity gaps

Source: Gallup
Barack Obama
Well, there are a couple of things that in my mind, at least, contribute to our politics being more polarized than people actually are. And I think most people just sense this in their daily lives. Everybody’s got a family member or a really good friend from high school who is on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum. And yet, we still love them, right? Everybody goes to a soccer game, or watching their kids, coaching, and they see parents who they think are wonderful people, and then if they made a comment about politics, suddenly they’d go, « I can’t believe you think that! » But a lot of it has to do with the fact that a) the balkanization of the media means that we just don’t have a common place where we get common facts and a common worldview the way we did 20, 30 years ago. And that just keeps on accelerating, you know. And I’m not the first to observe this, but you’ve got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh folks and then you’ve got the MSNBC folks and the — I don’t know where Vox falls into that, but you guys are, I guess, for the brainiac-nerd types. But the point is that technology which brings the world to us also allows us to narrow our point of view. That’s contributed to it.

Gerrymandering contributes to it. 12 There’s no incentive for most members of Congress, on the House side at least, in congressional districts, to even bother trying to appeal. And a lot of it has to do with just unlimited money. So people are absorbing an entirely different reality when it comes to politics, even though the way they’re living their lives and interacting with each other isn’t that polarizing. So my advice to a future president is increasingly try to bypass the traditional venues that create divisions and try to find new venues within this new media that are quirkier, less predictable.

12 For an interesting discussion of the evidence around gerrymandering and political polarization, see Vox’s gerrymandering card stack.
You know, yesterday I did three interviews with YouTube stars that generally don’t spend a lot of time talking about politics. And the reason we did it is because they’re reaching viewers who don’t want to be put in some particular camp. On the other hand, when you talk to them very specifically about college costs or about health care or about any of the other things that touch on their individual lives, it turns out that you can probably build a pretty good consensus.

Now, that doesn’t ignore the fact that I would love to see some constitutional process that would allow us to actually regulate campaign spending the way we used to, and maybe even improve it. I’d love to see changes at the state level that reduce political gerrymandering. So there’s all kinds of structural things that I’d like to see that I think would improve this but, you know, there’ve been periods in the past where we’ve been pretty polarized. I think there just wasn’t polling around. As I recall, there was a whole civil war — that was a good example of polarization that took place.

Ezra Klein
Do you think if we don’t get some of those structural reforms, and more to the point, if we continue along this path, in terms of where the parties are in Congress, are there ways to govern with polarization? It occurs to me that [this was] your argument when you came to office. But before you, Bush was a « uniter not a divider, » and before him Clinton, who was going to moderate and change the Democratic party with his sort of Third Way approach. The last couple of presidents have come to office promising the way they would get things done is to reduce polarization. Is there an argument or an approach that can be made to govern amidst polarization?

Barack Obama
A couple observations. Number one is that in American history — even during the so-called golden age where, you know, you had liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats and there was deal-cutting going on in Congress — generally speaking, big stuff didn’t get done unless there was a major crisis and/or you had big majorities of one party controlling the Congress and a president of the same party. I mean, that’s just been the history. There have been exceptions, but that’s often been the case in terms of big-muscle movements in the political system. And you know, my first two years in office when I had a Democratic majority and Democratic House and Democratic Senate, we were as productive as any time since Lyndon Johnson. And when the majority went away, stuff got blocked.

Probably the one thing that we could change without a constitutional amendment that would make a difference here would be the elimination of the routine use of the filibuster in the Senate. 13 Because I think that does, in an era in which the parties are more polarized, it almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties. There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires it. The framers were pretty good about designing a House, a Senate, two years versus six-year terms, every state getting two senators. There were a whole bunch of things in there to assure that a majority didn’t just run rampant. The filibuster in this modern age probably just torques it too far in the direction of a majority party not being able to govern effectively and move forward its platform. And I think that’s an area where we can make some improvement.

13 For more on the filibuster, see Vox’s card stack on Congressional dysfunction.
Ezra Klein
One of the powerful things that’s happened as polarization has increased politically is it’s begun structuring people’s other identities. The one I’m particularly interested in here is race. If you look back at polling around the OJ Simpson verdict or the Bernhard Goetz shooting in New York, Republicans and Democrats — you basically couldn’t tell them apart. Now you look at the Zimmerman verdict or you look at what’s going on in Ferguson, and opinion on racial issues is very sharply split by party. 14 Do you worry about the merging of racial and partisan identity?

14 The growing partisan divide on racial issues

Source: Gallup, Pew Research Center, via Michael Tesler
Barack Obama
I don’t worry about that, because I don’t think that’s going to last. I worry very much about the immediate consequences of mistrust between police and minority communities. I think there are things we can do to train our police force and make sure that everybody is being treated fairly. And the task force that I assigned after the Ferguson and New York cases is intended to produce very specific tools for us to deal with it.

But over the long term, I’m pretty optimistic, and the reason is because this country just becomes more and more of a hodgepodge of folks. Again, this is an example where things seem very polarized at the national level and media spotlight, but you go into communities — you know, one of the great things about being president is you travel through the entire country, and you go to Tennessee and it turns out that you’ve got this huge Kurdish community. And you go to some little town in Iowa and you see some Hasidic Jewish community, and then you see a bunch of interracial black and white couples running around with their kids. 15 And this is in these little farm communities, and you’ve got Latinos in the classroom when you visit the schools there. So people are getting more and more comfortable with the diversity of this country, much more sophisticated about both the cultural differences but more importantly, the basic commonality that we have. And, you know, the key is to make sure that our politics and our politicians are tapping into that better set of impulses rather than our baser fears.

15 Specifically you see this in Postville, Iowa, where a Lubavitcher family’s purchase of a meat-processing plant in the late 1980s has led to the migration of a small community of Hasidim to the area.
And my gut tells me, and I’ve seen it in my own career and you see it generally, a politician who plays on those fears in America, I don’t think is going to over time get a lot of traction. Even, you know, it’s not a perfect analogy, but if you think about how rapidly the whole issue of the LGBT community and discrimination against gays and lesbians has shifted. The Republican party, even the most conservative, they have much less ability, I think, to express discriminatory views than they did even 10 years ago. 16 And that’s a source of optimism. It makes me hopeful.

16 Support for same-sex marriage

Source: Pew Research Center
Ezra Klein
On Obamacare, something that members of your administration have always said, and I think you may have said: there’s been a lot of language about it being a good start, a platform to begin building. It’s full of experiments. The idea is that there will be learning, and there will be change. Now we’re in the second year of open enrollment. What would you like to see, if Congress were able to take up a bill, to tweak, to improve, to change, to build on that platform? What specifically from what you wanted in there originally or what we’ve learned since it’s actually been in operation? How would you like to see it improved?

Barack Obama
Well, I’m not sure, Ezra, that we’ve got enough years of it being in place to know perfectly what needs to be improved, where there’s still gaps. It’s been a year. So far the verdict is that this thing’s working for a lot of people. You’ve got 10 million people who’ve been enrolled, you’ve got more folks who’ve been signed up for the expanded Medicaid coverage, you’ve seen health-care inflation stay low or actually be significantly lower than before the ACA was passed, satisfaction with the insurance seems to be high. We haven’t seen major disruptions to the medical system that a lot of people had predicted. So, there’s a lot of stuff that’s working.

Over time, I think seeing if we can do more on delivery-system reform, making sure that we fill the gaps in those states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. The big problem we have right now with Obamacare is that it was designed to make sure that some subset of people qualified for Medicaid, and that’s how they were going to get coverage, and others were going to go into the exchanges because they had slightly higher incomes. And because of the decision of the Roberts court — that we couldn’t incentivize states to expand Medicaid the way we had originally intended — you’ve got a lot of really big states, you’ve got tens of millions of people who aren’t able to get their Medicaid coverage. And so there’s this gap. And that’s probably the biggest challenge for us.

The good news is in dribs and drabs. Much as was true with the original Medicaid program, you’re starting to see Republican governors and Republican state legislatures realize that we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face. We’ve got an ideological objection to us helping our own constituencies and our own health-care systems. And to their credit, you’ve got folks like John Kasich in Ohio and Snyder in Michigan and now, most recently the governor up in Alaska, and others who are saying, « You know what? This is the right thing to do. Let’s go ahead and expand it. » So until that kind of settles, I don’t think we’ll fully know where there’s still gaps in coverage, what more we still need to do. But I think that so far, at least, the performance of the plan itself, not the website in the first three months but the performance of the actual plan, you know, has at least met and perhaps exceeded a lot of people’s expectations. The website, by the way, works great now.

Barack Obama
I don’t worry about that, because I don’t think that’s going to last. I worry very much about the immediate consequences of mistrust between police and minority communities. I think there are things we can do to train our police force and make sure that everybody is being treated fairly. And the task force that I assigned after the Ferguson and New York cases is intended to produce very specific tools for us to deal with it.

But over the long term, I’m pretty optimistic, and the reason is because this country just becomes more and more of a hodgepodge of folks. Again, this is an example where things seem very polarized at the national level and media spotlight, but you go into communities — you know, one of the great things about being president is you travel through the entire country, and you go to Tennessee and it turns out that you’ve got this huge Kurdish community. And you go to some little town in Iowa and you see some Hasidic Jewish community, and then you see a bunch of interracial black and white couples running around with their kids. 15 And this is in these little farm communities, and you’ve got Latinos in the classroom when you visit the schools there. So people are getting more and more comfortable with the diversity of this country, much more sophisticated about both the cultural differences but more importantly, the basic commonality that we have. And, you know, the key is to make sure that our politics and our politicians are tapping into that better set of impulses rather than our baser fears.

15 Specifically you see this in Postville, Iowa, where a Lubavitcher family’s purchase of a meat-processing plant in the late 1980s has led to the migration of a small community of Hasidim to the area.
And my gut tells me, and I’ve seen it in my own career and you see it generally, a politician who plays on those fears in America, I don’t think is going to over time get a lot of traction. Even, you know, it’s not a perfect analogy, but if you think about how rapidly the whole issue of the LGBT community and discrimination against gays and lesbians has shifted. The Republican party, even the most conservative, they have much less ability, I think, to express discriminatory views than they did even 10 years ago. 16 And that’s a source of optimism. It makes me hopeful.

16 Support for same-sex marriage

Source: Pew Research Center
Ezra Klein
On Obamacare, something that members of your administration have always said, and I think you may have said: there’s been a lot of language about it being a good start, a platform to begin building. It’s full of experiments. The idea is that there will be learning, and there will be change. Now we’re in the second year of open enrollment. What would you like to see, if Congress were able to take up a bill, to tweak, to improve, to change, to build on that platform? What specifically from what you wanted in there originally or what we’ve learned since it’s actually been in operation? How would you like to see it improved?

Barack Obama
Well, I’m not sure, Ezra, that we’ve got enough years of it being in place to know perfectly what needs to be improved, where there’s still gaps. It’s been a year. So far the verdict is that this thing’s working for a lot of people. You’ve got 10 million people who’ve been enrolled, you’ve got more folks who’ve been signed up for the expanded Medicaid coverage, you’ve seen health-care inflation stay low or actually be significantly lower than before the ACA was passed, satisfaction with the insurance seems to be high. We haven’t seen major disruptions to the medical system that a lot of people had predicted. So, there’s a lot of stuff that’s working.

Over time, I think seeing if we can do more on delivery-system reform, making sure that we fill the gaps in those states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. The big problem we have right now with Obamacare is that it was designed to make sure that some subset of people qualified for Medicaid, and that’s how they were going to get coverage, and others were going to go into the exchanges because they had slightly higher incomes. And because of the decision of the Roberts court — that we couldn’t incentivize states to expand Medicaid the way we had originally intended — you’ve got a lot of really big states, you’ve got tens of millions of people who aren’t able to get their Medicaid coverage. And so there’s this gap. And that’s probably the biggest challenge for us.

The good news is in dribs and drabs. Much as was true with the original Medicaid program, you’re starting to see Republican governors and Republican state legislatures realize that we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face. We’ve got an ideological objection to us helping our own constituencies and our own health-care systems. And to their credit, you’ve got folks like John Kasich in Ohio and Snyder in Michigan and now, most recently the governor up in Alaska, and others who are saying, « You know what? This is the right thing to do. Let’s go ahead and expand it. » So until that kind of settles, I don’t think we’ll fully know where there’s still gaps in coverage, what more we still need to do. But I think that so far, at least, the performance of the plan itself, not the website in the first three months but the performance of the actual plan, you know, has at least met and perhaps exceeded a lot of people’s expectations. The website, by the way, works great now.

OBAMA The conversation

Part two: Foreign policy

Years before he was a national figure, Barack Obama delivered a speech at a rally against the proposed invasion of Iraq that became integral to his underdog primary campaign in 2008. « I don’t oppose all wars, » he said. « What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. » And yet an actual presidential foreign policy is far more complex than a single speech. The world is vast, and modern technology has rendered war less a binary choice than a broad spectrum of possible uses of force. When Obama sat down with Vox in late January, we asked him not about the crises of the day but about the big ideas that shape his thinking on America’s relationship to the world outside our borders.

Matthew Yglesias
This is a really sort of big-picture question, but over the years, I’ve heard a number of different members of your team refer to your kind of philosophy in foreign affairs as « realism. » 1 Is that a term you would use?

1 Foreign-policy realism is associated with the cold-hearted pursuit of national interests, rather than an emphasis on human rights or international law. The extent of Obama’s realist commitments is frequently debated among foreign-policy insiders.
Barack Obama
You know, traditionally, a lot of American foreign policy has been divided into the realist camp and the idealist camp. And so if you’re an idealist, you’re like Woodrow Wilson, and you’re out there with the League of Nations and imagining everybody holding hands and singing « Kumbaya » and imposing these wonderful rules that everybody’s abiding by. And if you’re a realist, then you’re supporting dictators who happen to be our friends, and you’re cutting deals and solely pursuing the self-interest of our country as narrowly defined. And I just don’t think that describes what a smart foreign policy should be.

Obama on the goal of his foreign policy

See more videos from the Obama interview
I think it is realistic for us to want to use diplomacy for setting up a rules-based system wherever we can, understanding that it’s not always going to work. If we have arms treaties in place, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a stray like North Korea that may try to do its own thing. But you’ve reduced the number of problems that you have and the security and defense challenges that you face if you can create those norms. And one of the great things about American foreign policy in the post-World War II era was that we did a pretty good job with that. It wasn’t perfect, but the UN, the IMF, and a whole host of treaties and rules and norms that were established really helped to stabilize the world in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise be.

Now, I also think that if we were just resorting to that and we didn’t have a realistic view that there are bad people out there who are trying to do us harm — and we’ve got to have the strongest military in the world, and we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either. So what I do think is accurate in describing my foreign policy is a strong belief that we don’t have military solutions to every problem in the 21st century. That we don’t have a peer in terms of a state that’s going to attack us and bait us. The closest we have, obviously, is Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, but generally speaking they can’t project the way we can around the world. China can’t, either. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined. 2

2 Military spending by the US vs. other countries

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies
So the biggest challenge we have right now is disorder. Failed states. Asymmetric threats from terrorist organizations. And what I’ve been trying to do is to make sure that over the course of the last six years and hopefully the next two, we just have more tools in our toolkit to deal with the actual problems that we have now and that we can project into the future, rather than just constantly relying on the same tools that we used when we were dealing with Germany and Japan in World War II.

And so ending two wars was important, not because I was under any illusions that that would mean we wouldn’t have any terrorist threat. 3 It does mean, though, that by not having 180,000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can then more strategically deploy, with a smaller footprint, special forces, trainers, partnering, that allows us to get at the actual problem and then frees us up to be able to send a team to prevent Ebola. To double-down on our investments in things like cybersecurity. To look at the new threats and opportunities that are out there. And that, I think, has been the real challenge over the last six to eight years.

3 There are still about 10,000 American military personnel serving in Afghanistan in training and advisory roles, and about 3,000 American troops are in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers to fight ISIS.
Matthew Yglesias
In the Middle East, where we’re still very much engaged despite the draw-down from Iraq, the Clinton administration had a policy they called Dual Containment of Iraq and Iran. The Bush administration had an idea about preventative war and about rollback and democracy promotion. Under your administration, the country is still very involved in that region, but I don’t think we have as clear a sense of what is the sort of strategic goal of that engagement.

Barack Obama
Well, partly it’s because of the nature of what’s happened in the Middle East. I came in with some very clear theories about what my goals were going to be. We were going to end the war in Iraq. We were going to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, trying diplomacy first. We were going to try to promote increased economic development in the Muslim countries to deal with this demographic bulge that was coming into play. We were going to promote Palestinian and Israeli peace talks. So, there were all kinds of theories.

And then the Arab Spring happened. I don’t recall all the wise men in Washington anticipating this. And so this has been this huge, tumultuous change and shift, and so we’ve had to adapt, even as it’s happening in real time, to some huge changes in these societies. But if you look at the basic goals that I’ve set: making sure that we are maintaining pressure on terrorist organizations so that they have a limited capacity to carry out large-scale attacks on the West. Increasing our partnering and cooperation with countries to deal with that terrorist threat. Continuing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And using the tool of sanctions to see if we can get a diplomatic breakthrough there. And continuing to try to move the Israeli-Palestinian relationship into a better place, while at the same time helping the region as a whole integrate itself more effectively into the world economy so that there’s more opportunity. Those basic goals still hold true.

But what people rightly have been concerned about [is] that the forces of disorder — sectarianism, most tragically in Syria, but lingering elements of that in Iraq as well, the incapacity of Israelis and Palestinians to get together, and the continued erosion of basic state functions in places like Yemen, mean that there’s more to worry about there than there might have been under the old order. We’re kind of going through a passage that is hard and difficult, but we’re managing it in a way to make sure that Americans are safe and that our interests are secured. And if we can make progress in restoring a functioning, multi-sectarian Iraqi government, and we’re able to get a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, then we have the basis, I think, for a movement towards greater stability.

But this is going to be a generational challenge in the Muslim world and the Middle East that not only the United States but everybody’s going to have to deal with. And we’re going to have to have some humility in recognizing that we don’t have the option of simply invading every country where disorder breaks out. And that to some degree, the people of these countries are going to have to, you know, find their own way. And we can help them but we can’t do it for them.

Matthew Yglesias
It seems to me, on that point, that members of your administration often seem acutely aware of the idea of limits of American power, maybe to a greater extent than they always feel comfortably articulating publicly. Is it difficult to say, in the political and media system, that there are things that you can’t really do?

Barack Obama
Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility. The question, I think, is how that leadership is exercised. My administration is very aggressive and internationalist in wading in and taking on and trying to solve problems.

Where the issue of limits comes in is what resources do we devote that are going to be effective in solving the problem. So, in Iraq, when ISIL arises, if you think you have no constraints, no limits, then I have the authority as commander-in-chief to send back 200,000 Americans to re-occupy Iraq. I think that’d be terrible for the country. I don’t think it’d be productive for Iraq. What we’ve learned in Iraq is you can keep a lid on those sectarian issues as long as we’ve got the greatest military on Earth there on the ground, but as soon as we leave, which at some point we would, we’d have the same problems again. 4 So what I said was Iraqis have to show us that they are prepared to put together a functioning government, that the Shia majority is prepared to reach out to the Kurds and Sunnis, and that they’re credibly willing to fight on the ground. And if they do those things, then we can help, and we’re going to have a 60-nation coalition to do it. So, if you look at that strategy, yes, it acknowledges limits. It acknowledges that it’s a bad idea for us, after 13 years of war, to take over a country again. But that doesn’t mean we’re not engaged, and it doesn’t mean we’re not leading.

4 Civilian deaths in Iraq, before and after US departure

Source: The Economist
And so, I think the real challenge for the country not just during my presidency but in future presidencies is recognizing that leading does not always mean occupying. That the temptation to think that there’s a quick fix to these problems is usually a temptation to be resisted. And that American leadership means wherever possible leveraging other countries, other resources, where we’re the lead partner because we have capabilities that other folks don’t have. But that way there’s some burden-sharing and there’s some ownership for outcomes. And many of these problems don’t get solved in a year or two years or three years.

I mean, the Shia-Sunni split in the Middle East right now is one that has been playing itself out over centuries. 5 We have the opportunity, I think, to lessen those tensions and to lift up voices that are less prone to exploit those sectarian divides, but, you know, we’re not going to eliminate that stuff overnight.

5 Share of Muslim population that is Shia, by country

Source: Pew Research Center
The trend towards extremism among a small segment of Muslim youth in the region, that’s a trend that’s been building up over a period time in part because of broader demographic problems and economic problems in the region, partly because of a perverted ideology that’s been hypercharged through the internet. It’s winning the hearts and minds of that cohort back. 6 That’s a multi-year project.

6 Obama’s State Department has gone so far as to launch an initiative called « Think Again, Turn Away » that uses YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms to try to convince young people that extremist groups are bad.
And so in the meantime, you take the victories where you can. You make things a little bit better rather than a little bit worse. And that’s in no way a concession to this idea that America is withdrawing or there’s not much we can do. It’s just a realistic assessment of how the world works.

Matthew Yglesias
You seemed to resist the realist label earlier, but when you talked about your goals earlier, you seemed very concerned about disorder, and you didn’t mention anything like democracy and human rights. And the countries you mentioned partnering with, it’s places like Egypt, where they came to power in a military coup; Saudi Arabia, with public beheadings; Bahrain, where during the Arab Spring they were beating nonviolent demonstrators and repressing that violently. Do you have any concerns about the sort of long-term sustainability of those kind of partnerships?

Barack Obama
This is a perfect example, Matt, of where the division between realism and idealism kind of breaks down. I think any realist worth their salt would say that any society that consistently ignores human rights and the dignity of its citizens at some point is going to be unstable and not a great partner. So it’s not just the right thing to do; it’s also very much in our interest to promote reforms throughout the Middle East. Now, the fact that we have to make real-time decisions about who are we partnering with and how perfectly are they abiding by our ideals, and are there times where we’ve got to mute some of our criticism to get some stuff done, are there times where we have an opportunity to press forward — that doesn’t negate the importance of us speaking out on these issues.

As I said during the State of the Union speech and as I’ve said in any speech that I’ve made in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world, it just means that we’ve got to do more than one thing at a time. We need a strong bilateral relationship with China to achieve a bunch of international goals like climate change that are of great national-security importance to us and billions of other people. That doesn’t mean it’s not smart for us also to speak out about censorship and political prisoners in China. We have to do both those things, and there’s going to be some times they come a little more into the fore than in other times. And the same is true in the Middle East and elsewhere. But I am a firm believer that particularly in this modern internet age, the capacity of the old-style authoritarian government to sustain itself and to thrive just is going to continue to weaken. It’s going to continue to crumble that model. My argument to any partner that we have is that you are better off if you’ve got a strong civil society and you’ve got democratic legitimacy and you are respectful of human rights. That’s how you’re going to attract businesses, that’s how you’re going to have a strong workforce, that’s how ultimately you’ve got a more durable not just economy but also political system.

But in those conversations, I’m also going to acknowledge that for a country that, say, has no experience in democracy or has no functioning civil society or where the most organized factions are intolerant, you know, religious sects, that progress is going to be happening in steps as opposed to in one big leap. And, I think, the goal of any good foreign policy is having a vision and aspirations and ideals, but also recognizing the world as it is, where it is, and figuring out how do you tack to the point where things are better than they were before. That doesn’t mean perfect. It just means it’s better. The trajectory of this planet overall is one toward less violence, more tolerance, less strife, less poverty. I’ve said this before and I think some folks in Washington were like, « Oh, he’s ignoring the chaos of all the terrible stuff that’s happening. » Of course, I’m not ignoring it. I’m dealing with it every day. That’s what I wake up to each morning. I get a thick book full of death, destruction, strife, and chaos. That’s what I take with my morning tea.

Matthew Yglesias
Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?

Barack Obama
Absolutely. And I don’t blame the media for that. What’s the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories and you show fires, because that’s what folks watch, and it’s all about ratings. And, you know, the problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos, along with plane crashes and a few other things, that’s the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs. There’s just not going to be a lot of interest in a headline story that we have cut infant mortality by really significant amounts over the last 20 years or that extreme poverty has been slashed or that there’s been enormous progress with a program we set up when I first came into office to help poor farmers increase productivity and yields. 7 It’s not a sexy story. And climate change is one that is happening at such a broad scale and at such a complex system, it’s a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis.

7 The little-noticed « Feed the Future » initiative has reached about 7 million people already, and introduces farmers in poor countries to more advanced technologies and management practices to boost crop production.
Look, the point is this: my first job is to protect the American people. It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. We devote enormous resources to that, and it is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that — the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive. But we also have to attend to a lot of other issues, and we’ve got to make sure we’re right-sizing our approach so that what we do isn’t counterproductive. I would argue that our invasion of Iraq was counterproductive to the goal of keeping our country safe.

And despite the incredible valor of our troops — and I’m in awe of them every single day when I work with them — you know, the strategy that was crafted in Washington didn’t always match up with the actual threats that were out there. And we need to make sure that we’re doing the right things and doing those well so that we can also deal with future threats like cybersecurity or climate change or different parts of the world where there are huge opportunities, but [that] before I came into office, we had neglected for quite some time, Asia Pacific being a perfect example. Or our own backyard, the Western Hemisphere, where there’s been real progress in Latin America and we’ve got the opportunity to strengthen our relationships. But there are also some big problems like Central America where, with a relatively modest investment, we could really be making a difference and making ourselves safer. 8

8 This is not necessarily directly relevant to « our safety, » but it’s worth noting the horrific conditions documented by NGOs that have looked at the lives of Central Americans sent back to their homes by US officials. Here’s what the administration is doing now in Central America.
Matthew Yglesias
So there’s this idea of a pivot to Asia, and what does that mean to you in specific terms? 9 A transfer of hard military resources, a transfer of time on your agenda in the National Security Council? Is it something you’ve really managed to pull off or does the Middle East really still have us kind of sucked in?

9 The origins of the « pivot to Asia » term are a bit shrouded, but the strategic concept of focusing more on the Pacific Rim and less on the Middle East dates back to a series of speeches and initiatives starting in the fall of 2011.
Barack Obama
I think it means all of the above. Look, Asia is the fastest growing region in the world, the most populous region in the world, and you’ve got the largest country in the world, China, that has undergone this incredible, dramatic transformation over the several last decades. 10 How well America does, economically, from a security perspective, is going to be linked to our relationship to that region. So we’ve said, a) we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a constructive relationship with China, one that is hardheaded enough to make sure they’re not taking advantage of us, but also sends a message to them that we can create a win-win situation as opposed to a pure competition that could be dangerous. And in order to do that, China, you’ve got to step up and help us underwrite these global rules that in fact help to facilitate your rise. Things like free-trade rules that are fair and maritime rules that don’t allow large countries to bully small ones. So that’s one big piece of it.

10 Growth in China’s Gross Domestic Product

Source: The World Bank
A second big piece of it is making sure that our allies like Japan and South Korea feel confident that we’re always going to be there and that our presence is not one that over time wanes, because they’re looking at a really big neighbor next door. They want to make sure that if America is their key partner, that America is going to stand with them through thick and thin. Then you’ve got all these smaller countries, or countries that are developing, and are coming into their own in the South Pacific, in Southeast Asia, and what we see there is this enormous hunger for more engagement with America. They want to do more business with us. They want to have more defense cooperation with us. And what we’ve been able to do over the last six years is to have systematically built this set of relationships and strengthen trading platforms, strengthen security cooperation — everything from how we deal with disaster relief, so if something like what happened in the Philippines happens in other countries, we can work more robustly, and we’re building resilience to how we’re dealing with deforestation. All these things are areas where we’ve made an enormous investment and there have been significant payoffs.

Obama on what most Americans get wrong about foreign aid

See more videos from the Obama interview
Matthew Yglesias
You mentioned the Philippines, and earlier the idea that there are big gains potentially to be made by giving some assistance to Central America. Does it really make sense to have so much of America’s foreign aid going to a country like Israel that’s quite wealthy when there are other democratic allies in other regions in the world that seem maybe more in need of assistance?

Barack Obama
Well, our relationship with Israel is in many ways unique. It’s our strongest ally in the region. Our people-to-people ties are unmatched. And partly because of world history, the vulnerabilities of a Jewish population in the midst of a really hostile neighborhood create a special obligation for us to help them. I think the more interesting question is if you look at our foreign assistance as a tool in our national security portfolio, as opposed to charity, and you combine our defense budget with our diplomatic budget and our foreign assistance budget, then in that mix there’s a lot more that we should be doing when it comes to helping Honduras and Guatemala build an effective criminal-justice system, effective police, and economic development that creates jobs. 11

11 Composition of US federal budget, 2014

Source: The White House Office of Management and Budget
Matthew Yglesias
So you’re saying it would make sense to reallocate those resources?

Barack Obama
Well, and part of the challenge here is just public awareness. Time and time again, when they do surveys, and they ask people what proportion of the foreign budget is spent on foreign aid, they’ll say, « 25 percent. » They’re pretty sure all their hard-earned money that they pay in taxes is somehow going to other folks. And if we can say, it varies between 1-2 percent depending on how you define it. And if we were to make some strategic investments in countries that really could use our help, we would then not have to deploy our military as often and we would be in a better position to work with other countries to stand down violent extremism. Then I think people could be persuaded by that argument, but we haven’t traditionally talked about it in those terms. It’s one of the things I’d like to do over the next couple of years: to try to erase this very sharp line between our military efforts in national security and our diplomatic and foreign assistance efforts. Because in this environment today, we’ve got to think of it all in one piece.

Matthew Yglesias
The transformation and growing prosperity in China is really probably the biggest story of the times we’re living through. And it’s something that it seems to me as something that causes a lot of anxiety to a lot of Americans. You know, we’ve been having our own economic struggles, but also from a geopolitical standpoint, it’s a country with a very different political system, with very different values. Is this something that you think people should regard as alarming?

Barack Obama
No, we shouldn’t alarm it. In fact, we should welcome China’s peaceful rise, partly from just an ethical perspective. To see hundreds of millions of people rise out of dire poverty and be able to feed their children and have a decent home: that’s a good thing and we should encourage it. In addition, a China that is disorderly is a big problem because there are a lot of Chinese in the world, and if they’re not doing well and they’re unstable, that’s very dangerous for the region.

Where Americans have a legitimate reason to be concerned is that in part this rise has taken place on the backs of an international system in which China wasn’t carrying its own weight or following the rules of the road and we were, and in some cases we got the short end of the stick. 12 This is part of the debate that we’re having right now in terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal that, you know, we’ve been negotiating. There are a lot of people who look at the last 20 years and say, « Why would we want another trade deal that hasn’t been good for American workers? It allowed outsourcing of American companies locating jobs in low-wage China and then selling it back to Walmart. And, yes, we got cheaper sneakers, but we also lost all our jobs. »

12 The most notable example here is probably the longstanding dispute over Chinese currency policy, which, especially in the late-aughts, seemed calculated to undermine American manufacturers by creating an artificially cheap yuan relative to the dollar.
And my argument is two-fold. Number one: precisely because that horse is out of the barn, the issue we’re trying to deal with right now is, can we make for a higher bar on labor, on environmental standards, et cetera, in that region and write a set of rules where it’s fairer, because right now it’s not fair, and if you want to improve it, that means we need a new trading regime. We can’t just rely on the old one because the old one isn’t working for us.

But the second reason it’s important is because the countries we’re negotiating with are the same countries that China is trying to negotiate with. And if we don’t write the rules out there, China’s going to write the rules. And the geopolitical implications of China writing the rules for trade or maritime law or any kind of commercial activity almost inevitably means that we will be cut out or we will be deeply disadvantaged. Our businesses will be disadvantaged, our workers will be disadvantaged. So when I hear, when I talk to labor organizations, I say, right now, we’ve been hugely disadvantaged. Why would we want to maintain the status quo? If we can organize a new trade deal in which a country like Vietnam for the first time recognizes labor rights and those are enforceable, that’s a big deal. It doesn’t mean that we’re still not going to see wage differentials between us and them, but they’re already selling here for the most part. And what we have the opportunity to do is to set long-term trends that keep us in the game in a place that we’ve got to be.

Matthew Yglesias
Why do you think that you haven’t been able to persuade your friends in the labor movement of that? They presumably look at these issues pretty closely. They know the interests of their members.

Barack Obama
Well, look, the story, the narrative, the experience that people have seen over the last 20 years, that’s a real experience, that’s not something we deny. That’s why during the State of the Union address, I was very explicit. I said, look, not every trade deal has lived up to the hype. And there are real gaps in the current trading regime that mean there are a whole lot of Toyotas sold here and almost no Fords or Chryslers sold in Japan. But what I say to them [is] if, in fact, the current situation disadvantages us, why would we want to stick with the current situation?

Now, sometimes their response will be, well, what you’re doing isn’t enough; what we need to do is to have union recognition in Vietnam or we need Japan to completely open its markets and not have any barriers whatsoever, and we need that immediately. And I say, well, I can’t get that for you. But what I can do is make the current situation better for American workers and American businesses that are trying to export there. I can open up more markets than what we have open right now, so that American farmers can sell their goods there. And, you know, better is better. It’s not perfect.

Those experiences that arose over the last 20 years are not easily forgotten, and the burden of proof is on us, then, to be very transparent and explicit in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s similar to the challenge we’ve got on the Iran negotiations.

And maybe I’ll close with that point, because that’s been an issue of great interest. People are right to be suspicious of Iran. Iran has sponsored state terrorism. It has consistently, at the highest levels, made deplorable anti-Israeli statements. It is repressive to its own people, and there is clear and unavoidable evidence that in the past they have tried to develop a weapons program and have tried to hide it from view. 13 So that’s a given. And it’s understandable why people are concerned, both here and around the world.

13 Iran has long supported a variety of radical groups around the region, notably including but by no means limited to Hezbollah. The government has brutalized pro-democracy protestors, and a range of leaders have promised to eliminate Israel as a state.
But what I’ve also said is that the deal that we’ve struck, this interim deal brought about by the tough sanctions regime that we put together, offers us our best opportunity to solve the problem of a nuclear Iran without resorting to military force. Iran is negotiating seriously for the first time, and they have made, so far, real concessions in the negotiations. We have been able to freeze the program for the first time and, in fact, roll back some elements of its program, like its stockpiles of ultra highly enriched uranium. And so, for us to give an additional two to three months to exhaust all possibilities of a diplomatic resolution when nobody denies — including our intelligence agencies, and Mossad and others — nobody denies that Iran right now really is abiding by the terms of our agreement, so we’re not losing ground. They’re not surreptitiously developing a weapon while we talk. For us to give two [or] three months to figure that out makes sense.

Now, same thing with respect to trade. You’re going to meet some folks who are going to be skeptical, and their impulse is going to be, well, let’s pile on some more sanctions, and let’s squeeze them a little bit more, and any deal that you’re going to strike, they’re going to cheat, and we can’t trust them, and it’s going to be a bad deal — and I get all that. 14 But my message is that we have to test the proposition, and if, in fact, a deal is struck, then it’s going to be a deal that everyone around the world is going to be able to look at. And everybody’s going to be able to determine, does this in fact prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon? And if the answer is yes, then it’s a good deal. If the answer is no, then it’s not a deal that I’m interested in striking. There may be some technical arguments, in part because there are some who will only be satisfied with the Iranian regime being replaced. They don’t even like the idea of Iran having any nuclear technology or nuclear know-how.

14 Obama is referring to a bill introduced into the Senate by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would impose new sanctions on Iran, violating the US side of the agreement and likely killing the negotiations.
Matthew Yglesias
In your first campaign, there was talk of the idea that you might hold direct negotiations with countries like that.

Barack Obama
Well, we have had direct negotiations. That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re now testing the proposition, and the question then, Matt, is whether or not Iran can say yes to the world community that has determined this is a fair approach that gives Iran the ability to re-enter the international community and verify that it’s not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

But this is another example of the overall point that I was making at the start. So it’s a good way to summarize: we can’t guarantee that the forces inside of Iran take what should be seen as a good deal for Iran. We can’t guarantee that they make a rational decision any more than we can guarantee Russia and Mr. Putin make rational decisions about something like Ukraine. We’ve got to guard against their efforts militarily. Any aggression they may show we’ve got to meet firmly and forcefully. But we’ve also got to see whether things like diplomacy, things like economic sanctions, things like international pressure and international norms, will in fact make a difference.

Our successes will happen in fits and starts, and sometimes there’s going to be a breakthrough and sometimes you’ll just modestly make things a little better. And sometimes the play you run doesn’t work and you’ve got to have a plan B and a plan C. But the overall trajectory, the overall goal, is a world in which America continues to lead, that we’re pushing in the direction of more security, more international norms and rules, more human rights, more free speech, less religious intolerance. And those efforts over time add up, and I’m confident that there’s a way for us to maintain our idealism, be hardheaded in assessing what’s out there, confronting the dangers that we face without exaggerating them. America, I’m pretty certain, is going to be the indispensable nation for the remainder of this century just like it was the last one. All right. Thanks so much.

Voir aussi:

Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast

Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
February 05, 2015

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, good morning.  Giving all praise and honor to God.  It is wonderful to be back with you here.  I want to thank our co-chairs, Bob and Roger.  These two don’t always agree in the Senate, but in coming together and uniting us all in prayer, they embody the spirit of our gathering today.

I also want to thank everybody who helped organize this breakfast.  It’s wonderful to see so many friends and faith leaders and dignitaries.  And Michelle and I are truly honored to be joining you here today.

I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama — who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings.  (Applause.)  I’ve been pleased to welcome him to the White House on many occasions, and we’re grateful that he’s able to join us here today.  (Applause.)

There aren’t that many occasions that bring His Holiness under the same roof as NASCAR.  (Laughter.)  This may be the first.  (Laughter.)  But God works in mysterious ways.  (Laughter.)   And so I want to thank Darrell for that wonderful presentation.  Darrell knows that when you’re going 200 miles an hour, a little prayer cannot hurt.  (Laughter.)  I suspect that more than once, Darrell has had the same thought as many of us have in our own lives — Jesus, take the wheel.  (Laughter.) Although I hope that you kept your hands on the wheel when you were thinking that.  (Laughter.)

He and I obviously share something in having married up.  And we are so grateful to Stevie for the incredible work that they’ve done together to build a ministry where the fastest drivers can slow down a little bit, and spend some time in prayer and reflection and thanks.  And we certainly want to wish Darrell a happy birthday.  (Applause.)  Happy birthday.

I will note, though, Darrell, when you were reading that list of things folks were saying about you, I was thinking, well, you’re a piker.  I mean, that — (laughter.)  I mean, if you really want a list, come talk to me.  (Laughter.)  Because that ain’t nothing.  (Laughter.)  That’s the best they can do in NASCAR?  (Laughter.)

Slowing down and pausing for fellowship and prayer — that’s what this breakfast is about.  I think it’s fair to say Washington moves a lot slower than NASCAR.  Certainly my agenda does sometimes.  (Laughter.)  But still, it’s easier to get caught up in the rush of our lives, and in the political back-and-forth that can take over this city.  We get sidetracked with distractions, large and small.  We can’t go 10 minutes without checking our smartphones — and for my staff, that’s every 10 seconds.  And so for 63 years, this prayer tradition has brought us together, giving us the opportunity to come together in humility before the Almighty and to be reminded of what it is that we share as children of God.

And certainly for me, this is always a chance to reflect on my own faith journey.  Many times as President, I’ve been reminded of a line of prayer that Eleanor Roosevelt was fond of. She said, “Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength.”  Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength.  I’ve wondered at times if maybe God was answering that prayer a little too literally.  But no matter the challenge, He has been there for all of us.  He’s certainly strengthened me “with the power through his Spirit,” as I’ve sought His guidance not just in my own life but in the life of our nation.

Now, over the last few months, we’ve seen a number of challenges — certainly over the last six years.  But part of what I want to touch on today is the degree to which we’ve seen professions of faith used both as an instrument of great good, but also twisted and misused in the name of evil.

As we speak, around the world, we see faith inspiring people to lift up one another — to feed the hungry and care for the poor, and comfort the afflicted and make peace where there is strife.  We heard the good work that Sister has done in Philadelphia, and the incredible work that Dr. Brantly and his colleagues have done.  We see faith driving us to do right.

But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.  From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.  We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism  — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.

So this is not unique to one group or one religion.  There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.  In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.  And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

And, first, we should start with some basic humility.  I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments.  And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him, and have some humility in that process.  And that means we have to speak up against those who would misuse His name to justify oppression, or violence, or hatred with that fierce certainty.  No God condones terror.  No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.

And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends.  And here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.

There’s wisdom in our founders writing in those documents that help found this nation the notion of freedom of religion, because they understood the need for humility.  They also understood the need to uphold freedom of speech, that there was a connection between freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  For to infringe on one right under the pretext of protecting another is a betrayal of both.

But part of humility is also recognizing in modern, complicated, diverse societies, the functioning of these rights, the concern for the protection of these rights calls for each of us to exercise civility and restraint and judgment.  And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults — (applause) — and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks.  Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech.  Because we know that our nations are stronger when people of all faiths feel that they are welcome, that they, too, are full and equal members of our countries.

So humility I think is needed.  And the second thing we need is to uphold the distinction between our faith and our governments.  Between church and between state.  The United States is one of the most religious countries in the world — far more religious than most Western developed countries.  And one of the reasons is that our founders wisely embraced the separation of church and state.  Our government does not sponsor a religion, nor does it pressure anyone to practice a particular faith, or any faith at all.  And the result is a culture where people of all backgrounds and beliefs can freely and proudly worship, without fear, or coercion — so that when you listen to Darrell talk about his faith journey you know it’s real.  You know he’s not saying it because it helps him advance, or because somebody told him to.  It’s from the heart.

That’s not the case in theocracies that restrict people’s choice of faith.  It’s not the case in authoritarian governments that elevate an individual leader or a political party above the people, or in some cases, above the concept of God Himself.  So the freedom of religion is a value we will continue to protect here at home and stand up for around the world, and is one that we guard vigilantly here in the United States.

Last year, we joined together to pray for the release of Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, held in North Korea for two years.  And today, we give thanks that Kenneth is finally back where he belongs — home, with his family.  (Applause.)

Last year, we prayed together for Pastor Saeed Abedini, detained in Iran since 2012.  And I was recently in Boise, Idaho, and had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Abedini’s beautiful wife and wonderful children and to convey to them that our country has not forgotten brother Saeed and that we’re doing everything we can to bring him home.  (Applause.)  And then, I received an extraordinary letter from Pastor Abedini.  And in it, he describes his captivity, and expressed his gratitude for my visit with his family, and thanked us all for standing in solidarity with him during his captivity.

And Pastor Abedini wrote, “Nothing is more valuable to the Body of Christ than to see how the Lord is in control, and moves ahead of countries and leadership through united prayer.”  And he closed his letter by describing himself as “prisoner for Christ, who is proud to be part of this great nation of the United States of America that cares for religious freedom around the world.”  (Applause.)

We’re going to keep up this work — for Pastor Abedini and all those around the world who are unjustly held or persecuted because of their faith.   And we’re grateful to our new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein — who has hit the ground running, and is heading to Iraq in a few days to help religious communities there address some of those challenges.  Where’s David?  I know he’s here somewhere.  Thank you, David, for the great work you’re doing.  (Applause.)

Humility; a suspicion of government getting between us and our faiths, or trying to dictate our faiths, or elevate one faith over another.  And, finally, let’s remember that if there is one law that we can all be most certain of that seems to bind people of all faiths, and people who are still finding their way towards faith but have a sense of ethics and morality in them — that one law, that Golden Rule that we should treat one another as we wish to be treated.  The Torah says “Love thy neighbor as yourself.”  In Islam, there is a Hadith that states: « None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”  The Holy Bible tells us to “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”  Put on love.

Whatever our beliefs, whatever our traditions, we must seek to be instruments of peace, and bringing light where there is darkness, and sowing love where there is hatred.  And this is the loving message of His Holiness, Pope Francis.  And like so many people around the world, I’ve been touched by his call to relieve suffering, and to show justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable; to walk with The Lord and ask “Who am I to judge?”  He challenges us to press on in what he calls our “march of living hope.”  And like millions of Americans, I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States later this year.  (Applause.)

His Holiness expresses that basic law:  Treat thy neighbor as yourself.  The Dalai Lama — anybody who’s had an opportunity to be with him senses that same spirit.  Kent Brantly expresses that same spirit.  Kent was with Samaritan’s Purse, treating Ebola patients in Liberia, when he contracted the virus himself. And with world-class medical care and a deep reliance on faith — with God’s help, Kent survived.  (Applause.)

And then by donating his plasma, he helped others survive as well.  And he continues to advocate for a global response in West Africa, reminding us that “our efforts needs to be on loving the people there.”  And I could not have been prouder to welcome Kent and his wonderful wife Amber to the Oval Office.  We are blessed to have him here today — because he reminds us of what it means to really “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Not just words, but deeds.

Each of us has a role in fulfilling our common, greater purpose — not merely to seek high position, but to plumb greater depths so that we may find the strength to love more fully.  And this is perhaps our greatest challenge — to see our own reflection in each other; to be our brother’s keepers and sister’s keepers, and to keep faith with one another.  As children of God, let’s make that our work, together.

As children of God, let’s work to end injustice — injustice of poverty and hunger.  No one should ever suffer from such want amidst such plenty.  As children of God, let’s work to eliminate the scourge of homelessness, because, as Sister Mary says, “None of us are home until all of us are home.”  None of us are home until all of us are home.

As children of God, let’s stand up for the dignity and value of every woman, and man, and child, because we are all equal in His eyes, and work to send the scourge and the sin of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and “set the oppressed free.”  (Applause.)

If we are properly humble, if we drop to our knees on occasion, we will acknowledge that we never fully know God’s purpose.  We can never fully fathom His amazing grace.  “We see through a glass, darkly” — grappling with the expanse of His awesome love.  But even with our limits, we can heed that which is required:  To do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

I pray that we will.  And as we journey together on this “march of living hope,” I pray that, in His name, we will run and not be weary, and walk and not be faint, and we’ll heed those words and “put on love.”

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He bless this precious country that we love.

Thank you all very much.  (Applause.)


Star-spangled banner/200e: Des mots que personne ne peut se rappeler sur un air que personne ne peut chanter (A country made audible: From statement of national pride to vehicle for political protest, Francis Scott Key’s former drinking song celebrates its 200th birthday)

30 janvier, 2015

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And now they never meet in grove or green, by fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen. but they do square, that all their elves for fear creep into acorn cups and hide them there. Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, II, 2)
What stars do spangle heaven with such beauty as those two eyes become that heavenly face? Shakespeare (The taming of the shrew, IV, 5)
Je vous apporte, Messieurs, une cocarde qui fera le tour du monde et une institution civique et militaire qui doit triompher des vieilles tactiques de l’Europe et qui réduira les gouvernements arbitraires à l’alternative d’être battus s’ils ne l’imitent pas et renversés s’ils osent l’imiter. Lafayette
Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons … Marseillaise
 Leur sang a purifié la terre qu’ils ont foulée … Et ce sera notre devise : « En Dieu est notre foi »… Star-Spangled Banner
O say, does that blood-striped banner still wave o’er the land of the fetter, and hut of the slave? Parodie abolitionniste
Oh say, do you hear, at the dawn’s early light, the shrieks of those Bondmen, whose blood is now streaming, from the merciless lash, while our banner in sight, with its stars mocking Freedom, is fitfully gleaming! Autre parodie abolitonniste
Oh! Who has not seen, by the dawn’s early light some poor bloated drunkard to his home weakly reeling with blear eyes and red nose most revolting to sight yet still in his breast not a throb of shame feeling? Parodie prohibitionniste
This was not during the pledge of allegiance. A woman was singing the Star Spangled Banner when that picture was taken. I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner, you sing! (…) I have been pledging allegiance since I was a kid. (…) Just tell whoever sent it, they’re misinformed. Barack Hussein Obama
The truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism. Obama (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
I think in the end it does have to be a broad us. It has to be democracy with a small ‘d.’ Obama (1995)
After a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need. Not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time. My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. Obama (Independence, Iowa)
Whoever plays, sings or renders the “Star Spangled Banner” in any public place, theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or café, or at any public entertainment, other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies, or whoever plays, sings or renders the “Star Spangled Banner”, or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. Massachussets law (Section 9)
I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the anthem in English. George W. Bush
Would the French accept people singing the La Marseillaise in English as a sign of French patriotism? Of course not. Mark Krikorian(Center for Immigration Studies)
Obama est le premier président américain élevé sans attaches culturelles, affectives ou intellectuelles avec la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Europe. Les Anglais et les Européens ont été tellement enchantés par le premier président américain noir qu’ils n’ont pu voir ce qu’il est vraiment: le premier président américain du Tiers-Monde. The Daily Mail
Culturellement, Obama déteste la Grande-Bretagne. Il a renvoyé le buste de Churchill sans la moindre feuille de vigne d’une excuse. Il a insulté la Reine et le Premier ministre en leur offrant les plus insignifiants des cadeaux. A un moment, il a même refusé de rencontrer le Premier ministre. Dr James Lucier (ancien directeur du comité des Affaire étrangères du sénat américain)
“The Anacreontic Song” was actually sung at the start of the Anacreontic Society’s meetings — a gentlemen’s club at the time. Though it was first performed at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in London, Clague claims that “It was a very fashionable restaurant. It had a ballroom that held 200 people which you could hold a two-hour symphony concert in — which was how you started a meeting of the Anacreontic Society. Modeling “The Star-Spangled Banner” after “The Anacreontic Song” would have been “hip and current,” at the time, according to Clague. ABC news
What is fascinating is just to revisit the use of text and words — how much information about social issues is being communicated in the text that wandered with the same melody but through different mutations and given different contexts. (…) I actually very much like our crazy tradition of the last 25 or 30 years of various genius contemporary pop musicians taking this tune and this moment, and turning it into something uniquely theirs at different events. I’m actually very amused and sometimes deeply moved. Thomas Hampson
It’s really sort of an amazing story of how the song has grown up alongside the country: You can really trace the history of the United States in the echoes of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner. (…) The song is a verb, and citizenship is a verb, and that these are part of a process of identity negotiation. (…) When people sing it, and when they put their whole heart and passion behind the song, they give voice to their own citizenship in a way that speaks of their vision of the country. (…) When you see the song [Jimi Hendrix’s famously unorthodox 1969 Woodstock rendition] as something that’s in the process of always becoming, you realize that it is our country — made audible. Mark  Clague
There was nothing obligatory about the early history of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Behind Key’s words lay a melody — the so-called Anacreontic Song — endlessly adaptable to the causes of its day, from the French Revolution to abolition to temperance and women’s rights. Only in the last century has the anthem’s tune become inextricably connected to Key’s lyrics, and the lyrics to the sturdy patriotism of baseball and flag raising. The early struggle over the tune’s meaning will be captured in Mr. Hampson’s recital. “We will really tell the story of this song becoming so emblematic and, then eventually, officially, our national anthem, through its own story — its own broadsides, its own lyrics,” he said. (…) Star Spangled Music mainly focuses on K-12 educational projects teaching the history of the anthem. But it also tries to correct popular misconceptions — like the widespread assumption that the tune originated as a drinking song. “To Anacreon in Heaven,” as the melody was first known, had its debut around 1776 at a meeting of the Anacreontic Society, an amateur gentlemen’s music club in London. The song served as an after-dinner transition between a professional orchestral concert and participatory group singing. The society’s president wrote the original lyrics, an ode to the jovial Greek poet Anacreon. A trained tenor would perform the tune as a virtuoso set piece, with the conclusion of each refrain repeated heartily by the society’s member. (…) Its alcoholic repute was in part due to moralistic protests against the tune during the Prohibition era, when Congress was deciding whether to make it the official national anthem. Battling over the meaning of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an essential — if overlooked — part of the song’s tradition. The Anacreontic Song was well known in the early American republic — most famously as “Adams and Liberty,” an impassioned defense of the second president. In 1793, an American Francophile published a new text for the song supporting the French Revolution; another writer countered with a version that suggested hanging the French ambassador. Key was familiar with the tune before he wrote the “Star-Spangled” verses, having already refashioned it as a paean to American naval heroics in 1805. Nine years later, stuck on a ship after negotiating the release of a prisoner, Key watched the British overnight siege of Baltimore during the War of 1812. When he saw the American flag still waving at dawn — an improbable victory — Key penned the stirring “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” with a rhyme scheme matched to the Anacreontic Song. (…) Perhaps more intriguing than the song’s origin, though, is its multifaceted and contentious American development. (…) Not until 1931 was it officially declared the national anthem. In the 19th century, the tune was regularly refashioned with lyrics to be, alternately, a rallying cry for abolitionists (“Oh, say do you hear, at the dawn’s early light, The shrieks of those bondmen, whose blood is now streaming”) or a temperance-movement indictment of alcohol (“Oh! who has not seen by the dawn’s early light, Some poor bloated drunkard to his home weakly reeling”). (…) Despite its initial wave of popularity, for several decades “The Star-Spangled Banner” ranked third behind “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” as the default musical expression of national fervor. In the early days of the Civil War, the North and South both claimed the anthem — Key was, after all, a Maryland slave owner. Only during Reconstruction did it emerge as the predominant American hymn, entrenched by its association with flag-raising ceremonies practiced during the war. Complaints about the tune have remained mostly the same since that era — it’s foreign, it’s hard to sing, the words are not easy to remember. But even if the highest notes on “land of the free” are difficult to reach, the anthem’s hot-blooded history elevates it to the level of American iconography — a reminder that partisanship is crucial to democracy. The New York Times
Democracy is difficult and demanding. So is history. It can crack your voice; it can stir your soul; it can break your heart. The poem that Key wrote two hundred years ago, in a very different United States, ends with a question: Does the star-spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave? The band plays; the band stops. But the song of democracy asks, of everyone who sings it, whether the brightest of our ideals have abided, through each dark and fierce night, into the faint and tender gleaming of dawn. Jill Lepore
The Star-Spangled Banner a un tel poids symbolique que la moindre déviation dans son interprétation se voit attribuer une signification particulière. Le 4 juillet 1941, sur toile de fond de Deuxième Guerre mondiale, le compositeur Igor Stravinsky a interprété pour la première fois un arrangement orchestral qui incorporait quelques harmonies inhabituelles. Cette interprétation a donné lieu à une altercation entre le musicien et la police de Boston, qui subodorait une infraction à la loi de l’État interdisant toute « altération » de l’hymne national. En 1968, pendant le championnat de baseball de la Major League, le chanteur portoricain José Feliciano a interprété The Star-Spangled Banner dans le style des chansons folkloriques contemporaines, en s’accompagnant à la guitare acoustique, et a déclenché une polémique. «Il y avait des gens qui voulaient me déporter, dira-t-il plus tard, comme si on pouvait être déporté à Porto-Rico. » (Porto-Rico est un territoire des États-Unis.) (…) Le style lent, spectral, aux accents de gospel qui était celui de Marvin Gaye quand il a interprété l’hymne national avant le début du match All-Star de la National Basketball Association en 1983, boîte à rythme à l’appui, a conféré à ce chant un caractère moderne surprenant. (…) Chanter The Star-Spangled Banner est la plupart du temps l’expression d’un sentiment de fierté nationale, mais à l’occasion c’est aussi une forme de protestation politique. En 2006, un enregistrement en espagnol (“Nuestro Himno”) se voulait une désapprobation de la politique d’immigration des États-Unis. L’interprétation de Jimi Hendrix au festival de musique de Woodstock en 1969 est devenue légendaire : son imitation de bombardements servant à dénoncer la guerre du Vietnam est l’adaptation radicale la plus connue de l’hymne national. (…) Au Super Bowl de 1991, quand Whitney Houston a chanté l’hymne national en ajoutant des fioritures au passage qui évoque sur des notes très élevées « la terre des gens libres » (“land of the free”), l’Amérique était en pleine guerre du Golfe, et elle a dédié son interprétation aux forces armées du pays. Douglas Wolk

Attention: un hymne national peut en cacher un autre !

Chant de guerre témoignage d’une bataille largement inattendue contre les Anglais, mélodie de chanson à boire britannique, auteur esclavagiste, hymne national aux multiples parodies et officiel depuis guère plus de 80 ans, paroles immémorisables et air inchantable, références aujourd’hui embarrassantes (et d’ailleurs plus chantées) tant au sang purificateur de l’ennemi (qui reste loin néanmoins du « sang impur » français) qu’au « Dieu en qui est notre foi »  …

Au lendemain du bicentenaire (que nous avions nous-même oublié) d’un hymne national aussi difficile à mémoriser qu’à chanter …

D’un pays qui s’en passera pendant un siècle et demi …

Et aujourd’hui dirigé par le premier président américain du Tiers-monde

Comment ne pas s’émerveiller, avec le site de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis …

De ce mélange si américain …

D’individualisme et d’unité comme de fierté nationale et de protestation politique …

Que ces interprétations particulières …

Qui de matches de baseball ou finales de basketball ou Superbowls …

Et entre la septième de dominante jugée sacrilège d’un Stravinsky et le patriotisme stratosphérique d’une Whitney Houston …

Les douceurs acoustiques d’un Jose Feliciano ou chaloupées d’un Marvin Gaye …

La dissidence explosive d’un Jimi Hendrix ou l’insurrection quasi-sécessioniste (« en español », s’il vous plait) d’une Olga Tanon

Sans compter la réécriture noire d’une René Marie ou le playback caché d’une Beyoncé

Apportent et « rendent audible », chacune à leur tour et avec leur touche chaque fois unique, au patrimoine (pour encore combien de temps) commun

De la Terre de la Liberté et du Pays des braves ?

Voir aussi:

L’hymne national américain: un défi vocal
Douglas Wolk

Ambasssade américaine

03 juillet 2014

Tradition oblige : on joue The Star-Spangled Banner (La bannière étoilée) au début de tous les matchs de baseball et de bien d’autres manifestations publiques. Il ne faut pas croire pour autant qu’il est facile à chanter, bien au contraire. Mais les interprètes qui ont les qualités vocales requises nous livrent au fil des ans des productions mémorables et uniques du symbole musical le plus marquant des États-Unis.

Quand il a été proclamé l’hymne national en 1931, le New York Herald Tribune l’a décrit en ces termes célèbres: « des mots que personne ne peut se rappeler sur un air que personne ne peut chanter ». La mélodie est une adaptation d’une chanson à boire britannique du XVIIIe siècle, et les paroles étaient au départ un poème rédigé il y a deux cents ans par Francis Scott Key (qui décrivait une bataille de la guerre de 1812). Il est terriblement difficile à chanter correctement parce qu’une octave et demie sépare les notes les plus basses des notes les plus élevées.

D’après un sondage réalisé en 2004, 39 % seulement des Américains sont capables de chanter correctement le troisième vers.

Franklin Bruno, parolier et auteur d’une histoire de la composition de chansons, The Inside of the Tune (à paraître), fait remarquer que l’hymne présageait l’avenir musical du pays à travers la manière dont le rythme et la rime interne du troisième distique (“And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air …”) changent la tonalité du morceau en atténuant la qualité martiale des autres vers.

« Il est logique que notre hymne national ne suive pas exactement la forme de la ballade anglaise », estime Franklin Bruno.

The Star-Spangled Banner a un tel poids symbolique que la moindre déviation dans son interprétation se voit attribuer une signification particulière. Le 4 juillet 1941, sur toile de fond de Deuxième Guerre mondiale, le compositeur Igor Stravinsky a interprété pour la première fois un arrangement orchestral qui incorporait quelques harmonies inhabituelles. Cette interprétation a donné lieu à une altercation entre le musicien et la police de Boston, qui subodorait une infraction à la loi de l’État interdisant toute « altération » de l’hymne national.

En 1968, pendant le championnat de baseball de la Major League, le chanteur portoricain José Feliciano a interprété The Star-Spangled Banner dans le style des chansons folkloriques contemporaines, en s’accompagnant à la guitare acoustique, et a déclenché une polémique. «Il y avait des gens qui voulaient me déporter, dira-t-il plus tard, comme si on pouvait être déporté à Porto-Rico. » (Porto-Rico est un territoire des États-Unis.) Mais il a enregistré un single qui a connu un certain succès et, quand il a repris cette version à un match de championnat de baseball en 2012, le public a généralement vu dans son interprétation « un hymne de gratitude à un pays qui m’avait donné une chance ».

Le style lent, spectral, aux accents de gospel qui était celui de Marvin Gaye quand il a interprété l’hymne national avant le début du match All-Star de la National Basketball Association en 1983, boîte à rythme à l’appui, a conféré à ce chant un caractère moderne surprenant. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, la grande vedette de basket de l’équipe des Los Angeles Lakers, avait dit à l’époque que l’interprétation de Marvin Gaye l’avait empli de « fierté d’être Américain . . . on en aurait pleuré, tellement c’était bouleversant ».

Chanter The Star-Spangled Banner est la plupart du temps l’expression d’un sentiment de fierté nationale, mais à l’occasion c’est aussi une forme de protestation politique. En 2006, un enregistrement en espagnol (“Nuestro Himno”) se voulait une désapprobation de la politique d’immigration des États-Unis.

L’interprétation de Jimi Hendrix au festival de musique de Woodstock en 1969 est devenue légendaire : son imitation de bombardements servant à dénoncer la guerre du Vietnam est l’adaptation radicale la plus connue de l’hymne national. « Il n’y a rien de non orthodoxe », a-t-il déclaré à Dick Cavett en septembre 1969 qui l’interviewait dans une émission de télévision. « Je trouvais que c’était beau.»

Au Super Bowl de 1991, quand Whitney Houston a chanté l’hymne national en ajoutant des fioritures au passage qui évoque sur des notes très élevées « la terre des gens libres » (“land of the free”), l’Amérique était en pleine guerre du Golfe, et elle a dédié son interprétation aux forces armées du pays. Quelques semaines plus tard, sorti en single, c’était un tube. Son succès a été plus fulgurant encore quand il est sorti sur disque une deuxième fois dix ans plus tard, les recettes étant destinées aux pompiers et policiers de New York après les attentats du 11 Septembre. Les récentes interprétations de Beyoncé Knowles (notamment à l’investiture du président Obama en 2013) sont plus ou moins calquées sur le modèle de Whitney Houston, y compris l’enjolivement sur la note la plus élevée.

Après tout, ce n’est pas si mal que l’hymne soit difficile à chanter : les Américains jouissent de libertés qui ont été acquises à la dure. Au fil du temps, The Star-Spangled Banner est devenu un chant qui encourage l’expression de l’individualisme et de l’unité. Il y a quelque chose de logique là-dedans, aussi.

Voir aussi:

Oh, Say Can You Sing?
Douglas Wolk
US embassy
13 May 2014

Although “The Star-Spangled Banner” is performed before every baseball game and at many other public events, it’s notoriously hard to sing. But in its history, the song has allowed the performers who can sing it to create memorable and unique interpretations of the United States’ most prominent musical symbol.

When “The Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem in 1931, the New York Herald Tribune famously described it as “words that nobody can remember to a tune nobody can sing.” Its melody is adapted from an 18th-century drinking song, and its lyrics from a poem that Francis Scott Key wrote 200 years ago (describing a battle in the War of 1812). And it’s fiendishly hard to hit all the notes — the highest is an octave and a half above the lowest.

A 2004 poll found that only 39 percent of Americans could correctly complete the song’s third line.

Franklin Bruno, songwriter and author of a forthcoming history of songwriting, The Inside of the Tune, points out that the anthem anticipated the country’s musical future in the way the rhythm and rhyme scheme of each verse’s third couplet (“And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air …”) change the song’s tone by softening the martial quality of the other lines.

“It’s fitting that our national anthem wouldn’t be in quite the strict English ballad form,” Bruno said.

The national anthem’s symbolic weight also means that when it is performed in anything but a straightforward way, listeners ascribe meaning to the deviation. On July 4, 1941, against the backdrop of World War II, composer Igor Stravinsky premiered an orchestral arrangement of the anthem that incorporated a few unusual harmonies. That performance led to a brief skirmish between Stravinsky and Boston police, who thought he’d violated a state law against “tampering” with the national anthem.

During the 1968 Major League Baseball World Series, Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the style of a contemporary folk-pop song, accompanied by acoustic guitar. It caused a flurry of controversy: “Some people wanted me deported,” he later said, “as if you can be deported to Puerto Rico.” (Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.) But Feliciano’s version became a minor hit single, and he said that by the time he reprised his version at a 2012 championship baseball game, it was generally understood by the audience as “an anthem of gratitude to a country that had given me a chance.”

Marvin Gaye’s slow, spectral, gospel-tinged rendition performed at the 1983 National Basketball Association All-Star game, accompanied by a drum machine, made the song sound shockingly modern. Former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin “Magic” Johnson said Gaye’s performance gave him a feeling of “pride at being an American … you almost cried, it was so devastating.”

While singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is most often a statement of national pride, it can also be a vehicle for political protest. A 2006 Spanish-language recording of the song (as “Nuestro Himno”) criticized American immigration policy.

Jimi Hendrix famously performed his rendition of the anthem at the 1969 Woodstock music festival as a protest against the Vietnam War. Complete with “bombing” sound effects, it is the best-known radical reworking of the anthem. “It’s not unorthodox,” Hendrix told television interviewer Dick Cavett in September 1969 about his interpretation of the anthem. “I thought it was beautiful.”

At the time of the 1991 Super Bowl, when Whitney Houston sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” — with a flourish on the high note of “land of the free” that propelled it even higher — America was in the middle of the Gulf War, and she dedicated her performance to the country’s military. It became a hit when it was released as a single a few weeks later. It was even more successful when it was re-released a decade later, with proceeds to benefit New York firefighters and police after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Beyoncé Knowles’ recent performances of the anthem (at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration, among other venues) have loosely followed Houston’s template, including its extra-high note.

That the anthem is hard to sing may be apt; Americans enjoy freedoms that have not come easily. Over time, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has become a song that invites expressions of individuality and of unity. There’s something fitting about that, too.

Voir également:

Music
How the National Anthem Has Unfurled
‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Has Changed a Lot in 200 Years
William Robin

June 27, 2014

When the baritone Thomas Hampson sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Library of Congress in Washington on Thursday, it won’t sound quite like the familiar tune belted out at ball games and presidential inaugurations.

A sprightly lilt will replace the usual slow waltz. A jaunty pickup will substitute for the stately descent of “O say.” The last two lines of each verse will be echoed by a septet of singers.

In short, it is how the anthem might have sounded 200 years ago, when Francis Scott Key wrote new lyrics to an old British melody aboard a ship in Baltimore’s harbor.

“Key wouldn’t really recognize what we sing today,” said the musicologist Mark Clague in a joint Skype interview with Mr. Hampson. “It’s missing a phrase of music, it’s at the wrong tempo, it’s much slower, it’s sung by a massed group of people instead of an individual soloist,” he added. A professor at the University of Michigan, Dr. Clague would know: He heads Star Spangled Music, an initiative celebrating the anthem’s bicentennial. While the actual anniversary is Sept. 14, Mr. Hampson’s recital allows for a Fourth of July tie-in.

“I hope that we can be part of something this year that reinvigorates a real connection to where this song came from, other than the obligatory tune that one sings before somebody throws a pitch,” Mr. Hampson said.

There was nothing obligatory about the early history of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Behind Key’s words lay a melody — the so-called Anacreontic Song — endlessly adaptable to the causes of its day, from the French Revolution to abolition to temperance and women’s rights. Only in the last century has the anthem’s tune become inextricably connected to Key’s lyrics, and the lyrics to the sturdy patriotism of baseball and flag raising.

The early struggle over the tune’s meaning will be captured in Mr. Hampson’s recital. “We will really tell the story of this song becoming so emblematic and, then eventually, officially, our national anthem, through its own story — its own broadsides, its own lyrics,” he said.

For those unable to attend, that tale is audible on “Poets & Patriots,” a CD set that includes nearly 30 versions of the Anacreontic Song. There is also a forthcoming Star Spangled Songbook, with scores ready for performance. (New Yorkers can hear one of them, a Toscanini arrangement of the anthem, at the New York Philharmonic’s Star-Spangled Celebration concerts at Avery Fisher Hall next weekend.)

Star Spangled Music mainly focuses on K-12 educational projects teaching the history of the anthem. But it also tries to correct popular misconceptions — like the widespread assumption that the tune originated as a drinking song.

“To Anacreon in Heaven,” as the melody was first known, had its debut around 1776 at a meeting of the Anacreontic Society, an amateur gentlemen’s music club in London. The song served as an after-dinner transition between a professional orchestral concert and participatory group singing. The society’s president wrote the original lyrics, an ode to the jovial Greek poet Anacreon. A trained tenor would perform the tune as a virtuoso set piece, with the conclusion of each refrain repeated heartily by the society’s members

“It’s not a drinking song in the way its reputation would lead people to believe, in the sense of a pub ditty,” Dr. Clague said. “You had to have a harpsichord and four-part harmony, so it just doesn’t work very well in a pub.”

Its alcoholic repute was in part due to moralistic protests against the tune during the Prohibition era, when Congress was deciding whether to make it the official national anthem. Battling over the meaning of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an essential — if overlooked — part of the song’s tradition.

The Anacreontic Song was well known in the early American republic — most famously as “Adams and Liberty,” an impassioned defense of the second president. In 1793, an American Francophile published a new text for the song supporting the French Revolution; another writer countered with a version that suggested hanging the French ambassador.

Key was familiar with the tune before he wrote the “Star-Spangled” verses, having already refashioned it as a paean to American naval heroics in 1805. Nine years later, stuck on a ship after negotiating the release of a prisoner, Key watched the British overnight siege of Baltimore during the War of 1812. When he saw the American flag still waving at dawn — an improbable victory — Key penned the stirring “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” with a rhyme scheme matched to the Anacreontic Song.

Within a week, the lyrics were printed in Baltimore newspapers, with an indication that they be paired to the familiar British melody. Key supervised a full musical arrangement by the composer and publisher Thomas Carr — issued as “The Star-Spangled Banner” — which Mr. Hampson will sing on Thursday.

About a dozen copies of the Carr arrangement are known to exist. One is on display at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan through Sept. 7. Another is held by the Library of Congress, an institution entwined with the history of the anthem, which has an exhibition about the song running through July 7. “In many ways the story of the research into ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is the story of the music division of the Library of Congress,” Dr. Clague said.

In 1907, Oscar Sonneck — the music division’s first chief — began a full investigation of the anthem’s history. His scrupulous report raised as many questions about the song’s history as it answered: Sonneck urged his readers not to “accept a single statement of fact or argument unless the evidence submitted compels him to do so.”

Sonneck couldn’t conclusively identify the composer of the Anacreontic Song, then a musicological riddle. A later congressional librarian believed it was a military tune of obscure origins; others attributed it to Samuel Arnold, who had published a volume of Anacreontic melodies. Only in the 1970s did the librarian William Lichtenwanger — following the chance discovery of a diary entry hidden in a 10-volume manuscript — successfully attribute the tune to the composer John Stafford Smith, a hired hand who never actually joined the Anacreontic Society.

Perhaps more intriguing than the song’s origin, though, is its multifaceted and contentious American development. “It’s really sort of an amazing story of how the song has grown up alongside the country: You can really trace the history of the United States in the echoes of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ ” Dr. Clague said.

Not until 1931 was it officially declared the national anthem. In the 19th century, the tune was regularly refashioned with lyrics to be, alternately, a rallying cry for abolitionists (“Oh, say do you hear, at the dawn’s early light, The shrieks of those bondmen, whose blood is now streaming”) or a temperance-movement indictment of alcohol (“Oh! who has not seen by the dawn’s early light, Some poor bloated drunkard to his home weakly reeling”).

“What is fascinating is just to revisit the use of text and words — how much information about social issues is being communicated in the text that wandered with the same melody but through different mutations and given different contexts,” Mr. Hampson said. “Quite frankly, the issues fall under what we would call human rights.”

Despite its initial wave of popularity, for several decades “The Star-Spangled Banner” ranked third behind “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” as the default musical expression of national fervor. In the early days of the Civil War, the North and South both claimed the anthem — Key was, after all, a Maryland slave owner. Only during Reconstruction did it emerge as the predominant American hymn, entrenched by its association with flag-raising ceremonies practiced during the war.

Complaints about the tune have remained mostly the same since that era — it’s foreign, it’s hard to sing, the words are not easy to remember. But even if the highest notes on “land of the free” are difficult to reach, the anthem’s hot-blooded history elevates it to the level of American iconography — a reminder that partisanship is crucial to democracy. For Dr. Clague, it is a testament that “the song is a verb, and citizenship is a verb, and that these are part of a process of identity negotiation.”

“When people sing it, and when they put their whole heart and passion behind the song, they give voice to their own citizenship in a way that speaks of their vision of the country,” Dr. Clague said. If diva performances of the anthem by Beyoncé or Renée Fleming don’t quite embrace that ethos of national introspection, perhaps resurrecting the tune’s original multiplicity of meanings might.

Dr. Clague and Mr. Hampson, however, don’t want to overturn today’s patriotic conventions. “I actually very much like our crazy tradition of the last 25 or 30 years of various genius contemporary pop musicians taking this tune and this moment, and turning it into something uniquely theirs at different events,” Mr. Hampson said. “I’m actually very amused and sometimes deeply moved.”

And among other research interests, Dr. Clague has long been fascinated by Jimi Hendrix’s famously unorthodox 1969 Woodstock rendition. “When you see the song as something that’s in the process of always becoming,” he said, “you realize that it is our country — made audible.”

Voir encore:

The Gleaming
Jill Lepore
The New Yorker
June 16, 2014

At the first game of the 1918 World Series, in Chicago, Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox, and a leftie called Hippo Vaughn pitched for the Cubs. An American flag flew from the right-field pole, snapping in the wind like a whip. During the seventh-inning stretch, the band played a song never before played at a major-league baseball game: “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In the stands, fans scrambled to their feet and doffed their caps and sang as best they could, quietly at first. The poem that Francis Scott Key wrote in 1814 can be very hard to sing.

Key, a lawyer, wrote what came to be called “The Star-Spangled Banner” outside Baltimore, at the end of the War of 1812, after seeing, by the dawn’s early light, that the American flag, with its broad stripes and bright stars, was still flying over the ramparts of Fort McHenry, despite having been bombarded all through the night by British cannon fire—their rockets’ red glare, their bombs bursting in air. Set to music and published, Key’s poem got popular. From the start, people made up their own words. Key was a slaveholder and, as a U.S. Attorney, opposed abolition in print and in court. Abolitionists sang a song of protest: “O say, does that blood-striped banner still wave / O’er the land of the fetter, and hut of the slave?” Key died in 1843. In 1857, his brother-in-law and former law partner, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, wrote the most infamous legal opinion in American history, in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford: he said that Americans descended from Africans “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution.” Frederick Douglass called Taney’s decision monstrous. Abraham Lincoln said that the nation could not endure half slave and half free. In the civil war that followed, more than seven hundred thousand Americans died.

In 1917, the United States entered the First World War, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” became the official anthem of the Army and Navy. Many Americans opposed the war. Congress passed laws meant to silence that opposition; dissenters were jailed. At the 1918 World Series, when the band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the seventh-inning stretch, Fred Thomas, the Red Sox third baseman—a Navy sailor on furlough—stood at military attention. The applause was like thunder. There was more thunder to come. During the eighth inning, warplanes flew over the field. Babe Ruth pitched a shutout; the Red Sox won. But it was the singing of the song that everyone remembered. In 1931, Congress made “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem. Before then, there hadn’t been one.

No nation has a single history, no people a single song. Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land,” a populist anthem about the poor and the needy, in 1940: “As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking / Is this land made for you and me?” In the nineteen-forties and nineteen-fifties, wars abroad were followed by struggles for justice at home. Civil-rights activists sang Guthrie’s song while they marched, walking that ribbon of highway, seeing that endless skyway.

Key’s song carried on. In the nineteen-sixties, what started as a song of war came to mean something more, something searching and grave. In 1969, at Woodstock, while Americans were fighting in Vietnam, Jimi Hendrix, who’d been honorably discharged from the 101st Airborne, played the national anthem on his guitar, angry and mournful and shattering. “I’m American, so I played it,” he said later. “I thought it was beautiful.” It became, in that moment, an anthem of dissent.

Democracy is difficult and demanding. So is history. It can crack your voice; it can stir your soul; it can break your heart. The poem that Key wrote two hundred years ago, in a very different United States, ends with a question: Does the star-spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave? The band plays; the band stops. But the song of democracy asks, of everyone who sings it, whether the brightest of our ideals have abided, through each dark and fierce night, into the faint and tender gleaming of dawn.

Voir aussi:

Spanish ‘Banner’ draws protest
USA Today
4/29/2006

MIAMI (AP) — British music producer Adam Kidron says he just wanted to honor the millions of immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S. when he came up with the idea of a Spanish-language version of the national anthem.
The initial version of Nuestro Himno, or Our Anthem comes out Friday and features artists such as Wyclef Jean, hip-hop star Pitbull and Puerto Rican singers Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon.

Some Internet bloggers and others are infuriated by the thought of The Star-Spangled Banner sung in a language other than English, and the version of the song has already been the target of a fierce backlash.

« Would the French accept people singing the La Marseillaise in English as a sign of French patriotism? Of course not, » said Mark Krikorian, head of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls.

Nuestro Himno uses lyrics based closely on the English-language original, said Kidron, who heads the record label Urban Box Office.

Pro-immigration protests are planned around the country for Monday, and the record label is urging Hispanic radio stations nationwide to play the cut at 7 p.m. ET Friday in a sign of solidarity.

A remix to be released in June will contain several lines in English that condemn U.S. immigration laws. Among them: « These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws … let’s not start a war with all these hard workers, they can’t help where they were born. »

Bryanna Bevens of Hanford, Calif., who writes for the immigration-focused Web magazine Vdare.com, said the remix particularly upset her.

« It’s very whiny. If you want to say all those things, by all means, put them on your poster board, but don’t put them on the national anthem, » she said.

Kidron, a U.S. resident for 16 years, maintains the changes are fitting. After all, he notes, American immigrants borrowed the melody of the Star Spangled Banner from an English drinking song.

« There’s no attempt to usurp anything. The intent is to communicate, » Kidron said. « I wanted to show my thanks to these people who buy my records and listen to the music we release and do the jobs I don’t want to do. »

Kidron said the song also will be featured on the album Somos Americanos, which will sell for $10, with $1 going to the National Capital Immigration Coalition, a Washington group.

James Gardner, an associate director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, said Americans have long enjoyed different interpretations of the Star Spangled Banner, including country or gospel arrangements.

« There are a number of renditions that people aren’t happy with, but that’s part of it — that it means enough for people to try to sing, » he said.

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Perez, said this country was built by immigrants, and « the meaning of the American dream is in that record: struggle, freedom, opportunity, everything they are trying to shut down on us. »

At least one prominent American said the national anthem should be performed in its original language.

When the president was asked whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: « I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, » President Bush said Friday at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session with reporters.

Immigrants aiming for citizenship should learn English, Bush said.

« One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul, » he said.

The president’s comments came amid a burgeoning national debate — and congressional fight — over legislation pending in Congress, and pushed by Bush, to overhaul U.S. immigration law. Large numbers of immigrant groups have planned an economic boycott next week to dramatize their call for legislation providing legal status for millions of people in the United States illegally.

« I am not a supporter of boycotts, » Bush said. « I am a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. … I think that most Americans agree that we’ve got to enforce our border. »

Voir également:

Spanish ‘Star Spangled Banner’ — Touting the American Dream or Offensive Rewrite?
Jim Avila
ABC
April 27, 2006

« The Star Spangled Banner » has provided the soundtrack to our national pastime since 1918, when the spirited tune debuted at a baseball game.

Now there is a new version with changes to the time-honored lyrics.

A group of Spanish music stars has presented its own take on the national anthem for Latino immigrants, in their native language, titled « Nuestro Himno » or « Our Anthem. »

The idea came from music executive Adam Kidron, who sympathized with the recent immigrant demonstrations but was troubled by the number of Mexican flags in the crowd.

He hopes the new Spanish-language version of the national anthem will demonstrate Latino patriotism and encourage more American flags at the demonstrations.

« It has the passion, it has the respect, it has all of the things that you really want an anthem to have and it carries the melody, » said Kidron.

Altered Lyrics Tone Down Battle
« The Star Spangled Banner » has endured some extreme versions — from Jimmy Hendrix’s explosive guitar rendition to one from soul signer Marvin Gaye — since Francis Scott Key first wrote the poem while watching the British bombard an American fort during the War of 1812.

The current version will likely spark debate, because it is not an exact translation. Some of the classic lyrics have been changed for rhyming reasons while other phrases were altered to soften war references. For example:

English version: And the rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Spanish version: In the fierce combat, the sign of victory, the flame of battle in step with liberty through the night it was said it was being defended.

The original author’s great-great grandson, Charles Key, finds the Spanish version unpatriotic and is adamant that it should be sung only in English.

« I think its a despicable thing that someone is going into our society from another country and … changing our national anthem, » Key said.

Those behind the new song say Key and others miss the point. The Spanish version is meant to show immigrant pride in a new country where they live and work.

It will be heard across the country at 7 p.m. ET tomorrow, debuting simultaneously on more than 700 Spanish language radio stations.

Voir encore:

An Anthem’s Discordant Notes
Spanish Version of ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Draws Strong Reactions
David Montgomery
The Washington Post
April 28, 2006

Oh say can you see — a la luz de la aurora?

The national anthem that once endured the radical transformation administered by Jimi Hendrix’s fuzzed and frantic Stratocaster now faces an artistic dare at least as extreme: translation into Spanish.

The new take is scheduled to hit the airwaves today. It’s called « Nuestro Himno » — « Our Anthem » — and it was recorded over the past week by Latin pop stars including Ivy Queen, Gloria Trevi, Carlos Ponce, Tito « El Bambino, » Olga Tañon and the group Aventura. Joining and singing in Spanish is Haitian American artist Wyclef Jean.

The different voices contribute lines the way 1985’s « We Are the World » was put together by an ensemble of stars. The national anthem’s familiar melody and structure are preserved, while the rhythms and instrumentation come straight out of Latin pop.

Can « The Star-Spangled Banner, » and the republic for which it stands, survive? Outrage over what’s being called « The Illegal Alien Anthem » is already building in the blogosphere and among conservative commentators.

Timed to debut the week Congress returned to debate immigration reform, with the country riven by the issue, « Nuestro Himno » is intended to be an anthem of solidarity for the movement that has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to march peacefully for immigrant rights in Washington and cities across the country, says Adam Kidron, president of Urban Box Office, the New York-based entertainment company that launched the project.

« It’s the one thing everybody has in common, the aspiration to have a relationship with the United States . . . and also to express gratitude and patriotism to the United States for providing the opportunity, » says Kidron.

The song was being prepared for e-mailing as MP3 packages to scores of Latino radio stations and other media last night, and Kidron was calling for stations to play the song simultaneously at 7 Eastern time this evening.

However, the same advance buzz that drew singers to scramble for inclusion in the recording sessions this week in New York, Miami, Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic has also spurred critics who say rendering the song in Spanish is a rejection of assimilation into the United States.

Even some movement supporters are puzzled by the use of Spanish.

« Even our Spanish media are saying, ‘Why are we doing this, what are you trying to do?’  » said Pedro Biaggi, the morning host with El Zol (99.1 FM), the most popular Hispanic radio station in the Washington area. « It’s not for us to be going around singing the national anthem in Spanish. . . . We don’t want to impose, we don’t own the place. . . . We want to be accepted. »

Still, Biaggi says he will play « Nuestro Himno » this morning if the song reaches the station in time. But he will talk about the language issue on the air and solicit listeners’ views. He says he accepts the producers’ explanation that the purpose is to spread the values of the anthem to a wider audience. He adds he will also play a version of « The Star-Spangled Banner » in English — as he aired the Whitney Houston version earlier this week, when the controversy was beginning to brew.

In the Spanish version, the translation of the first stanza is relatively faithful to the spirit of the original, though Kidron says the producers wanted to avoid references to bombs and rockets. Instead, there is « fierce combat. » The translation of the more obscure second stanza is almost a rewrite, with phrases such as « we are equal, we are brothers. »

An alternate version to be released next month includes a rap in English that never occurred to Francis Scott Key:

Let’s not start a war

With all these hard workers

They can’t help where they were born

« Nuestro Himno » is as fraught with controversial cultural messages as the psychedelic « Banner » Hendrix delivered at the height of the Vietnam War.

Pressed on what he was trying to say with his Woodstock performance in 1969, Hendrix replied (according to biographer Charles Cross), « We’re all Americans. . . . It was like ‘Go America!’ . . . We play it the way the air is in America today. »

Now the national anthem is being remade again according to the way the air is in America, and the people behind « Nuestro Himno » say the message once more is: We’re all Americans. It will be the lead track on an album about the immigrant experience called « Somos Americanos, » due for release May 16. One dollar from each sale will go to immigrant rights groups, including the National Capital Immigration Coalition, which organized the march on the Mall on April 10.

But critics including columnist Michelle Malkin, who coined « The Illegal Alien Anthem » nickname, say the rendition crosses a line that Hendrix never stepped over with his instrumental version. Transforming the musical idiom of « The Star-Spangled Banner » is one thing, argue the skeptics, but translating the words sends the opposite message: We are not Americans.

« I’m really appalled. . . . We are not a bilingual nation, » said George Taplin, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, part of a national countermovement that emphasizes border control and tougher enforcement, and objects to public funding for day-laborer sites. « When people are talking about becoming a part of this country, they should assimilate to the norm that’s already here, » Taplin said. « What we’re talking about here is a sovereign nation with our ideals and our national identity, and that [anthem] is one of the icons of our nation’s identity. I believe it should be in English as it was penned. »

Yet, even in English, 61 percent of adults don’t know all the words, a recent Harris poll found.

Appealing to such symbols of national identity to plug into their profound potency is how new movements compete for space within that identity. During the rally on the Mall, the immigrants and their supporters also waved thousands of American flags and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But they didn’t translate the pledge into Spanish. They said it in English.

Juan Carlos Ruiz, the general coordinator of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, said there’s not a contradiction. The pledge was printed phonetically for Spanish speakers, and many reciting the sounds may not have understood the meaning. Putting the anthem in Spanish is a way to relay the meaning to people who haven’t learned English yet, Ruiz said.

« It’s part of the process to learn English, » not a rejection of English, he said.

While critics sketch a nightmare scenario of a Canada-like land with an anthem sung in two languages, immigrant rights advocates say they agree learning English is essential. Studies of immigrant families suggest the process is inevitable: Eighty-two percent to 90 percent of the children of immigrants prefer English.

« The first step to understanding something is to understand it in the language you understand, and then you can understand it in another language, » said Leo Chavez, director of Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California at Irvine. « What this song represents at this moment is a communal shout, that the dream of America, which is represented by the song, is their dream, too. »

Since its origins as the melody to an English drinking song called « To Anacreon in Heaven, » circa 1780, « The Star-Spangled Banner » has had a long, strange trip. Key wrote the poem after watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. It became the national anthem in 1931.

At least 389 versions have been recorded, according to Allmusic.com, a quick reference used by musicologists to get a sense of what’s on the market. Now that Hendrix’s « Banner » has mellowed into classic rock, it’s hard to imagine that once some considered it disrespectful. The other recordings embrace a vast musical universe: from Duke Ellington to Dolly Parton to Tiny Tim. But musicologists cannot name another foreign-language version.

« America is a pluralistic society, but the anthem is a way that we can express our unity. If that’s done in a different language, that doesn’t seem to me personally to be a bad thing, » said Michael Blakeslee, deputy executive director of the National Association for Music Education, which is leading a National Anthem Project to highlight the song and the school bands that play it in every style, from mariachi to steel drum.

« I assume the intent is one of making a statement about ‘we are a part of this nation,’ and those are wonderful sentiments and a noble intent, » said Dan Sheehy, director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Benigno « Benny » Layton wonders. He’s the leader of Los Hermanos Layton, a band of conjunto- and Tejano-style musicians in Elsa, Tex., 22 miles from Mexico. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he recorded a traditional conjunto version of « The Star-Spangled Banner. » It was instrumental.

« I’m a second-generation American, » Layton said. « I love my country, and I love my [Mexican musical] heritage, and I try to keep it alive. But some things are sacred that you don’t do. And translating the national anthem is one of them. »

Staff writer Richard Harrington contributed to this report.

Voir également:

Poetic License Raises A Star-Spangled Debate
Lara Pellegrinelli
The New York Times

July 03, 2009

Patriotism can mean different things to different people.

On July 1, 2008, jazz singer Rene Marie, flanked by elected officials and civil servants, calmly approached the microphone before Denver’s State of the City address. She was there to perform a time-honored ritual: the singing of the national anthem.

But her arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner left residents divided. The melody was the same, but the words she chose were written by James Weldon Johnson in 1899. They belong to the song « Lift Every Voice and Sing, » also known as « The Black National Anthem. »

Marie is one of the rare artists today who invites comparison with Civil Rights-era singers Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln. Like them, her devotion to social issues has threatened her career, and raised questions about the role of the artist in society and what it means to be patriotic and African-American.

Indeed, it didn’t take long for state and local politicians to denounce Marie’s Denver performance. Some called it a disgrace.

With a little more than a month until the city hosted the Democratic National convention, then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama was even asked about the incident by the now defunct Rocky Mountain News.

« If she was asked to sing the national anthem, she should have sung that, » Obama said. « ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is a beautiful song, but we only have one national anthem. »

The Power Of Words

To be clear, Marie was specifically invited to sing the national anthem. But she did not sign a contract, and she’d been performing her arrangement for several months. She says the governor and officials from the mayor’s office even heard her sing it at an earlier event.

Marie rejects the idea that dishonesty was at the center of the uproar.

« I can see why they would say it, » Marie says. « But I think if I had sung ‘America the Beautiful’ or ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ instead of the national anthem, nobody would have had anything to say about there being any dishonesty. So it’s not about that. It’s about what I sang. »

Marc Lamont Hill, one of the few news commentators sympathetic to Marie’s actions, says Marie’s Denver performance embodies black patriotism.

« It’s celebrating black progress, black hope, black pride, » Hill says. « But it’s also keenly — fundamentally, even — preoccupied with the obstacles that lay in front of us. That’s reflected not just in that moment, but in the broader political moment, where people are celebrating Barack Obama as president. People are excited that the country has moved forward — but people [are] still keenly aware that there are many, many forms of inequality, unfreedom, suffering [and] marginalization that continue to proliferate in this nation. »

The Source Of Strength

Marie was born in Virginia, a child of the Civil Rights era. All of the schools she attended were segregated. Her mother and father, both teachers, helped integrate a local lunch counter when their daughter was around 8 years old.

« At the Frost Diner — on the bypass in Warrenton, Va., which is still there — there was a sign on the door that said ‘no dogs and no n——s,' » Marie remembers. « And they went in and they were refused service, but no violent incident came about as a result. But the incident that did happen was my father lost his job. He was blackballed and never rehired to teach in the county again. »

A Jehovah’s Witness, Marie began performing professionally only when she left the church — and her marriage — at the age of 42. She had a recording contract within months.

Her compositions take on homelessness, religion and racial injustice. Her arrangement of « The Star-Spangled Banner » with « Lift Every Voice and Sing » is part of a larger suite she calls Voice of My Beautiful Country, which she has made available as a free download.

Fan Mail

The sales of her recordings have been modest, but the response to her performance in Denver was startling: more than 1,600 e-mails. Many African-Americans were offended by her use of the national anthem; some objected to her adaptation of « Lift Every Voice and Sing. »

Other e-mails were laced with racial slurs. A handful were death threats.

« I’ve had so many e-mails, » Marie says, « some of the e-mails saying that ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is sacred. Oh, really. Maybe it’s sacred to you. That’s fine, that’s cool. But it’s not sacred to me. The guy, the dude who wrote it, he’s a slave owner. »

Francis Scott Key was a plantation owner, and the melody, which so many consider sacred, was borrowed from an English drinking tune. In addition to the e-mails, Marie got phone calls — which she answered.

« I learned a lot, » Marie says. « And I had some really good phone calls from complete strangers. A lot didn’t expect me to answer the phone. They kind of sputtered for the first few seconds. ‘Well, I just wanted to tell you what I thought about it.’ ‘OK, tell me, I’m listening.’

« That’s when I realized you don’t have to agree, but listening sure does go a long way toward peaceful relations — when people feel they are being heard. »

And that’s all Rene Marie is really asking for.

Voir de plus:

Bush Says Anthem Should Be in English
John Holusha
The New York Times
April 28, 2006

President Bush said today that he thought the national anthem should be sung in English, not the Spanish language version released by a recording company recently.

The song, recorded by a chorus of Latin pop stars, is being distributed to Spanish-language radio stations to be played Monday morning to coincide with immigrant rights demonstrations that are scheduled in many cities across the nation.

Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush made it clear that he considered the language difference as part of the immigration issue.

After saying he did not consider the anthem sung in Spanish to have the same value as the anthem sung in English, Mr. Bush said: « I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the anthem in English. »

Mr. Bush was responding to a question following the release today of the Spanish-language version of the song called « Nuestro Himno » or « Our Anthem. »

Adam Kidron, the British music producer who released the song, responded to Mr. Bush’s comments by saying that it was not intended « to discourage immigrants from learning English and embracing American culture, » according to The Associated Press. « We instead view `Nuestro Himno’ as a song that affords those immigrants that have not yet learned the English language the opportunity to fully understand the character of « The Star-Spangled Banner, » the American flag and the ideals of freedom that they represent. Mr. Bush also addressed one of the goals of Monday’s demonstrations: a show of force by immigrants who hope to demonstrate their economic power by staying home from work and boycotting stores.

« I am not a supporter of boycotts, » Mr. Bush said. « I am a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. »

Congress is currently wrangling over the question of how to deal with people who, though not legal residents of the country, provide vital labor in agriculture, construction and service industries.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would strengthen border security and make being in the country illegally a felony. The Senate has considered, but not yet adopted a milder approach, that would provide a path to citizenship for those who have been in the country the longest. Mr. Bush has said he prefers the Senate version.

Voir de même:

Investiture: Beyoncé a fait du playback
Le Figaro/AFP
31/01/2013

La chanteuse Beyoncé a affirmé aujourd’hui avoir chanté l’hymne national, lors de l’investiture du président Barack Obama, sur sa propre voix déjà enregistrée. Mais « je chanterai en direct dimanche », lors du spectacle à la mi-temps du Super Bowl dont elle est la vedette, a affirmé la chanteuse lors de la conférence de presse consacrée à la finale de la Ligue professionnelle de football américain (NFL) qui a lieu à la Nouvelle-Orléans (Louisiane, sud).

La chanteuse était soupçonnée d’avoir chanté le « Star Spangled Banner » en play-back devant les centaines de milliers de personnes présentes à Washington le 21 janvier pour l’investiture du président, après que le corps des Marines eut indiqué que son orchestre avait joué en play-back. « Je chante toujours en direct », a-t-elle affirmé, « mais je n’ai malheureusement pas pu répéter pour l’investiture avec l’orchestre (des Marines) parce que j’étais en train de répéter pour le Super Bowl ».

« Dans ces cas-là, on vous fait enregistrer une bande, au cas où il y ait un problème, j’ai donc chanté sur la bande enregistrée », a-t-elle dit. Pour montrer sa belle voix jeudi, Beyoncé a démarré son intervention lors de sa grande conférence de presse par un « Star Spangled Banner » chanté a cappella après avoir demandé à la presse de se lever.

Voir aussi:

Obama Says Flag Flap a Dirty Trick
Ed O’Keefe
ABC News
Nov 7, 2007

ABC News’ David Wright and Sunlen Miller Report: At a town hall meeting Wednesday an Iowa voter asked Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., about the numerous emails she has received with photos purporting to show Obama « refusing » to pledge allegiance to the flag.

« You’re standing with your arms folded and Hillary’s got her hand on her heart, » she said, adding that she received so many of these emails she is sick of them.

Obama shook his head and smiled.

« This was not during the pledge of allegiance, » Obama said of the picture taken at Senator Tom Harkin’s, D-Iowa, annual steak fry and first published by Time.  « A woman was singing the Star Spangled Banner when that picture was taken.

See the original photo by clicking here.

« I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner, you sing! » Obama said.

ABC News has video of the event in question which can be viewed by clicking here.

Obama called the circulation of such pictures a « dirty trick » and mentioned other emails accusing him of being « a Muslim plant. »

« I have been pledging allegiance since I was a kid, » Obama said.

Obama advised his supporters who receive such emails to ignore them.

« Just tell whoever sent it, » Obama told the crowd, « they’re misinformed. »

Voir de plus:

Obama’s Flag Pin Flip-Flop?
Jay Newton-Small/Washington
Time
May 14, 2008

In case you missed it, Barack Obama’s American flag lapel pin is back. How long it will stay on is anyone’s guess.

This week, after eschewing the patriotic symbol for quite some time, Obama started wearing the pin to selected events. On Tuesday, he was sans pin on the Senate floor, but then later donned it while speaking to working-class voters in Missouri during the evening. « I haven’t been making such a big deal about it. Others have. Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don’t, » Obama said. « We were talking with a group of veterans yesterday. Over the last several weeks people have been handing me flag pins. I thought it was appropriate. » Asked if he will continue to wear the pin, Obama said, « If it ends up being on another suit, I might leave it one day, but it’s something that I’ve done before and I’ll certainly wear it again. »

Obama may make it sound like just a random fashion choice, but there is a large swath of Americans who take symbols like the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, and, yes, the flag in its many iterations very seriously. And, as former Clinton adviser Doug Schoen pointed out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, these are people — mostly white working-class folk — whom Obama can ill afford to offend given his losses in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The pin saga started on October 3, 2007 when a local ABC reporter asked Obama why he didn’t wear one. Instead of the standard Beltway refrain, « My patriotism speaks for itself, » Obama launched into a long explanation of his decision-making process: « The truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, » Obama said in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. « I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism. »

It didn’t take long for opponents and Republicans to jump on the idea that Obama wasn’t as patriotic as he could be, prompting the Illinois Senator the next day to clarify his remarks. « After a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need. Not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time, » he told a crowd in Independence, Iowa. « My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. »

The furor died down and Obama went pin-less for the better part of six months until April 15, when a veteran in a town hall meeting outside of Pittsburgh handed him a pin and asked him to wear it, which Obama did for the rest of that day. The reemergence of the pin led to a much-ridiculed question on the issue at a much-ridiculed ABC debate later that week. « I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins, » Obama explained. « This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I’m commander-in-chief, which is going to be figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we actually make our economy better for the American people. »

Obama is not the only candidate to wear the pin intermittently. Rival Hillary Clinton is often without it. When asked she simply says, « There are many ways to show your patriotism. » The only G.O.P. candidate to wear the pin faithfully was Rudy Giuliani. Is it fair that Obama is singled out for pin scrutiny? Probably not. But it’s likely that Obama’s pin will keep sticking him until he brings some consistency to his lapels.

Voir par ailleurs:

Star Spangled Banner Myths Debunked
Scott Wilson
ABC news

Jul 4, 2014

Have you ever heard that the national anthem was originally written as a drinking song? Or that its writer came up with the lyrics as he was held prisoner aboard a British ship?

This year marks the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key in 1814.

To celebrate the occasion, the Library of Congress held a symposium examining the origins of the ballad, featuring one expert who attempted to debunk many misconceptions about the patriotic tune.

MYTH ONE: “Francis Scott Key was held prisoner aboard a British ship during the Battle of Baltimore.”

Key was actually aboard an American ship during the Battle of Baltimore. He was on a diplomatic mission to negotiate with the British before the battle.

“When the battle starts they move him back to his American ship, which is fully crewed for a diplomatic mission,” Mark Clague, associate professor of Music, American Culture, and African American Studies at the University of Michigan, recounted. “The idea we have that he was sort of locked in his cell, lonely, reaching into his pocket for a scrap of paper — you don’t show up in a diplomatic mission without lots of paper to write the next treaty.”

MYTH TWO: “Francis Scott Key wrote a poem later set to music by someone else.”

Clague argued that this commonly held belief is also a myth. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was actually written by Key to the melody of “When the Warrior Returns,” Clague said, adding that Key’s initial intent was for a fast-tempo anthem, as evident by Keys’ original notes, which called for “con spirito,” which means with spirit.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” shares a very unique rhyme scheme with “The Anacreontic Song,” a popular melody at the time, Clague noted, asserting that this must have been intentional.

MYTH THREE: “The national anthem is based on a bawdy old drinking song.”

“The Anacreontic Song” was actually sung at the start of the Anacreontic Society’s meetings — a gentlemen’s club at the time. Though it was first performed at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in London, Clague claims that “It was a very fashionable restaurant. It had a ballroom that held 200 people which you could hold a two-hour symphony concert in — which was how you started a meeting of the Anacreontic Society.”

Modeling “The Star-Spangled Banner” after “The Anacreontic Song” would have been “hip and current,” at the time, according to Clague.

Following the symposium, the Library of Congress celebrated the national anthem with a concert where internationally renowned baritone Thomas Hampton preformed a set of American patriotic music, including “Yankee Doodle,” “America the Beautiful,” and of course, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Hampton’s vocals were accompanied by piano, the University of Michigan Alumni Chorus, as well as encouraged audience participation.

And the star-spangled fun is not over yet. On July 4, conductor John Williams is debuting a new arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” featuring choirs, trumpets, an orchestra and cannons on the National Mall, the Associated Press reports.

Voir aussi:

The Many Sides Of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’
Felix Contreras

January 20, 2009

The symbols of patriotism are everywhere in the nation’s capital, marking this week’s historic transition of power. Flags fly high and historic monuments gleam white in the chilly air; soon, music will flow from loudspeakers and from real musicians. It’s almost certain that, at some point, the shivering masses in attendance will be treated to a rousing rendition of « The Star Spangled Banner. » It signals the start of most sporting events, so why not a new presidential administration?

The story of Francis Scott Key’s « Star Spangled Banner » is the stuff of grade-school history books. But the song has inspired some memorable interpretations in the recent past, as each performer imbues it with a personal take on patriotism. Here are five (among many others) that stand out.
The Many Sides Of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’

Jimi Hendrix
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
The Star Spangled Banner
From: Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969
It’s obvious what all the fuss was about over Jimi Hendrix’s performance during the closing hours of Woodstock in August 1969. Some saw it as an update on patriotism — stars and stripes turned psychedelic — while others couldn’t even recognize the melody. Hendrix famously told talk-show host Dick Cavett that he didn’t mean any harm by it; that, in fact, he thought it was « pretty. » Many still hear in it the tragic power of bombs bursting and rockets glaring. A whole new generation experiencing another controversial war can hear the bittersweet emotion of men and women dying for their country through the tenderness of his interpretation of the melody. Musically, it was a shot heard ’round the world, as it changed « The Star-Spangled Banner » from a marching-band piece into a vehicle for solo electric guitar.

Watch Hendrix perform at Woodstock in 1969.

Jose Feliciano
Artist: Jose Feliciano
The Star Spangled Banner
From: Jose Feliciano at the 1968 World Series
Jose Feliciano became a pop-music crossover hitmaker after 1968’s Feliciano, seeded with his spellbinding reworking of The Doors’ « Light My Fire, » hit the Top 5. That same year, his performance of « The Star-Spangled Banner » at the start of the fifth game of the World Series in Detroit set off a controversy. He didn’t change the words, he didn’t alter the melody, and he didn’t sing it in Spanish. But, during a time when our country was intensely divided over the Vietnam War, the « us vs. them » mentality spread to a blind Puerto Rican pop star offering a guitar-and-voice interpretation of the National Anthem. Radio stations stopped playing his records after that, and he’s said that he continues to receive negative feedback. Today, it’s hard to hear what the fuss was about: The performance was a perfect mix of folk, soul and love of country.

Watch Feliciano perform at the World Series in 1968.

Marvin Gaye
Artist: Marvin Gaye
The Star Spangled Banner
From: Marvin Gave at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
Marvin Gaye’s take on « The Star Spangled Banner » during the 1983 NBA All-Star game was a perfect example of his complicated genius. The duality of an artist capable of writing anthems to urban angst (« What’s Going On ») and to the pleasures of the flesh (« Let’s Get It On ») is magnificently reflected in a performance that made patriotism almost sensual. Consider the particulars of the performance: The NBA was experiencing probably its greatest popularity, and Marvin Gaye had just scored yet another career revival with his uber-hit « Sexual Healing. » With a slow-burning rhythm track, Gaye used every nuance of his vocal talent to bring the crowd to a rapturous celebration of our collective history. Still, there were many who found it offensive at best, a disgrace at worst. But listen to the crowd at the end. Are they cheering Gaye, or the sentiment of living in the home of the brave?

Watch Gaye perform at the 1983 NBA All-Star game.

Rene Marie
Artist: Rene Marie
The Star Spangled Banner
From: Rene Marie at Denver’s State of the City mayoral address 2008
Last year, jazz vocalist Rene Marie was invited to perform « The Star-Spangled Banner » before the city of Denver’s State of the City mayoral address. Which is sort of what happened. Marie did indeed sing the melody we all recognize, but she inserted the words to « Lift Every Voice and Sing » into it. « Lift Every Voice, » also known as « The Negro National Anthem, » was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and then set to music by his brother, John Rosamond, in the early 1900s. It was adopted by the NAACP in 1919 and eventually became widely popular during the American civil-rights movement. Marie’s substitution set off a firestorm of controversy; the governor of Colorado called it « disrespectful. » Marie, who grew up in a segregated town, says that the arrangement is part of a larger suite incorporating various patriotic songs — all meant as her expression of love and hope for the country.

Watch Marie perform at Denver’s State of the City mayoral address in 2008.

Whitney Houston
Artist: Whitney Houston
The Star Spangled Banner
From: Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV in 1991
The 1991 Super Bowl included what should have been a routine pre-game performance by yet another talented vocalist taking on the challenge of a notoriously difficult tune. But something happened. Maybe it was the pre-song dedication to the soldiers fighting in the Gulf War, maybe it was the brilliant arrangement of the orchestra and singer, maybe it was Whitney Houston’s vocal prowess, and maybe it was the roar of the crowd as Houston worked her way through the emotions of all of the above. Whatever it was, the end result was a performance so inspirational that it was released commercially (for charity) and climbed to No. 20 on the Billboard pop charts. It was reissued 10 years later after Sept. 11, 2001, and climbed all the way to No. 6.

Watch Houston perform at the Super Bowl in 1991.

Voir enfin:

9 Weird Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about the Star-Spangled Banner

Today the Star Spangled Banner celebrates its 200th birthday and here are a few factoids about the tune that became our national anthem.

1.The Star Spangled Banner didn’t become the national anthem until after a Mrs. Holloway and Congressman Charles Linthicum of Baltimore, Maryland spent 20 years lobbying for it to happen.

 

The songs “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” were the patriotic songs following the War of 1812, but as the Civil War began, the Union troops adopted it as their song

2. It took 40 attempts to pass the bill declaring the “Star-Spangled Banner” our national anthem, before it was finally signed by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.

http://www.cbsnews.com/common/video/cbsnews_video.swf

3. Like many writers, Francis Scott Key kinda plagiarized some stuff from Shakespeare…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “by spangled star-light sheen”
The Taming of the Shrew: “what stars do spangle heaven with such beauty”

4. Rosanne actually really regrets the way she sang the song that one time…

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/us/2012/08/10/piers-intv-roseanne-career-regret.cnn
“I wish I had done it better,” said a remorseful Rosanne to Piers Morgan on CNN. “Of course, the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ is a huge regret that pretty much was hard to come back from. A huge – like, you know, something probably I regret that as for my career mistakes. And in my personal life, there are about 3,000 things I regret and wish I’d done better.”

5. The line on our money “In God We Trust” is actually not from the Illuminati but instead the song’s 4th verse.

“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’”

6. There is no 6th verse about beating people with chains and burning eyes out with flames… that was from the Onion.

http://www.theonion.com/videos/embed?id=324

7. It sat rotting in some dude’s attic for years with people taking little clippings off of it. We’re still locating fragments today.

StarSpangledBanner
“It was such a monumental moment in time that people felt they wanted to hold a piece of that history,” said Jennifer Jones, a curator who oversees the flag at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

8. It’s not an easy song to sing, the stakes are high, and there are a ton of people usually waiting for you to mess it up.

Watch for the 50 second mark here as Michael Bolton illustrates:

 

He totally pulls a Sarah Palin. In 2006 my friend Jana and I were at a women’s event on behalf of a candidate way out in somewhere Kansas. The woman hosting the event mentioned the woman who was supposed to sing the Star-Spangled Banner didn’t show up. Jana studied music and had an amazing voice. While she warmed up over a cigarette outside with the US Senate candidate at the time he wished her luck saying, “Don’t forget the words.” It happened for her on the lines “oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.”

My favorite comedian Eddie Izzard has a few pointers if you ever have to sing it (fast forward to the 30 second mark and then the 3:30 mark):

 

9. The right-wing ice cream alternative to Ben & Jerry’s is called Star Spangled Ice Cream.

Once located in Arlington, Virginia, the Star Spangled Ice Cream Company offered flavers like: I hate the French Vanilla, Iraqi Road, Smaller GovernMint, and Nutty EniviroMintalist. It’s unclear if they’re still in business, as they don’t have a website or any news stories about them for the last several years. But… that’s the good old fashioned free market for ya!

BONUS: Robin Williams AS the American Flag:

H/T: CTVNews, FreeRepublic

The Star-Spangled Banner (La Bannière étoilée)


O say, can you see by the dawn’s early light Ô, dites-moi, voyez-vous aux premières lueurs de l’aube
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Ce que nous acclamions si fièrement aux dernières lueurs du crépuscule ?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, Dont les larges bandes et les étoiles brillantes, que durant la bataille périlleuse,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? Par-dessus les remparts nous regardions, flottaient si fièrement ?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air Et l’éclat rouge des fusées, les bombes explosant dans les airs,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Prouvaient tout au long de la nuit que notre drapeau était toujours là.
O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave Ô, dites-moi, est-ce que la bannière étoilée flotte encore
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Sur la terre de la Liberté et la patrie des courageux ?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep Sur nos côtes, cachées par les brumes épaisses,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, Où les orgueilleuses armées ennemies reposent dans un silence de mort,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, Qu’est-ce que cette brise intermittente, le long du versant,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Nous dévoile et nous cache ?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, À présent elle capture l’éclat du premier rayon de soleil,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream Nous le renvoie dans toute sa gloire, maintenant elle brille dans le vent
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave C’est la bannière étoilée ! Oh puisse-t-elle longtemps flotter
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sur la terre de la Liberté et la patrie des courageux.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore Et où est cette horde qui jurait dédaigneusement
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion, Que les foudres de la guerre et la désolation des combats
A home and a country should leave us no more! Ne nous laisseraient ni terre ni patrie !
Their blood has washed out of their foul footsteps’ pollution. Leur sang a purifié la terre qu’ils ont foulée.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave Aucun refuge n’a pu sauver leurs mercenaires et leurs esclaves
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave De la terrible déroute et de la misère de la tombe
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave Et la bannière étoilée dans son triomphe flotte
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sur la terre de la Liberté et la patrie des courageux.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Ô ! Qu’il en soit toujours ainsi, que les hommes libres protègent
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation! Leur patrie chérie des désolations de la guerre !
Bles’t with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land Bénie par la victoire et la paix, que la patrie protégée par le ciel
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Loue le Puissant qui a créé et préservé notre nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, Alors nous vaincrons, car notre cause est juste,
And this be our motto: « In God is our trust ». Et ce sera notre devise : « En Dieu est notre foi ».
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave Et la bannière étoilée dans son triomphe flottera
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sur la terre de la Liberté et la patrie des courageux.

American sniper: Attention, un tueur peut en cacher un autre (If killing 160 with a sniper rifle is murder, what do you call killing more people with drones than died on 9/11 ?)

28 janvier, 2015
https://i0.wp.com/i1.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article5016926.ece/alternates/s615/American-sniper-murder-poster.jpg
https://i1.wp.com/www.outsidethebeltway.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/500-drone-strikes-detailed-estimates-us-targeted-killings-and-fatalities.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/www.bokbluster.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/120601obama-kill-cards.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.bollyn.com/public/Obama_as_Judge_Jury_Executioner.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/dr-strange-drone-cartoonkhalilbendib-creativecommons.jpg?w=450&h=335Chttps://i2.wp.com/www.lawfareblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Obama-Roosevelt-Drone.jpg‘est comme si on avait créé un énorme marteau qui cherche frénétiquement des clous à enfoncer. Membre du JSOC
The ideal thing would be if I knew the number of lives I saved, because that’s something I’d love to be known for. But you can’t calculate that. Chris Kyle
Mon oncle a été tué par un sniper pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. On nous apprenait que les snipers étaient des lâches. Qu’ils vous tiraient dans le dos. Les snipers ne sont pas des héros. Et les envahisseurs sont pires. Michael Moore
Ce qu’on essaye de dire c’est que deux hommes ont tué 12 personnes dans une attaque contre les bureaux d’un magazine satirique. C’est assez, on sait ce que ça veut dire et ce que c’est. (…) Nous savons ce qu’est la violence politique, nous savons ce que sont des meurtres, des attentats et des fusillades et nous pouvons les décrire. Et cela explique bien plus de choses, à nos yeux, que d’utiliser le mot ‘terroriste. (…) Les Nations Unies ont bataillé pendant plus d’une décennie pour tenter de définir le mot et ils ont échoué. C’est très difficile de le faire. Tarik Kafala (BBC en arabe)
Selon Tarik Kafala, on peut très bien rendre compte de « l’horreur » et « des conséquences humaines » d’un « acte de terreur » sans employer le fameux mot. Le patron de la version arabophone est ainsi assez proche des règles strictes d’emploi de ce mot définies par la BBC. La charte utilisée par le groupe de télévision britannique, si elle ne bannit pas le terme, invite ainsi ses journalistes à « bien réfléchir » avant de l’utiliser à l’antenne. The Independent
« Il n’y a pas d’interdiction du mot ‘terroriste à la BBC’. Nous préférons cependant une description la plus précise possible », a précisé un porte-parole du groupe audiovisuel au Daily Mail. Et d’ajouter : « Le patron de la version arabophone ne faisait que rappeler les directives éditoriales de la charte de la BBC ». Daily Mail
Aux Etats-Unis, un vaste mouvement pour obtenir la déclassification de documents secrets concernant les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 prend une ampleur sans précédent. L’objet de la polémique tient en 28 pages dans le rapport du Congrès de 585 pages sur la tragédie qui ont été censurées avant sa parution en décembre 2002. Ce court passage pointerait les responsabilités directes ou indirectes de l’Arabie Saoudite, allié traditionnel des Etats-Unis au Moyen-Orient, dans ces attentats. (…) D’après le sénateur Bob Graham, les 28 pages censurées à la demande de l’administration Bush, démontreraient que l’Arabie Saoudite aurait participé au financement des attaques terroristes de 2001. Toujours selon Bob Graham, les documents mettraient en cause le consulat saoudien à Los Angeles, l’ambassade d’Arabie Saoudite à Washington ainsi que de riches Saoudiens installés à Sarasota en Floride. Paris Match
Qu’est donc devenu cet artisan de paix récompensé par un prix Nobel, ce président favorable au désarmement nucléaire, cet homme qui s’était excusé aux yeux du monde des agissements honteux de ces Etats-Unis qui infligeaient des interrogatoires musclés à ces mêmes personnes qu’il n’hésite pas aujourd’hui à liquider ? Il ne s’agit pas de condamner les attaques de drones. Sur le principe, elles sont complètement justifiées. Il n’y a aucune pitié à avoir à l’égard de terroristes qui s’habillent en civils, se cachent parmi les civils et n’hésitent pas à entraîner la mort de civils. Non, le plus répugnant, c’est sans doute cette amnésie morale qui frappe tous ceux dont la délicate sensibilité était mise à mal par les méthodes de Bush et qui aujourd’hui se montrent des plus compréhensifs à l’égard de la campagne d’assassinats téléguidés d’Obama. Charles Krauthammer
Les drones américains ont liquidé plus de monde que le nombre total des détenus de Guantanamo. Pouvons nous être certains qu’il n’y avait parmi eux aucun cas d’erreurs sur la personne ou de morts innocentes ? Les prisonniers de Guantanamo avaient au moins une chance d’établir leur identité, d’être examinés par un Comité de surveillance et, dans la plupart des cas, d’être relâchés. Ceux qui restent à Guantanamo ont été contrôlés et, finalement, devront faire face à une forme quelconque de procédure judiciaire. Ceux qui ont été tués par des frappes de drones, quels qu’ils aient été, ont disparu. Un point c’est tout. Kurt Volker
Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants. (…) But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued. NYT
NATO didn’t just target the Taliban leadership, but also eliminated mid- and lower-level members of the group on a large scale. Some Afghans were only on the list because, as drug dealers, they were allegedly supporting the insurgents. (…) The operations were based on the lists maintained by the CIA and NATO — Obama’s lists. The White House dubbed the strategy “escalate and exit.” McChrystal’s successor, General David Petraeus, documented the strategy in “Field Manual 3-24″ on fighting insurgencies, which remains a standard work today. Petraeus outlined three stages in fighting guerilla organizations like the Taliban. The first was a cleansing phase …. Behind closed doors, Petraeus and his staff explained exactly what was meant by “cleansing.” German politicians recall something that Michael T. Flynn, the head of ISAF intelligence in Afghanistan, once said during a briefing: “The only good Talib is a dead Talib.” Under Petraeus, a merciless campaign began to hunt down the so-called shadow governors and local supporters aligned with the Islamists.(…) According to the NSA document, in October 2008 the NATO defense ministers made the momentous decision that drug networks would now be “legitimate targets” for ISAF troops. “Narcotics traffickers were added to the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) list for the first time,” the report reads. In the opinion of American commanders like Bantz John Craddock, there was no need to prove that drug money was being funneled to the Taliban to declare farmers, couriers and dealers as legitimate targets of NATO strikes. In early 2009, Craddock, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe at the time, issued an order to expand the targeted killings of Taliban officials to drug producers.(…) The documents, [attorney Jennifer Gibson] notes, also show that the “war on terror” was virtually conflated with the “war on drugs.” Der Spiegel
The problem I have with drone strikes using metadata only is that they are not making sure of their targets this way. You need to have content not just metadata to know that it is your target. Humint could point you to a bad guy; but, even then, you still need to have content to insure that is the same guy using the phone or originating the e-mail. This is why I call the strikes by metadata alone an “undisciplined slaughter.” Bill Binney
Using media reporting and anonymous leaks by US, Pakistani, and Yemeni officials, Reprieve identified 41 men who have been targeted for death as part of President Obama’s personally supervised Kill List. Reprieve found that each of these men “was targeted and/or reported killed more than three times on average before they were actually killed.” But while these individuals survived several attempts on their lives, others were reported dead. This led Reprieve to ask, “With each failed attempt to assassinate a man on the Kill List, who filled the body bag in his place?” Reprieve thoroughly answers that question. In attempting to kill 41 identified men, as many as 1,147 people may have been killed or – according to Bureau of Investigative Journalism research – one quarter of the total 4,400 people killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. A further calculation tells us that strikes focused on the Kill List “killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.” Reprieve concludes that seven of the 41 men are likely still alive, and one other died of natural causes. If this is true, it would mean that 1,147 people have been killed in order to kill 33 individuals on President Obama’s Kill List – or 35 « other people” for each of the 33. Twenty-four of the 41 men targeted were in Pakistan. In the numerous attempts on their lives, 874 others were killed of whom 142 were children. This bears repeating. In an effort to assassinate 24 men, 142 children were killed. There are four individual Pakistani cases in Reprieve’s report that stand out as particularly disturbing. The attempts to target these four resulted in 213 others killed, including 103 children. Three of the four men are likely still alive, and the fourth is the man who died of natural causes previously mentioned. What does all this mean? Whether we apply international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war) or international human rights law, it seems clear that the Obama administration has egregiously violated international law. The Obama administration insists that international humanitarian law (IHL) is the applicable law because it claims the US is involved in an armed conflict. IHL has weaker restraints on the use of lethal force than does international human rights law, but it does require that lethal force be discriminate and proportionate. The principles of distinction and proportionality are recognized as customary law and are codified by the Geneva Conventions. The principle of distinction requires that when determining whether to launch an attack against a perceived threat, civilians must be distinguished from combatants. The principle of proportionality prohibits “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” (…) I would argue that the repeated attempts to kill each of these 41 men, despite the large number of innocent people being killed, demonstrate that these were not isolated incidents carried out by rogue drone pilots. Based on IHL’s requirements and the severity of the violations, these could be classified as war crimes. While the Obama administration claims that IHL is the only law that applies to drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, has made it clear that “international human rights law continues to apply during armed conflict, as a complement to international humanitarian law.” This does not mean that human rights law restricts the use of lethal force against known participants in hostilities. What it does mean, however, is that the most fundamental of human rights -— the right to life —- is not discarded when waging war. Yet, the Obama administration has arbitrarily deprived hundreds of children of their lives in attempts to kill 41 men. Following the shocking murder of more than 130 children by the Taliban in Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “[T]his morning, wherever you live, wherever you are, those are our children, and this is the world’s loss. This act of terror angers and shakes all people of conscience, and we condemn it in the strongest terms possible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.” Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration seem incapable of recognizing their own hypocrisy. Apparently, empathy for the loss of innocent lives is reserved for those killed by “the enemy.” Of course, the response to such criticism is easily anticipated: “They [the Taliban] intend to kill innocent people; we only kill innocent people by accident.” Years from now, will the Senate issue a “targeted drone attack” report? Even if there is a “drone report,” how will our public debate be framed? Will the debate be framed as one over the effectiveness of drone strikes? Or, rather, over the immorality and illegality of treating innocent civilians – including children – as expendable objects? Jeff Bachman
Obama vastly expanded the use of targeted killing – with drones, manned bombers and military raids [and] has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders. Obama’s targeted killings off the battlefield are not only illegal and immoral; they also make us less safe due to the blowback from those who have lost family and friends. There was not much opposition to these killings among the American people. But when a Department of Justice white paper was leaked and Americans learned that US citizens could also be targeted, people were outraged. That selective outrage motivated Archbishop Desmond Tutu to write a letter to The New York Times pointing out the hypocrisy. I thus invited him to write the foreword to the book, and he graciously agreed. I thought a collection with contributions on different aspects of this policy would be useful. The book explores legal, moral and geopolitical issues raised by the US policy of targeted killing. (…) Like torture, the use of targeted killing off the battlefield is illegal. Both practices are immoral as well. We have seen the atrocious program of torture conducted during the Bush administration. Drones flying overhead terrorize entire communities. They kill thousands of people. The US government engages in « double taps, » in which those rescuing the wounded from the first strike are targeted. This practice should be called the « triple tap, » as mourners at funerals for those fallen by the drone bombs are also targeted. Neither torture nor targeted killings make us safer; in fact, they increase hatred against the United States. Professor Richard Falk discusses in his chapter why drones are more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945 except for deterrence and coercive diplomacy. But drones are unconstrained by any system of regulation. (…) The United Nations special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killing have written extensively about the dangers and illegality of targeted killing off the battlefield, especially the new technology of lethal automated robots, where there is no operator directing the drones; the computer itself decides who, when and where to target. Although most countries use surveillance drones (the United States and Israel use armed drones), the proliferation of armed drones will inevitably spread to other countries. (…) The US government learned from the Vietnam War that Americans were disturbed by the graphic images of the carnage the US government wrought against the Vietnamese, and that outrage fueled the antiwar movement. The images and stories of drone victims are not part of our national discourse. Medea Benjamin personalizes the victims in her chapter. (…) Americans are justifiably outraged about the beheading of US journalists (although gays in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, are also beheaded). But if Americans were to see photographs of the body parts of children blown to bits by US drone bombs, it would not sit well. It is incumbent on us to pressure our elected officials to rein in this deadly policy – by letters, emails, phone calls, sit-ins, op-eds and letters to the editor. Now that we have seen how the CIA lied about the necessity for and results of the Bush torture program, we should demand that the CIA get out of the killer drone business. And just as those responsible for the torture must be prosecuted, Obama must be brought to justice for his illegal targeted killing program. Accountability requires information, so we should educate ourselves about what our government is doing in our name. Marjorie Cohn
The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed – just in Pakistan and Yemen alone – between 2004 and 2014. While it’s hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years.  Given that numerous people are often killed by  each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country. And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones … long before ISIS even appeared on the scene.    So – altogether – the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand. In contrast,  under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11. But aren’t drone strikes targeted attacks on terrorists … unlike 9/11, which was an attack on civilians? Unfortunately, no … The West is intentionally targeting farmers, small-time drug dealers and very low-level Taliban members with drone assassination. And the process for deciding who to put on the “kill list” is flawed.     People are often targeted by the metadata on their phones, a process which a former top NSA official called the drone assassination program “undisciplined slaughter.” And people are targeted for insanely loose reasons.  As the New York Times reported in 2012: Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants. But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued. And then there are “double taps” … where the family members, friends or neighbors who try to rescue someone hit by a drone missile are themselves targeted for assassination. And – even when the West is actually targeting high-level terrorists – there is massive slaughter of innocent civilians as “collateral damage”.  Washington blogs
De même que George W. Bush restera dans l’histoire comme le  » président des guerres  » de l’après-11-Septembre en Afghanistan et en Irak, Barack Obama pourrait passer à la postérité comme le  » président des drones « , autrement dit le chef d’une guerre secrète, menée avec des armes que les Etats-Unis sont, parmi les grandes puissances, les seuls à posséder. Rarement moment politique et innovation technologique auront si parfaitement correspondu : lorsque le président démocrate est élu en 2008 par des Américains las des conflits, il dispose d’un moyen tout neuf pour poursuivre, dans la plus grande discrétion, la lutte contre les « ennemis de l’Amérique » sans risquer la vie de citoyens de son pays : les drones. L’utilisation militaire d’engins volants téléguidés par les Américains n’est pas nouvelle : pendant la guerre du Vietnam, des drones de reconnaissance avaient patrouillé. Mais l’armement de ces avions sans pilote à partir de 2001 en Afghanistan marque un changement d’époque. Au point que le tout premier Predator armé à avoir frappé des cibles après les attaques du 11-Septembre, immatriculé 3034, a aujourd’hui les honneurs du Musée de l’air et de l’espace, à Washington. Leur montée en puissance aura été fulgurante : alors que le Pentagone ne disposait que de 50 drones au début des années 2000, il en possède aujourd’hui près de 7 500. Dans l’US Air Force, un aéronef sur trois est sans pilote. George W. Bush, artisan d’un large déploiement sur le terrain, utilisera modérément ces nouveaux engins létaux. Barack Obama y recourra six fois plus souvent pendant son seul premier mandat que son prédécesseur pendant les deux siens. M. Obama, qui, en recevant le prix Nobel de la paix en décembre 2009, revendiquait une Amérique au « comportement exemplaire dans la conduite de la guerre », banalisera la pratique des « assassinats ciblés », parfois fondés sur de simples présomptions et décidés par lui-même dans un secret absolu. Tandis que les militaires guident les drones dans l’Afghanistan en guerre, c’est jusqu’à présent la très opaque CIA qui opère partout ailleurs (au Yémen, au Pakistan, en Somalie, en Libye). C’est au Yémen en 2002 que la campagne d' »assassinats ciblés » a débuté. Le Pakistan suit dès 2004. Barack Obama y multiplie les frappes. Certaines missions, menées à l’insu des autorités pakistanaises, soulèvent de lourdes questions de souveraineté. D’autres, les goodwill kills (« homicides de bonne volonté »), le sont avec l’accord du gouvernement local. Tandis que les frappes de drones militaires sont simplement « secrètes », celles opérées par la CIA sont « covert », ce qui signifie que les Etats-Unis n’en reconnaissent même pas l’existence. Dans ce contexte, établir des statistiques est difficile. Selon le Bureau of Investigative Journalism, une ONG britannique, les attaques au Pakistan ont fait entre 2 548 et 3 549 victimes, dont 411 à 884 sont des civils, et 168 à 197 des enfants. En termes statistiques, la campagne de drones est un succès : les Etats-Unis revendiquent l’élimination de plus d’une cinquantaine de hauts responsables d’Al-Qaida et de talibans. D’où la nette diminution du nombre de cibles potentielles et du rythme des frappes, passées de 128 en 2010 (une tous les trois jours) à 48 en 2012 au Pakistan. Car le secret total et son cortège de dénégations ne pouvaient durer éternellement. En mai 2012, le New York Times a révélé l’implication personnelle de M. Obama dans la confection des kill lists. Après une décennie de silence et de mensonges officiels, la réalité a dû être admise. En particulier au début de l’année, lorsque le débat public s’est focalisé sur l’autorisation, donnée par le ministre de la justice, Eric Holder, d’éliminer un citoyen américain responsable de la branche yéménite d’Al-Qaida. L’imam Anouar Al-Aulaqi avait été abattu le 30 septembre 2011 au Yémen par un drone de la CIA lancé depuis l’Arabie saoudite. Le droit de tuer un concitoyen a nourri une intense controverse. D’autant que la même opération avait causé des « dégâts collatéraux » : Samir Khan, responsable du magazine jihadiste Inspire, et Abdulrahman, 16 ans, fils d’Al-Aulaqui, tous deux américains et ne figurant ni l’un ni l’autre sur la kill list, ont trouvé la mort. Aux yeux des opposants, l’adolescent personnifie désormais l’arbitraire de la guerre des drones. La révélation par la presse des contorsions juridiques imaginées par les conseillers du président pour justifier a posteriori l’assassinat d’un Américain n’a fait qu’alimenter les revendications de transparence. La fronde s’est concrétisée par le blocage au Sénat, plusieurs semaines durant, de la nomination à la tête de la CIA de John Brennan, auparavant grand ordonnateur à la Maison Blanche de la politique d’assassinats ciblés. Une orientation pourfendue, presque treize heures durant, le 6 mars, par le spectaculaire discours du sénateur libertarien Rand Paul. Très attendu, le grand exercice de clarification a eu lieu le 23 mai devant la National Defense University de Washington. Barack Obama y a prononcé un important discours sur la « guerre juste », affichant enfin une doctrine en matière d’usage des drones. Il était temps : plusieurs organisations de défense des libertés publiques avaient réclamé en justice la communication des documents justifiant les assassinats ciblés. Une directive présidentielle, signée la veille, précise les critères de recours aux frappes à visée mortelle : une « menace continue et imminente contre la population des Etats-Unis », le fait qu' »aucun autre gouvernement ne soit en mesure d'[y] répondre ou ne la prenne en compte effectivement » et une « quasi-certitude » qu’il n’y aura pas de victimes civiles. Pour la première fois, Barack Obama a reconnu l’existence des assassinats ciblés, y compris ceux ayant visé des Américains, assurant que ces morts le « hanteraient » toute sa vie. Le président a annoncé que les militaires, plutôt que la CIA, auraient désormais la main. Il a aussi repris l’idée de créer une instance judiciaire ou administrative de contrôle des frappes. Mais il a renvoyé au Congrès la mission, incertaine, de créer cette institution. Le président, tout en reconnaissant que l’usage des drones pose de « profondes questions » – de « légalité », de « morale », de « responsabilité « , sans compter « le risque de créer de nouveaux ennemis » -, l’a justifié par son efficacité : « Ces frappes ont sauvé des vies. » Six jours après ce discours, l’assassinat par un drone de Wali ur-Rehman, le numéro deux des talibans pakistanais, en a montré les limites. Ce leader visait plutôt le Pakistan que « la population des Etats-Unis ». Tout porte donc à croire que les critères limitatifs énoncés par Barack Obama ne s’appliquent pas au Pakistan, du moins aussi longtemps qu’il restera des troupes américaines dans l’Afghanistan voisin. Et que les « Signature strikes », ces frappes visant des groupes d’hommes armés non identifiés mais présumés extrémistes, seront poursuivies. Les drones n’ont donc pas fini de mettre en lumière les contradictions de Barack Obama : président antiguerre, champion de la transparence, de la légalité et de la main tendue à l’islam, il a multiplié dans l’ombre les assassinats ciblés, provoquant la colère de musulmans. Or les drones armés, s’ils s’avèrent terriblement efficaces pour éliminer de véritables fauteurs de terreur et, parfois, pour tuer des innocents, le sont nettement moins pour traiter les racines des violences antiaméricaines. Leur usage opaque apparaît comme un précédent encourageant pour les Etats (tels la Chine, la Russie, l’Inde, le Pakistan ou l’Iran) qui vont acquérir ces matériels dans l’avenir. En paraissant considérer les aéronefs pilotés à distance comme l’arme fatale indispensable, le « président des drones » aura enclenché l’engrenage de ce futur incertain. Le Monde
Mon livre traite des drones « chasseurs-tueurs », justifiés par une logique très retorse : leurs partisans voient en eux un progrès majeur dans la technologie humanitaire, puisqu’ils permettent de sauver des vies. Personne ne meurt, si ce n’est l’ennemi… Mais comment qualifier d’humanitaire une machine à tuer ? Emblème de la « guerre sans risque », le drone fait éclater toute réciprocité : avec lui, on peut voir sans être vu, et surtout tuer sans être tué. Il modifie ainsi en profondeur la structure traditionnelle du rapport d’hostilité (tuer en pouvant soi-même être tué). L’écusson du drone MQ-9 Reaper, qui figure la faucheuse, rictus inquiétant et gouttes de sang sur sa lame, le dit clairement avec sa terrifiante devise : « Que les autres meurent »… (…) Un Etat ne peut pas tuer qui bon lui semble n’importe où dans le monde. Or, en utilisant leurs drones hors zone de conflit armé, au Yémen ou au Pakistan, les Etats-Unis s’arrogent pourtant ce droit : faire du corps de l’ennemi un champ de bataille mobile, et du monde un terrain de chasse – la guerre dégénère en abattage, en mise à mort. Autre principe du droit : on ne peut cibler directement que des combattants. Mais lorsqu’on remplace les troupes au sol par des drones, il n’y a plus de combat. A quoi peut-on reconnaître, depuis le ciel, la silhouette d’un combattant sans combat ? De fait, la plupart des frappes de drones visent des individus inconnus, que leur « forme de vie » signale comme des « militants » potentiels, soupçonnés d’appartenir à une organisation hostile. On ne combat plus l’ennemi, on le tire comme un lapin. Sur le plan du droit, on glisse de la catégorie de combattants à celle, très élastique, de militants présumés. Cela revient à légaliser les exécutions extrajudiciaires.(…) On assiste au passage d’une éthique officielle à une autre, de celle du courage et du sacrifice à celle de l’autopréservation et de la lâcheté plus ou moins assumée. Le drone, c’est l’antikamikaze : arme sans corps et mort impossible, d’un ­côté ; arme-corps et mort certaine, de l’autre. Au sein de l’armée américaine, le drone a été très critiqué, tant il incarne la fin de l’héroïsme guerrier, viril. Alors que l’éthique s’est classiquement définie comme une doctrine du bien-vivre et du bien-mourir, la « nécroéthique » du drone se présente comme une doctrine du bien-tuer. On disserte sur les procédés « humains » d’homicide. Cela donne des discours abjects, qui moralisent le meurtre, et qu’il est urgent de critiquer. (…) Un drone, ça ne fait pas de prisonniers. C’est l’instrument de la doctrine antiterroriste officieuse du Président : « Tuer plutôt que capturer. » Predator plutôt que Guantá­namo. Le ministère français de la Défense est aujourd’hui en pourparlers avec les Etats-Unis pour l’achat de drones Reaper. Si l’entourage du ministre Jean-Yves Le Drian avait annoncé qu’il envisageait d’importer en France les méthodes de torture de la CIA, il aurait sans doute déclenché un tollé. Mais la nouvelle est parue dans un silence assourdissant. L’opinion publique française est mal informée sur la question des drones. Grégoire Chamayou

Attention: un tueur peut en cacher un autre !

A l’heure où l‘hommage de Clint Eastwood au tireur d’élite le plus décoré de toute l’histoire militaire des États-Unis (160 ennemis tués) se voit accusé de propagande et d’apologie du meurtre …

Que dire d’un prix Nobel de la paix et objet de toutes les attentions de nos médias …

Qui ne pouvant toujours pas se résoudre, comme la BBC elle-même, à prononcer le nom de ses ennemis

Brille par son absence à Paris contre le terrorisme et se précipite à Ryadh pleurer la perte d’un parrain notoire du djihad

Mais qui de son bureau et entre ses drones automatisés et sa « kill list » personnelle …

S’est fait un tableau de chasse qui, dans l’indifférence générale, ferait pâlir d’envie les terroristes mêmes du 11 septembre ?

Documentaire
“Dirty Wars”, la sale guerre d’Obama
Marc Belpois
Télérama

15/03/2014

En Irak, au Yémen ou au Pakistan, les Etats-Unis ont recours aux assassinats ciblés au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Enquête en première ligne d’un journaliste qui frappe fort, Jeremy Scahill.
Voilà un film qui porte des accusations extrêmement graves : l’Amérique d’Obama a enfanté une machine folle, meurtrière. Chaque jour, au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme, des commandos des forces spéciales US et des drones armés de missiles traquent leurs « cibles ». En Irak, en Afghanistan, en Somalie, mais aussi hors les zones de guerre, comme au Pakistan ou au Yémen, ils tuent des cadres d’al-Qaida… mais aussi des militants présumés, voire en devenir. Ils donnent la mort de façon préventive, donc. Et ils tirent parfois « dans le tas », massacrant l’entourage de la cible, femmes, enfants, bétail, voisins, vieillards…

D’accord, ce n’est pas tout à fait un scoop. Le programme d’assassinats ciblés de la Maison-Blanche a fait l’objet d’enquêtes et d’articles – y compris dans Télérama. Les fameuses kill lists, et l’implication personnelle de Barack Obama dans l’établissement de ces « listes des hommes à abattre », ont été révélées par le New York Times en mai 2012. Les « domma­ges collatéraux » de ces missions secrètes sont régulièrement dénoncés par Amnesty International et par Human Rights Watch.

N’empêche, Dirty Wars (1) fait l’effet d’un électrochoc. Ce n’est pas un rapport distancié, froid et détaché, mais une plongée dans le vif du sujet, auprès de familles anéanties, qui hésitent entre le deuil passif et le djihad contre l’Amérique sanguinaire. Et c’est un coup de projecteur sur les activités effrayantes du Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), ce corps d’armée aux ordres directs de la Maison-Blanche, détenteur du permis de tuer en toute impunité et pour qui le monde entier est un champ de bataille.

Le réquisitoire est d’autant plus saisissant qu’il prend la forme d’un thriller. Une investigation fiévreuse menée tambour battant par Jeremy Scahill, journaliste d’investigation américain que la caméra du réalisateur Rick Rowley suit à la trace, risquant sa vie dans des régions hostiles d’Asie centrale ou obtenant les confidences d’agents de la CIA et de membres du JSOC. Jeremy Scahill surjoue le reporter de guerre qui, enquêtant sur les circonstances d’un bain de sang dans un coin d’Afghanistan (plusieurs villageois abattus, dont deux femmes enceintes), découvre peu à peu le pot aux roses, un programme d’assassinats à grande échelle et en roue libre.

Il « surjoue » car cette histoire de journaliste démasquant sous nos yeux une vérité qui l’horrifie, c’est du flan. En réalité, Jeremy Scahill, 39 ans, connaît le sujet par cœur. Longtemps spécialiste du contre-terrorisme américain (notamment pour l’hebdomadaire The Nation et l’émission Democracy now !), auteur en 2008 d’un livre-enquête retentissant sur la société militaire privée Blackwater (2), Scahill s’est illustré le 10 février dernier en lançant The In­tercept – avec les journalistes Glenn Greenwald et Laura Poitras. Un magazine en ligne qui ambitionne de mener un journalisme de combat, en particulier dans les domaines de la corruption et des dérives sécuritaires, et entend publier les fameux documents ultra secrets sur les programmes de surveillance de la NSA (le renseignement américain) fournis par Edward Snowden.

Jeremy Scahill se complaît-il dans la posture du journaliste seul contre tous, ultime rempart contre la barbarie ? Peu importe. Dirty Wars est un pavé jeté dans la mare, façon drone Predator. Ce film est taillé pour faire du bruit – en sus du prix du documentaire au Festival du film de Sundance, il a été nominé aux Oscars. Et même si on ne se fait guère d’illusions sur son impact réel auprès d’une opinion politique, médiatique et publique étonnamment amorphe, c’est un gros caillou dans l’engrenage de cette machine folle, qui nourrit le terrorisme plus qu’elle ne le combat. Comme le dit un membre masqué du JSOC, « c’est comme si on avait créé un énorme marteau qui cherche frénétiquement des clous à enfoncer ». Gare à l’effet boomerang.

(1) En marge du film, Jeremy Scahill publie fin avril Dirty Wars, le nouvel art de la guerre (éd. Lux).
(2) Blackwater, éd. Actes Sud.
A voir

Dirty Wars, mardi 18 mars 2014, à 22h45 sur Canal+

Voir aussi:

Entretien
“Un drone, ça ne fait pas de prisonniers”, Grégoire Chamayou, chercheur au CNRS
Propos recueillis par Juliette Cerf
Télérama

18/05/2013

Avec les drones, on peut tuer sans être tué. Ces engins bouleversent les règles de la guerre, nous explique le philosophe Grégoire Chamayou.
Les travaux de Grégoire Chamayou, chercheur au CNRS, croisent histoire des techniques et histoire des rationalités politiques. Il vient de publier Théorie du drone (éd. La Fabrique), un essai passionnant qui interroge les implications éthiques, juridiques et politiques de cette technologie militaire.

A quel type de drones vous êtes-vous intéressé ?
Mon livre traite des drones « chasseurs-tueurs », justifiés par une logique très retorse : leurs partisans voient en eux un progrès majeur dans la technologie humanitaire, puisqu’ils permettent de sauver des vies. Personne ne meurt, si ce n’est l’ennemi… Mais comment qualifier d’humanitaire une machine à tuer ?

Emblème de la « guerre sans risque », le drone fait éclater toute réciprocité : avec lui, on peut voir sans être vu, et surtout tuer sans être tué. Il modifie ainsi en profondeur la structure traditionnelle du rapport d’hostilité (tuer en pouvant soi-même être tué). L’écusson du drone MQ-9 Reaper, qui figure la faucheuse, rictus inquiétant et gouttes de sang sur sa lame, le dit clairement avec sa terrifiante devise : « Que les autres meurent »…

“On ne combat plus l’ennemi,  on le tire comme un lapin.”

Le drone redéfinit-il le droit de la guerre ?
C’est, en tout cas, ce à quoi s’activent des armadas de juristes liés aux intérêts militaires. Un Etat ne peut pas tuer qui bon lui semble n’importe où dans le monde. Or, en utilisant leurs drones hors zone de conflit armé, au Yémen ou au Pakistan, les Etats-Unis s’arrogent pourtant ce droit : faire du corps de l’ennemi un champ de bataille mobile, et du monde un terrain de chasse – la guerre dégénère en abattage, en mise à mort.

Autre principe du droit : on ne peut cibler directement que des combattants. Mais lorsqu’on remplace les troupes au sol par des drones, il n’y a plus de combat. A quoi peut-on reconnaître, depuis le ciel, la silhouette d’un combattant sans combat ? De fait, la plupart des frappes de drones visent des individus inconnus, que leur « forme de vie » signale comme des « militants » potentiels, soupçonnés d’appartenir à une organisation hostile.

On ne combat plus l’ennemi, on le tire comme un lapin. Sur le plan du droit, on glisse de la catégorie de combattants à celle, très élastique, de militants présumés. Cela revient à légaliser les exécutions extrajudiciaires.

Quelle vision de la morale et de la vie les drones reflètent-ils ?
On assiste au passage d’une éthique officielle à une autre, de celle du courage et du sacrifice à celle de l’autopréservation et de la lâcheté plus ou moins assumée. Le drone, c’est l’antikamikaze : arme sans corps et mort impossible, d’un ­côté ; arme-corps et mort certaine, de l’autre. Au sein de l’armée américaine, le drone a été très critiqué, tant il incarne la fin de l’héroïsme guerrier, viril. Alors que l’éthique s’est classiquement définie comme une doctrine du bien-vivre et du bien-mourir, la « nécroéthique » du drone se présente comme une doctrine du bien-tuer. On disserte sur les procédés « humains » d’homicide. Cela donne des discours abjects, qui moralisent le meurtre, et qu’il est urgent de critiquer.

“L’opinion publique française  est mal informée sur  la question des drones.”

Le drone, c’est l’arme d’Obama. Comment comprendre cela ?
Un drone, ça ne fait pas de prisonniers. C’est l’instrument de la doctrine antiterroriste officieuse du Président : « Tuer plutôt que capturer. » Predator plutôt que Guantá­namo. Le ministère français de la Défense est aujourd’hui en pourparlers avec les Etats-Unis pour l’achat de drones Reaper. Si l’entourage du ministre Jean-Yves Le Drian avait annoncé qu’il envisageait d’importer en France les méthodes de torture de la CIA, il aurait sans doute déclenché un tollé. Mais la nouvelle est parue dans un silence assourdissant. L’opinion publique française est mal informée sur la question des drones.
A lire

Théorie du drone, de Grégoire Chamayou, éd. La Fabrique, 368 p., 14 €.

Voir également:

Barack Obama, président des drones
Philippe Bernard

Le Monde

8.06.2013

De même que George W. Bush restera dans l’histoire comme le  » président des guerres  » de l’après-11-Septembre en Afghanistan et en Irak, Barack Obama pourrait passer à la postérité comme le  » président des drones « , autrement dit le chef d’une guerre secrète, menée avec des armes que les Etats-Unis sont, parmi les grandes puissances, les seuls à posséder.

Rarement moment politique et innovation technologique auront si parfaitement correspondu : lorsque le président démocrate est élu en 2008 par des Américains las des conflits, il dispose d’un moyen tout neuf pour poursuivre, dans la plus grande discrétion, la lutte contre les « ennemis de l’Amérique » sans risquer la vie de citoyens de son pays : les drones.

L’utilisation militaire d’engins volants téléguidés par les Américains n’est pas nouvelle : pendant la guerre du Vietnam, des drones de reconnaissance avaient patrouillé. Mais l’armement de ces avions sans pilote à partir de 2001 en Afghanistan marque un changement d’époque. Au point que le tout premier Predator armé à avoir frappé des cibles après les attaques du 11-Septembre, immatriculé 3034, a aujourd’hui les honneurs du Musée de l’air et de l’espace, à Washington. Leur montée en puissance aura été fulgurante : alors que le Pentagone ne disposait que de 50 drones au début des années 2000, il en possède aujourd’hui près de 7 500. Dans l’US Air Force, un aéronef sur trois est sans pilote.

George W. Bush, artisan d’un large déploiement sur le terrain, utilisera modérément ces nouveaux engins létaux. Barack Obama y recourra six fois plus souvent pendant son seul premier mandat que son prédécesseur pendant les deux siens. M. Obama, qui, en recevant le prix Nobel de la paix en décembre 2009, revendiquait une Amérique au « comportement exemplaire dans la conduite de la guerre », banalisera la pratique des « assassinats ciblés », parfois fondés sur de simples présomptions et décidés par lui-même dans un secret absolu.

LES FRAPPES OPÉRÉES PAR LA CIA SONT « COVERT »

Tandis que les militaires guident les drones dans l’Afghanistan en guerre, c’est jusqu’à présent la très opaque CIA qui opère partout ailleurs (au Yémen, au Pakistan, en Somalie, en Libye). C’est au Yémen en 2002 que la campagne d' »assassinats ciblés » a débuté. Le Pakistan suit dès 2004. Barack Obama y multiplie les frappes. Certaines missions, menées à l’insu des autorités pakistanaises, soulèvent de lourdes questions de souveraineté. D’autres, les goodwill kills (« homicides de bonne volonté »), le sont avec l’accord du gouvernement local. Tandis que les frappes de drones militaires sont simplement « secrètes », celles opérées par la CIA sont « covert », ce qui signifie que les Etats-Unis n’en reconnaissent même pas l’existence.

Dans ce contexte, établir des statistiques est difficile. Selon le Bureau of Investigative Journalism, une ONG britannique, les attaques au Pakistan ont fait entre 2 548 et 3 549 victimes, dont 411 à 884 sont des civils, et 168 à 197 des enfants. En termes statistiques, la campagne de drones est un succès : les Etats-Unis revendiquent l’élimination de plus d’une cinquantaine de hauts responsables d’Al-Qaida et de talibans. D’où la nette diminution du nombre de cibles potentielles et du rythme des frappes, passées de 128 en 2010 (une tous les trois jours) à 48 en 2012 au Pakistan.

Car le secret total et son cortège de dénégations ne pouvaient durer éternellement. En mai 2012, le New York Times a révélé l’implication personnelle de M. Obama dans la confection des kill lists. Après une décennie de silence et de mensonges officiels, la réalité a dû être admise. En particulier au début de l’année, lorsque le débat public s’est focalisé sur l’autorisation, donnée par le ministre de la justice, Eric Holder, d’éliminer un citoyen américain responsable de la branche yéménite d’Al-Qaida. L’imam Anouar Al-Aulaqi avait été abattu le 30 septembre 2011 au Yémen par un drone de la CIA lancé depuis l’Arabie saoudite. Le droit de tuer un concitoyen a nourri une intense controverse. D’autant que la même opération avait causé des « dégâts collatéraux » : Samir Khan, responsable du magazine jihadiste Inspire, et Abdulrahman, 16 ans, fils d’Al-Aulaqui, tous deux américains et ne figurant ni l’un ni l’autre sur la kill list, ont trouvé la mort. Aux yeux des opposants, l’adolescent personnifie désormais l’arbitraire de la guerre des drones.

La révélation par la presse des contorsions juridiques imaginées par les conseillers du président pour justifier a posteriori l’assassinat d’un Américain n’a fait qu’alimenter les revendications de transparence. La fronde s’est concrétisée par le blocage au Sénat, plusieurs semaines durant, de la nomination à la tête de la CIA de John Brennan, auparavant grand ordonnateur à la Maison Blanche de la politique d’assassinats ciblés. Une orientation pourfendue, presque treize heures durant, le 6 mars, par le spectaculaire discours du sénateur libertarien Rand Paul.

UN IMPORTANT DISCOURS SUR LA « GUERRE JUSTE »

Très attendu, le grand exercice de clarification a eu lieu le 23 mai devant la National Defense University de Washington. Barack Obama y a prononcé un important discours sur la « guerre juste », affichant enfin une doctrine en matière d’usage des drones. Il était temps : plusieurs organisations de défense des libertés publiques avaient réclamé en justice la communication des documents justifiant les assassinats ciblés.

Une directive présidentielle, signée la veille, précise les critères de recours aux frappes à visée mortelle : une « menace continue et imminente contre la population des Etats-Unis », le fait qu' »aucun autre gouvernement ne soit en mesure d'[y] répondre ou ne la prenne en compte effectivement » et une « quasi-certitude » qu’il n’y aura pas de victimes civiles. Pour la première fois, Barack Obama a reconnu l’existence des assassinats ciblés, y compris ceux ayant visé des Américains, assurant que ces morts le « hanteraient » toute sa vie. Le président a annoncé que les militaires, plutôt que la CIA, auraient désormais la main. Il a aussi repris l’idée de créer une instance judiciaire ou administrative de contrôle des frappes. Mais il a renvoyé au Congrès la mission, incertaine, de créer cette institution. Le président, tout en reconnaissant que l’usage des drones pose de « profondes questions » – de « légalité », de « morale », de « responsabilité « , sans compter « le risque de créer de nouveaux ennemis » -, l’a justifié par son efficacité : « Ces frappes ont sauvé des vies. »

Six jours après ce discours, l’assassinat par un drone de Wali ur-Rehman, le numéro deux des talibans pakistanais, en a montré les limites. Ce leader visait plutôt le Pakistan que « la population des Etats-Unis ». Tout porte donc à croire que les critères limitatifs énoncés par Barack Obama ne s’appliquent pas au Pakistan, du moins aussi longtemps qu’il restera des troupes américaines dans l’Afghanistan voisin. Et que les « Signature strikes », ces frappes visant des groupes d’hommes armés non identifiés mais présumés extrémistes, seront poursuivies.

Les drones n’ont donc pas fini de mettre en lumière les contradictions de Barack Obama : président antiguerre, champion de la transparence, de la légalité et de la main tendue à l’islam, il a multiplié dans l’ombre les assassinats ciblés, provoquant la colère de musulmans.

Or les drones armés, s’ils s’avèrent terriblement efficaces pour éliminer de véritables fauteurs de terreur et, parfois, pour tuer des innocents, le sont nettement moins pour traiter les racines des violences antiaméricaines. Leur usage opaque apparaît comme un précédent encourageant pour les Etats (tels la Chine, la Russie, l’Inde, le Pakistan ou l’Iran) qui vont acquérir ces matériels dans l’avenir. En paraissant considérer les aéronefs pilotés à distance comme l’arme fatale indispensable, le « président des drones » aura enclenché l’engrenage de ce futur incertain.

Voir encore:

Marjorie Cohn on Drone Warfare: Illegal, Immoral and Ineffective

Leslie Thatcher

Truthout | Interview

23 December 2014

In this anthology edited by Marjorie Cohn – law professor, Truthout contributor and human rights authority – the clarity of the case against drones used for assassinations is persuasively made. Get this book now, with an introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Law professor, writer and social critic Marjorie Cohn explores human rights and US foreign policy, and the frequent contradiction between the two in her monthly Truthout column, « Human Rights and Global Wrongs. » She agreed to an interview with Leslie Thatcher recently about her new book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Leslie Thatcher: Marjorie, could you describe the genesis of this project?

Marjorie Cohn: George W. Bush prosecuted two illegal wars in which thousands of Americans, Iraqis and Afghans were killed. Although Barack Obama continued those wars, eventually he reduced the numbers of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Obama vastly expanded the use of targeted killing – with drones, manned bombers and military raids.

Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders. Obama’s targeted killings off the battlefield are not only illegal and immoral; they also make us less safe due to the blowback from those who have lost family and friends. There was not much opposition to these killings among the American people.

But when a Department of Justice white paper was leaked and Americans learned that US citizens could also be targeted, people were outraged. That selective outrage motivated Archbishop Desmond Tutu to write a letter to The New York Times pointing out the hypocrisy. I thus invited him to write the foreword to the book, and he graciously agreed. I thought a collection with contributions on different aspects of this policy would be useful. The book explores legal, moral and geopolitical issues raised by the US policy of targeted killing.

In this interdisciplinary collection, human rights and political activists, policy analysts, lawyers and legal scholars, a philosopher, a journalist and a sociologist examine different aspects of the US policy of targeted killing with drones and other methods. Contributors include Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Richard Falk, political activist Tom Hayden, Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, Israeli human rights activist Ishai Menuchin, New York human rights lawyer Jeanne Mirer, sociology professor Tom Reifer, Alice Ross of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the ACLU’s Jay Stanley, philosophy professor Harry van der Linden, and myself.

Many of your contributors compare drone strikes to torture and one to nuclear weapons? Can you explain why?

Like torture, the use of targeted killing off the battlefield is illegal. Both practices are immoral as well. We have seen the atrocious program of torture conducted during the Bush administration. Drones flying overhead terrorize entire communities. They kill thousands of people. The US government engages in « double taps, » in which those rescuing the wounded from the first strike are targeted. This practice should be called the « triple tap, » as mourners at funerals for those fallen by the drone bombs are also targeted.

Neither torture nor targeted killings make us safer; in fact, they increase hatred against the United States. Professor Richard Falk discusses in his chapter why drones are more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945 except for deterrence and coercive diplomacy. But drones are unconstrained by any system of regulation.

When even the CIA reports that drone strikes are counterproductive and legal experts seem to agree their use for assassination is illegal, how is it that a distinguished contributor to your book like Richard Falk remains so pessimistic about banning or even limiting their use?

The United Nations special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killing have written extensively about the dangers and illegality of targeted killing off the battlefield, especially the new technology of lethal automated robots, where there is no operator directing the drones; the computer itself decides who, when and where to target. Although most countries use surveillance drones (the United States and Israel use armed drones), the proliferation of armed drones will inevitably spread to other countries.

The Federal Aviation Administration is tasked with developing regulations for commercial drones within the United States. That is a tall order and it will be difficult to enforce. Unless the international community agrees on regulations for killer drones – which is highly unlikely – their use will continue unregulated. Even with regulation, enforcement would be very difficult.

What are your hopes for the future of drones and targeted killing? What will it take to realize them?

The US government learned from the Vietnam War that Americans were disturbed by the graphic images of the carnage the US government wrought against the Vietnamese, and that outrage fueled the antiwar movement. The images and stories of drone victims are not part of our national discourse. Medea Benjamin personalizes the victims in her chapter.

Americans are justifiably outraged about the beheading of US journalists (although gays in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, are also beheaded). But if Americans were to see photographs of the body parts of children blown to bits by US drone bombs, it would not sit well. It is incumbent on us to pressure our elected officials to rein in this deadly policy – by letters, emails, phone calls, sit-ins, op-eds and letters to the editor.

Now that we have seen how the CIA lied about the necessity for and results of the Bush torture program, we should demand that the CIA get out of the killer drone business. And just as those responsible for the torture must be prosecuted, Obama must be brought to justice for his illegal targeted killing program. Accountability requires information, so we should educate ourselves about what our government is doing in our name. It is my hope this book will assist in that endeavor.

Voir aussi:

Obama Has Killed More People with Drones than Died On 9/11
Many Civilians Are Being Killed By Drones

WashingtonsBlog

January 6, 2015
Law school teacher Marjorie Cohn – president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes:

Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.
She may be right …

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed – just in Pakistan and Yemen alone – between 2004 and 2014.

While it’s hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years.  Given that numerous people are often killed by  each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country.

And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones … long before ISIS even appeared on the scene.    So – altogether – the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand.

In contrast,  under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.

But aren’t drone strikes targeted attacks on terrorists … unlike 9/11, which was an attack on civilians?

Unfortunately, no …

The West is intentionally targeting farmers, small-time drug dealers and very low-level Taliban members with drone assassination.

And the process for deciding who to put on the “kill list” is flawed.     People are often targeted by the metadata on their phones, a process which a former top NSA official called the drone assassination program “undisciplined slaughter.”

And people are targeted for insanely loose reasons.  As the New York Times reported in 2012:

Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.

But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.
And then there are “double taps” … where the family members, friends or neighbors who try to rescue someone hit by a drone missile are themselves targeted for assassination.

And – even when the West is actually targeting high-level terrorists – there is massive slaughter of innocent civilians as “collateral damage”.  For example, American University Professor Jeff Bachman reports:

Strikes focused on the Kill List “killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.”
The Brookings Institution also noted the high proportion of civilian deaths in 2009:

Critics correctly find many problems with this program, most of all the number of civilian casualties the strikes have incurred. Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.
The Costs of War Project – a nonpartisan, nonprofit, scholarly initiative based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies – notes:

In Iraq, over 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence have been civilians.
(Civilians usually suffer the most casualties.)

No wonder people all over the world are overwhelmingly opposed to drone strikes.

Indeed, even the CIA admits that the drone program might be counter-productive in fighting terrorism.

And the architect of America’s drone assassination program says it’s gone too far … creating terrorists rather than eliminating them.

Notes:  Obama has used drone strikes much more than Bush:

Obama has increased the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Indeed, most people who have looked at the numbers believe that Obama has killed many more civilians with drone attacks than Bush did using the same method.
The former constitutional law teacher may or may not know that drone attacks are a war crime (more here and here).

Voir encore:

Obama’s Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan
SPIEGEL Staff

12/28/2014

Combat operations in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but a look at secret NATO documents reveals that the US and the UK were far less scrupulous in choosing targets for killing than previously believed. Drug dealers were also on the lists.

Death is circling above Helmand Province on the morning of Feb. 7, 2011, in the form of a British Apache combat helicopter named « Ugly 50. » Its crew is searching for an Afghan named Mullah Niaz Mohammed. The pilot has orders to kill him.

The Afghan, who has been given the code name « Doody, » is a « mid-level commander » in the Taliban, according to a secret NATO list. The document lists enemy combatants the alliance has approved for targeted killings. « Doody » is number 3,673 on the list and NATO has assigned him a priority level of three on a scale of one to four. In other words, he isn’t particularly important within the Taliban leadership structure.

The operations center identified « Doody » at 10:17 a.m. But visibility is poor and the helicopter is forced to circle another time. Then the gunner fires a « Hellfire » missile. But he has lost sight of the mullah during the maneuver, and the missile strikes a man and his child instead. The boy is killed instantly and the father is severely wounded. When the pilot realizes that the wrong man has been targeted, he fires 100 rounds at « Doody » with his 30-mm gun, critically injuring the mullah.

The child and his father are two of the many victims of the dirty secret operations that NATO conducted for years in Afghanistan. Their fate is described in secret documents to which SPIEGEL was given access. Some of the documents concerning the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the NSA and GCHQ intelligence services are from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Included is the first known complete list of the Western alliance’s « targeted killings » in Afghanistan. The documents show that the deadly missions were not just viewed as a last resort to prevent attacks, but were in fact part of everyday life in the guerilla war in Afghanistan.

The list, which included up to 750 people at times, proves for the first time that NATO didn’t just target the Taliban leadership, but also eliminated mid- and lower-level members of the group on a large scale. Some Afghans were only on the list because, as drug dealers, they were allegedly supporting the insurgents.

Rules of War

The 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan comes to an official end this week, but the kill lists raise legal and moral questions that extend far beyond Afghanistan. Can a democracy be allowed to kill its enemies in a targeted manner when the objective is not to prevent an imminent attack? And does the goal of eliminating as many Taliban as possible justify killing innocent bystanders?

Different rules apply in war than in fighting crime in times of peace. But for years the West tied its campaign in Afghanistan to the promise that it was fighting for different values there. A democracy that kills its enemies on the basis of nothing but suspicion squanders its claim to moral superiority, making itself complicit instead. This lesson from Afghanistan also applies to the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen.

The material SPIEGEL was able to review is from 2009 to 2011, and falls within the term of US President Barack Obama, who was inaugurated in January 2009. For Obama, Afghanistan was the « good » war and therefore legitimate — in contrast to the Iraq war. The president wanted to end the engagement in Iraq as quickly as possible, but in Afghanistan his aim was to win.

After Obama assumed office, the US government opted for a new strategy. In June 2009, then Defense Secretary Robert Gates installed Stanley McChrystal, a four-star general who had served in Iraq, as commander of US forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal promoted the aggressive pursuit of the Taliban.

Obama sent 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but their deployment was tied to a demand that military officials provide a binding date for the withdrawal of US forces. At the same time, the president distanced himself from the grand objectives the West had proclaimed when it first marched into Kabul. The United States would not try to make Afghanistan « a perfect place, » said Obama. Its new main objective was to fight the insurgency.

‘Escalate and Exit’

This marked the beginning of one of the bloodiest phases of the war. Some 2,412 civilians died in Afghanistan in 2009. Two-thirds of them were killed by insurgents and 25 percent by NATO troops and Afghan security forces. The number of operations against the Taliban rose sharply, to between 10 and 15 a night. The operations were based on the lists maintained by the CIA and NATO — Obama’s lists. The White House dubbed the strategy « escalate and exit. »

McChrystal’s successor, General David Petraeus, documented the strategy in « Field Manual 3-24″ on fighting insurgencies, which remains a standard work today. Petraeus outlined three stages in fighting guerilla organizations like the Taliban. The first was a cleansing phase, in which the enemy leadership is weakened. After that, local forces were to regain control of the captured areas. The third phase was focused on reconstruction. Behind closed doors, Petraeus and his staff explained exactly what was meant by « cleansing. » German politicians recall something that Michael T. Flynn, the head of ISAF intelligence in Afghanistan, once said during a briefing: « The only good Talib is a dead Talib. »

Under Petraeus, a merciless campaign began to hunt down the so-called shadow governors and local supporters aligned with the Islamists. For the Americans, the fact that the operations often ended in killings was seen as a success. In August 2010, Petraeus proudly told diplomats in Kabul that he had noticed a shifting trend. The figures he presented as evidence made some of the ambassadors feel uneasy. At least 365 insurgent commanders, Petraeus explained, had been neutralized in the last three months, for an average of about four killings a day.

The existence of documents relating to the so-called Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) has only been described in vague terms until now. The missions by US special units are mentioned but not discussed in detail in the US Army Afghanistan war logs published by WikiLeaks in 2010, together with the New York Times, the Guardian and SPIEGEL. The documents that have now become accessible provide, for the first time, a systematic view of the targeted killings. They outline the criteria used to determine who was placed on the list and why.

The case of an Afghan soldier named Hussein, number 3,341 on the list, shows how coldly NATO sometimes treated the lives of suspects. According to the documents, Hussein was suspected of involvement in an attack on ISAF forces in Helmand. A corporal in the Afghan army, he had allegedly deserted and was now on the run, presumably to join the Taliban.

NATO officials placed him on the list in the summer of 2010, as one of 669 individuals at the time. He was given the code name « Rumble » and assigned to priority level 2.

Adding a Name

The NATO soldiers discussed the pros and cons of his killing. « The removal of Hussein will eradicate a rogue ANA SNCO from the ranks and prevent his recruitment into the (insurgency), » the assessment reads. « It will also send a clear message to any other potential ‘sleepers’. » The killing of Hussein was intended primarily as a symbol of deterrence.

But, the internal assessment continues, a disadvantage of killing the deserter was that any information Hussein might have would be lost.

Adding a name to the list was preceded by a month’s-long process, in which evidence was gathered, including bugged phone conversations, reports by informants and photos. In the end, the respective ISAF regional commander decided whether a suspect should be added to the list.

Some of the JPEL candidates were only listed as being under observation or to be taken into custody. According to the current documents, in 2010 NATO even added Atta Mohammed Noor, a governor in northern Afghanistan, to the list. Noor, an ethnic Tajik and former warlord, had become wealthy through smuggling in the turmoil of war, and he was seen as someone who ruthlessly eliminated his enemies. He was listed as number 1,722 on the NATO list and given a priority level of three, but NATO merely collected information about Noor, rather than placing him on the kill list.

When an operation could potentially result in civilian casualties, ISAF headquarters in Kabul had to be involved. « The rule of thumb was that when there was estimated collateral damage of up to 10 civilians, the ISAF commander in Kabul was to decide whether the risk was justifiable, » says an ISAF officer who worked with the lists for years. If more potential civilian casualties were anticipated, the decision was left up to the relevant NATO headquarters office. Bodyguards, drivers and male attendants were viewed as enemy combatants, whether or not they actually were. Only women, children and the elderly were treated as civilians.

Even officers who were involved in the program admit that these guidelines were cynical. If a Taliban fighter was repeatedly involved in deadly attacks, a « weighing of interests » was performed. The military officials would then calculate how many human lives could be saved by the « kill, » and how many civilians would potentially be killed in an airstrike.

Switching on the Phones

The documents suggest that sometimes locating a mobile phone was all it took to set the military machinery in motion. The search for the Taliban phone signals was « central to the success of operations, » states a secret British report from October 2010.

As one document states, Predator drones and Eurofighter jets equipped with sensors were constantly searching for the radio signals from known telephone numbers tied to the Taliban. The hunt began as soon as the mobile phones were switched on.

Britain’s GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) maintained long lists of Afghan and Pakistani mobile phone numbers belonging to Taliban officials. A sophisticated mechanism was activated whenever a number was detected. If there was already a recording of the enemy combatant’s voice in the archives, it was used for identification purposes. If the pattern matched, preparations for an operation could begin. The attacks were so devastating for the Taliban that they instructed their fighters to stop using mobile phones.

The document also reveals how vague the basis for deadly operations apparently was. In the voice recognition procedure, it was sufficient if a suspect identified himself by name once during the monitored conversation. Within the next 24 hours, this voice recognition was treated as « positive target identification » and, therefore, as legitimate grounds for an airstrike. This greatly increased the risk of civilian casualties.

Probably one of the most controversial decisions by NATO in Afghanistan is the expansion of these operations to include drug dealers. According to an NSA document, the United Nations estimated that the Taliban was earning $300 million a year through the drug trade. The insurgents, the document continues, « could not be defeated without disrupting the drug trade. »

According to the NSA document, in October 2008 the NATO defense ministers made the momentous decision that drug networks would now be « legitimate targets » for ISAF troops. « Narcotics traffickers were added to the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) list for the first time, » the report reads.

In the opinion of American commanders like Bantz John Craddock, there was no need to prove that drug money was being funneled to the Taliban to declare farmers, couriers and dealers as legitimate targets of NATO strikes.

Targeting the Drug Trade

In early 2009, Craddock, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe at the time, issued an order to expand the targeted killings of Taliban officials to drug producers. This led to heated discussions within NATO. German NATO General Egon Ramms declared the order « illegal » and a violation of international law. The power struggle within NATO finally led to a modification of Craddock’s directive: Targets related to the drug production at least had to be investigated as individual cases.

The top-secret dossier could be highly damaging to the German government. For years, German authorities have turned over the mobile phone numbers of German extremists in Afghanistan to the United States. At the same time, the German officials claimed that homing in on mobile phone signals was far too imprecise for targeted killings.

This is apparently an untenable argument. According to the 2010 document, both Eurofighters and drones had « the ability to geolocate a known GSM handset. » In other words, active mobile phones could serve as tracking devices for the special units.

In Afghanistan, Germany is a member of the « 14 Eyes » intelligence-sharing group. In addition to the Anglo-Saxon countries, the group includes Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Sweden and Norway.

These countries operate their own technical platform in Afghanistan code-named « Center Ice, » which is used to monitor and exchange data. According to a 2009 NSA presentation, Center Ice was not just used to share intelligence about mobile phone conversations, but also information about targets.

When contacted, the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, admitted that Center Ice had been used to share mobile phone numbers, but it denied that they were suitable for use in drone target acquisition. Moreover, data was not shared if a given « individual’s interests worthy of protection outweighed the general interest in sharing intelligence. » In addition, the Germans say they have not supplied any information that could be used to develop profiles for targeted killings since 2005.

Legal Repercussions

This restrictive approach has led to numerous disagreements with the Americans. When Regional Command North, which was run by the German military, wanted to nominate a suspect for the JPEL, a detailed file containing evidence first had to be sent to the Joint Operations Command in Potsdam, outside Berlin, and then to the German Defense Ministry. For the Germans, a target could only be added to the list if the individual had ordered, prepared or participated in attacks. The Germans repeatedly urged their allies to remove suspects from the list. In September 2010, only 11 of the 744 targets were associated with northern Afghanistan, which the Germans controlled. « We Germans ran a stabilization mission, while the Americans conducted a war, » says retired General Ramms.

The classified documents could now have legal repercussions. The human rights organization Reprieve is weighing legal action against the British government. Reprieve believes it is especially relevant that the lists include Pakistanis who were located in Pakistan. « The British government has repeatedly stated that it is not pursuing targets in Pakistan and not doing air strikes on Pakistani territory, » says Reprieve attorney Jennifer Gibson. The documents, she notes, also show that the « war on terror » was virtually conflated with the « war on drugs. » « This is both new and extremely legally troubling, » says Gibson.

ISAF, which SPIEGEL presented with a list of the classified documents and asked for comment, does not wish to answer any questions on the subject, for « operational security considerations, » says a spokesman, who notes that ISAF missions are conducted in accordance with international law. The US Defense Department defers to ISAF when questioned.

A new chapter begins in Afghanistan next week. A new government has been elected, and the majority of NATO troops have been withdrawn. It is now up to the Afghans to decide what their future will look like. The West has achieved some of its goals. Al-Qaida has been defeated, at least in Afghanistan, and its former leader, Osama bin Laden, is dead. But the Taliban remains undefeated, as it demonstrated with the recent attack on a Pakistani school. It will be impossible to bring peace to Afghanistan without involving the Taliban.

A 2009 CIA study that addresses targeted killings of senior enemy officials worldwide reaches a bitter conclusion. Because of the Taliban’s centralized but flexible leadership, as well as its egalitarian tribal structures, the targeted killings were only moderately successful in Afghanistan. « Morover, the Taliban has a high overall ability to replace lost leaders, » the study finds.

By Jacob Appelbaum, Matthias Gebauer, Susanne Koelbl, Laura Poitras, Gordon Repinski, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Voir de plus:

Drone strikes: are they Obama’s enhanced interrogation techniques?
Jeff Bachman

The Conversation

23 December 2014

On November 24, two weeks before the Senate Intelligence Committee released its “torture report,” Reprieve, a UK-based human rights NGO, published the results of its latest investigation into President Obama’s drone strike program. While Obama was preparing for the inevitable release of the Senate’s report which provided the most extensive insight yet into the CIA’s use of torture during the Bush administration, Reprieve provided insights of its own into the Obama administration’s equally disturbing targeted drone assassination program.

Using media reporting and anonymous leaks by US, Pakistani, and Yemeni officials, Reprieve identified 41 men who have been targeted for death as part of President Obama’s personally supervised Kill List.

Reprieve found that each of these men “was targeted and/or reported killed more than three times on average before they were actually killed.” But while these individuals survived several attempts on their lives, others were reported dead. This led Reprieve to ask, “With each failed attempt to assassinate a man on the Kill List, who filled the body bag in his place?”

Reprieve thoroughly answers that question. In attempting to kill 41 identified men, as many as 1,147 people may have been killed or – according to Bureau of Investigative Journalism research – one quarter of the total 4,400 people killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

A further calculation tells us that strikes focused on the Kill List “killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.” Reprieve concludes that seven of the 41 men are likely still alive, and one other died of natural causes. If this is true, it would mean that 1,147 people have been killed in order to kill 33 individuals on President Obama’s Kill List – or 35 « other people” for each of the 33.

Twenty-four of the 41 men targeted were in Pakistan. In the numerous attempts on their lives, 874 others were killed of whom 142 were children. This bears repeating. In an effort to assassinate 24 men, 142 children were killed.

There are four individual Pakistani cases in Reprieve’s report that stand out as particularly disturbing. The attempts to target these four resulted in 213 others killed, including 103 children. Three of the four men are likely still alive, and the fourth is the man who died of natural causes previously mentioned.

Questionable legality
What does all this mean? Whether we apply international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war) or international human rights law, it seems clear that the Obama administration has egregiously violated international law.

The Obama administration insists that international humanitarian law (IHL) is the applicable law because it claims the US is involved in an armed conflict. IHL has weaker restraints on the use of lethal force than does international human rights law, but it does require that lethal force be discriminate and proportionate.

The principles of distinction and proportionality are recognized as customary law and are codified by the Geneva Conventions. The principle of distinction requires that when determining whether to launch an attack against a perceived threat, civilians must be distinguished from combatants. The principle of proportionality prohibits “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”

According to Jeh Johnson, formerly General Counsel of the Department of Defense, the Obama administration has met its legal obligations: “We must apply, and we have applied, the law of armed conflict, including applicable provisions of the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, core principles of distinction and proportionality….”

However, I would argue that the repeated attempts to kill each of these 41 men, despite the large number of innocent people being killed, demonstrate that these were not isolated incidents carried out by rogue drone pilots. Based on IHL’s requirements and the severity of the violations, these could be classified as war crimes.

While the Obama administration claims that IHL is the only law that applies to drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, has made it clear that “international human rights law continues to apply during armed conflict, as a complement to international humanitarian law.”

This does not mean that human rights law restricts the use of lethal force against known participants in hostilities. What it does mean, however, is that the most fundamental of human rights -— the right to life —- is not discarded when waging war. Yet, the Obama administration has arbitrarily deprived hundreds of children of their lives in attempts to kill 41 men.

Hypocrisy
Following the shocking murder of more than 130 children by the Taliban in Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry said:

“[T]his morning, wherever you live, wherever you are, those are our children, and this is the world’s loss. This act of terror angers and shakes all people of conscience, and we condemn it in the strongest terms possible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration seem incapable of recognizing their own hypocrisy. Apparently, empathy for the loss of innocent lives is reserved for those killed by “the enemy.” Of course, the response to such criticism is easily anticipated: “They [the Taliban] intend to kill innocent people; we only kill innocent people by accident.”

Years from now, will the Senate issue a “targeted drone attack” report? Even if there is a “drone report,” how will our public debate be framed? Will the debate be framed as one over the effectiveness of drone strikes? Or, rather, over the immorality and illegality of treating innocent civilians – including children – as expendable objects?

Unfortunately, I think we already know the answer.

Voir enfin:

Obama à Riyad mais pas à Paris ? « C’est différent » répond la Maison Blanche
AFP
L’Orient le jour

26/01/2015

« C’est différent »: la Maison Blanche a rejeté lundi les critiques de ceux qui s’interrogent sur le déplacement annoncé du président Barack Obama à Riyad alors qu’il ne s’était pas déplacé à Paris lors de la manifestation contre le terrorisme.

« Les circonstances sont différentes », a souligné Ben Rhodes, conseiller de M. Obama, lors d’un point de presse à New Delhi où le président américain effectue une visite de trois jours.
« Il y a une période durant laquelle différents dirigeants peuvent se rendre en Arabie saoudite pour exprimer leurs condoléances (après le décès du roi Abdallah) et rencontrer le nouveau roi », a-t-il expliqué.
« Il y a donc une différence même si cela ne change rien au fait que nous avons clairement indiqué que nous aurions dû envoyer quelqu’un de plus haut niveau », à la marche de Paris, a-t-il poursuivi.

L’absence de M. Obama, ou de son vice-président ou de l’un de ses ministres lors de la marche contre le terrorisme qui a rassemblé des centaines de milliers de personnes et une cinquantaine de dirigeants du monde entier le 11 janvier à Paris a provoqué une avalanche de critiques aux Etats-Unis. Fait rare, la Maison Blanche a fait son mea culpa le lendemain.

Certains médias américains ont ironisé ces derniers jours sur le fait que M. Obama ait décidé de se rendre à Riyad mais n’ait pas envisagé, à l’inverse, le déplacement à Paris dans la foulée des attentats meurtriers qui ont frappé la capitale française.

Interrogé sur l’objectif de cette visite à Riyad, M. Rhodes a indiqué que M. Obama entendait d’abord « présenter ses condoléances (…) et rencontrer le nouveau roi Salmane ».
« Ils évoqueront les principaux sujets sur lesquels nous collaborons très étroitement avec l’Arabie Saoudite », a-t-il ajouté, citant en particulier la campagne contre l’organisation Etat islamique « dans laquelle les Saoudiens ont participé aux opérations militaires » et la situation au Yémen.
« Il est très probable que l’Iran soit également évoqué », a-t-il ajouté.

M. Obama a décidé d’écourter sa visite en Inde et d’annuler la visite qu’il devait effectuer mardi avec sa femme Michelle mardi au Taj Mahal, haut-lieu touristique indien, pour se rendre en Arabie saoudite.

Voir enfin:

ROYAUME-UNI

Pour la BBC, il ne faut pas qualifier de « terroristes » les tueurs de « Charlie Hebdo »
Le responsable du service arabophone de la BBC refuse que les journalistes de la radio utilisent le terme de « terrorisme » pour parler des tueurs de Charlie Hebdo. C’est un terme trop connoté politiquement, a-t-il expliqué hier à The Independent.

Courrier international

27 janvier 2015

Non, les frères Kouachi ne sont pas des terroristes. Du moins pas aux yeux des journalistes du service arabophone de la BBC, le plus important service hors langue anglaise de la radio publique britannique, suivi chaque semaine par près de 36 millions d’auditeurs. Son responsable, Tarik Kafala, s’en est expliqué le 26 janvier dans une interview au quotidien The Independent : « Nous tentons d’éviter de décrire quelqu’un comme un terroriste, ou un geste comme étant terroriste. »

La raison ? La notion de « terrorisme » est politiquement trop connotée, note Tarik Kafala, qui explique que sa chaîne évite d’employer le terme « terroriste ». Dans le cas des attentats de Paris, on a immédiatement entendu parler d' »attaques terroristes » et du déploiement de la « police anti-terroriste » dans les rues de la capitale française. « Clairement, tous les officiels et les commentateurs utilisent ce mot pour qu’il soit repris par tous les médias », ajoute le journaliste.

Aucune définition internationale claire

D’une manière générale, la BBC a des règles éditoriales spécifiques concernant le terme « terrorisme », rappelle The Independent. Sans interdire l’utilisation de ce terme, la chaîne demande à ses journalistes d’être « très attentifs » lorsqu’ils évoquent des actes considérés comme des actes de terreur, expliquant qu’il y a des termes plus précis pour les expliquer que le mot « terrorisme ». En anglais, le mot « terroriste » n’a pas non plus été utilisé par la BBC pour désigner les frères Kouachi.

Même s’il est sans doute l’un des plus utilisés aujourd’hui dans le monde, le terme « terrorisme » ne fait l’objet d’aucune définition internationale claire, rappelle enfin Tarik Kafala : « Les Nations unies ont tenté pendant une décennie de définir ce mot, sans y parvenir. C’est très délicat. Nous savons ce qu’est la violence politique, nous savons ce que sont les meurtres, les attentats et les fusillades et nous pouvons les décrire. Et cela explique bien plus de choses, à nos yeux, qu’utiliser le mot ‘terrorisme’. »

COMPLEMENT:

Middle East
‘American Sniper’ misfires in Iraq
Liz Sly

The Washington Post

February 2, 2015

BAGHDAD — It is not only in America that Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war blockbuster “American Sniper” is proving controversial.

After just a handful of sometimes rowdy screenings, the film has been pulled from Baghdad’s only movie theater amid complaints from the Iraqi government — as well as viewers — that it “insults” Iraqis.

Similar allegations have clouded the film’s release in the United States, though not its box office success. Critics have hailed its gripping portrayal of real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his exploits in Iraq as a cinematic triumph. Commentators have denounced it as being simplistic and giving a one-sided portrayal of the conflict.

In Iraq, the movie has come as a reminder of the vast gulf that divides Iraqi and U.S. perceptions of the bloody, complicated war, which left more than 4,000 Americans and well over 100,000 Iraqis dead — and is now drawing U.S. troops back.

“It glorifies Americans and makes Iraqis out to be nothing but terrorists,” said Ahmed Kamal, 27, a teacher, who downloaded the film for free on a pirate Web site because he didn’t want to pay to see a movie in which the hero refers to Iraqis as “savages.”

“I wasn’t prepared to spend money to see it,” he said. “It portrays Americans as strong and noble, and Iraqis as ignorant and violent.”

The movie also omitted to note that some Iraqis worked with the Americans, said Sarmad Moazzem, 32, who was one of them. He served alongside U.S. troops for five years in an Interior Ministry logistics division and now works as a security adviser at the theater that pulled the film.

“The film makes out that all Iraqis are terrorists — men, women and children,” he said, “whereas, actually, there are some people who loved the Americans and wanted them to stay to help rebuild our country. The movie didn’t show any of them.”

He listed numerous inaccuracies, such as the identification of Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood where Shiite militias battled U.S. troops on numerous occasions, as a stronghold of al-Qaeda — which is a Sunni group.

Moreover, a scene in which Iraqis, including a child, attempted to take out the sniper didn’t ring true, according to his experiences.

“No one would stick around if there was an American sniper in the area,” he said. “As soon as anyone knew there was a sniper, everyone would run and hide.”

That scene, in which a child picks up a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, provoked a furious outburst at one of the screenings of the film. Three spectators sitting in the front row jumped up from their seats and started cursing, said Mohammed Laith, 27, who was sitting a few rows behind.

“They were shouting, ‘It’s all a lie,’ and ‘You are demeaning our culture,’ ” he recalled. After the three refused to sit down, security guards ejected them from the theater, he said.

The manager of the theater, located in Baghdad’s fancy new Mansour Mall, said he withdrew “American Sniper” last week after receiving a telephone call from a senior official at the Ministry of Culture warning him that he would face fines and possible closure if he continued to show it.

“He told me the film insults Iraqis,” said Fares Hilal, whose six-screen cinema opened last year and is the first to offer Iraqis an American-style moviegoing experience, including tubs of popcorn and the latest releases.

He immediately complied with the order, but with some regret.

“If we show it, we will be criticized. But if we don’t, we lose money,” he sighed. “A lot of people wanted to see this film.”

Nonetheless, many Iraqis seem to have seen it, mostly on Internet downloads.

And not all found it objectionable. Yasser Bakr, 17, who operates one of the mall’s carousels, was still a child when the events portrayed took place and only dimly recalls them. He said there was nothing in the film that gave him offense.

“It’s just a movie,” he shrugged. “About something that happened in the past.”

Mustafa Salim contributed to this report.

Liz Sly is the Post’s Beirut bureau chief. She has spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East, including the Iraq war. Other postings include Africa, China and Afghanistan.

 


Guerre des sexes: Les transports new-yorkais s’attaquent à la fertilité masculine (Dude, close your legs: From manspreading to infertility spreading ?)

7 janvier, 2015

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6v_v-bCEAAcP5s.jpgLe monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
L’avenir ne doit pas appartenir à ceux qui calomnient le prophète de l’Islam. Barack Obama (président américain, issu d’une minorité opprimée, siège de l’ONU, New York, 26.09.12)
On a vengé le prophète Mohammed ! On a tué Charlie hebdo ! Cherif Kouachi (jeune victime de l’islamophobie, Paris, 07.01.15)
On a commencé avec la déconstruction du langage et on finit avec la déconstruction de l’être humain dans le laboratoire. (…) Elle est proposée par les mêmes qui d’un côté veulent prolonger la vie indéfiniment et nous disent de l’autre que le monde est surpeuplé. René Girard
Le privilège masculin est aussi un piège et il trouve sa contrepartie dans la tension et la contention permanentes, parfois poussées jusqu’à l’absurde, qu’impose à chaque homme le devoir d’affirmer en toute circonstance sa virilité. (…) Tout concourt ainsi à faire de l’idéal impossible de virilité le principe d’une immense vulnérabilité. C’est elle qui conduit, paradoxalement, à l’investissement, parfois forcené, dans tous les jeux de violence masculins, tels dans nos sociétés les sports, et tout spécialement ceux qui sont les mieux faits pour produire les signes visibles de la masculinité, et pour manifester et aussi éprouver les qualités dites viriles, comme les sports de combat. Pierre Bourdieu
C’est très difficile de se comporter correctement quand on a une jupe. Si vous êtes un homme, imaginez-vous en jupe, plutôt courte, et essayez donc de vous accroupir, de ramasser un objet tombé par terre sans bouger de votre chaise ni écarter les jambes… La jupe, c’est un corset invisible, qui impose une tenue et une retenue, une manière de s’asseoir, de marcher. Elle a finalement la même fonction que la soutane. Revêtir une soutane, cela change vraiment la vie, et pas seulement parce que vous devenez prêtre au regard des autres. Votre statut vous est rappelé en permanence par ce bout de tissu qui vous entrave les jambes, de surcroît une entrave d’allure féminine. Vous ne pouvez pas courir ! Je vois encore les curés de mon enfance qui relevaient leurs jupes pour jouer à la pelote basque. La jupe, c’est une sorte de pense-bête. La plupart des injonctions culturelles sont ainsi destinées à rappeler le système d’opposition (masculin/féminin, droite/gauche, haut/bas, dur/mou…) qui fonde l’ordre social. Des oppositions arbitraires qui finissent par se passer de justification et être enregistrées comme des différences de nature. Par exemple, avec » tiens ton couteau dans la main droite « , se transmet toute la morale de la virilité, où, dans l’opposition entre la droite et la gauche, la droite est » naturellement » le côté de la virtus comme vertu de l’homme (vir). La jupe, ça montre plus qu’un pantalon et c’est difficile à porter justement parce que cela risque de montrer. Voilà toute la contradiction de l’attente sociale envers les femmes : elles doivent être séduisantes et retenues, visibles et invisibles (ou, dans un autre registre, efficaces et discrètes). On a déjà beaucoup glosé sur ce sujet, sur les jeux de la séduction, de l’érotisme, toute l’ambiguïté du montré-caché. La jupe incarne très bien cela. Un short, c’est beaucoup plus simple: ça cache ce que ça cache et ça montre ce que ça montre. La jupe risque toujours de montrer plus que ce qu’elle montre. Il fut un temps où il suffisait d’une cheville entr’aperçue!… Les injonctions en matière de bonne conduite sont particulièrement puissantes parce qu’elles s’adressent d’abord au corps et qu’elles ne passent pas nécessairement par le langage et par la conscience. Les femmes savent sans le savoir que, en adoptant telle ou telle tenue, tel ou tel vêtement, elles s’exposent à être perçues de telle ou telle façon. Le gros problème des rapports entre les sexes aujourd’hui, c’est qu’il y a des contresens, de la part des hommes en particulier, sur ce que veut dire le vêtement des femmes. Beaucoup d’études consacrées aux affaires de viol ont montré que les hommes voient comme des provocations des attitudes qui sont en fait en conformité avec une mode vestimentaire. (…) Les études montrent que, de manière générale, les femmes sont très peu satisfaites de leur corps. Quand on leur demande quelles parties elles aiment le moins, c’est toujours celles qu’elles trouvent trop » grandes » ou trop » grosses » ; les hommes étant au contraire insatisfaits des parties de leur corps qu’ils jugent trop » petites « . Parce qu’il va de soi pour tout le monde que le masculin est grand et fort et le féminin petit et fin. Ajoutez les canons, toujours plus stricts, de la mode et de la diététique, et l’on comprend comment, pour les femmes, le miroir et la balance ont pris la place de l’autel et du prie-dieu. Pierre Bourdieu
À quoi ressemble l’homme idéal ? Il s’épile. Il achète des produits de beauté. Il porte des bijoux. Il rêve d’amour éternel. Il croit dur comme fer aux valeurs féminines. Il préfère le compromis à l’autorité et privilégie le dialogue, la tolérance, plutôt que la lutte. L’homme idéal est une vraie femme. Il a rendu les armes. Le poids entre ses jambes est devenu trop lourd. Certaines féministes se sont emparées de cette vacance du pouvoir, persuadées que l’égalité c’est la similitude.  Aujourd’hui, les jeunes générations ont intégré cette confusion. Les fils ne rêvent que de couple et de féminisation longue durée. Ils ne veulent surtout pas être ce qu’ils sont : des garçons. Tout ce qui relève du masculin est un gros mot. Une tare. Mais la révolte gronde. Les hommes ont une identité à reprendre. Une nouvelle place à conquérir. Pour ne plus jamais dire à leurs enfants : «Tu seras une femme, mon fils. Eric Zemmour
Depuis quelques années, en France, des intellectuels, journalistes, psychologues et militants cherchent à attirer l’attention sur la difficulté d’être un homme, dans une société soi-disant dominée par les femmes en général, et les féministes en particulier. À les écouter, les hommes seraient en perte de repères, et il serait temps de contre-attaquer celles – et parfois ceux – qui ont travaillé au bouleversement de la société traditionnelle : les féministes. C’est la thèse, par exemple, du journaliste Éric Zemmour dans son livre Le Premier Sexe ; de l’énarque psychanalyste Michel Schneider dans son livre Big mother : Psychopathologie de la vie politique, ou encore de l’ex-candidat au poste d’idéologue du Front national, Alain Soral, dans son ouvrage Vers la féminisation ? Ce discours, que nous qualifions de « masculiniste », est, pour beaucoup, un phénomène marginal véhiculé par quelques individus isolés, voire dérangés. Mais à y regarder de plus près, il s’agit bel et bien d’un mouvement idéologique, dynamique en Grande-Bretagne ou au Québec, mais qui s’active également en France. (…) La tactique du masculinisme est, souvent, de récupérer les outils d’analyse et le vocabulaire féministe pour les retourner contre les féministes en dénonçant un système d’oppression imaginaire. Ainsi, le matriarcat aurait désormais remplacé le patriarcat. Ce n’est pas sans faire penser à ces journalistes défenseurs du système capitaliste qui, inversant les rôles, n’ont de cesse de dénoncer « la dictature des syndicats »… Cette mauvaise foi, c’est celle d’un Patrick Guillot, auteur de La Cause des hommes, et pour qui il a suffi qu’une seule femme soit devenue pilote de Concorde, en 2000, pour affirmer que la profession s’était féminisée et que les hommes n’avaient « plus de modèle ». Plus magnanime, Michel Schneider reconnaît que les hommes dominent largement les sphères du pouvoir, mais… qu’ils gouvernent comme des « mères », imposant des « valeurs féminines » à la France. Des héros comme Zidane ne sont plus des modèles masculins parce que, selon Zemmour – qui ne se prive pas de flirter avec l’homophobie –, ils jouent « comme des femmes », avec un esprit d’entraide, et adoptent une esthétique homosexuelle… Pour théoriser la « crise des hommes », les masculinistes développent systématiquement quatre arguments : les filles réussissent mieux à l’école ; des hommes sont également victimes de violences conjugales ; les hommes se suicident plus que les femmes ; et en cas de divorce les tribunaux attribuent généralement la garde des enfants à la mère. Examinons chacun de ces arguments. Primo, si les filles ont tendance à obtenir de meilleurs résultats scolaires, cette donnée fluctue selon les écoles, et les milieux favorisés ne présentent pas ce type d’écart. Dans les écoles qui le sont moins, les filles seraient en moyenne plus studieuses parce qu’elles savent, consciemment ou non, que le marché de l’emploi est généralement bien plus favorable aux hommes. Secundo, les masculinistes brandissent des chiffres selon lesquels les hommes sont autant, sinon davantage, victimes de violence conjugale que les femmes. Ils s’abstiennent toutefois de se pencher sur le contexte des violences conjugales. La violence des hommes est majoritairement plus brutale et répétitive – s’inscrivant dans une logique de pouvoir sur les femmes –, et celle des femmes relève davantage de la défense. Tertio, le taux de suicide des hommes serait plus élevé que celui des femmes. Cette affirmation est, encore une fois, isolée de son contexte. En fait la proportion de tentatives de suicide est quasi la même pour les femmes que pour les hommes même si ces derniers « réussissent » davantage. Et c’est sans compter que d’autres phénomènes de désespoir, comme la dépression, touchent majoritairement les femmes. Quarto, en réalité, dans la grande majorité des cas, les divorces se concluent à l’amiable, et la grande majorité des pères délèguent volontiers à la mère la garde des enfants. Certes, lorsque les tribunaux doivent trancher, les juges attribuent plus souvent la garde des enfants aux mères qu’aux pères, mais c’est bien le patriarcat qui est en cause, la magistrature considérant qu’il est plus « naturel » qu’une femme s’occupe des enfants. Mélissa Blais et Francis Dupuis-Déri
Dès leur plus jeune âge, on apprend aux filles à croiser ou à serrer les jambes alors que les hommes les écartent pour affirmer leur virilité. Sophie Bouchet (Glamour)
Pour faire simple, un homme croisant les jambes est catalogué “efféminé” depuis la petite école ; une femme se tenant les jambes écartées est jugée ou bien “masculine” (vulgaire) ou bien “aguicheuse” (surtout si elle porte une jupe)… Margot Baldassi
Le taux moyen de spermatozoïdes (…) a décliné toute la seconde moitié du XXe siècle, avec en France une accélération dans les années 1970 : en 20 ans, les donneurs de sperme du CECOS de Paris ont perdu — en moyenne — 40 % de leurs spermatozoïdes (− 2,1 %/an) ; le nombre de spermatozoïdes chutant de 89×106/mL de sperme en 1973 à 60×106/mL en 1992. Après ajustement (âge et durée de l’abstinence sexuelle), sur ces 20 ans, chaque nouvelle génération (par année civile de naissance) a perdu 2,6 % des spermatozoïdes de la cohorte née l’année précédente, et le taux de spermatozoïdes mobiles a diminué de 0,3 % par an, et celui des spermatozoïdes de forme normale a diminué de 0,7 %/an. (…)  À ce rythme, en 2070 (dans les pays d’où proviennent les études) toute la population masculine devrait être infertile, et dès 2025, le sperme ne serait plus assez fécondant pour qu’un couple puisse se passer d’une fécondation assistée. Cette tendance ne peut cependant être qu’indicative, car la cause du phénomène est encore mal cernée, et pourrait peut-être avoir été corrigée dans les prochaines décennies, avant un seuil fatal. Wikipedia
La température joue un rôle primordial dans la spermatogenèse.  La cigarette, la cannabis, l’alimentation et le fait d’être assis, ont une incidence. Pour fabriquer des petits soldats, les glandes génitales masculines doivent rester à une température idéale de 22 degrés -voilà pourquoi elles sont à l’extérieur du corps, contrairement aux ovaires chez la femme. A 37 degrés, la spermatogenèse se bloque. Stéphane Droupy (professeur d’urologie, CHU de Nîmes)
There are anecdotal reports that men who wear (Scottish) kilts have better sperm quality and better fertility. But how much is true? Total sperm count and sperm concentration reflect semen quality and male reproductive potential. It has been proven that changes in the scrotal temperature affect spermatogenesis. We can at least affirm that clothing increases the scrotal temperature to an abnormal level that may have a negative effect on spermatogenesis. Thus, it seems plausible that men should wear skirts and avoid trousers, at least during the period during which they plan to conceive children. Methods and results Analysis of literature concerning scrotal temperature and spermatogenesis and fertility. Wearing a Scottish kilt in a traditional (‘regimental’) way may have clear health-related benefits. Kilt wearing likely produces an ideal physiological scrotal environment, which in turn helps maintain normal scrotal temperature, which is known to be beneficial for robust spermatogenesis and good sperm quality. Based on literature on scrotal temperature, spermatogenesis and fertility, the hypothesis that men who regularly wear a kilt during the years in which they wish to procreate will, as a group, have significantly better rates of sperm quality and higher fertility. EJO Kompanjie
A half-hour train ride with legs crossed might raise testicular temperatures, but not long enough to do any harm. Dr. Marc Goldstein (director of the center for male reproductive medicine and microsurgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center)
You have been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in. You learn from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence. You used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much. I learned to absorb. I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself. I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters. Lily Myers
Have I ever thought that I’m taking up too much space? Not really. But maybe now I am. Manspreader
Of course, hogging space in a crowded subway car is rude and inconsiderate. But are men really the worst offenders? After years of subway riding, I can say I’ve never noticed this to be the case. Neither have some of my female friends in New York City; others have said that while they’ve noticed male leg-spread, women can be just as bad with purses and shopping bags. In the past year, I’ve tried to watch for subway space-hogging patterns myself. The worst case I saw was a woman sitting at a half turn with her purse next to her, occupying at least two and possibly three seats. Granted it was in a half-empty car, but the same seems to be true in most photos posted by activists to shame « manspreaders. » Incidentally, in some of those photos, you can spot female passengers taking up extra space — sometimes because of the way they cross their legs. Yes, men tend to sit with their legs apart. (Many will tell you it’s an issue of comfort and, well, male anatomy.) I haven’t seen many do so in a way that inconveniences others. Indeed, the supposed offenders in some of the shaming photos are clearly not spreading beyond their own seats. It’s also worth noting that when criticisms of bad subway manners first began to show up on the Internet five years ago, no one seemed particularly exercised about male postures. When street artist Jason Shelowitz (or Jay Shells) surveyed New Yorkers about subway etiquette violations for a series of posters in 2010, nail clipping topped the list, followed by religion and noise pollution. « Physical contact » and disregard of seating priority were also mentioned, but with no regard to gender. The anti-spread campaign has little to do with etiquette. It’s part of a recent surge in a noxious form of feminism — or pseudo feminism — preoccupied with male misbehavior, no matter how trivial. The activists believe that « man-sitting, » as it has also been dubbed, is a matter of male entitlement, display of power or even sexual harassment. That says far more about feminist paranoia than it does about male conduct. This brand of feminism is not about equality; it’s about shaming directed at males, as the subway seating issue makes abundantly clear. Even the word « manspreading, » with its nasty and somewhat obscene overtones, is a gender-based slur. Imagine the reaction if men took photos of inconsiderate women with large purses or shopping bags and posted them with exhortations to « stop the womanspread. » You can bet such activism would not get positive media coverage or a sympathetic response from the MTA. A public service campaign against space-hogging — and other forms of incivility on the subway — would be welcome. Selective male-shaming is not. Stop the bashing, please; it’s a human issue. Cathy Young
I am glad that the government is finally taking action. This is clearly not the kind of thing that could be solved by asking people to scoot over and make room for you to sit down, and I am glad the government is finally doing something about it. Katherine Timpf
I see these guys all the time. Legs spread wide, taking up the space of three or four people, leaning against the train doors and blocking the entrance, stretched out so no one sit next to them. It all plays out like an assertion of male dominance, in which every one of them feels as if they have to claim their territory and their manhood in this public space, even at the discomfort of all the other passengers. Who gives a fuck if you can’t sit, they are men. See their balls. I never thought about the way I sit or stand in public before now. I never felt the need to sit with my legs wider than the shoulders of an NFL linebacker to feel comfortable. When I stand, I sometimes cross my legs. I move to accommodate people. And now I wonder what people see when they look at me doing so. Perhaps they think I’m exceedingly polite. Maybe I’m a docile black man. I may be read as effeminate. I never worried about these things from behind the driver’s seat of a car. But now people can see me, and as much as I want to divorce myself from the idea of there being a proper way to perform masculinity, I find myself burdened with thinking I’m doing it wrong. And this is what our culture does. It takes the most mundane of activities and turns them into performances that are supposed to articulate or worthiness as human beings. When I stand with my legs crossed on a train where people can clearly see me, I’m supposed to feel bad about myself. I’m supposed to adjust into a more “manly” pose, whether no regard for whether it feels natural or comfortable. Apply that to things more important than how one looks riding the subway, and the crisis of masculinity becomes a real, dangerous one that requires our introspection. Mychal Denzel Smith
Research in environmental sciences has found that the ergonomic design of human-made environments influences thought, feeling and action. (…) The first three experiments found that individuals who engaged in expansive postures (either explicitly or inadvertently) were more likely to steal money,cheat on a test, and commit traffic violations in a driving simulation. Results suggested that participants’ self-reported sense of power mediated the link between postural expansiveness and dishonesty. Study 4 revealed that automobiles with more expansive driver’s seats were more likely to be illegally parked on New York City streets. Taken together, results suggest that:(1) environments that expand the body can inadvertently lead us to feel more powerful, and (2) these feelings of power can cause dishonest behavior. Andy J. Yap (MIT)
In groups of men, those with higher status typically assume looser and more relaxed postures; the boss lounges comfortably behind the desk while the applicant sits tense and rigid on the edge of his seat.  Higher-status individuals may touch their subordinates more than they themselves get touched; they initiate more eye contact and are smiled at by their inferiors more than they are observed to smile in return.  What is announced in the comportment of superiors is confidence and ease… Sandra Lee Bartky
Psychologist Andy Yap and his colleagues tested whether “expansive body postures” like the ones associated with masculinity increase people’s sense of powerfulness and entitlement.  They did.  In laboratory experiments, people who were prompted to take up more space were more likely to steal, cheat, and violate traffic laws in a simulation.  A sense of powerfulness, reported by the subjects, mediated the effect (a robust finding that others have documented as well). In a real world test of the theory, they found that large automobiles with greater internal space were more likely than small ones to be illegally parked in New York City.  Lisa Wade
By virtue of being occupied by both men and women, space is inherently gendered. The way women and men interact is guided by norms and scripts that steer our behavior in a way that is so powerful that it is often unconscious. Research shows that when in public, women tend to occupy less space, holding legs closer together and keeping their arms closer to their bodies. Men on the other hand are more likely to have their legs spread at a 10- to 15-degree angle and keep their arms 5 to 10 degrees away from their bodies. But this isn’t just about space. Researchers have found that taking expansive body postures doesn’t just make people feel more entitled, it also makes them more likely to steal, cheat and fail to respect traffic laws. So manspreading can breed bigger problems than just crowded subway cars: It reinforces attitudes and behaviors that are harmful for society as a whole. Elizabeth Plank

Et après on s’étonne de la baisse de fertilité des hommes !

En ces temps étranges, entre marche des salopes et bataille des toilettes, de mariage et de gestation assistée pour tous mais aussi d’euthanasie peut-être bientôt remboursée par la Sécurité sociale …

Pendant qu’entre polluants, sédentarisation, vêtements et sous-vêtements serrés voire ordinateurs portables, la baisse de la fertilité masculine des pays riches depuis 50 ans pourrait à terme rendre nécessaire la fécondation assistée, poussant déjà certains à prôner pour les hommes le retour  de cette conquête sociale devenue désormais corset invisible pour les femmes …

Et que longtemps tolérée voire encouragée quand il s’agissait d‘Israël, la barbarie islamiste atteint à présent nos propres rues

Comment à l’heure où le métro de New York lance une campagne de sensibilisation contre les incivilités et notamment l’étalement masculin (pardon: le « manspreading »)  …

Ne pas voir la grandeur d’une société occidentale en voie de mondialisation toujours plus soucieuse du plus faible

Mais aussi les dérives victimaires de ces idées chrétiennes devenues folles dont Chesterton parlait déjà au siècle dernier ?

« Manspreading »: une campagne de sensibilisation dans les transports new-yorkais s’attaque aux incivilités masculines
Morgane Fabre-Bouvier
Le HuffPost
23/12/2014

SOCIÉTÉ- Le vendredi 19 décembre, la Metropolitan Transportation Authority de New-York, l’équivalent de la RATP parisienne ou de la RTM marseillaise, a dévoilé les visuels de sa nouvelle campagne « courtesy counts », soit « l’importance de la courtoisie ». La campagne entend éduquer les voyageurs et combattre l’incivilité. En ligne de mire ceux qui mangent dans les rames de métro, les porteurs de sacs à dos à l’heure de pointe, mais surtout les « manspreaders », ces usagers qui se rendent coupables de « man-spreading ».

Le man-spreading ? C’est le fameux Urban Dictionnary, le dictionnaire en ligne des mots argotiques anglophones, qui popularise le terme. « Lorsqu’un mec s’assoit en étalant ses jambes au maximum, avec la forme d’un V » peut-on lire sur le site. Le terme dénonce ces hommes envahissants qui s’assoient en écartant les jambes, prenant parfois l’équivalent de deux places dans les trains, métros ou bus, souvent au détriment de leurs voisines.

En France, le terme apparaît pour la première en 2013, lorsque le succès du Tumblr Men taking up too much space on the train (ces hommes qui prennent trop de place dans le métro) traverse l’Atlantique. Sur le site du Monde, un billet de blog affirmait déjà à l’époque: « Constatée dans le ‘subway’ de New York, la domination masculine sur les bancs du métro est également avérée à Paris, voire dans les trains du quotidien, en France’.

De fait, sur internet, les témoignages, photos et articles sur le sujet affluent. Dans Glamour, on peut lire: « Dès leur plus jeune âge, on apprend aux filles à croiser ou à serrer les jambes alors que les hommes les écartent pour affirmer leur virilité ». Le débat se poursuit sur Twitter. Le blog pop-up urbain résume : « Pour faire simple, un homme croisant les jambes est catalogué ‘efféminé’ depuis la petite école; une femme se tenant les jambes écartées est jugée ‘masculine’ (vulgaire) ou bien ‘aguicheuse’ (surtout si elle porte une jupe) « .

Sur Kombini, on essaye tant bien que mal d’avancer des explications : « la tendance masculine à écarter les cuisses en position assise relève avant tout d’un réflexe physiologique », tente l’auteur. « Mon grand, je doute que ton sexe soit si énorme qu’il ait besoin de sa propre banquette » réplique le blog féministe Jezebel. Sur le tumblr Saving room for cats (je garde la place pour des chats) des internautes photoshopent des chats entre les jambes des « manspreaders ».

Libérer la parole

Avec cette campagne de publicité, la Metropolitan Transportation Authority tente avant tout d’ouvrir le débat. « Il va sans dire que l’objectif de cet exercice n’est pas de bêtement pointer du doigt les manspreaders », peut-on lire sur le site Distractify. « Il s’agit d’ouvrir le dialogue et d’essayer de comprendre pourquoi quelque chose d’aussi énervant continue d’exister », poursuit l’auteur.

Lorsque la journaliste Lauren Evans part à la rencontre des manspreaders du métro new-yorkais, nombreux sont ceux qui affirment ne tout simplement pas se rendre compte que leur position est gênante (vidéo en anglais)…

Quel effet pour cette campagne ? Le métro new-yorkais ne prévoit aucune sanction pour les contrevenants. Dans le New-York Times, la majorité des hommes abordés semble prendre la question à la légère. Interrogé, un jeune homme de 20 ans répond « je ne vais pas croiser mes jambes comme le font les femmes. Je vais continuer de m’asseoir de la façon dont je veux ».

Dans le même article toutefois, une jeune femme affirme que grâce à ces affiches, elle a enfin l’impression d’être prise au sérieux et d’avoir l’autorité de son côté. « De cette façon, j’oserai davantage demander à ces hommes de me faire de la place » explique-t-elle. De fait, les langues se délient progressivement autour du problème. Au Japon, des affiches representant les « manspreaders » en envahisseur venus de l’espace pullulent dans le métro. En Turquie, une organisation féministe a lancé en Février un mouvement sur les réseaux sociaux pour inciter les hommes à laisser de la place aux femmes dans les transports en commun.

Voir aussi:

N.Y. / Region
A Scourge Is Spreading. M.T.A.’s Cure? Dude, Close Your Legs.
‘Manspreading’ on New York Subways Is Target of New M.T.A. Campaign
Emma G. Fitzimmons
NYT

Dec. 20, 2014

It is the bane of many female subway riders. It is a scourge tracked on blogs and on Twitter.

And it has a name almost as distasteful as the practice itself.

It is manspreading, the lay-it-all-out sitting style that more than a few men see as their inalienable underground right.

Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Taking on manspreading for the first time, the authority is set to unveil public service ads that encourage men to share a little less of themselves in the city’s ever-crowded subways cars.

The targets of the campaign, those men who spread their legs wide, into a sort of V-shaped slouch, effectively occupying two, sometimes even three, seats are not hard to find. Whether they will heed the new ads is another question.

Riding the F train from Brooklyn to Manhattan on a recent afternoon, Fabio Panceiro, 20, was unapologetic about sitting with his legs spread apart.
Manspreading in action. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will address the practice as part a new ad campaign. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
“I’m not going to cross my legs like ladies do,” he said. “I’m going to sit how I want to sit.”

And what if Mr. Panceiro, an administrative assistant from Los Angeles, saw posters on the train asking him to close his legs? “I’d just laugh at the ad and hope that someone graffitis over it,” he said.

For Kelley Rae O’Donnell, an actress who confronts manspreaders and tweets photos of them, her solitary shaming campaign now has the high-powered help of the transportation authority, whose ads will be plastered inside subway cars.

“It drives me crazy,” she said of men who spread their legs. “I find myself glaring at them because it just seems so inconsiderate in this really crowded city.”

When Ms. O’Donnell, who lives in Brooklyn and is in her 30s, asks men to move, she said, they rarely seem chastened: “I usually get grumbling or a complete refusal.”

Kelley Rae O’Donnell, who confronts manspreaders and posts their photos online, captured an image of one on a train this month. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
The new ads — aimed at curbing rude behavior like manspreading and wearing large backpacks on crowded trains — are set to go up in the subways next month. They will all carry the slogan, “Courtesy Counts: Manners Make a Better Ride.”

One of the posters is likely to be especially welcome to women — as well as to men who frown on manspreading: “Dude… Stop the Spread, Please” reads the caption next to an image of riders forced to stand as a man nearby sits so that he takes up two seats.

The campaign is the latest in a long line of courtesy-themed crusades by the authority going back to at least the 1940s. One such ad urged women annoyed by impolite male riders to, “Hit Him Again Lady, We Don’t Like Door-Blockers Either.”

The new ads come as more riders are crowding onto the subways than at any time in recent history. In 2014, the system logged as many as 6.1 million riders on a single day, up from just under 5.1 million riders on the busiest day a decade ago. The city’s population, meanwhile, has swelled to more than 8.4 million people, pushing everyone closer and closer.

With crime no longer rampant on the subway, the campaign is the latest sign that other unwelcome behavior is getting attention.

A poster taking aim at the practice of manspreading is part of a new civility-themed campaign by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Credit Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Several blogs regularly highlight instances of manspreading where knees stretch several feet apart. On some sites, images of large objects like the Death Star from “Star Wars” have been added with Photoshop into the space between the splayed legs. While there are women who take up more than their share of space, the offenders are usually men.

One admitted manspreader, John Hubbard, sat with his legs wide apart on an F train as it traveled through Manhattan recently.

“It’s more comfortable,” he said with a shrug.

Mr. Hubbard, 45, an engineer who lives in New Jersey, said he might move his leg, but not for just anyone. For an older person, he would. And for an attractive woman, he said, he definitely would.

Sherod Luscombe shook his head when he saw two men sitting with their legs spread on another train, taking up three seats between them. Mr. Luscombe, 58, a clinical social worker, said he thought the men should move, but he was not about to confront them.

“I’m not going to say, ‘Bro, there is a lady standing up right there. Cross your legs, young man,’ ” he said.

Women have theories about why some men sit this way. Some believe it is just a matter of comfort and may not even be intentional. Others consider it an assertion of power, or worse.

Bridget Ellsworth, a 28-year-old music teacher, views manspreading as sexual harassment because some men engage in it near her even when the subway car is not packed.

“They could move over and spread out their legs all they want,” she said, “but they’re squeezing next to me and doing it.”

For men who think that sitting with their legs spread is socially acceptable, manners experts say it is not. Peter Post, the author of the book “Essential Manners for Men” and great-grandson of etiquette guru Emily Post, said the proper way for men to sit is with their legs parallel rather than in a V-shape.

“I’m baffled by people who do that kind of thing, who take other people’s space,” he said.

Olof Hansson, a director of the Manhattan men’s spa John Allan’s, put it more succinctly. “A true gentleman doesn’t sit on the subway, he stands.”

As for men who may worry that crossing their legs could hurt their virility, doctors say there is nothing to fear. A half-hour train ride with legs crossed might raise testicular temperatures, but not long enough to do any harm, said Dr. Marc Goldstein, director of the center for male reproductive medicine and microsurgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Philadelphia has a new etiquette campaign, too, with posters that say, “Dude It’s Rude… Two Seats — Really?”

But Kristin Geiger, a spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said the campaign in the City of Brotherly Love is aimed at passengers with bags on seats, not people spreading their legs too far apart. Manspreading, she said, may be a “localized” problem in New York. “I don’t know of any complaints that have come through customer service about manspreading,” she said. Transit officials in Chicago and Washington said the phenomenon is not a major concern for riders in those cities either.

In New York, the transportation authority went back and forth about what tone to take when tackling the topic, said Paul Fleuranges, the authority’s senior director for corporate and internal communications. Officials knew it could be ripe for parody on late night television and did not want their approach to be too snarky. But Mr. Fleuranges said he knew that the ads had to speak directly to the spreaders.

“I had them add the dude part,” he said, “because I think, ‘Dude, really?’ « 

Voir également:

Why ‘Manspreading’ Is Definitely a Serious Issue, as Explained by the Feminist Internet
The government should maybe do even more.

Katherine Timpf

National review online

January 6, 2015

You might not think that it’s appropriate for the government to launch a campaign telling men how to sit on the subway. Well guess what? You’re wrong.

If you “manspread” on the subway (which, by the way, means to sit with your legs apart, in case you are a fixture of the patriarchy who doesn’t educate himself on important women’s issues), you are doing so much more than taking up space.

Here’s what’s really going on with manspreading, as explained by some of the bright, forward-thinking minds on the Feminist Internet:

1. Manspreading is saying, “Who gives a fuck if you can’t sit, [we] are men. See [our] balls.”

This is as explained by a man, Mychal Denzel Smith, for the blog Feministing. (Finally a man courageous enough to cue the rest of the world in to the secret language of the subway brotherhood!)

2. Manspreading is “an assertion of male dominance,” and “every one” of the manspreaders does it because he feels like he has to “claim [his] territory and [his] manhood in this public space, even at the discomfort of all the other passengers.”

Another great point by Smith. Who, by the way, also wrote: “When I stand, I sometimes cross my legs.” Sexy, sexy, sexy! Amirite ladies?!

3. “Let’s talk about these f***ing guys for a second because they’re f***ing everywhere. The MTA is full of them.”

Madeleine Davies of Jezebel really makes a great point here. In her brilliant piece, titled “F*** You, Dudes Who Sit With Their Legs Spread So Wide That They Take Up Two Seats,” Davies explains that it’s not just like two or three dudes who sit this way. Seeing as literally millions of people ride the subway every day, I might have been able to use context clues to figure out that probably there are a lot of people doing this, but she deserves praise for putting it so eloquently.

4. “There is no worse, man-centric behavior than manspreading on the subway.”

Seriously — Brian Moylan is totally right. There is nothing worse than manspreading. I would much rather be sneezed on or purposely verbally sexually harassed. I wonder if he crosses his legs when he stands the way Smith does. If so, there are wayyyyy more sexy men in NYC than I thought!

See, it’s so much worse than just being rude. It’s the patriarchy. I’m pretty angry that the MTA campaign will also cover people taking up space with backpacks and stuff as if it’s even close to the same thing. Stupid idiot female traitors like Cathy Young, who wrote a piece called “‘Manspreading’? But Women Hog Subway Space, Too,” don’t help. But I guess some people just don’t get it. Manspreading is nothing like when I sometimes come on the train with a giant backpack, because my backpack does not metaphorically spit on your face for your gender.

I am glad that the government is finally taking action. This is clearly not the kind of thing that could be solved by asking people to scoot over and make room for you to sit down, and I am glad the government is finally doing something about it.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.

Voir encore:

‘Manspreading’? But women hog subway space, too

Cathy Young

Newsday

January 5, 2015

As we enter 2015, the latest feminist crusade seems to come straight from the life-imitates-satire department. It has everything one could want in a caricature of feminism: petty grievances, gleeful male-bashing, egregious double standards. And it also seems to have the official blessing of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It’s the war on « manspreading, » the male habit of sitting with legs apart and (supposedly) taking up too much space on the subway.

Gripes about this alleged offense have been cropping up on feminist blogs for a couple of years. Now it is the target of a new public service ad campaign. MTA posters will show a figure seated with wide-open legs next to two standing passengers, with the tagline, « Dude . . . Stop the spread, please. It’s a space issue. »

Of course, hogging space in a crowded subway car is rude and inconsiderate. But are men really the worst offenders? After years of subway riding, I can say I’ve never noticed this to be the case. Neither have some of my female friends in New York City; others have said that while they’ve noticed male leg-spread, women can be just as bad with purses and shopping bags.
CartoonMatt Davies’ latest cartoon: ‘Broken windows’

In the past year, I’ve tried to watch for subway space-hogging patterns myself. The worst case I saw was a woman sitting at a half turn with her purse next to her, occupying at least two and possibly three seats. Granted it was in a half-empty car, but the same seems to be true in most photos posted by activists to shame « manspreaders. » Incidentally, in some of those photos, you can spot female passengers taking up extra space — sometimes because of the way they cross their legs.

Yes, men tend to sit with their legs apart. (Many will tell you it’s an issue of comfort and, well, male anatomy.) I haven’t seen many do so in a way that inconveniences others. Indeed, the supposed offenders in some of the shaming photos are clearly not spreading beyond their own seats. It’s also worth noting that when criticisms of bad subway manners first began to show up on the Internet five years ago, no one seemed particularly exercised about male postures. When street artist Jason Shelowitz (or Jay Shells) surveyed New Yorkers about subway etiquette violations for a series of posters in 2010, nail clipping topped the list, followed by religion and noise pollution. « Physical contact » and disregard of seating priority were also mentioned, but with no regard to gender.

The anti-spread campaign has little to do with etiquette. It’s part of a recent surge in a noxious form of feminism — or pseudo feminism — preoccupied with male misbehavior, no matter how trivial. The activists believe that « man-sitting, » as it has also been dubbed, is a matter of male entitlement, display of power or even sexual harassment. That says far more about feminist paranoia than it does about male conduct.

This brand of feminism is not about equality; it’s about shaming directed at males, as the subway seating issue makes abundantly clear. Even the word « manspreading, » with its nasty and somewhat obscene overtones, is a gender-based slur. Imagine the reaction if men took photos of inconsiderate women with large purses or shopping bags and posted them with exhortations to « stop the womanspread. » You can bet such activism would not get positive media coverage or a sympathetic response from the MTA.

A public service campaign against space-hogging — and other forms of incivility on the subway — would be welcome. Selective male-shaming is not. Stop the bashing, please; it’s a human issue.

Voir de plus:

Shrinking Women
Lily Myers
2013

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn’t deprive herself,
but I’ve learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I’ve realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I’m not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it’s proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she’s « crazy about fruit. »

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, round stomach,
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking,
making space for the entrance of men into their lives,
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
« How can anyone have a relationship to food? » he asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself.
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters,
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits-

that’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit,
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again.
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many.
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don’t want to do either anymore,
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country.
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word « sorry. »
I don’t know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza,
a circular obsession I never wanted, but

inheritance is accidental,
still staring at me with wine-soaked lips from across the kitchen table.

Voir par ailleurs:

Les sous-vêtements ont-ils un impact sur la fertilité masculine?
Anaïs Giroux
L’Express
26/04/2013

Alors qu’une récente étude prône l’absence de sous-vêtements pour favoriser la fertilité, Stéphane Droupy, professeur d’urologie, nous explique le réel impact des slips et des caleçons sur la fecondité masculine.

Des sous-vêtements trop serrés peuvent-ils réellement nuire à la production de spermatozoïdes?

Le port du kilt favoriserait la fertilité, affirme une étude publiée le 24 avril 2013 dans une revue scientifique… écossaise. Tiens donc. Derrière le trait d’humour, les chercheurs avancent néanmoins que les sous-vêtements et pantalons serrés nuiraient à la production de spermatozoïdes en tenant les testicules trop au chaud. « La température joue un rôle primordial dans la spermatogenèse », confirme Stéphane Droupy, professeur d’urologie au CHU de Nîmes.

La cigarette, la cannabis, l’alimentation et le fait d’être assis, ont une incidence
Pour fabriquer des petits soldats, les glandes génitales masculines doivent rester à une température idéale de 22 degrés, explique Pr Droupy -voilà pourquoi elles sont à l’extérieur du corps, contrairement aux ovaires chez la femme. « A 37 degrés, la spermatogenèse se bloque, poursuit le spécialiste. Certains chercheurs ont donc proposé comme méthodes de contraception le port d’un slip chauffant ou des opérations pour rentrer les testicules à l’intérieur du corps en les faisant remonter dans le canal inguinal. »

Les sous-vêtements n’ont aucun impact sur la fertilité
Entre ce genre d’intervention et le fait d’être à l’étroit du paquet, il y a une marge. Boxer, slip ou caleçon, le type de sous-vêtement n’a donc aucune incidence réelle sur votre futur de papa -« à moins d’être en fourrure, et encore », plaisante l’urologue. La cigarette, le cannabis, l’alimentation et le fait d’être assis sur une longue durée ont en revanche un impact scientifiquement prouvé. Parmi ses patients traités pour des problèmes de fertilité, Stéphane Droupy compte notamment des chauffeurs routiers, qui passent le plus clair de leur temps assis au volant de leur véhicule.

Le boxer plébiscité par les hommes
Coupes ou matières, vous êtes donc libre de choisir ce qui vous sied le mieux. En gardant peut-être en tête que, comme le rappelle avec humour le professeur, « pour faire des enfants, la première étape reste de trouver une partenaire. » Sur les forums comme au sein de la rédaction du site de L’Express, le boxer moulant de couleur sobre fait presque l’unanimité.
Le slip, boudé par tous
Message reçu pour 57% des hommes qui en portent d’ailleurs quotidiennement, selon un sondage de Kantar Worldpanel réalisé à l’occasion du salon de la lingerie 2011. Si le caleçon est apprecié par la gent masculine pour son confort, le slip, quant à lui, ne fait plus rêver personne. Il faut croire que Jean-Claude Dusse dans Les Bronzés ou encore Gros Dégueulasse, héros de la bande-dessinée de Reiser qui porte parfaitement son nom, ont réussi à ternir sa réputation à jamais.

L’urologue Stéphane Droupy est responsable d’andrologie et de médecine sexuelle de l’Association Française d’Urologie.

Voir de plus:

Renouveau de l’antiféminisme : L’éclosion du phénomène « masculiniste »
Mélissa Blais et Francis Dupuis-Déri
Alternative libertaire
3 octobre 2008

De ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, on ne les prend pas vraiment au sérieux. Pourtant, l’expérience nord-américaine montre que les provocations d’un énergumène comme Eric Zemmour ou d’un plumitif aigri comme Alain Soral peuvent être les signes avant-coureurs d’une vague antiféministe plus large.

Depuis quelques années, en France, des intellectuels, journalistes, psychologues et militants cherchent à attirer l’attention sur la difficulté d’être un homme, dans une société soi-disant dominée par les femmes en général, et les féministes en particulier. À les écouter, les hommes seraient en perte de repères, et il serait temps de contre-attaquer celles – et parfois ceux – qui ont travaillé au bouleversement de la société traditionnelle : les féministes. C’est la thèse, par exemple, du journaliste Éric Zemmour dans son livre Le Premier Sexe ; de l’énarque psychanalyste Michel Schneider dans son livre Big mother : Psychopathologie de la vie politique, ou encore de l’ex-candidat au poste d’idéologue du Front national, Alain Soral, dans son ouvrage Vers la féminisation ?

Ce discours, que nous qualifions de « masculiniste », est, pour beaucoup, un phénomène marginal véhiculé par quelques individus isolés, voire dérangés. Mais à y regarder de plus près, il s’agit bel et bien d’un mouvement idéologique, dynamique en Grande-Bretagne ou au Québec, mais qui s’active également en France.

Actions spectaculaires
Comme tout mouvement social, le masculinisme adopte différentes stratégies et tactiques pour promouvoir « la cause des hommes » : lobbying et dépôt de mémoires en commissions parlementaires, publication de livres, création de sites web et réseautage sur Internet, activisme juridique et actions directes. Au Québec, c’est le mouvement masculiniste qui a réussi les actions de perturbation les plus spectaculaires ces dernières années. En septembre 2005, par exemple, un militant a escaladé la structure du pont Jacques-Cartier, à Montréal pour bloquer la voie rapide et attirer l’attention sur la prétendue « crise des hommes ».

Une étude menée auprès d’environ 80 groupes de femmes au Québec (maisons d’hébergement, comités de femmes de quartier, etc.) a révélé que près de la moitié ont été la cibles de menaces diverses, allant de coups de fil anonymes à des courriels haineux, en passant par des intimidations physiques, de la part de militants masculinistes ou, à tout le moins, antiféministes.

En plus des intellectuels et des militants radicaux de groupes de pères qui mènent des actions chocs, comme Fathers for Justice (F4J), le mouvement masculiniste peut compter sur le relais de certains éditorialistes, de professeurs d’université, de professionnels de la santé, de députés et même de militants de gauche et d’extrême gauche qui reprennent leur discours selon lequel le féminisme serait « allé trop loin ».

Inversion des rôles
La tactique du masculinisme est, souvent, de récupérer les outils d’analyse et le vocabulaire féministe pour les retourner contre les féministes en dénonçant un système d’oppression imaginaire. Ainsi, le matriarcat aurait désormais remplacé le patriarcat. Ce n’est pas sans faire penser à ces journalistes défenseurs du système capitaliste qui, inversant les rôles, n’ont de cesse de dénoncer « la dictature des syndicats »…

Cette mauvaise foi, c’est celle d’un Patrick Guillot, auteur de La Cause des hommes, et pour qui il a suffi qu’une seule femme soit devenue pilote de Concorde, en 2000, pour affirmer que la profession s’était féminisée et que les hommes n’avaient « plus de modèle ». Plus magnanime, Michel Schneider reconnaît que les hommes dominent largement les sphères du pouvoir, mais… qu’ils gouvernent comme des « mères », imposant des « valeurs féminines » à la France. Des héros comme Zidane ne sont plus des modèles masculins parce que, selon Zemmour – qui ne se prive pas de flirter avec l’homophobie –, ils jouent « comme des femmes », avec un esprit d’entraide, et adoptent une esthétique homosexuelle…

Quatre arguments structurants
Pour théoriser la « crise des hommes », les masculinistes développent systématiquement quatre arguments : les filles réussissent mieux à l’école ; des hommes sont également victimes de violences conjugales ; les hommes se suicident plus que les femmes ; et en cas de divorce les tribunaux attribuent généralement la garde des enfants à la mère. Examinons chacun de ces arguments.

Primo, si les filles ont tendance à obtenir de meilleurs résultats scolaires, cette donnée fluctue selon les écoles, et les milieux favorisés ne présentent pas ce type d’écart. Dans les écoles qui le sont moins, les filles seraient en moyenne plus studieuses parce qu’elles savent, consciemment ou non, que le marché de l’emploi est généralement bien plus favorable aux hommes.

Secundo, les masculinistes brandissent des chiffres selon lesquels les hommes sont autant, sinon davantage, victimes de violence conjugale que les femmes. Ils s’abstiennent toutefois de se pencher sur le contexte des violences conjugales. La violence des hommes est majoritairement plus brutale et répétitive – s’inscrivant dans une logique de pouvoir sur les femmes –, et celle des femmes relève davantage de la défense.

Tertio, le taux de suicide des hommes serait plus élevé que celui des femmes. Cette affirmation est, encore une fois, isolée de son contexte. En fait la proportion de tentatives de suicide est quasi la même pour les femmes que pour les hommes même si ces derniers « réussissent » davantage. Et c’est sans compter que d’autres phénomènes de désespoir, comme la dépression, touchent majoritairement les femmes.

Quarto, en réalité, dans la grande majorité des cas, les divorces se concluent à l’amiable, et la grande majorité des pères délèguent volontiers à la mère la garde des enfants. Certes, lorsque les tribunaux doivent trancher, les juges attribuent plus souvent la garde des enfants aux mères qu’aux pères, mais c’est bien le patriarcat qui est en cause, la magistrature considérant qu’il est plus « naturel » qu’une femme s’occupe des enfants.

En somme, le masculinisme constitue une menace pour les femmes et pour le mouvement féministe qui, en plus de lutter contre le patriarcat, doit se défendre des violences diverses à son endroit.

• Mélissa Blais et Francis Dupuis-Déri ont dirigé l’ouvrage Le Mouvement masculiniste au Québec, l’antiféminisme démasqué, 264 pages, Remue-ménage, 2008.
Plus d’information sur la toile :
deux analyses de E. Morraletat, de la Nefac (communistes libertaires canadiens) : « Qui sont les masculinistes ? » et « Masculinisme : ressac identitaire patriarcal » sur http://www.nefac.net.
un dossier très complet sur http://www.arte-tv.com/masculinisme.
d’Hélène Palma, « La percée de la mouvance masculiniste en Occident » sur http://sisyphe.org.

Et sur papier :
Susan Falludi, Backlash, La guerre froide contre les femmes, éditions Des femmes, 1993, 576 pages, 37 euros.
Dorain Dozolme, Maud Gelly, « L’offensive masculiniste », in Femmes, genre, féminisme , Syllepse, 2007, 120 pages, 7 euros.
Patrizia Romito, Un silence de mortes : la violence masculine occultée, Syllepse, 2006, 298 pages, 25 euros.

Voir enfin:

Eric Zemmour, le « suicide français » et la haine des femmes
Martine Storti
Mediapart
24 octobre 2014

Ce sont les pages sur le régime de Vichy qui ont suscité la majeure partie des critiques faites au dernier livre d’Eric Zemmour, Le suicide français. Et à juste titre beaucoup ont pris la parole et la plume pour rappeler ce qu’il convenait, à savoir que, contrairement à ce qu’affirme Zemmour, c’est bien le régime pétainiste qui a envoyé des Juifs de France et des Juifs français dans les camps de la mort.
Cette réhabilitation de Vichy n’est pas un accident ou bien une provocation collatérale, elle est en cohérence avec le reste du livre. En effet rendre Vichy responsable, c’est rendre la France responsable, donc la salir, donc contribuer à la détruire. Et tel est bien l’enjeu de ce gros livre : dresser la liste de tous les responsables de « la mort de la France ».
Certes, pour Eric Zemmour le déclin de la France remonte à bien des décennies, quasiment deux siècles puisqu’il a commencé avec la défaite de Waterloo et la fin du Premier empire. Déclin car la France n’est vraiment elle-même que si elle est impériale, non pas à travers un empire colonial ou une domination par la culture et par la langue, mais seulement comme une puissance dominante en Europe, et même de préférence dominante de l’Europe, la « grandeur de la France se confondant avec la gloire de ses armées ».

Si le déclin de la France a commencé avec Waterloo, il s’accélère, selon Eric Zemmour, avec mai 68 et les décennies qui suivent cet épouvantable évènement, réduit, soit dit en passant, à quelques slogans et aux « enragés » alors qu’il s’est agi d’une très grande et très longue grève ouvrière, une grève faite par ce « peuple » que Zemmour prétend tellement aimer et tellement défendre. Il est vrai que pour lui, le « peuple » – on a la précision à la page 525 du livre – se compose aujourd’hui plutôt des « bonnets rouges bretons » et des « manifestants contre le mariage pour tous ».

Le puzzle zemmourien du « suicide français » comprend de nombreuses pièces : la mondialisation libérale, le capitalisme financiarisé, l’Europe bruxelloise, l’euro, l’Angleterre, l’Allemagne forcément « hégémonique », les USA, les anglo-saxons, les protestants, mais aussi mai 68, les gauchistes, la gauche (mais pas les communistes qui ont eu le courage de défendre le « produire français » et la nation française), la droite (de l’extrême droite rien n’est dit), le centre, les antiracistes, les différents communautarismes, surtout juif et musulman, les écologistes, les homosexuels, les technocrates, les bobos, les immigrés, les féministes, j’en oublie sûrement, forcément le livre fait plus de 500 pages !

Comme Zemmour fait feu de tout bois, pioche chez les uns et les autres, s’en prend à beaucoup et aborde de nombreux sujets, il est possible de trouver telle ou telle partie de l’exercice pertinente et juste. Mais c’est l’ensemble, le systématisme du réquisitoire qui fait problème, tout se passant en effet comme si les nombreux responsables énoncés ci-dessus étaient les multiples composantes d’un vaste complot visant à détruire la France, multiples composantes alliées les unes aux autres, complémentaires les unes des autres. J’ajoute que dans le logiciel de Zemmour, pas de place pour la nuance, la complexité, la reconnaissance qu’il peut y avoir, au sein de tel ou tel courant de pensée, de tel ou tel mouvement des différences, des divergences, des désaccords. Non, il faut s’en tenir au global, et même globaliser à outrance, les partisans de l’Europe par exemple étant forcément tous complices de la dérive libérale, les soixanthuitards pensant forcément tous la même chose, les antiracistes aussi, les bobos aussi, eux qui d’ailleurs habitent, n’est-ce pas, les mêmes quartiers (c’est-à-dire sous la plume de Zemmour aussi bien, pour les parisiens, le Marais que Belleville, comme si le prix de l’immobilier y était le même !).

Il serait trop long de passer en revue dans cet article toutes les pièces du puzzle, je m’en tiens à l’une d’entre elles, parce qu’elle me concerne de près mais aussi parce que Eric Zemmour fait du féminisme et même des femmes en général l’une des causes principales de cette « mort » de la France qui le chagrine tant.

Résumons : dans l’alliance mortifère « du libéralisme économique et du libéralisme sociétal », le féminisme tient une place centrale puisqu’il est responsable de la fin du patriarcat, de la mort du père, (c’est un leitmotiv), de la fin du mariage, de la fin de la famille, de la fin de la virilité, de la féminisation de la France et donc de son avachissement (les deux sont synonymes), et même du développement de la société de consommation et de la financiarisation de l’économie. Les pères d’avant « contenaient les pulsions consommatrices » tandis que les femmes, elles, sont des agents du consumérisme et donc du grand marché libéral ! Ainsi les femmes qui font souvent et depuis très longtemps le marché et les courses font aussi, qui l’eut cru, le grand marché !
Bref le féminisme, les femmes, les mères, confondues les unes aux autres sont des contributrices principales de la destruction de la société et de la France.

Mort du patriarcat, avec un mariage contractuel entre égaux, mais « la contractualisation du mariage de deux êtres égaux méconnait la subtilité des rapports entre les hommes et les femmes. Le besoin des hommes de dominer – au moins formellement- pour se rassurer sexuellement. Le besoin des femmes d’admirer pour se donner sans honte ».On appréciera le « au moins formellement ». Quant à la « subtilité », sans doute existe-t-elle dans le si « subtil » « manifeste des 343 salauds : touche pas à ma pute ! » dont Zemmour a été, en 2013, l’un des premiers signataires.Mais le patriarcat n’a pas disparu pour laisser place à l’égalité, non, à lui s’est substitué le matriarcat qui fait disparaître les pères, sommés de devenir « des mères comme les autres », tandis que l’Etat fort, garant de la force de la France, est remplacé par un « Etat maternel » donc « infantilisant » et « culpabilisant ». Le féminisme a aussi détruit « la famille occidentale », nous faisant ainsi revenir à « une humanité d’avant la loi qu’elle s’était donnée en interdisant l’inceste : une humanité barbare, sauvage, inhumaine ». Rien que ça !
Pour Eric Zemmour, la famille est patriarcale ou elle n’est pas. Cependant il y a encore des familles patriarcales où les enfants reçoivent « une éducation patriarcale », ce sont par exemple les « familles maghrébines ». Mais alors, pas de chance, ce maintien « détériore les relations avec les indigènes – les ouvriers et leurs familles, issus de l’exode rural ou de l’immigration européenne » qui sont en train de rejeter la dite éducation patriarcale. Pas de chance non plus, malgré cette éducation patriarcale, les garçons « volent et violent », sans doute parce qu’ils ne sont pas de vrais Français.

Vous ne trouverez pas une ligne, pas un mot sur ce qu’était, en France, la situation des femmes dans ces années tant regrettées par Zemmour, avant les mouvements féministes, avant la libéralisation de l’avortement, avant les luttes pour l’émancipation, pour l’égalité, ou contre les violences, luttes qui sont d’ailleurs sans cesse à reprendre. Pas un mot, ah non j’exagère ; de ce passé idyllique, il  parle, quand il évoque par exemple, « le jeune chauffeur de bus qui glisse une main concupiscente sur un charmant fessier féminin » sans que « la jeune femme ne porte plainte pour harcèlement sexuel » !

Réquisitoire contre le féminisme et obsession des femmes sur lesquelles Zemmour  ne peut s’empêcher de glisser une allusion, et parfois avec une grande élégance, n’est-ce pas, ainsi : «  les débats sont comme les femmes, les meilleurs sont ceux qu’on n’a pas eus », ou encore les hommes virils « préfèrent prendre les femmes sans les comprendre plutôt que de les comprendre sans les prendre », ou encore « la jeunesse diplômée qui tient « le rôle du gibier féminin face au chasseur viril ». Obsession de la virilité, par exemple celle des« soldats allemands qui sont impressionnants de virilité conquérante » et au charme desquels « beaucoup de femmes succombent ». Ne pas oublier aussi que « la domination sociale à chez elles (les femmes) un fort pouvoir érotique ».

Il serait trop long de tout citer ici. Je ne sais pas quand on touche le fond. Est-ce quand, à la revendication avancée par les féministes dans la lutte pour la liberté de l’avortement, « le droit de disposer de son corps », Zemmour ajoute « même avec un soldat ennemi » ? Est-ce quand il souligne l’évidence, après un « homosexuel assumé » maire de Paris, de la candidature en 2014 de deux femmes à sa succession, soit un pas de plus dans la dégradation de la capitale ? Pire qu’un gay, une femme !

Cependant, en parlant des femmes, il ne faut pas oublier les différences de classe, puisque l’un des objectifs de l’ouvrage est de séduire ceux que Zemmour appelle tantôt « les classes populaires », tantôt les « petits blancs ». J’ignorais quant à moi que le divorce entre adultes consentants avait été imposé par « la petite bourgeoisie montante » aux « classes populaires qui n’en pouvaient mais », comme si les dites classes populaires n’avaient droit qu’au divorce conflictuel ! Ou encore que la lutte pour la liberté de l’avortement et plus largement les luttes d’émancipation des femmes n’étaient qu’une lutte de « bourgeoises volant indûment aux prolétaires mâles le rôle envieux de victimes et d’exploitées », comme si aucune prolétaire n’était jamais morte d’un avortement clandestin, (d’ailleurs plus souvent justement que les dites « bourgeoises » qui avaient les moyens d’aller en Suisse ou en Angleterre pour avorter dans de bonnes conditions), comme si aucune ouvrière n’avait jamais été victime d’un viol…Il faut flatter aussi les jeunes prolétaires, et là encore ce sont les filles qui tiennent le mauvais rôle puisqu’aux « petits blancs » elles « préfèrent le bagout de la jeunesse des écoles ou même la virilité ostentatoire des racailles de banlieue ».

Il y a dans les pages du « suicide français », une misogynie affichée, une haine des féministes mais plus largement des femmes que je ne soupçonnais pas pouvoir encore exister ainsi.
J’ajoute que dans les quarante dernières années telles que les raconte Eric Zemmour, dansla France telle qu’il la voit, pas un tout petit coin de ciel bleu, pas un pâle rayon de soleil, pas même une lueur. Non, tout est négatif, sombre, noir, moche. Pas non plus l’ombre d’une proposition pour sortir la France de l’épouvantable situation dans laquelle, selon lui, elle se trouve. A quoi bon d’ailleurs puisque « la France se meurt, la France est morte » ?  A la fin de son livre, Zemmour, devenu prophète, annonce « la guerre civile » à venir. A se demander s’il ne la souhaite pas. S’il ne la veut pas.

PS : Comme Zemmour emprunte à beaucoup et que nombreuses sont les citations non référencées, tout vérifier demande un long travail. Mais il y en a au moins une immédiatement corrigible, ce n’est pas « Bien creusé, la taupe », c’est « Bien creusé, vieille taupe » !

Voir aussi:

http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/app/ask_sh

http://web.mta.info/nyct/safety/#harassment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQucWXWXp3k

http://gothamist.com/2014/09/30/worst_subway_etiquette_ever.php