Friday, May 31, 2002

SACREBLEU!

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria argues that Europe needs to realize that, for Western countries, military intervention is sometimes the only way to guarantee peace and that diplomatic missions only so far (that is, not very).

Indeed, if we Europeans are serious about regaining our relevance on the international stage, we should quit complaining about America's "hegemony" and get down to business, show the dictators and mass murderers of this world that they should not only be afraid of Uncle Sam. As Zakaria points out, European nations led the bloodiest wars against eachother, and for 50 years have learned to make peace and live with eachother. Fantastic. The problem is that in the process, we seem to have applied this great philosophy of mutual respect to the rest of the world, and the only agression going on now is a verbal one towards the very people who came to free us in '44. We have to open our eyes to the fact that most of our neighbors are not in the same peace-loving, advanced post-materialistic state of mind. Pushing the war option to the side only makes the Realpolitik-inspired Americans more prominent and keeps us oblivious to the true matters of this world. Of course diplomacy is wonderful, non-violence should be our goal but I am not sure the Arafats and Sadaams of this planet are quite there yet.
TOUR DE FRANCE

The New Yorker's Joe Klein is traveling around France for The Guardian and Slate. His daily diary is a jewel whether you are American or French:

"Europe is in crisis, and in a fairly pissy mood besides. There is a growing "rift" with America. We are seen as naive, arrogant, unilateral barbarians. And Europe itself is becoming less fun: There is crime, there is a tide of immigrants, there are right-wing demagogues, there are right-wing demagogues being assassinated, there are lunatic children firing weapons in schools. Indeed, the news from Europe sounds ... rather American, don't you think? Could this possibly be true? Where are the accordion players of yesteryear? The Guardian has put me on the case: a six-country Arrogant Yank tour, starting in France, anti-Americanism's most fragrant vineyard. (...)

The train from Calais to Lille is a disgrace. I had hoped for the Orient Express. What I get is double-deckered, graffiti-smeared (the artist "Eczema '97" has claimed this for his own), and vinyl-seated. On my seat, someone has written, "A spliff a day keeps the doctor away." We haven't seen trains as anarchic as this in the States for years—and I experience an epiphany: Is it possible that Europe really has become just like America, but an America of the recent past—the 1970s, to be precise, a period for which I harbor zero nostalgia?

Think about it: In the '70s American politicians were still caught in the turbulence of the George Wallace phenomenon—Wallace, the American Le Pen, who had stood in the schoolhouse door to block integration. In the '70s, too, Americans were reacting against an exploding crime rate (it had quadrupled in the '60s) and a rush of new immigrants from such un-American places as Mexico, Korea, Vietnam, Africa, and South Asia. Young people were alienated. The economy was sluggish; American products weren't nearly so nifty as those from Germany and Japan. Jimmy Carter was worried about a national "malaise," which was reflected in the polls: For the first time in the history of the country, a majority of Americans didn't think next year would be better. Much of this was handled over time: Crime abated, industry reorganized itself, the immigrants proved themselves brilliant Americans, "Eczema '74" stowed the spray paint and learned computer programming, Donny and Marie Osmond retired. We vanquished the Evil Empire and made the world safe for Disney. We've even made some progress on race. But it was rather painful there for a while. One wonders if Europe can make a similar recovery."



Monday, May 27, 2002

W IN NORMANDY

George W. Bush is in Normandy right now, honoring the thousands of young men who died on our beaches to free France in June 1944. Normandy is actually just a couple hours away from here in Brittany and if it had not been for my finals, I may have taken a TGV to the scene, just to yell at the protesters who are marching against 'U.S. imperialism' to the chant of 'L'Internationale'. Organizers were expecting 15.000 people but only 1000 showed up. Many of them probably realized this is Memorial Day and used their last bit of reason to show some respect.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

CANNES

The Cannes film festival ended tonight. The ceremony was as short and boring as ever, and there was a eerie absence of booing, a Cannes tradition. The best answer to the radicals calling for a boycott of the Festival was the Palme d'Or given to Roman Polanski's 'The Pianist' with Adrien Brody, his very personal account of a Polish man surviving the Warsaw ghetto. My hero Martin Scorcese was there but was not asked to speak!!! Boogie Nights' P.T. Anderson won Best Director for his new movie with Adam 'Waterboy' Sandler. Unfortunately, Sandler was not there! That would have been a most unusual sight.
DE L'ESPOIR?

Plus de mille personnalités palestiniennes ont signé un appel à arrêter les attentats en Israël. Via l'excellent site Proche-Orient.info ou vous trouverez aussi toutes les informations sur les terroristes palestiniens que l'UE a acceuilli parmi nous.