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Updated: 02/11/03



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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003

What a treat - lunch with George. (And Steve and Ed, of course).

Feeling a bit political today. Perhaps as a result of the aforementioned lunch where it was decided that all things French, German and Belgian should be boycotted in light of their latest weaselly performance with NATO. So no more French Fries, German Chocolate Cake or Brussels Sprouts.

[Bummer.]

Speaking of which, Steven Den Beste (USS Clueless) has another interesting take on the possible motivations for various parties involved in all this. He also offers an enlightening look at the apparent culture clash of America and its European allies. He again delves into Jacksonian themes in U.S. actions and why some Europeans seem to be surprised by the intensity of American emotions in the face of the Franco / Prussian / Belgie opposition:

It doesn't help any that Europeans don't really understand the depth of hatred and determination that the September, 2001 attack raised in us, not least of which because from a Jacksonian point of view it was an attack without a declaration of war, targeted at civilians, using just about the most brutal means available. It is just about the epitome of "dirty war", and we won't hold back. This is not something we're going to forget; it isn't something we're just going to let pass. So when we're told that we are overreacting and need to tone it down, our response is "Tell that to the firemen who died in the WTC" (if the response doesn't end up involving a lot of vulgar invective).

But on a more basic level, to a large number of Americans, friends don't talk like that. If someone says horrible things about you, in public, then they're no longer a friend, especially if they do so in a crisis. In a period in which we fully expected our friends to rally to us and support us, what we are seeing instead is what looks like active opposition. Europeans may think this is nearly meaningless banter. Americans see it as deep betrayal.

That's the problem; to Americans, someone who talks like that is indicating that they are no longer friendly, because friends are respectful. Sure, we kid each other mercilessly, but that's not the same. We don't kid a man whose wife just died in a car accident, or whose child was just murdered. We don't try to tell him how he was partly responsible. We rally to his side, and support him. From an American point of view, that is how friends behave. Nothing else is acceptable.

He also adds:

I think that this is probably some of what has happened. I don't find the idea completely convincing in terms of being the total explanation. I really do think that France and Germany have something to hide. But it's important at all time to keep in mind the basic principle that we should never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. It may well be that much of the crisis we face is simply due to collective stupidity and lack of knowledge.

A few months ago, an audio tape came out that was reportedly Osama bin Laden, saying his usual garbage about killing all of us non-Muslims. Al-Jazeera broadcast it [big surprise] and there was loud international debate about whether or not it was really bin Laden.

My opinion? I think the guy was killed in Afghanistan months ago. Why? Because they never release video tapes, only audio. C'mon, if I wanted to let people know that I was still alive and broadcasting, I would use a video tape, and hold up a current newspaper. Kind of obvious, IMHO.

But the thing I found interesting about all of it was that the US Government weighed in and said that they had authenticated the tape and that it was bin Laden.

I wondered: why would the US Government say ANYTHING about whether or not the tape was authentic? I mean, all it does is give credibility to these terrorists, so what's the motivation? Why does the government want bin Laden to be alive?

I think that the US Government wants to use bin Laden to continue to fuel the anger in Americans so that we can go after the big huge threats (like Saddam) that are not as obvious about their hatred and plans. If the guy is dead, there are some that will argue that our war on terrorism is complete, we can go home. Plus, if he's dead, we cannot let bin Laden link himself with Iraq - like this:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - An audio tape purported to carry the voice of Osama bin Laden called on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and defend themselves against a U.S. attack.

The tape was broadcast on the Al-Jazeera Arab satellite station on Tuesday, the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. The speaker also urged Iraqis to dig trenches and engage in urban warfare to fend off U.S. troops.

Before the broacast, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel Tuesday that he had read a transcript of the statement and that it shows why the world needs to be concerned about Iraqi ties to terrorism.

Powell said that on the tape, "bin Laden or who we believe to be bin Laden" ... "once again speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq."

Washington insists that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is linked to bin Laden's al-Qaida network and cites that as one reason to launch military action against Iraq.

I am not a pundit. I have no reason to suggest that anything isn't as it appears. No "smoking gun."

[But isn't it nice that Mr. Laden is helping us out?]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"I like Frenchmen very much, because even when they insult you they do it so nicely."

-- Josephine Baker (1906 - 1975) French dancer, singer, entertainer

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