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73 thoughts on “The UN is a respected institution

  1. While I agree totally with your questioning the existence of the UN (someone tell me why I should respect the decision of an organization where China, the worlds greatest dictatorship, has the right to veto any decision?!?!), I don’t agree with the arguement you make…

    All organizations have bad apples – this can’t be helped, only fought against whenever it rears it’s head. I’m sure most memebers of the UN finds these incidents just as abhorent as we do, and will come down hard on the perpetrators…

  2. Adam B,

    I’m sure most memebers of the UN finds these incidents just as abhorent as we do, and will come down hard on the perpetrators…

    Wishful thinking, I’m afraid. Although I am sure there will be many announcements that the UN finds these incidents abhorent, nothing will be done. As usual.

    The UN says it has investigated abuse allegations against 316 of its personnel since January 2004, 179 of whom have been disciplined.

    Disciplined. I wonder what that means?

    And notice the most important thing of all – they have not addressed the systematic problems that create the environment where peacekeepers and staffers feel free to exploit the very people they are supposed to be protecting. Nor have they announced even an INTENTION to look into systematic problems. It’s business as usual, UN style.

  3. Sam, the idea behind the UN is a good one, an ideal if you like. The problem is with the state members, and consequently with the type of individuals they send in missions under the UN banner. It is a shame though…

  4. Having the UN is certainly much better than having the United States act and judge everyone else unilaterally, as that is what will probably happen if the UN dissolves since the US is sadly the world’s only super power.

    The UN is a good organization in theory. The main problem though is that strong countries unfortunately dominate everyone else, thus it doesn’t truly represent the will of the world. It is also too bureaucratic, due in part by the strong country problem, and therefore investigations and what not take a while.

  5. he main problem though is that strong countries unfortunately dominate everyone else,

    Better that Islam should dominate, right?

    Why can’t Allah stop the UN?

    (hint: he’s a Zionist, clearly)

  6. Saudi dude,

    The main problem though is that strong countries unfortunately dominate everyone else

    No, that’s not actually the situation has caused. It is the natural order for the strong to dominate the weak. The UN upsets that order, and allows the weak to dominate the strong.

    Or to put it another way, in a world full of predators (which is the world as we know it) the UN allows jackals to compete with lions.

  7. BTW, an international body is an important concept. But the UN should be replaced by a body with a representative from each of a dozen or so regional bodies. 1 rep for the ME, 1 for western Europe, 1 from North America, and so forth. That was the petty stuff could be resolved within the regional bodies, and the international body can work on the truly important issues.

    1 vote each member. No veto. Simple majority carries a motion.

    That would force REAL diplomacy, instead of the useless posturing that the UN does now.

  8. Actually, the ideal would be The United Democratic Nations, with no veto to anyone, no permanent seats to anyone, and only a guest seat with no vote or right to speak for all countries that do not live up to a certain level of democracy, ie China, Saudi, Belarus, etc…

  9. One vote each country?
    Interesting – so we’re going to have a system where representatives of less than 1/10th of the population can rule the 9/10? Loooots of small countries out there.

  10. Bitman,

    One vote each country?
    Interesting – so we’re going to have a system where representatives of less than 1/10th of the population can rule the 9/10? Loooots of small countries out there.

    If you’re talking about my idea, I wanted only regional representatives at the world body. So, it would be 1 vote per REGION, not per country. Roughly a dozen regions was what I suggested, but I just pulled that number out of a hat.

    I also suggested a simple majority vote, but two thirds majority might be better. That way if somebody really wants something to pass (or NOT pass) they are going to have to bust their ass to get other regional reps to get on board with them. Without a veto (for anyone) there would be a need for serious diplomacy on sensitive issues. If there were twelve regional members, 8 votes would pass a motion, 7 votes would not.

    My idea just kicks all the messy shit down to the regional level and keeps it off the global level, but that might be a good thing. Israel and Iran would both be in the ME regional body along with the Arab ME and North Africa. It might be helpful to force people who don’t like each other much to co-operate on some level, before they take their issues to the world stage. Or, it might be a disaster.

    Dunno. I was just trying to come up with something that might work better than the UN. Because the UN sucks ass.

  11. Oh! My suggestions for regional bodies:

    ME: North Africa, Arab ME, Israel and Iran

    Militarily weak and industrially weak(discounting Israel’s military for obvious reasons) but… shit… look how much oil they are sitting on! That’s a lot of economic leverage.

    East Asia: China, Taiwan, the Koreas, etc

    Militarily, Economically and Industrially strong

    South East Asia: Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Phillipines , etc.

    Militarily as strong as they wish to be, economically quite strong, industrially quite strong.

    South Asia: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, most of the central Asian republics

    Militarily, Economically and Industrially strong

    Western Europe: Western Europe!

    Militarily, Economically and Industrially strong

    Eastern Europe: Russia and Eastern Europe

    Militarily, Economically and Industrially strong

    North America: Canada, Mexico, United States

    Militarily, Economically and Industrially strong

    South America and Central America

    Not so bad off but weaker than the other regions across the board

    Africa: Sub Saharan Africa

    Africa doesn’t have a lot going for it, but there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t be as strong as any of the other regional players.

    That was just a throw-down hypothetical and I missed a lot of territory, but that’s the general idea. The problem is that the US tips the scales too far in favor of North America as far as leverage goes, but not for long.

  12. I am relieved to hear such reason.

    Find me a single governing body globally that isn’t a complete mess, that doesn’t have it’s share of predators and thieves. Let’s look at the League of Arab Nations for example. How much does it accomplish, how much thievery occurs at those conference tables ? Is it sad that, no matter where you live, we must all deal with these compromises.

    I agree that more nations should have veto rights but who and what should the conditions be for eligebility ? Who decides ?

    Thanks to almost no coverage, very few of us every see the good all of the ground level UN soldiers do in all of the places very few of us have any stake in. The thousands of mouths that get fed daily from bags of grain with the UN stamp on them. If you are on the web then you can afford not to give a shit about such charity. Its the people with no voice who benefit the most from the UN.

    As the likelyhood of a replacement for the UN is nil, then maybe we should appreciate the work done by all of the UN people on the ground, because everytime anyone ridicules this organization, they crap all over the people who are out in some God forsaken aids infested bush in Africa in the hopes they might make a difference, whether it be trying to keep the peace or feed the starving.

  13. The idea of the UN is a good one, until you wake up from your dream world with a mess in your sheets.

    The UN doesn’t do good. They do not stop wars, genocides, international crime. They deliver food and emergency supplies inefficiently, and skim from those supplies. They are inactive when it hurts the average peon somewhere in the world, and are active only in snubbing the US or Israel. When they give aid, they usually end up propping up the dictators that caused the crisis in the first place. In the ME, they are human shields for terrorists.

    A majority of the members are dictatorships. So anti-dictator legislation cannot pass. A large minority of the others are suffering from Geo-Political-Penis-Envy (GPPE) RE the U.S. They love to watch the dictators caucus zing the US, or pass bills that would hurt us.

    But in the meanwhile, it is an Orwellian nightmare of incompetence, inertia and avarice. They are corrupt, but answer to no one. They stand by and watch genocide, yet prohibit the transfer of arms to the oppressed.

    And us Americans, like dumbasses, pay about 1/3 of their budget.

  14. Of course the Frenchman supports the UN (and French troops acting like collaborators with Hezbolla in Lebanon), because the security council seat in the UN is the ONLY power the French have left. Without it, they would be about as important in the world as Zanzibar.

    And so Jackals like France can bell the Lions of the world, and twist the UN to that purpose. Another reason to get rid of it.

  15. Thank you Nomad, I was going to rant on how utterly surprised I am that yet another imbecile, without imagination, jumps on the French thing once again. How boring it becomes. But you are correct, ca vaut pas la peine 🙂

  16. “I’m sure most memebers of the UN finds these incidents just as abhorent as we do, and will come down hard on the perpetrators…”

    Yes. Just like the Catholic Church right?

  17. Frenchman,

    The thousands of mouths that get fed daily from bags of grain with the UN stamp on them. If you are on the web then you can afford not to give a shit about such charity. Its the people with no voice who benefit the most from the UN.

    I’ve seen you say some pretty awful things about the US in the past, on this blog, Frenchman. Who pays for all that “charity” and why don’t you give the people who pay the bill any of your praise?

    As far as Peacekeeping, last I heard the US covered a full 30% of the cost of UN peacekeeping efforts.

    And you are so anxious to give UN staffers and Peacekeepers the benefit of the doubt… did you ever consider being as generous about witholding condemnation, when you talk about the problems in Iraq?

    Sorry, but I see a lot of hypocrisy in what you say.

  18. hi Bjon,

    I missed you too sweet heart, love your old news written by a deluded american ;

    I took a few weeks off (sometimes we need a break when our ears are buzzing cause of “your” love for the frenchs) ;

    kidding, I had some holidays 🙂

  19. Nomad,

    Hey, just because I’m deluded doesn’t mean I’m wrong! Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn in the woods once in a while.

    I missed your alternative view. I do hope you enjoyed your holidays.

    And y’know, I have nothing against you Frenchies; it’s France that I view with disdain.

    bj

  20. Bjon, I missed your sense of humanity, a very rare quality nowadays.
    well, nevermind of what some “journaleux” said about both politics,
    2003 was the Bush date,
    since water has passed under the bridges !
    but the man does not want lose the face in regard of history ;
    it is silly,
    cause in 50 years,
    things will have changed so much,
    and historians will have enough perspectives to make a scientific analyse 😉

    “un lecteur de Dan Froomkin du Washington Post:

    « And a White House Briefing reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent me this e-mail two whole weeks ago: “It seems that you, and many others who comment on the President, have a difficult time understanding his motivation regarding Iraq. It seems irrational if viewed in the context of what appears to be the indisputable facts on the ground. Why would a President deliberately ignore sound advice based on rational investigation? . . . »

    « He’s not stupid, and he has shown in the past that when defeat looks him in the eye he can do a 180 without a blink. So what’s up? I don’t have any more insight than the next person, but one thought that keeps rattling around in my head is this. »

    « Early on, when things started to go south in Iraq, Bush said something along the lines of solving Iraq would be left up to the next President. I know it wasn’t that blatant, but it gave the impression that he was perfectly willing to leave his successor with the whole mess if things didn’t ‘work out’ for him. Ever since that comment, I get the distinct impression that Bush is just trying to run out the clock in order to avoid facing an acknowledgment of the worst foreign policy disaster in this nation’s history. »

    « I fully expect for him to continue to assert that we can have success in Iraq, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, until the day he leaves office. He will stall, patch things together, anything to avoid the appearance of an acknowledgment of failure. He knows that Iraq is a failure, but if he leaves office still maintaining that we can ‘win’ or ‘succeed’ there then history will not judge him so harshly.
    “Obviously we will have to change course, but he’s not going to be the guy to do it. He will then maintain that someone else ‘lost’ Iraq because they didn’t have the courage and determination to stick it out. As with everything in his life, from his National Guard service to his serial failures in business and life in general, it’s all about him – not the country, not the job, not our reputation in the world or our hard won and universally admired heritage of concern for basic human rights. He’s not trying to save this country or Iraq, he’s trying to save himself and his ‘place in history’. He’s completely wrong of course, but given his history of privilege and never having to suffer the consequences of his long record of bad decisions, it does kind of make sense. »

    « We assume that, like most Presidents, he connects his self-image with actual success or failure in the real world. I increasingly am drawn to the conclusion that, regardless of the facts on the ground, he will consider himself a success as long as he never admits that his ill-fated adventure in Iraq can’t succeed. »

    from a blog of a new-yorker issued from very good traditional american origins, (he writes in french though) “sale Bête”

  21. Craig, I think you have confused me with someone else. What I have done consistently is criticize the Bush govt. This is very different than knocking the US.

    I am half American ( hold two passports the other is French, my paternal nation ). I grew up in Hong Kong and Singapore and now live in the US.

    I love this country deeply and trust me, when I am talking to the French, who I am sure you know are perpetually critical ( hard to blame them when the Americans do the very same thing ), I consistently defend this country and if any other country ( would be at a loss if it were France ), tried to invade, I would take up arms in a heartbeat. There are ignorant people who know nothing about the world, in every country. The ye haws of this world are the ones that have caused all of the strife we have faced through time.

    Here in lies the big problem with America. Criticizing the very poor leadership of this country does not indicate a dislike for the country and it’s people. Admittidely, the task of defending the American people with Europeans in general was a horendous task when more than 50% of Americans voted Bush in for a second term.

    On the UN issue, there is no doubt to the generosity of America, none. By the same token, The French have dedicated countless troops to try to stabilize many a destitute nation on this planet. Not all have been former French colonies. Someone once argued to me ” well, it was their colonialist past that has forced them to clean up their own mess “. Well, then the same could be said for the US in Iraq. Pro Bush pundits have consistently whinned about the lack of international involvement in Iraq. Bush wanted this war ( remember Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 ). Yes, Iraq was not about colonialism ( per se ), but when the world was asked if they wanted this war, most said no. If the US has the right to opt out of assisting in certain strif ridden places on this earth ( because their are no economic interests there ), then why then are American’s allowed to scream freedom fries when the French decide not to jump into a war that they did not want. While the American people have now realized they were dupped into going into Iraq, French intelligence ( please don’t throw the Oxymoron on me ), knew that Saddam and Osma were more foe than friend. With the knowledge we have today, more Americans now disagree with the war in Iraq then don’t. Should a retraction of all of the insults to the French not be made. No……..of course not, because no matter what they are still surrender monkey’s because America saved them ( and a whole list of other nations in Europe ) from Hitler. For which, the French have named hundreds of streets throughout France after the fallen US soldiers. The French played a big role when the US were fighting the British way back when, never hear a peep about this.

    The point to my first posting was that it was important for everyone to keep in mind the good that the UN does. I didn’t push the French angle one bit, until, as always, some goon decided it was time to pull out the ” of course he thinks that way he is an idiot from France ” card on me.

    My point was that all of this screaming for the death of the UN, belittles all of the blood sweat and tears shed by the UN people on the ground, who come from all corners of the globe. It’s their work I defend, they deserve our respect.

    One day it’s American grain feeding the starving, the next it’s French grain. Who gives a shit so long as there is an organization trying to organize it.

    I hear lots of noise about the corruption of the UN and while I do not doubt it happens, I also know that the UN operates in countries with probably the more horrendous and despotic govt on this planet. These govt are not interested in saving their own people, but rather lining their own pockets. Bribes are the only way to get anything done. Sometimes in order to get a plane full of grain to the people who need it you have to grease the palms of officials. Having worked in Asia, I was constantly dealing with ” under the table ” and this was with legit organizations. Does this mean that there aren’t rotten apples in the UN, which is made up of people who originate from many of these corrupt countries.

    The UN has it’s place and until someone comes up with a better solution, I will defend it, despite it’s flaws, because as mentioned, we need only look at our own govt’s ( in the ” civilized ” world ) to see that they are all guilty of horrendous acts. Govt officials in the US get away with murder. Things swept under the carpet that none of us know about, so no one has the right to act sanctimonious.

    Unfortunately this will never happen but maybe when this world starts seeing others as people rather than citizens or religious followers more will get done to rid the world of all of the horror we face everyday. This includes not making assumptions about a person based simply on their country of origin or religion for that matter. Again not directed at you Craig but the other poster.

  22. BrooklynJon, that Op-Ed piece by Friedman was written in 2003 ? I abhored Friedman at that time because he was acting like an insolent idiot at that time, regarding the war in Iraq. He hated everyone that didn’t simply go along with Bush and his henchman. France was the primary target. In that piece he assumes that France is consumed with thoughts about the US. Forgive me but the EU is the focus for France, not America. Americans couldn’t fathom that France not be their poodle along with Blair.

    Friedman has been to India many times ( I have watched his reports ) he loves the place, rightfully so, but while it has made incredible strides, it has a long way to go before it can be considered a first world nation. Just last night I watched a documentary piece on how rampant body part poaching is in India. Does India deserve to be included at the UN table, absolutely, but for Friedman to make such ridiculous statements is childish.

    If you look at Friedman’s views today as opposed to 2003 on the situation in Iraq, which had an obviously deep effect on his opinion of the French, you might find that he has swallowed a lot of the rhethoric he spewed back then.

    If your going to post articles, please make sure to post ones that are current. I could find countless articles espousing opinions from people 4 years ago that are irrelevant today. Maybe Friedman feels the same today, but the opinions in that piece are full of ignorant ” I hate France because they didn’t bend over when Bush asked them to ” nonesense.

  23. Frenchman,

    I never said it was current. It was obvious from the link that it was not. Like, it says 2003 on it.

    And, of course, I directed it to Smarty and Craig because I felt it reflected what they thought.

    As for why France was his primary target, that has everything to do with the benefit that France was reaping from keeping Saddam – a murderous dictator – in power, and its desperation to keep that situation unchanged.

  24. Nomad, Frenchman,

    It’s true that Iraq has deteriorated into a Civil War. In fact, not even a Civil War, but a sectarian free-for-all. There can be no denying that. And, as an early supporter of the war (and a generalized disliker of Tom Friedman, BTW), I worried at the time that a brutal dictator might actually be necessary to keep things under control, although I recognized then – and insist now – that it is fundamentally racist to insist that the Iraqis are essentially incapable of living together in peace. Maybe its true that they’re all a bunch of savages, but it doesn’t make it any less racist to say so.

    Nevertheless, criticism of the war has to be tempered with acknowledgement of the successes of the war as well.

    1) The Kurds – now essentially free and living well.

    2) Shiites – have gained religious freedom. True, they are engaged in sectarian strife, but in more peaceful parts of the country they are undoubtably better off.

    3) Environmentally – the degradation of the massive wetlands in which the Marsh Arabs live has been stopped, and partly reversed.

    4) Libya – voluntarily gave up its WMD program. It may not have been entirely about Iraq, but it was certainly partially about Iraq.

    5) Iraqi WMD – There is incontravertible evidence that Saddam was waiting for sanctions to be lifted so that he could reconstitute his nuclear program. Furthermore, if you recall the early part of the decade, there was great pressure being applied by (who else?) France and Russia to lift the sanctions. Did we find large stocks of WMD? No. Would Saddam likely have had WMD by now? Probably.

    6) Jihadis – are we creating more Jihadis by being in Iraq? Maybe. Then again maybe not. Regardless, most Jihadis extant right now are hanging out in the vicinity of US Marines which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best place for them to be.

    I agree that Iraq is an ugly, ugly place right now, and inasmuch as the USA removed the dictator that was keeping a lid on things, it’s our fault. But it is far from clear that the world is a worse place now than it was five years ago.

  25. funny, as we like it over her (uhe, me !)

    http://www.glumbert.com/media/roleplay

    and now for responding to your assertation :

    that has everything to do with the benefit that France was reaping from keeping Saddam – a murderous dictator – in power, and its desperation to keep that situation unchanged.

    http://www.bushflash.com/thanks.html

    I don’t blame the US soldiers or people, but Bush administration

    and your right, that the world is in a worse place now, things are moving very quickly ; seems everyone expects a new geopolitical cutting up, with the emergeance of China, India or , at a lesser point, latin America

  26. Nomad,

    Your first link was very funny, but I had to turn the sound off, as I am at work. But I like the premise. I’d have gone for the French Maid, myself.

    As for the second, the links with Iraq in general, and Saddam Hussein in particular are well known. He was a bulwark against the Soviet Union, and then a bulwark against Iran. In each case, he was the least bad of the available options (Communists, Shiite fundamentalists). Papa Bush’s administration’s behavior leading up to the invasion of Kuwait was hard to accept (and was questioned at the time by many, including myself), but remember, the overriding dogma of the Bush I administration was realism rather than idealism (and it was and is the same realists that oppose the idealists of the current administration).

    In retrospect, it would likely have been best if Saddam were ousted at the conclusion of Gulf War I, but we were hampered by our desire to stay within UN resolutions. What followed – crushing poverty and the horribly corrupt oil-for-food program – would never have happened.

    So yeah, the USA was instrumental in putting Saddam in power, but that does nothing to lessen our responsibility to do something about the monster he became. Quite the contrary. We broke it in the 1970s and 1980s out of our national necessity. Now we’re fixing it. Only the fix is not so easy, of course. And this is substantially because a lot of people in the area don’t want it to be fixed. (or, to be fair, don’t want it to be fixed in the way we think it should be fixed)

    I believe France is beginning to experience some of the same joy in Lebanon, no? Good luck with that. I mean that earnestly. Good luck. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always pretty.

    bj

  27. BrooklynJon, I have read your posts before and know you are obviously very level headed and reasonable. If you have or do reside in Brooklyn then no one more than you and your fellow New Yorkers were impacted by 9/11. I lived in Long Island City for 10 years and married a New Yorker. Her family lost several friends and her father a number of employees that day, so while not there I too felt the impact more than many. My point being that I have been far more understanding of the support for any sort of retaliation for this event when it was coming from a New Yorker. Irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but I though important to point out.

    Now to the topic at hand. The point of my pointing out the date of Friedmans article was that it is important not to place to much credence on the opinions of others when they are expressed during ambigious and volatile times in history. To use such an article to defend the irrelevance of France in the UN or more so as a nation is misleading, at best. In addition, as mentioned, while purely conjecture, based on those documentary’s I have watched of Friedman in India, I believe he is very biased.

    Lastly, my point was also that views change over time. It is obvious that while you have stuck to your guns regarding the US invasion of Iraq, there is no doubt in your words that your views are not as hard core as they once were.

    No one I know disputes that Saddam was a disgusting excuse for a human being or that some good for some has come from his disposal. However, as the fundemental premise of the US invasion shifted long ago to a humanitarian mission, one could easilly argue that there are places in this world, whose people have suffered far far worse than the Iraqi’s ever did. Millions slaughtered etc.

    What the neysayers like me focus on is what were Bush’s real motives ? I could waffle on on this issue but it’s all been said already.

    I have to believe that you could not possibly really think that if France knew that Saddam played a part in 9/11 and was such a global threat that they would refuse to act on it to protect their economic interests in Iraq. This is a very cold assesment and one I have to argue. The fact is that, if the French did have such close ties to this regime, it would make sense that they would also know most about what Saddam was capable of as a global threat. Maybe the French knew something that the US didn’t and felt it was not worth it. One thing I do know is that the French know the Middle East 1000 times more than the US ever could through experience and they understood that any action would lead to what we now see in Iraq. So maybe it is US arrogance and refusal to listen to French advise that has put it in the position it is in today. Because let’s be frank here, as is shown by your very own opinions, despite having centuries more experience in conflict globally, the US systematically shows a complete lack of respect for French advise, unless it toes the party line with the US. Any show of disagreement always leads to ” freedom fries “.

    Finally, it always amuses me ( I do not mean this in a derogatory way towards you, but in general ) when Americans point the finger at other nations for dealing with ” evil ” regimes when the US is just as guilty of the very same infractions. The US likes to play like the innocent virgin and ignore the pictures of Rumsfeld pressing palms with Saddam and all of the misdeeds that have been perpetrated by the US and how much it’s own politics are so deeply affected by it’s own economic agenda. The US is just as guilty of disgusting international relationships as the French or the English or the Japanese. Name the country.

    I don’t mind France being taken to task at times, but only so long as the opinion makers make sure to look within before they cast stones.

    We are all guilty of something no ?

  28. Frenchman, I don’t think I’m mistaking you with anybody else. The name is the same, and the opinions are the same. I don’t agree with you. You wrote far too much for me to try and rebut, but suffice it to say I feel you are trying to dress up your bias in a facade of humanitarian “liberalism” and I am not buying it.

    Nomad, anybody who wants the War on Terror to be about the War in Iraq is no friend of America’s. I really wish you’d leave off on the leftist propaganda. How upset will you be when we don’t accept the defeat that you have crafted for us, Nomad?

    We aren’t going to lose this war.

  29. Bjon

    I was sure the french maid would be your favorite 😆
    seems she is an alive phantam coming from ages

    I believe France is beginning to experience some of the same joy in Lebanon, no? Good luck with that. I mean that earnestly. Good luck. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always pretty

    well, it is an unconfortable position indeed, but seen as an obligation for lebanese people, as you know France had this country to look after for about half a century (not a colony, as many of US citizens think, but as a protectorat)

    I don’t expect much from the UN mandat there as a solution for conflicts,
    but as far I know, they help in the every day living, reconstruct roads, bridges etc… take off the bombs.

    till now, lebanese seems not arguing against it (I forget puposely HBZ, for I know it is a remanent argument thrown at us, and this is another story, which I debated on many blogs, don’t want to get in it again)

  30. Craig
    Nomad, anybody who wants the War on Terror to be about the War in Iraq is no friend of America’s. I really wish you’d leave off on the leftist propaganda. How upset will you be when we don’t accept the defeat that you have crafted for us, Nomad?

    did I say anything about that here ?

  31. Frenchman,

    Thanks for the kind words about my hometown and the tremendous blow we suffered five years ago. I was fortunate in that I lost only a cousin and a couple of friends. Many people I know suffered far worse losses.

    And thanks also for the kind words about me. Back at you. I cringe at the vehemence with which some opinions get expressed, and I think that we can all learn a little from each other. And I also can’t wait to get home, and get the kids to bed, so I can replay Nomad’s link with sound.

    I think we can mostly agree. But then I think the anti-French sentiment in the US generally pales in comparison to the Anti-American (and anti-Anglo) sentiment in France. Driving tractors into restaurants? Protests over amusement parks? Banning words like “le weekend”? And this is in good times. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but the tractor guy became a national hero.

    If you’re saying that America is not so great inasmuch as it sometimes acts like France so often does, I have no choice but to hang my head in shame and agree. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and sometimes it is necessary to lie down with dogs, and hence rise up with fleas. I can understand all nations acting like this from time to time. As Ayn Rand would say, you cannot sacrifice a greater value for a lesser one. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the lesser value.

    The fact is, however, that Americans act – as a nation – more on the basis of ideals than most European nations do. And here, I’m talking about the will of the people. In fact, Europeans often like to make fun of us for it – only they call it a lack of realism. I have caught that particular line of flack many times myself. Personally, I know all about realism, and I’m frankly not so impressed by it. I’ll take the bill of rights any day.

    As for Iraq, the reasons for going in were complex and varied. It’s important to realize that the rationale, and in particular the legal rationale (UNSC resolutions and all) were not necessarily the same as the reasons. The rationale had to do with what violations were actually there on the ground, and that’s a whole kettle of worms I’d rather not open up. The reasons included a lot of idealism that is frankly falling flat in the face of the refusal of many of the people there to tolerate one another.

    Did the French “know” more than the Americans what would happen? I doubt it. I think most American supporters of the war thought that this very well could happen. (In my defense, I knew it would, and argued strenuously BEFORE THE WAR STARTED that Iraq should be split up into separate countries for each of the major religious/ethnic groups in an attempt to avoid this) I think the big difference is that France was blinded by realism to the very possibility of success, while America was blinded by idealism to the very possibility of failure.

    Then again, the American people have ideaistically gone to war before. The fact that the blacks of the southern US are not slaves, and the fact that Parisians speak German as a second language if at all, owes everything to this willingness to fight for ideals. What can I say? Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.

  32. Nomad,

    I know it’s an uncomfortable position. Frankly, it will get no more comfortable when HA, fully rearmed, starts poking at Israel again. I do not envy the French people who are there, or who are close to those who are there. Then again, I will also be severely pissed off if France interferes with Israel trying to defend itself, if it comes to that.

    And yeah, definitely the french maid.

  33. Bjon,

    Driving tractors into restaurants? Protests over amusement parks? Banning words like “le weekend”? And this is in good times. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but the tractor guy became a national hero.

    you mean José Bové driving tractor against a Mac Donald ?
    I don’t blame him for that 😆
    seems wer getting this kind of food for future 🙁
    he is not an hero, he was sent to jail for his actions, an he is regarded as a trouble maker over here ;
    none wants to refer from this clown,

    Craig,

    I am not a leftist or any kind of politic side person, just want to be aware of what is going on in the world, therefore try to get informations from any side it comes to be senseful

    if you think, your going to win this war, it is your opinion, not obligatory shared even by most of your compatriots ;

    anyway, I am not rejoicing of any issue which could occured,

    and France has nothing to do in these,

    the situation is complicated for all of us, and I am sure if it was a death or life deal, we will be helping you as we did before ;

    we do help you indirecty at the moment, but your media don’t tell that sort of things, the only show the visible part of the iceberg

  34. will also be severely pissed off if France interferes with Israel trying to defend itself, if it comes to that.

    don’t worry, it won’t happen, jus a politic game for elections

  35. Nomad,

    “don’t worry, it won’t happen, jus a politic game for elections ”

    From your lips (or fingertips) to G-d’s ears.

    I thought Bove had become something of a folk hero. Perhaps I was wrong.

  36. since the incidents of last november Israeli and french army headchiefs met and explained themselves each other

    and the one who shown off was Alliot-Marie ;

    she planed to be a candidate for next presidential election with the support of Chirac and de Villepin ; now, she knows she will not get more than 5% of the right wing votes, she calmed down.

    anyway it was silly of her to let the mayonnaise going higher and emphasize it

  37. Hi Nomad,

    Craig,

    I am not a leftist or any kind of politic side person, just want to be aware of what is going on in the world, therefore try to get informations from any side it comes to be senseful

    I wasn’t referring to your own political philosophy, I was referring to the opinions of the “white house staffer” or whatever that you pasted, earlier. That was cleverly disguised leftist propaganda. We get a lot of that published in the US news and it’s pretty tedious. The old “yeah I used to work for him and he’s a nice guy, BUT…” routine from somebody who won’t even identify themselves. Pfffttt.

    if you think, your going to win this war, it is your opinion, not obligatory shared even by most of your compatriots ;

    I don’t think you would find many Americans who are willing to lose the war on terror, Nomad. Other than leftists 🙂

    I think we are well aware of the stakes. We are, however, willing to abandon Iraq as a failure. No sense throwing good money after bad, as they say. I don’t see a way we can accomplish what we wanted to accomplish in Iraq, myself, and I don’t know many people who think there is a way to success in Iraq, either.

    But that’s very different from accepting a defeat in a war we can not afford to lose. And since Americans are not willing to lose the war, we won’t lose it. We’re going to win, one way or another. The only question is what that victory looks like. If a US city gets nuked, it’s going to look like a lot like the end of the world.

    the situation is complicated for all of us, and I am sure if it was a death or life deal, we will be helping you as we did before ;

    I guess I didn’t read that the way you intended it.

    In any case, there’s a difference between “not helping” and being actively opposed. France was actively opposed. To the point of rallying with the enemies of the US.

    I don’t really view that as a matter of opinion, personally. I think it’s a matter of public record.

    we do help you indirecty at the moment, but your media don’t tell that sort of things, the only show the visible part of the iceberg

    You seem to have more faith in your own media, I guess 🙂

    Just because French media is reporting that France is working behind the scenes on this or that, doesn’t make it so.

  38. Craig and Nomad,

    “In any case, there’s a difference between “not helping” and being actively opposed. France was actively opposed. To the point of rallying with the enemies of the US.”

    Yes that’s how I saw it, too. I wasn’t surprised or particularly upset with France disagreeing with my country in 2003. I was put off by the vehemence of the disagreement, and the lengths that France was willing to go to interfere with the USA’s plans.

  39. In any case, there’s a difference between “not helping” and being actively opposed. France was actively opposed. To the point of rallying with the enemies of the US.

    you mean war on terror or war in Irak, that’s make a great difference for us
    war on terror, we know it longer than you do, we had terrorists attempts long before you did, and our “renseignements” never stopped working on that purpose. and your goverment is using our ability to infiltrate your ennemies, for none in your troops can do it properly, even to interrogate them we are helping you

    a few weeks ago 2 mens of our renseignements who were in Irak were shot by shia iranians there, fortunately the others could escape with wounds

    I already explained you our different ways for approching the cure 🙂

    To the point of rallying with the enemies of the US.

    seems you won’t forget the UN discourse, anyway, your administration did pass it out, the old world was “worn out” 🙁

    You seem to have more faith in your own media, I guess

    Just because French media is reporting that France is working behind the scenes on this or that, doesn’t make it so.

    I don’t get these info from our media, but mainly through journalist blogs or forums

    and the “old world” has a tradition of secret in that kind of affairs

  40. BrooklynJon, I am long winded I know, sorry in advance =)

    ” If you’re saying that America is not so great inasmuch as it sometimes acts like France so often does, I have no choice but to hang my head in shame and agree. ” Very diplomatically worded. France = The 20 year smack addict, USA = the casual abuser. France is older so I can accept that it has been doing it longer, but as for the degree of severity, I have to counter that the US, in it’s short life has smoked many a crack pipe. In addition, I am consistenly bewildered by how no one ever singles out other nations in Europe for all of their misdeeds. Just ask Belgium about the Congo. The English in India and throughout South East Asia and there are more recent examples. Yet the French are always singled out as if they are the only ones in Europe who skirt international ethics.

    Let’s be honest here, while I would be first in line to slit the throat of Osama or every single road side bomber, America needs to stop pretending that ” they hate us for our freedom “. The US has been interfering in Middle Eastern affairs for decades and has done so for only one reason, OIL. If the Middle East was nothing but a big sand pit, the US would have treated the ME like it does Africa. Some of the shit the US has done in it’s young life are pretty damn evil.

    On the issue of , how the French populace reacted to the Iraq war, please consider the marches and near riots that took place in England, Germany, Italy, Spain. Germany is the EU’s strongest member and barely a peep from Americans against Germany’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing. Why is that ?

    As for your belief that the French hate America more than America hates the French. You are so very wrong ! By this I mean that the French do not hate America or Americans at all.

    When you raise the issue of tractors plowing into McD’s or French opposition for Euro Disney, and assume that these reactions are born of American hatred you are missing their point completely.

    The fact that Mc’Donalds happens to be American is insignificant to the French. It is simple, the French oppose the dilution of their culture. Is there anything really wrong with this ? If you have ever driven through a centuries old small village in France, down the beautiful little roads, past the gorgeous little shops and restaurants, nothing destroys this beauty like a disgusting McDonalds. Some of the argument has also been economics, that McDonalds imports all of it’s raw materials. They make no effort to contribute to the local economy by using local farmers. Come and eat our crap but don’t expect us to put any money back into your economy.

    The French people have always loved and admired the US, but they are a proud people and expect a little respect. It gets very tiring listening to pompous asses in the US shout ” surrender monkey’s ” ” if it weren’t for us you would be speaking German ” whenever France doesn’t agree with the US.

    The one piece of advice I always give to any American planning to travel in France is learn one or two words of French. Show the people you meet, that you respect the fact that you are in their country and just watch how the French open their arms to welcome you. Americans who come back with a bad impression of France are the loudmouths who yell at the waiter because the service is too slow etc. who expect the French to do it the American way. These are sometimes, unfortunately, the only Americans that the French see, because the more sophisticated Americans slip right by un-noticed.

    As I have said in a past post, I defend America as much as I do France, but it just so happens that the French are up against the wall in this discussion and only because Craig decided to, out of nowhere jump on my being French when the discussion was about the effectiveness of the UN.

    C’est la vie =)

  41. Frenchman,

    “Just ask Belgium about the Congo. ”

    I haven’t gotten all the way through your post, but this reminds me of a T-shirt popular at Yale: “Harvard sucks. Princeton just doesn’t matter.”

    Face it, you’re right about Belgium, but they just don’t matter.

  42. Frenchman,

    A nice and thoughtful post.

    Let me say quickly, that your take on the Pro-American-ness of people in France does not match my experience there in a short visit (granted, it was back in 1992, and limited to Paris. Still, I was berated not only for failing to call Paris “Par-ee” – which I can accept – but also for my pronunciation of Detroit, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana.) I spoke my best French in France, but was mocked for my accent.

    The fortress that France builds around their culture and language is a tremendous source of insult to us, particularly considering the American willingness to adopt other cultures, and considering the boatload of French words and phrases in our language. It may be true that the animosity towards McDonalds as a company is not motivated by anti-americanism (heck, I dislike McD’s also), but to an outsider, it sure seems like it is.

    As for anti-war sentiment, I don’t think anybody cared much about street protests in various countries – we had them here, for that matter. What grated on nerves here was the tremendous lengths France was willing to fo to defeat the USA in the security council, as though it were a point of pride to be able to stymie America (we now know it probably had more to do with commercial and political links to the Hussain regime, but that’s besides the point).

    I think also, people get a little tired of having our leaders mocked by other, presumably superior, countries. I can’t think of a time when anyone in the USA expressed a whole lot of dislike of the British PM. Or the French president. Chancellor Schroder got it a bit, but mostly because of his vituperative anti-Americanism. But when you talk to Europeans, it’s always Bush this, and Bush that. It’s rather insulting. Even to someone (like me) who voted against him.

    Your comment about the US interfering in the ME solely for oil is not exactly on target. Yes, we need stable oil supplies (although what with Mexico, Norway, England, and Russia supplying us, the ME is not nearly as significant in this way as it once was). We also have interfered there because it was a front in the Cold War. Our support for Israel (which is what a lot of people – though perhaps not you – mean by “interference in the ME”) is partly based on domestic politics (y’know, those pesky Jews advancing their own interests) but mostly based on ideological and strategic interests. Finally, once Iran kicked our butt in 1979, and HA in 1983, we’ve been waiting to get our comeuppance.

    Anyway, it’s nice exchanging ideas with you, but I have to work to pay my little gasoline bill for my Prius 😉 (it is, after all, the Neocon vehicle of choice)

    bj

  43. Let me say quickly, that your take on the Pro-American-ness of people in France does not match my experience there in a short visit (granted, it was back in 1992, and limited to Paris. Still, I was berated not only for failing to call Paris “Par-ee” – which I can accept – but also for my pronunciation of Detroit, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana.) I spoke my best French in France, but was mocked for my accent.

    1992, that was we were still your “alliee” though !

    I think, if youd tried to speak french with Louisiana accent, youd look a bit like a peasant for a parisian ; they mock provincial people too here ;
    (don’t worry, in province, we say “Parigot = tête de veau”)

  44. Nomad,

    Actually, I spoke Spanish, peppered with the few french words and phrases I picked up from my father (a GI in American-occupied France, 1953-1954) (Sacre bleu, Mon Dieu, con bien, etc.), and used the pseudo-French accent featured in Monte Python films. For the most part I was understandable, but I’m sure I sounded weird. The most grief I got was from the workers at my hotel who spoke to me in English. They did not delight in hearing how American cities with French-origin names are pronounced back home, let me tell you.

  45. The fortress that France builds around their culture and language is a tremendous source of insult to us

    I desagree, you may refer to Quebec

    our language and culture from our perspectives here, is not in danger, many american words, and now arab words are part of our every-day language, even in our medias, foreign words are not prohibited ;

    I would not say the same of our culture, though very influenced by american dream for consummation, but as the frenchs enjoy all the pleasures life could give, foods, esthetic, take time… yes, effectively, we are very ticklish on preserving our way of life.
    that seems very odd for a foreigner

  46. in every day life you could hear the word throurough sentences like “ah, quel con !” to say one is an asshole, or in south provinces this word ends the sentences like ” fatche des cons” in Marseille, meens the guy is amazed ;

    but in Toulouse, every sentence finishes with that word “blabla blabla… putain, or con ! ” that is why one who doesn’t know the habit thinks the guy is insulting him 😆

    and litterally “con” is “cunt” or alike 😆

  47. French are up against the wall in this discussion and only because Craig decided to, out of nowhere jump on my being French when the discussion was about the effectiveness of the UN.

    Out of “nowhere” – well, what do you expect when you use a handle like “Frenchman” anyway? 😛

    All I did is point out that your assertions in this thread seemed quite different than ones you made in the past, when you were talking about Machiavellian politics rather than humanitarian causes. Those two things aren’t really compatible, you know. Unless, of course, one expects to benefit at the level of the State from humanitarian issues. And how altruistic would that be, eh?

    I have learned from Nomad that not all French people are as arrogant and pompous as I tend to believe, but you unfortunately come a lot closer to my expectations. Sorry for derailing the thread, if I did, anyway 🙂

  48. Craig,

    That’s cool. I got to chat up Nomad. When we last exchanged views she thought I was a total idiot. Now I think she thinks I’m just a partial idiot. 😉 Right, Nomie?

    Nomad,

    I had no idea that that’s what “con” means. I was just putting into writing my Dad’s (he should rest in peace) spoken French.

    Reminds me of the time I found out that “Fanny” does not mean the same thing in the UK that it does in the USA. (USA- it’s the charming slang for your behind that your grandmother would use. She may even be named “Fanny”. UK- A very bawdy term for a woman’s genitals that is inappropriate under virtually all circumstances.) And there I was a visiting student in the gynecology department. Oy!

  49. hey, I never thought your were an idiot 😆 I always liked your humor, but found that you had, sometimes, a tendential image on what’s going on in France ; but I did not miss an opportunity to correct it 😆

    I did use to quarrel a lot with Craig, he is, by now, a close friend ;

    by the ways,” Fanny” is the name of a girl in the famous trilogy of Pagnol theatre, all located in Marseille aeras, apparently a nickname there.

    so, I’ll be careful when it will come into a conversation with english people 😆

    Nomie is kind, thank you

  50. Well, be careful. Unless you mean “con”, of course.

    It all has me thinking about a very attractive British instructor I had in college. She had forgotten her alarm clock on her first day in the States. So she asked her next door neighbor if he wouldn’t mind “knocking her up” first thing in the morning. Boy did she get a surprise!

  51. It’s a dictator debating society. Nothing more. I resent that my tax dollars go to feed it and I resent the inconvenience to me personally when they close down streets in NYC during assemblies so that Chavez can spew absurdities and Ahmedinijad can menacingly call for the coming of the Mahdi.

  52. Craig, ” I have learned from Nomad that not all French people are as arrogant and pompous as I tend to believe, but you unfortunately come a lot closer to my expectations. ”

    If you have been reading my posts in this thread I am sure you can see that I am not pompous at all. I defend my paternal country ( France ) much like I have and will continue to defend my maternal country ( USA ). The above statement judges me based on my reaction to comments you made. I know if the tables were turned you would have reacted the same way. At no time do I insult the American people. My target is the US govt. You, like so many, however, generalize on the French people.

    You cannot expect me to have read your original post and not take issue with it. Trust me I can take jokes about the French, and do. However, my call sign is not an invitation for people to take pot shots when they are out of context. I am an afficianado of self deprication. I am sure you can imagine how trying it must get. I could be talking about the hairs on a fleas back and someone always jumps in with ” we’ll if it wasn’t for the French we wouldn’t have fleas ” it happens like clockwork with my call sign, which I should not have to change simply because it invites unsolicited mockery.

    I do not judge and welcome dialogue from anyone so long as they, like I, are willing to admit fault, whether it be mine or the particular country ( of the two for which I have citizenship ) that I am defending.

    I just read Nomads comment regarding yours and his friendship now. Maybe, in time, you and I will come to a level of respect like this. One has to ponder at times like these, the importance of dialogue, which I have expressed in other topics dealing with the fact that Bush refuses to dialogue.

  53. BrooklynJon,

    It is ironic that you mention your visit to Paris, because I was going to make comments on this city in my previous post to you but decided to ommit for the sake of sparing you the extra read. But as you have pointed this out, I will pull from the tiny memory bank in my tiny little French brain.

    First, I apologize that you were treated this way in my capitol city. This treatement of foreigners in Paris is unconscionable. A quick story : I was in Paris with some English speaking friends at a restaurant and the waiter come to our table and peppered us with assinide comments in French. I let him continue and when he walked away but was within earshot, I called the Manager over to ask him a couple of menu related questions. You had to see the waiters face drop.

    There are assholes in every big city, including New York. Having lived and worked in NYC ( World Financial Center ) I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words ” if you can’t speak the language then get the fuck out “. This does not excuse the assholes that treated you that way in Paris, but mockery of anything foreign by ignoramuses is a global cancer.

    Paris, like New York is a manic pace environment which creates a lot of tension in people. If you made the same valiant efforts you did in Paris in the rest of France, you would find the reaction of most French people to be, as I mentioned previously, welcoming. It always saddens me when anyone walks away from a country I love with such an impression, however, again in reference to your belief that it is hatred towards American’s, ask the Brits how they are treated or the Germans or the Dutch. If only you could dig deeper into the lives of the assholes that treated you that way, you would find them listening to American Rap, wearing Nike tennis shoes etc etc. The French youth, crave everything American, even if they don’t admit it. Of course, Bush has made the French that much more reluctant to openely praise America, because wrong or not, loving America in France means loving GW.

    Have you ever been to Rome or Madrid ? The treatement of foreigners is the same. I know, I have been on the receiving end. Latin’s are peacocks but can always be brought down to size. The Spanish are by far the worst. Since the war, there is outward hatred towards Americans. I have friends who have experienced it. One was a Hungarian girl, who had lived in the US, but still had a strong Hungarian accent. Nevertheless because she spoke English in what sounded like an American accent she confronted some pretty scary situation in Barcelona, where she now resides. She actually worried for hers and her daughters safety and she is not the first I have know personally to face this. You would never see this in France.

    Just to add something quick before I go on. Please do not read my rebuttals as arguments for arguments sake. My hope is to re-direct your feelings on the French, not defend them.

    ” The fortress that France builds around their culture and language is a tremendous source of insult to us, particularly considering the American willingness to adopt other cultures, and considering the boatload of French words and phrases in our language. ”

    Yes the French are, sometimes overly proud about their culture but believe it or not they have and continue to change. The economic impact of this exclusionary attitude was punishing. But again, it is not nation wide. They say the French are like a coconut, very thick skinned but the inside is much softer. It takes a bit to breach the exterior but once you do, you find a wonderful loving people.

    On the French action against the war. Is it not possible that the French simply did not want the war to happen for so many more reasons then personal interest ? Isn’t it possible that they realized how much this war would destabilize the region ? One needs to consider the proximity of the Middle East to Europe. As Nomad stated before, the French have been dealing with terrorism for decades. 9/11 was the first time ever that it came to US shores. It only became a pride thing for France when Bush started insulting the French when they decided not to tag along and then came the ” Freedom fries ” barrage. The call to stop buying French wine and cheese. France did not want the war, so they fought hard against it. Bush systematically ignored the advise of almost all of Europe. Yes, the fact that the French had economic interests in Iraq, but Hussein was never France’s lifeline so I firmly believe that the French got justifiably annoyed at Bush’s complete diregard for French advise.

    As for Britain, while I understand your comment, please keep in mind that Britain did not defy Bush’s war in Iraq and I am sure you have seen all of the cartoons, some of which originate from the US on how Blair is nothing but a US poodle. I can’t imagine what the guy must go through, knowing that so many mock him. On the Germans, very difficult for anyone to jump on them, because mockery of nations requires dredging up history. One cannot do this with the Germans for obvious reasons so most are sensitive enough not to mock the Germans.

    The point is that much of Europe opposed the Iraq war and they all went to the same lengths that France did, yet Americans act as though the only opposition came from France.

    I will save you the counter on US ” interference ” in the ME. We all know the what’s, how’s and why’s. We could split hairs all day on this issue. The why’s are far less important than the how’s.

    I do not expect to suddenly change your views on the French and as mentioned if you were to find me in a discussion with a French person who mocked the American people, you would see that I defend the US in the same way I do France.

    As mentioned before, it is obvious that you are level headed and fair and I have enjoyed the dialogue with you. Now I have to get back to work to put fuel into my 6 litre V12 =) Stay well and safe !

    The Frenchman !

  54. Frenchie,

    “As mentioned before, it is obvious that you are level headed and fair and I have enjoyed the dialogue with you. Now I have to get back to work to put fuel into my 6 litre V12 =) Stay well and safe !”

    Likewise! On both counts!

    For crying out loud, buy a hybrid!

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