Friday, January 18, 2013

Dead Pan

--Crucifixion, Matthias Grunewald 
~You fired me because I violated the Constitution
~How impetuous of me! 
--Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John  LeCarre

 Boy, you're gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
--Carry that Weight, The Beatles

 ~English soldier: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?
~French soldier: No!! Now go away,  or I shall taunt you a second time! 
--French soldier, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)


The French are getting a piece of the action in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©).

It is about time since colonialism led to many of the grievance of terrorists in former French colonies. (Ditto the British.)  In fact, one theory traces all terrorism back to the centers of British and French excesses during their colonial periods of exploitation.  Ah, but how France's American cousin treats the story is telling.

The Associated Press reports on the "gruesome display" by Somali militants of a dead French soldier on an al-Shabab-run Twitter account:

"In a gruesome display that included a taunt of France's president, Somali militants on Monday posted photos of what appeared to be a dead French soldier surrounded by weapons and gear."

The gruesome display of one dead French soldier is meant to rouse us from our impending public opinion rout eleven years on into the PWOT ©.  But how is this more gruesome than the United States press featuring the tortured corpses of Qusay and Uday Hussein, or the military putting the bust of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on display following his assassination?  What about the "leaked" camera shot of Saddam Hussein's botched hanging, or the film of Libya's former leader Qaddafi being murdered while being sodomized with a stick?  Gruesome is as gruesome does, to paraphrase Mr. Gump.

Where does civilized end and gruesome begin? Is it as simple as, if we do it, it's civilized; if they do it, it is barbaric?

What about some of our iconography: Isn't Jesus hanging on the cross gruesome?  What about the depictions of the Stations of the Cross? But since these images have inspired religions, they get a pass, and have even been raised to the sublime.

Speaking of religious figures brings Ranger to the Crusades, murder most faithful. It is strange that the U.S. is assisting the French in their African ventures since the French have been killing, mutilating and torturing Africans since the days of the First Crusade, almost 1,000 years ago.  Why do they need help from the U.S.?  Let the French carry their own weight.

The U.S. has lost enough soldiers since 1918 cleaning up their messes; let's keep out of their fights.

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Blogger FDChief said...

I doubt whether the U.S. will get involved in this mess more than through logistical support of the French; I don't see this becoming a major issue for this country.

But I DO see this as just another example of how the "Islamic = terrorists!" meme of the GWOT/PWOT has gone a long way towards 86ing any sort of intelligent geopolitical analysis and decision-making in Western states about these damn non-Western conflicts.

What I get from my reading is that this is basically just another of these goddamn African tribal wars resulting from the goofy borders the colonial era left behind.

The Malian government (if by "government" you mean "people who have a license to take your money at gunpoint and call it 'taxation'") is largely made up of Mandé and related West African peoples. These folks occupy the southwestern end of the country and have pretty much been in charge since the French left in 1960. People from this group also make up the Army that has been the de facto ruler of the joint since the coup in Spring 2012.

The rebels are largely Tuareg and related semi-nomadic peoples from the Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal regions to the northeast. They've had issues with the Malian government for a long time; rebellions took place right after Malian independence as well as in the Nineties. This one is just the latest of the bunch.

So the deal at the bottom of this is this is another goddamn Third World rebellion; it's the Sunni vs. the Shia in Iraq, the Pastun vs. the Hazaras and Uzbeks in Afghanistan.

There doesn't seem to me to be a dog in this fight for the U.S., frankly. Given that I tend to like nomads in general I sorta wish the Tuaregs well, Islamic fucktards and all.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 7:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

My mistake; I didn't read your post closely - I assumed that this dead Frenchman was in Mali instead of Somalia.

No point in even discussing the clusterfuck that is Somalia; lock the doors and wait for the eventual survivors to emerge...

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 8:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

Some random thoughts, in no particular order (I just have gotten up, my thinking is none toio clear).

- PGWOT? Mostly agred, though it doesn't mean that there isn't a deep poisonous issue/element within the "muslim" world; the "phony" bit is certainly relevant in that the people pushing for the "GWOT" are mostly in bed with said poisonous element, certainly the apex of hypocrisy.

- PWOT in the case of the failed French rescue raid? Why? The idea was to try and retrieve a DGSE agent who had been held hostage for 3 years now, much to the indifference of the previous sarkozy presidency. Seemingly, the raid had been planned for some time (the new socialist president said he decided 6 months ago to try and have him located & rescued by force), but was launched when the situation in Mali flared up, maybe to avoid some unpleasant internet video display of islamic solidarity. Not quite a fit of naked colonial bullying, IMHO.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 2:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

- cleaning ou mess, since 1918? First of all, AFAIK, the US intervention in both WW was in good part due to BRITISH active lobbying, not French, no matter how much this has morphed into "rescuing (or liberating, seemingly, *only* France was occupied during WWII, Belgium, Holland, etc, etc,... nope, nope) the hapless French".
Bottom line, in both WW, you intervened primarily on behalf of GB and its interests, not out of some Grand display of altruism regarding France.

- And there is a tremendous hypocrisy in that recount of WWII, too, as 1) Nazi Germany was in good part a creature of the Anglo-Us Elites, up to 1938 for GB, up to 1941 for the USA (and even all through the war, for various big time movers & shakers, and well after, for your security apparatus); as an aside, the exact same trick is currently being played with China.
And 2) WWII was a BOON for the USA. Please, stop pretending it was an act of selfless grandiosity, it was the best investment ever made by any country. You, as a country, has had a 60-ish run of extending your system all over your "sphere of influence" (satrapies?), in the process neutering the influence, and, I deeply fear, forever altering the susbtance of European/White people (not a regurgitated WP talking point, just a personal opinion).

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 2:48:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

- As for Mali, well, it's too late. The USA has invested from $400 millions to $600 millions, depending on what I've read (and not just in those lying, biased French media, too) in the Mali/Sahel area, trying to prop up its newest GWOT/PGWOT African Strategy (and, most likely, also trying to evince the last few remains of French influence, just as in the Congo area, before and after the Rwanda proxy war). Turns out that the core of the MNLA fighting force is actually made of those 1500 tuaregs who defected to the islamist/insurgent side, after beign the recipient of said US teraining and funding (and the coup that precipated the dissolving of whatever what left of the Mali standing gvt was led by US-trained officers, too).
Just as for France decolonization wars and how you had to step up and clean "our mess" (and I can see how you have a deeply personal stake in that History), the nasty little thing is that it didn't come out of the blue - the USA was not, and is not, an innocent player sucked in out of gullibility or sheer goodheartedness, now, and then (the Pieds-Noirs still haven't forgotten both De Gaulle AND the US role in the algerian tragedy, JFYI).

- As for the logistical support, so far a pretty decent coallition has, well, coallesced, from African to European to Maghreb countries, to Russia, and, well, don't worry, it appears that the USA will charge for whatever logistical trail is provided. Because, when we don't play ball, we're CESM (even if France stepped up immediatly in afghanistan right after 9/11)... but when we do, well, we must pay (never mind the cost of the last years in afghanistan to our cash-starved army).

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

- Finally, regarding the somali KIA display, I actually agree with you - I both enjoy and find this blog interesting, despite (hence?) the immediatly preceeding string of comments.

As a doubly ironical echo, I can't help to be reminded of the "tough guys talk" found in the "Red Meat" part of the US internet, during the pissing-on-cadavers incident in afghanistan... doubly, because the 4 French military & gendarme instructors who were gunned down by one of their police (?) trainees right after that, were killed because of said incident (the shooter said so while interrogated, his motivation explicitly was the pissing incident).

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Thanks for your cmts.
I am on record as being opposed to ww1 and ww2 participation by the US.
But that's history.Let's talk about today and forget that the British are actually a Norman conquest and that german speakers have been English kings.I'll also pretend that the wars in Europe were not internecine family affairs.I'll forget that Napoleon screwed with Africa/egypt as did the brits.
Whats salient here is that power politics and crummy alliances have led to some nasty wars that the US should NEVER have gotten involved in. NOW WE'RE PLAYING THE SAME STUPID GAME of alliances and treaties and crap that will just lead to more stupidly conceived wars.
Look at Nato and we can/will and are obligated to go to war if somebody assasinates a arch duke in a nato country.
Why do we give a rats ass about the newest members of nato?
Why do we care about the French when they bagged our asses in 69(if memory serves) by getting out of the military wing of Nato. IOW they'd take a powder if the russians atk'd europe.Why does this remind me of Vichy?
Did France allow over flights when we addressed the Khadafy issue in the 80's?
At least the Brits have some sort of subservient loyalty even if it's just enlightened self interest.
Anyway thanks for writing and unfortunately we can't discuss this in person which is a sorrow.
As for my part in history-my limited high school French abilities were helpful when talking to VN officers.
Since i'm visiting in Orlando Fl as we converse , i'll go to a French restaurant and have some pastries for breakfast.
That's something good that we got from the French.
Best to you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 8:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

As for the red meat fuckers on the internet they are not part of my world.
I assume that you read my art. called PISS HARD.on RAW.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 8:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

JaR, thanks for the response - I doubt you'd like to discuss with me in person, I'm a very bland fellow, and not good with people.

Anyway, France got out of the NATO INTEGRATED COMMAND in 1966, IIRC, but did stay in the Atlantic alliance, meaning that had the Red attacked, it would have fulfilled any and all alliance's duty.
And getting out of the IC was not an hissy fit from De Gaulle, but a logical continuation of his political and ideological stance and activity since 1958, a believer in a "multipolar world" before it was mainstream.

Basically, he expected to be treated like an ally, and not like a vassal with some "subservient loyalty", the fool.

As for the K-Daffy thing, well, IIRC, it was right after, or right before?, the 1986 election, when the socialist president either was facing or had suffered a socialist party defeat (leading to the then-novel instance of having a gvt and a president of different political sides, that would end-up in constitutional trenchwar - it didn't, btw, and was repeated in 1997).
The overflight refusal, which IMHO marked the real start of 'modern' animus against goode olde France from the US right, was for all purpose a crass political shoutout from the president (who constitutionally owns foreign policy) to the French communist party (then still a viable vote reservoir for the left, must had been around 8-10% or something?), and probably to the gaullist remnants on the right.

Purely domestic political issues interfering with foreign policies. Never happened in the USA, did it?

Worth noting that by that time, France has had quite a few run-ins with old K-Daffy, including some attempted assasinations (France was dropping bombs on him before it was mainstream), proxy wars, direct armed interventions, since 1969 actually, already in the Mali-general Sahel area.

Back to square one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 12:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Kevin Berger said...

And thanks for the civil discussion, btw, even if we don't see the issue(s) eye-to-eye.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 12:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

When we start to make our conversations UNCIVIL then we are out of options and we must use force.
Again-back to square one.
We do not need to agree, but we must remember that France gave us our victory at Yorktown, and also inspired the XYZ affair which led us to the Alien and Sedition act.
You guys have been a bee in our bonnet since day one plus a few years.
BTW- thanks for Yorktown- that makes us even for ww1&2.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Kevin: while I agree with your assessment of U.S. policies, both towards Europe in general, France in particular, and the current ridiculous way we seem to fund, arm, and train the people who we then infuriate enough to hate us...

France's colonial legacy, while perhaps not quite as bad as Belgium's, certainly wasn't particularly wholesome either for the metropole or for the colonials, both native and imported-from-France. Hard to see how using a relatively small military force makes this "better" in Mali, a mess that IMO is best left alone by the West. Not so much because of "colonial bullying" but simply because we've shown so far that we do a piss-poor job of sorting out things that matter to people we don't really care about or understand. Primum non nocere, as it were.

As for Somalia, well, raids go wrong and this one did. Bad luck for the poor bastards that got killed but I don't blame them for trying. Just another reason, though, for Westerners supping with the region with a very long spoon.

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:00:00 AM GMT-5  

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