Commentary from Denmark on Bush & the Debates

Sunday, October 10th, 2004

There’s an interesting analysis of Friday evening’s second Bush-Kerry debate from Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende. You get a heavy dose of the message in the very title: Good – But Not Good Enough, Bush. (more…)

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US Could Have Had 10,000 French Troops in Iraq

Thursday, October 7th, 2004

Kate Brumback – a very un-French name, but there you go – writes today in the on-line Nouvel Observateur about an interesting book, published just yesterday (and only in French so far), entitled Chirac contre Bush, L’autre guerre (“Chirac Against Bush: The Other War), by Henri Vernet and Thomas Cantaloube. Both are reporters for the newspaper Le Parisien, and the research they conducted on American-French relations in the run-up to the spring, 2003 invasion of Iraq, by Coalition forces which of course did not include the French, turned up a couple of interesting revelations. (more…)

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Poles in Iraq XI: Poles Out of Iraq?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004

“He forgot Poland” George W. Bush famously complained during that first presidential debate last week. And so John Kerry apparently did. And what about Poland, and specifically its roughly 2,500 soldiers now serving in Iraq? We’re out of there by December, 2005, no matter what happens, is the essence of what Polish defense minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced in an interview published yesterday in the leading Polish national newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

A pretty definitive statement, you would think. And, by the way, a resounding scoop for Gazeta, since no other on-line Polish newspaper treated Szmajdzinkski’s remarks until today, and that mostly in reaction to the splash he had made in yesterday’s interview. But unfortunately it’s not so simple as all that: Gazeta had several pieces accompanying that interview – as do other newspapers today – basically passing on a message of “don’t listen to Szmajdzinski!” from other leading Polish politicians, to include such figures as the President and Prime Minister! The situation is muddled, then, to say the least. (more…)

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How Does He Do It?

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

A great article-find for this day of the first Bush-Kerry debate! As the German newspaper Handelsblatt’s Gerald Seib puts it in the title of the latest contribution to his “American View” commentary series: How Can Anyone Vote for Bush? (more…)

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The “Other” Poll: Across the Water

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

As the American presidential campaign winds down to the last six weeks, with the first in the series of debates scheduled for next week, much attention and speculation surrounds the results of various polls seeking to track the horse-race. Then there is the other poll, that of the non-voters’ opinions, namely of those living on the European continent. Jean-Michel Demetz gives the run-down in the French news-magazine L’Express of results from the latest poll on trans-Atlantic attitudes commissioned by the German Marshall Fund of the United States together with Compagnia di San Paolo of Turin (Italy), and conducted in June, 2004. (Europeans Against American Leadership. Actually, Americans also figured under this poll’s sample of 11,000 respondents from 11 countries, which as we’ll see below makes for some interesting comparative results.) (more…)

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A Chastened George Bush Before the UN

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

US President George Bush’s fourth address to an opening session of the United Nations was yesterday, but in the European press I’ve surveyed so far there is little in the way of analysis of his remarks, as opposed to articles which more-or-less simply report to readers what it was he said. One paper that did get a jump on that was the Danish Berlingske Tidende, and getting reaction from a country which after all does still have troops engaged in the occupation in Iraq must surely be worthwhile. Berlingske author Ole Damkjær’s very title (Bush Goes Courting at the UN) already gives you some idea that he is willing to cut the American president some slack. (more…)

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Laura Bush Hits the Campaign Trail

Monday, August 30th, 2004

The Republican National Convention – covered by L’Humanité, journal of the French Communist Party! That would be something interesting. However, L’Humanité doesn’t publish often enough to provide day-by-day coverage, and in any case I doubt they would have the resources for that. I didn’t catch any sign of a L’Humanité correspondent present at last month’s Democratic National Convention, so the same is likely to be the case at the Republican convention that starts today.

That doesn’t mean that this leftist newspaper doesn’t have anything to say about the American presidential campaign. Writer “M.K.” has just had a piece published noting the emergence of First Lady Laura Bush into a more-active campaign role. (more…)

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Notes from the French Underground

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

The account is published in Le Monde, but you almost expect that the message was smuggled out in microfilm, in the form of text requiring a secret decoder-ring to decipher. It tells the tale of a dangerous “mole” who has managed to penetrate one of the Organization’s high rituals: a correspondent from this leading French newspaper reports from on-the-scene at one of the “Ask President Bush” campaign appearances the Bush campaign has recently held around the country (Meeting George Bush, Half Rock Star, Half God). (more…)

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Americans, Cuddle Your President!

Monday, August 16th, 2004

There’s an interesting article in today’s Hospodárské noviny (Cuddle Your President), by Nad’a Klevisová, reporting in wonder about one aspect of American democracy that apparently has not yet percolated through to the Czech version: political knick-knacks and souvenirs. It begins:

Let’s imagine that presidential elections come around again and Václav Klaus once again stands as a candidate. So his supporters flood into the stores to buy him in miniature, in a suit with a proper tie, and with buttons where his solar plexus is located. Ridiculous? Not in America.

(more…)

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Italian Legislators Ask Nader to Withdraw

Monday, July 26th, 2004

A devastating debate with Howard Dean live on TV hasn’t been enough; neither have been appeals from countless Americans, from the prominent to the obscure. But maybe a collective entreaty from some guys (mostly guys; actually, they’re uomini) with that notable “continental style” will do the trick and convince Ralph Nader to withdraw from the American presidential race. The French on-line newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur is reporting (Anti-Bush Action From Italian Deputies) that 116 members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, “in a rare gesture,” sent a collective letter last Saturday (24 July) to presidential candidate Ralph Nader urging him to bow out. (more…)

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That Gallic Skepticism Over Iraq

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

“Sovereignty” was transferred to the new Iraqi provisional government last Monday, two days earlier than what had been announced, in what has been praised as a slick move to head off the crescendo of attacks insurgents surely were holding in store for what was supposed to be today’s ceremony. But that’s necessarily “sovereignty” in quotation marks, since it’s an open question what sort of “sovereignty” that new Iraqi government has really received, if for no other reason than the large number of foreign troops – mostly American – that remain in the country but outside of any sort of direct Iraqi control.

You know that you can expect views from the maximal-skepticism side to come from the French press. The early hand-over may have been a surprise, but both Libération, from the French Left, and Le Figaro, from the Right, were nonetheless quickly ready to provide the same. (more…)

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Turkey and Other Bones of Franco-American Contention

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

At the NATO summit in Istanbul, wrapping up its second and final day today, relations between the United States and France have certainly not gotten any better. Bush did not help prepare things very well with an interview he had with RTE (Irish Radio and Television – official transcript here) as he made his way to Istanbul by way of Ireland (and a summit there with top EU officials over the weekend). In the interview he strongly suggested that it was really only France that opposed the Coalition attack on Iraq – “And, really, what you’re talking about is France, isn’t it?” – an assertion which seems to be in contradiction with widely-held facts. Then, once in Istanbul, Bush seemed to think he had the authority to advise the EU to admit Turkey as a member-state, which prompted French President Jacques Chirac to declare that Bush “not only [went] too far, but he went into territory that isn’t his. . . . It is not his purpose and his goal to give any advice to the EU, and in this area it was a bit as if I were to tell Americans how they should handle their relationship with Mexico.” Undaunted, Bush has since repeated this line today at a speech at an Istanbul university: “America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union.” (This CNN report has all the details of the spat in English.) (more…)

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“Accept No Substitutions!”: Danish Version

Sunday, June 13th, 2004

The Danish press is also wise to George W. Bush’s attempts to have himself labeled a latter-day Ronald Reagan. (This is something discussed first with respect to the Dutch/Flemish press in my previous €S entry; I’m making this entry separate to preserve this site’s “Category” integrity.) A good example of this comes from Klaus Justsen, US correspondent for the mainstream daily Jyllands-Posten (Bush Suns Himself in Reagan’s Light). (more…)

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Accept No Imitation Gipper!

Sunday, June 13th, 2004

I’m way over here on the other side of the Big Water, so could someone enlighten me? People are not really falling – are they? – for the current president’s attempt to shore up the sagging belief in his elementary competence by invoking the mantel of the recently-deceased Ronald Reagan? Such as by giving his campaign website such a thorough-going makeover that it could make you think that it was Reagan who was campaigning for the presidency? It looks like at least some editorial cartoonists have this covered (a more-elaborate production here), as does the US’ “newspaper of record” (registration required). Or at least that latter is available to those who page/click through to the “Arts” section. But I fear such enlightenment is likely limited to the usual East Coast, wine-and-brie set, as well as to whoever else regularly surfs over to read flaming liberal web-zines like Salon.

Rest assured that the intelligent classes over here are not fooled. (But they’re pretty good about these things. They saw right through the Bush administration’s attempt to equate Iraq with the D-Day landings, too.) (more…)

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The Reagan Legacy in German Eyes

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

Ronald Reagan died late last Saturday, just in time for reactions in all the big Sunday editions of American newspapers. But Sunday editions of European newspapers are rare (let alone – to temporarily borrow a term from McDonalds – “super-sized” editions; those appear on Saturdays, if at all). Rather, reactions and assessments of the meaning of Ronald Reagan’s presidency appeared on Monday, meaning that today, Tuesday, it’s time for EuroSavant to step in and give you a flavor of those.

From the other usual-suspect sources you can get briefed, scattered reaction from English, Arabic, French, and Spanish sources. (But really: only a brief mention from Libération for the French press? No Le Figaro, no Le Monde? We wouldn’t stand for that here at this web-site!) So let’s give the EuroSavant treatment to German coverage. That’s very appropriate, as Reagan’s relations with that country during his eight-year presidency were extremely interesting, with wild highs and lows. (more…)

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Ayatollah Bush

Monday, June 7th, 2004

The cajoling (over Iraq, of course) and the 60-year-old commemorative ceremonies are now over, and President Bush and entourage have caught Air Force One back to the States. He leaves behind, among many other things, an excellent article in the current issue of the authoritative German commentary-newspaper, Die Zeit, which his staff, at least, would have been well-advised to have studied in preparation for this visit (the article is dated June 3). Now, I know that the President doesn’t care much for foreign languages, and maybe that attitude also percolates down to those who work for him, so that that probably did not happen. But that’s OK anyway, because Jan Ross’ piece Bush and Us can also serve just as well as a post-visit dissection of the true attitudes towards George W. Bush and America in general among Europeans, beneath all the World War II-gratitude veneer. (more…)

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Bush Speech Leaves Germans, Iraqis Unimpressed

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

President Bush kicked off on Monday night his five-speech offensive to demonstrate to American voters (primarily) and also to the rest of the world that he has a plan for effectively handing off “sovereignty” to some native Iraqi administration at the end of June. That same day Britain and the US had tabled a proposed UN Security Council resolution which, if adopted in the proposed form, would leave occupation troops able to remain in Iraq indefinitely even as that native administration would supposedly be granted the “responsibility and authority to lead a sovereign Iraq.”

Coverage of the President’s speech in the German press generally found it less than fully convincing. (more…)

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Responsible Ones

Monday, May 10th, 2004

EuroSavant is back now, from an extended period of travel to Segway in cities located elsewhere in Europe. Fortunately, the scandal that erupted last week over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American (and seemingly also British) military personnel in Iraq shows no signs of dying down soon. I write “fortunately” not only from the immediate consideration that there is still plenty of coverage and commentary in the European press, but also because indeed this matter should not “die down” until all has been investigated, all has been revealed, and all those guilty have been relieved of their positions and punished. Some say that that would mean no such “closure” until Election Day next November.

As I make my way back into the €S groove, I have to shoot first at the big, obvious targets and leave subtlety (e.g. finding that telling commentary in some otherwise-obscure journal appearing in a more-obscure country) for later. What more obvious source to go to for non-English-language comment than France’s leading newspaper Le Monde? With its editorial from Sunday entitled Responsible Ones, Le Monde certainly does not disappoint. (more…)

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Poles in Iraq IX: Spanish Withdrawal Reaction

Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

Whether it constitutes a shameful retreat in the face of terrorist attack, or an angry reaction to an incumbent government trying to twist the facts surrounding a national tragedy to its own ends – we’ve already covered all of that here, at least from the German point-of-view, and it doesn’t matter anymore, since José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is now the Spanish premier as of last weekend and the Spanish troops will withdraw from Iraq. What is new and interesting is what Zapatero and his Defense Minister, José Bono, promptly announced with almost unseemly haste just after assuming office: that they will withdraw those as soon as possible. You might remember that, in the wake of the 11 March Madrid train bombings and the victory of Zapatero’s Socialist Party in the ensuing Spanish general election, the new prospect of the Spanish troop withdrawal was at least couched in the fig leaf that such a withdrawal would be canceled if operations in Iraq were put under a proper United Nations basis by the passing of a suitable UN Security Council resolution. Now that fig leaf is tossed aside: the Spanish troops are basically outa there, and as fast as possible consistent with security concerns, meaning in effect in six weeks or even less. George W. Bush is not pleased.

Spanish troops now make up the third-largest national contingent in the Polish-assigned sector in southern Iraq – once thought to be a quiet backwater since the area is dominated by Shiites, but now containing some hot spots indeed, like Najaf and Karbala. (So reports Gazeta Wyborcza, without naming contingents numbers 1 and 2 – I’m guessing that those are the American and Polish troops, respectively.) So how do the Polish authorities feel about the Spanish action? Let’s take a look at their national press. (more…)

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Kerry-Amour in France

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

Me, too! Me, too! So Europe is Kerry country, not least because the Democratic presidential candidate is fluent in French and can produce phrases in other European languages, reports the Economist. (Subscription required; or you can get the same message from this Washington Post survey of a ragged potpourri of English-language newspapers from around the world – from Manila, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, southern India, and the like.) Sounds like a good bandwagon for EuroSavant to hop onto, say with a look at the French press to see whether the Fifth Republic really loves the Democratic Party’s candidate as much as is claimed. (more…)

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National Guard LT Bush

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

EuroSavant today briefly departs from its usual brief (i.e. the foreign on-line press; don’t worry, I’ve got a juicy additional entry of the more customary sort planned that I should be able to get in today, or else tomorrow), to eagerly join in the chorus that is starting to resound in the blogosphere about President George W. Bush’s National Guard (non-)performance in 1972 and 1973.

Yes, Michael Moore termed our sitting president a “deserter,” but that’s the sort of heavily-laden word that really should have its full impact saved for application to people or events that truly justify it (it’s like “genocide,” for instance, only a bit less serious). So, even at worst, President Bush was no “deserter”: he did not abandon his military duties anywhere near the then-field of battle in Vietnam. Mr. Moore was merely indulging here in his usual hyperbole. On the other hand, it’s clear that there is a serious gap where there should be some sort of record of LT Bush, National Guard aviator, performing some sort of military duties in 1972 and 1973 to justify the expense taxpayers at the time undertook to train him to fly – not to mention the officer’s oath he took. Military service is a well-documented experience indeed, as I can tell you from personal (officer’s) experience – for what that’s worth; those documents just have to be there, if indeed there was anything happening during that period to actually document. (more…)

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Bush as Economic Bogeyman

Monday, February 9th, 2004

There was good, intriguing stuff on Saturday from what is perhaps a suprizing source: the Nederlands Dagblad (“Dutch Newspaper”), which with its slogan Christelijk betrokken (“Involved in Christ”) on the masthead of its Internet edition puts its religious affiliation front-and-center. The ND has taken its time in considering the State of the Union message and fiscal 2005 federal government budget George W. Bush delivered over a week ago, presumably the better to produce a more profound analysis to share with its readers. The main point of that analysis is found in the article’s title: How George W. Bush Threatens the World’s Economy. The US has gone from Bill Clinton’s $127 billion budget surplus to a deficit of $521 billion, and, so writes author Ruurd Ubels, that has earned the President “scorn and derision” in his own country. But troubles like that in the world’s biggest economy cannot help but spill over to others. (more…)

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The Dutch Review the “State of the Union”

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

I’m over here in the US now, and clearly where you are determines what you hear and what you cover. Or perhaps “what you couldn’t escape, even if you tried,” since President Bush’s State of the Union speech last night dominated the airwaves everywhere and the on-line American press this morning.

But I reside in the Netherlands, so let’s take a look homeward: How did the President’s speech go over in the Dutch press? I ask that in full awareness of the inherent asymmetry at the bottom of all of this: there’s of course a yearly, regularly-scheduled policy speech delivered each year on behalf of the Dutch government too (called the troonrede, or “throne-speech,” it occurs on the third Tuesday of September, and happens to be delivered by the Queen), but there is naturally hardly the same attention – if, indeed, any at all – devoted by the American press to that. All completely understandable: just speaking of events of this past year, it’s not the Dutch who have thrown the geopolitical structure of the Middle East on its ear, together with the whole web of post-World War II Western Alliance relations, by invading Iraq.

Still, this example of the sovereign actually reading the speech (as also happens yearly in the United Kingdom, of course) might be something worth transferring over to American practice, if the royalty-less American society could somehow come up with an appropriate analogous figure (the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, perhaps?). My reason for suggesting that is that in that case perhaps – just perhaps – the sitting President would be deterred from delivering, for public reading by another, any text that ultimately amounts to a mere electioneering stunt, rather than a sober, candid view of what the government has done and what it intends to do. The former is at least the overwhelming impression Dutch writers and editors took away from Bush’s performance last night, as reflected even in headlines such as Het Parool’s Bush’s State of the Union Mainly an Electioneering Speech (verkiezingsrede). (more…)

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Poles Upset at US Visa Regime

Sunday, January 11th, 2004

For many people around the world, mainly either those actively wanting to or at least thinking about traveling to the United States, the big event marking this past first-business-week of the New Year was the introduction last Monday at America’s seaports and airports of mandatory procedures involving the photographing and fingerprinting of most foreign entrants. In one sense, this was just the sequel to the “air marshal” flap happening just before, as yet one more unilateral demand placed by the Bush administration on travel to the US, placed out there for other involved countries to “take it or leave it,” although resistance to this so far has been less than to the demand for air marshalls.

However, see this NYT article for the great Brazilian exception, where authorities – spurred by a judge’s ruling – have in turn instituted the requirement that all Americans entering Brazil be photographed and fingerprinted. And that’s all Americans – the article makes mention that even American diplomats, plus visiting US Senator Pat Roberts, were required to deliver up mugshots and prints – and a better solution is hard to imagine for the obvious problem here that the high-and-mighty setting such US policy normally get to remain blissfully unaware of the impact their decisions have on the everyday lives of ordinarily mortals. There just remains the task of getting George W. Bush to pose in an airport somewhere, which would have the collateral benefit of greatly assisting those many hundreds of thousands of anti-US-policy protesters in Western Europe whose own attempts at fashioning a Bush mugshot on the posters and placards they march with in the streets have too often been hopelessly amateurish.

Another reason resistance is less to the new mugshot-and-prints regime is that citizens from a core of 27 countries (mostly Western European) seen as low-risk and/or particularly friendly to US policy (plus Canada) are exempt. Unfortunately, it’s questionable whether the friendliness of the country and the degree of terrorist risk posed by its citizens are very much correlated; you can grasp this by recalling that that gentleman (now locked up in perpetuity) who two years ago tried to blow up a US-bound flight with explosives hidden in his tennis-shoes was a French national, as well as by reading this excellent opinion-piece on the whole issue in today’s Washington Post’s “Outlook” section. (Then there are those of you asking aloud now “What, France? A ‘friendly country’?” Sillies, for all the Franco-American policy differences of recent years, clearly from geopolitical and immigration perspectives France belongs in that camp of 27.)

But back to the new requirements for folks from what you could call the “great unwashed” parts of the world who would like to visit America, and in particular Poland. Yep, the Poles also belong to those “great unwashed,” notwithstanding things like the prompt and firm support the Polish government provided the Bush administration when it came to Iraq. The Poles are not happy with the new requirements, naturally. Surprisingly, though, a review of Polish press coverage of the matter has convinced me that this development itself barely rates “man-bites-dog” newsworthy status. Rather, the new requirements are merely the latest riff on what Poles perceive to be an ongoing insult – namely that they are required to obtain visas to visit the US at all. What’s more, George W. Bush’s announcement of this past week of proposed changes to US immigration law to grant amnesty in certain cases to illegals in the US turned out 1) To be directly relevant to the mugshot-and-photo issue, and 2) To be of much more interest to Poles. Intrigued? Just click on “More…”

Once again, on this issue Gazeta Wyborcza wins the prize for the extensiveness of its coverage; it builds a handy collection of links to its various articles on a page entitled Should We Introduce Visas for the USA? (more…)

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Spare Us the “Dreams and Glory”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

It’s a bully pulpit, this weblog, here at my disposal on those occasions when I want to react publicly to something I’ve read on the Net. By the nature of things, though, that inevitably means a bias against excellent articles that I might otherwise want to recommend to you, if they’re not European and in a foreign language – it’s not worth going “off-Eurosavant-topic,” you see – and towards pointing you to terrible articles that I just have to argue against. And so it would be with regret that I would let you know of the column Dreams and Glory by David Brooks, were it not for the audience of millions that its posting yesterday on the New York Time’s Op-Ed pages inevitably assured it. (However, in a couple of days it disappears behind the Times’ “paid content” wall, so I’ll try to include many representative quotes for those who are reading this late.) (more…)

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Après la Capture

Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

The big story is out there, the obvious one. Maybe you want the EuroSavant opinion on the capture last Saturday night of Saddam Hussein. I think . . . that that was a Good Thing.

“That won’t cut it, MAO!” perhaps you object. Ah, but allow me to remind you of what you could term the “EuroSavant essence”: It’s not necessary for me to pontificate on these pages. (Although that can also occasionally happen; actually, I feel another expatiation coming on now, but not on this Saddamned subject: stay tuned for the next entry.) Rather, my function is to lead you daily (or whenever) on a merry traipse through the motley landscape of one or more of the various European presses – a landscape in which, to extend the metaphor, the lay of the terrain as well as most of the bright and curious flowers to be found within it would remain unknown and incomprehensible to you without my (free!) services as surveyor, geologist, and naturalist.

Translation: I just need to find other writers, writing in one European language or another, to pontificate on the topic of the day, and tell you what they’re saying. Since Mr. Hussein was such a good customer of France back in his glory days, let’s see if the French press can comment on his capture in ways that transcend the obvious. (more…)

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Achtung, Baby! No Contracts!

Saturday, December 13th, 2003

A collective Aber was ist denn los?! issued from the German government last Wednesday, the day after the Pentagon’s new policy excluding as primary bidders on Iraqi reconstruction contracts companies from “peace camp” countries was disclosed – not by any formal notification to the countries thus excluded, mind you, but simply by a posting on the Internet, to the “Rebuilding-Iraq.net” site, of the “Determination and Findings” text, signed by Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. That’s why government spokesman Béla Anda (a very Hungarian name, by the way) qualified his qualification of the American action as “not acceptable” with the proviso that what he had been hearing from the press would turn out in fact to be true. We can make our first plunge into the facts of this case with the authoritative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Wednesday article, Berlin Criticizes Washington: Decision Unacceptable. That’s also why German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was only willing to say that he had heard the news “with amazement” (“mit Erstaunen zur Kenntnis genommen“), and that he was going to get with his American contacts to find out what the hell was going on. (more…)

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Poland Is Watching

Thursday, November 13th, 2003

Searching the “Events in Iraq” section of the Gazeta Wyborcza’s Internet edition, I came upon this interesting commentary from Dawid Warszawski (“Freedom in the Zone”), apparently one out of a series of pieces he is writing under the collective name Prognoza pogody (“weather report”). “This is strange,” I thought. “What is this doing in the Iraq section?” After all, Polish premier Leszek Miller was recently in Baghdad – only to be stood up there by American civilian administrator Paul Bremer, who had rushed back to Washington for urgent consultations with top Bush administration officials instead. I wanted some Polish coverage of that.

But forget about Miller for a moment. Reading Warszawski’s piece all the way through does establish an Iraq connection, although its focus is clearly on the US. It is basically about how American society has changed, influenced by that War in Iraq, but really by September 11, 2001. And again, note that it is written by a national of one of America’s allies in that war, indeed of a country with long-standing affection and admiration for the US and all things American. (more…)

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Bush as Baghdad Bob?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

The ol’ reliable Dutch newspaper Trouw has come up with another interesting commentary article – at first glance, at least – entitled Bush als Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. (Yes, you understand that headline correctly. For the English translation, simply remove one strategic “l”.) Remember him? He was the “Information Minister” in Saddam Hussein’s regime, the one who never let reality get in the way of his own convictions about how the war to defend his country against Coalition forces was going. (And who still has his own fan-site.)

Frankly, Trouw (no specific author indicated) has something there. It reminds us that al-Sahhaf’s favorite phrase was “We have the situation under control.” When we have President Bush now asserting that the increased tempo of attacks and bombings in Iraq is actually a good sign, since it shows the Iraqi resistance’s desperation, the comparison with al-Sahhaf starts to sound more reasonable. It’s actually somewhat of a surprise that someone else (some Democrat, say) didn’t come up with this parallel earlier. No one else did at least as I far as I can tell, in my frequent reviews of the various European national presses. If anyone can set me straight on that, I’d be glad to hear about it, via e-mail and/or under “Comments.” (more…)

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The Unabridged George W. Bush, Romantic Poet

Tuesday, October 14th, 2003

Since my first revelation of his wordcraft, taken here from the Danish Politiken, there may be some of you out there who just can’t get enough of that literary artist whose day-job just happens to be the presidency of the United States, one George W. Bush. (Others, on the other hand, would advise him not to give up that day-job. Still more, however, are already working hard to make sure that he does just that in January, 2005.) Well, it seems that the Truth is a difficult thing to get whole, although widespread reading in numerous languages might help you get closer to it. That poem to Laura printed in Politiken was barely the half of it; now I’ve discovered this article in the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny that gives a fuller version (although who knows whether this is finally the complete one). Yes, I’ll reproduce it for you here (it’s only cyber-space – and a miniscule portion of my allowed storage-space on the host server – that I’m expending):

Dear Laura
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Oh my lump in the bed,
How I’ve missed you.
Roses are redder,
Bluer am I,
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too,
Barney’s still mad you dropped him,
He ate your shoe.
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier,
Next time you want an adventure,
just land on a carrier.

For those of you into careful comparison of such works of literature in parallel texts of two different languages, Lidové noviny also provides a Czech translation. And yes, the Czech paper also mentions the connection to Bush’s flight onto that carrier last May, and his declaration there of the end of major combat operations in Iraq. It also mentions that Mrs. Bush recited this poem at the Library of Congress book festival in the presence of her husband.

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