Delenda America (French Edition)

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Vaisse said: a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in France, the unexpectedly good showing of the ultra-nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections and dissatisfaction with French foreign policy in the Middle East, deemed by some in the United States to be insufficiently pro-Israel. These developments have coincided with a strong surge of anti-Americanism in France. After a brief honeymoon last fall -- President Jacques Chirac was the first foreign leader to visit the United States after the terrorist attacks -- relations between the two countries soured, with many French expressing vociferous opposition to the Afghan war.

Powell to snap that his French colleague was ''getting the vapors. Even the boardroom politics of French corporations have become symbols of cultural mistrust. The ouster this week of Jean-Marie Messier, the hard-driving chief executive of Vivendi Universal, the French media conglomerate, took on an anti-American cast when it was reported that he had been perceived by disgruntled French stockholders as too favorably disposed to America and its business models.

He ditched Paris for Park Avenue and insisted that even the company's French managers use English on the job. Under the new leadership, Vivendi's American executives will get lessons in French history and etiquette, and will be encouraged to ''demonstrate that they like France. Concern over reports of fire bombings at French synagogues and of physical assaults on French and Belgian Jews prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to issue a travel advisory for France and Belgium this spring -- an unprecedented step. The congress mentioned ''L'Effroyable Imposture'' as well as anti-Semitism in its ad campaign promoting the action.

Last month, the congress decided to suspend its tours of France altogether. Koch said he began his own boycott in December, after the French government failed to reprimand Daniel Bernard, its ambassador to Britain, who used an obscenity to refer to Israel at a dinner party. Bernard did not deny making the remark but said his words had been greatly distorted.

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Even the French edition of Saul Bellow's latest novel, ''Ravelstein,'' became grounds for attack when The New York Observer reported in June that the publisher, Gallimard, had selected an image for the book's cover -- a photograph of a large-nosed old man with hornlike tufts of hair -- that verged on anti-Semitic caricature. Denying that the company had acted with anti-Semitic intent, a Gallimard employee told the Observer that the image had been chosen for its humor.

While many French experts admit that such reactions are understandable, but some fear that genuine political disagreement and legitimate concern over anti-Semitism may also be giving way to crude caricatures of the French. View all New York Times newsletters. He might also have cited ''Saturday Night Live. Anti-Israel, anti-American and, of course, as always, Jew-hating. With all that's going on in the world, isn't it time we got back to hating the French? Some French blame the American news media for making such remarks acceptable.

The press, they say, has failed to distinguish between the anti-Semitic acts occurring in France today -- mostly attributed to Muslim teenagers angry about the conflict in the Middle East -- and those that occurred during World War II. They point out that thousands of French citizens have protested the anti-Semitic acts in demonstrations, and they say Mr. Le Pen's resounding defeat proves that the vast majority of French are staunchly opposed to racial and religious hatred.

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Calling the anti-Semitic incidents a ''spillover from the Israel-Palestinian conflict,'' he argued that ''they don't make France any more anti-Semitic than the persistence of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists makes the United States a racist country on the verge of restoring segregation or slavery. Many Americans -- particularly Jews -- remain unconvinced, saying the French government has shown little interest in punishing perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes. But French scholars insist that there is a difference between history and stereotypes.

On the other hand, it's always being updated for new purposes and contexts.

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Some of the negative images date to the early days of the American republic. In his paper, Mr. A hundred years later, the Dreyfus Affair helped establish France's reputation as a haven for anti-Semitism, a notion reinforced by evidence of substantial French collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy regime. Similarly, France's capitulation to the Germans in made the French into eternal cowards, just as Charles de Gaulle, a famously stubborn and uncooperative ally, secured his fellow citizens a permanent reputation in this country for untrustworthiness and arrogance.

And they are often invoked in the same breath as the negative ones.

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Even the ''Saturday Night Live'' parody included references to France's reputation for great art and food. Fassin said. He therefore appeared on television on January 17 to warn that anyone who tries to invade his country would be defeated and "forced to commit suicide at the gates of Baghdad". This fiery rhetoric marked the 12th anniversary of the Gulf war, when Iraq was quickly defeated with the loss of more than , lives. The Americans are clearly banking on a repeat of the same scenario, but not everyone is so sure.

The nervousness of the financial markets worldwide is sufficient proof of this. Conscious of their weakness in the face of the world's only superpower, the Iraqis have gone to extraordinary lengths to show their willingness to help United Nations weapons inspectors search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. To no avail! After more than expeditions, Hans Blix reported at the end of December that they had found nothing, and that they had yet to discover the "smoking gun" that would convince the world of the threat Iraq allegedly poses.

On December 31, Kofi Annan stated that he saw no basis for armed intervention against Iraq. The response of the Americans was to state that, in so many words, the fact that you have found nothing proves that the Iraqis must be hiding something! This logic reminds one of the twisted reasoning that used to be applied in the trials of witches hundreds of years ago. A poor woman was accused of being a witch and subjected to torture to force her to confess. If she refused to confess, the devil was said to be giving her strength, if she fainted, the devil was said to be giving her sleep, and so on, until the unfortunate victim either confessed or died.

The discovery of 11 empty mm chemical warheads, all in good condition, served as a convenient pretext for the tormentors of Iraq to renew their hue and cry. These, said a spokesman for the inspectors, were not included in the 12,page declaration that Iraq has made about its arms programme. A senior Iraqi official claimed that that is because the warheads were not linked to any banned weapons programme and had simply expired and been packed away in wooden boxes, where they had been forgotten about.

It is quite possible that the Iraqis are telling the truth, as also in the subsequent discovery of a large number of notes in the house of one of their scientists that were likewise not declared. The scientist has protested that these notes could not be connected with a military nuclear programme and included notes for lectures to his students. But that will not help Saddam.

The Americans, like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland want to establish a guilty verdict first and hold the trial afterwards.

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They will accept nothing less! Before delivering that report, the UN's chief inspector, Hans Blix, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, visited Baghdad, where they warned the Iraqis that the situation is "very tense and very dangerous".

To avoid war, Blix says, Iraq must provide credible evidence that it has eliminated its suspected nuclear, chemical and biological programmes. In a normal trial, it is the task of the prosecutor to prove that the accused is guilty. Here, however, the accused is presumed to be guilty and is required to furnish proof of his innocence!

Not only that, he is expected to show the greatest enthusiasm in helping the prosecution to find the necessary proof - that he is, in fact, guilty! Officials in Washington argue that the Iraqis do not have to be in "material breach" of resolutions: in other words, they are guilty until proven innocent. The actions of US imperialism resemble those of a wild elephant, blundering into every obstacle in the belief that its sheer bulk will suffice to remove them.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case! It is interesting to contrast America's tough line on Iraq with its policy towards North Korea, where Mr Bush is promoting diplomacy and has said he would consider food aid and energy shipments if the North Koreans scrap their nuclear-weapons programme.

The North Korean regime makes no secret that it possesses nuclear weapons, so the sending of UN arms inspectors is unnecessary. Yet Bush does not threaten to invade North Korea! The reason is obvious. North Korea has a powerful army and nuclear weapons and could do considerable damage in the event of a war. And a bully will always pick on a victim who is smaller and weaker than himself. The fact is that the ruling clique in Washington long ago before September 11 made up its mind that Saddam Hussein must be overthrown and Iraq must be occupied.

What are the reasons for this stubbornness? There are various: political, strategic, economic and even personal. George W. Bush, who incidentally "won" the last presidential election through a blatant fraud, wishes at all costs to remain in the White House. Since there is just over a year before the next presidential elections, he calculates that a victorious little war would do his chances no harm.

After all, just look what the Falklands war did for Margaret Thatcher. The fact that many people will die in such a war is surely a trivial consideration compared to the political future of George W.! The personal destiny of Mr. Bush would, of course, in itself, be insufficient to justify plunging America into a bloody and no matter what is said to the contrary uncertain conflict.

There are other, more powerful, reasons of a strategic and economic character. It accounts for 37 percent of the world's total arms expenditure and 40 percent of world arms production. No other power comes remotely close to this. The American imperialists have therefore abrogated to themselves the role of the policeman of world capitalism. They have decided to tear up all the old agreements that formed the basis of "international law".

Their slogan is "might is right". And they will tolerate no regime that is not willing to accept their domination. That was the meaning of the war in Kosovo, and it is also the meaning of the war against Iraq. Despite the terrible pounding it took in the last Gulf War, and ten years of barbaric sanctions that have reduced the Iraqi people to beggary and starvation, Iraq remains a formidable power in the region.

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The USA wants at all costs to destroy this power and thus give a terrible lesson to the peoples of the Middle East and the world at large. See what happens to those who try to stand against us? That is the intended message. Although it is an over-simplification to characterise the coming war as a "war for oil" there are other elements in the equation , there cannot be the slightest doubt that oil plays a most important role. The US economy depends heavily on oil, and the biggest available reserves of oil are to be found in the Middle East.

Bush comes from a Texan family the wealth of which comes from oil.

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The oilmen make up the single most powerful group in the US oligarchy and have a determining influence on US policy. Together with the notorious Military Industrial Complex, they have a powerful influence on Washington's foreign policy. Up till recently the USA was tranquil in the belief that its Middle East oil supplies were guaranteed by a friendly power - Saudi Arabia. The parasitic and degenerate Saudi ruling clique keeps order in its own house with a rod of iron. It is, in fact, a fundamentalist dictatorship that tortures its opponents, discriminates against women and cuts the hands off thieves.

This naturally qualifies it for membership of America's coalition of democratic regimes. While speaking in the name of Allah, the members of the royal house of Saud are notoriously corrupt. These defenders of the Faith and keepers of the Holy Places of Islam drink whisky, drive expensive cars and enjoy themselves with prostitutes. They have succeeded in clinging to power partly through the most savage repression and partly because the vast oil revenues permitted them to give concessions to the population. But this has all ended. Falling oil revenues have meant falling living standards for most of the Saudi population.

The standard of living is now only 20 percent of its level 20 years ago. Unemployment is high and rising, especially among Saudi youth. This means that discontent is increasing to dangerous levels, and it will not be possible to contain the situation by repression alone. It came as a shock to the Americans that the biggest number of hijackers on the September 11 came neither from Afghanistan nor Iraq, but Saudi Arabia. But in fact this was entirely predictable. The degenerate Saudi ruling clique, conscious of its weakness and isolation from the population, arrived at a deal with the Moslem clerics of the strict Wahhabi sect, giving the latter a virtually free hand to operate in Saudi Arabia, on condition that it encouraged Jihhad Holy War outside Saudi borders only.

Reactionary fundamentalist gangsters like Osama bin Laden who had close links with the Saudi royal family were actively supported, financed and armed both by the CIA and the Saudi regime, to attack the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The infrastructure of al Qaida was built up at that time. It was not seen as a problem as long as it confined its activities to killing Russians. As sometimes occurs, the mad dog bit the hand that fed it.

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It is interesting to note that the CIA so trusted the Saudis that it did not even keep them under surveillance. A CIA defector recently pointed out that the agency did not even bother to keep a file on that country. This astonishing negligence may explain the reason why America's security services were caught off guard on September But now all that has changed.

From blind faith in the Saudi regime, the Americans are becoming increasingly suspicious of it. They fear, with some reason, that the regime is unstable and may be overthrown sooner rather than later. The splits in the royal family lend credence to this interpretation. The loss of Saudi Arabia would be a body-blow to the USA, which is heavily dependent on Saudi oil supplies, which represent the biggest proven reserves in the world. It is clear that the ruling circles in the USA are actively considering this scenario and preparing for it. The presence of US troops on Saudi soil, allegedly to defend the kingdom against the threat of foreign invasion from Iraq , is in reality an insurance policy.

In the event of the regime being overthrown, the US army would immediately take steps to occupy - not the whole country, which would be a formidable task - but the oilfields, most of which are situated on a narrow coastal strip. This would then be sealed off from the rest of the country, and the Arabs would be left with the sand. This is where Iraq comes into the picture.

Iraq is sitting on the second biggest reserves of oil, after Saudi Arabia.