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Réactions (archives 2004-2005)

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François de Dardel's reactions to political events, environmental and social issues.
Mes réactions aux évènements politiques, écologiques et sociaux.
The texts are in French or English.

12 December 2005 (English)
Harold Pinter
Pinter: The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act.
Harold Pinter, the famous English playwright, has received the Nobel prize for literature. He was too sick to deliver his acceptance speech in person, so it was presented via video.

I found a large excerpt of this speech in "The Times of India" dated Dec 9th, 2005.

Here is this text, a furious attack against Bush and Blair.

20 November 2005 (English)
Burning car
Violence in the suburbs: we are all responsible
You may think I am out of my mind. I am not. The recent explosion of violence in the suburbs of several French cities is a result of our civilisation: consumerism, individualism.

The social gap was reduced progressively during the 20th century. No more slaves, no more servants. The proportion of unskilled workforce decreased. An apparent equalisation of society was taking place in the 1960's and 70's.

Greed is destroying this progress. No more caring and sharing. Shameless exploitation of the poor countries that supply us with bananas and coffee. The citizens of these countries envy us, our wealth. When we need manpower, we invite a few millions of them to work for us. Then there is no more work, and everything is de-stabilised. Meanwhile, their children are our compatriots. Frustration and feelings of "no future".

Do I have a solution ? I am not a magician. The race towards continuous economic growth is absurd. The example given by a few super-wealthy stars of sports, show-business and finance is misleading, pernicious and finally harmful.

Religions were supposed to create a moral environment. Religions declined a hundred years ago. The moral values that they were unable to promote efficiently, evaporated. Religions are coming back, because too many are lost in our inhumane society and religions offer an apparent shelter for lost souls. Then imams and other preachers decide what is good and what is evil. No. Religion is not the solution.

The solution consists of elements pertaining to:

20 November 2005 (English)
Bird flu could hurt fight to combat AIDS
Shillong, India (Reuters) - The emerging battle against bird flu could divert attention and funds away from global efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, the head of the United Nations' AIDS programme said.
Sat, 19 Nov 2005 17:29:54 GMT

Let's not forget those who are dying while we are imagining another world disaster. The bird flu (Avian Influenza) has killed 100 in Asia, and is a potential threat, but today the risk is low.

AIDS is killing hundreds of thousands in the entire world, particularly in Africa. Its mode of spreading is well known, and drugs exist to combat its effects, if not to eradicate it. Let's continue to fiight the existing deadly epidemic.

4 juillet 2005 (Latin & français)
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges*
Les lois étaient les plus nombreuses là où l'État était le plus corrompu (Tacite, Annales, III, 27).

En France, le moindre problème de société (et ils y sont nombreux) conduit le gouvernement à vouloir promulguer de nouvelles lois. Le ministres semblent vouloir à tout prix associer leur nom à un texte qui n'aura bien souvent qu'un effet populiste et démagogue, ou électoral, ce qui revient parfois au même.

La force d'un état ne se mesure pas au nombre de ses lois, mais bien à la façon dont elles sont appliquées. Ici, non seulement celles que l'on veut créer font double emploi avec celles qui existent déjà, mais souvent les décrets d'application ne sont pas publiés, et ni les unes ni les autres ne sont respectées. Enfin, ça doit donner du pain à des armées de juristes...

* J'ai retrouvé cet extrait, devenu maxime, dans une liasse de "notules" écrites par mon père entre 1935 et 39.

Voir aussi ma rubrique "Corruptio optimi pessima" de 1998 sur un sujet analogue.

29 January 2005 (English)
One month later
On 26th December 2004, a giant tidal wave struck Asia. The map on the left shows the countries devastated by the tsunami and provides a link to a European Commission web site dedicated to the disaster. For a change, this disaster is not related to human activity.

Because the wave has hit places with Western tourists, it has attracted more attention, and created another wave, of solidarity and compassion. Today, I am not sarcastic : I have been moved by the disaster, and moved by the reaction of many people across the world in their endeavour to help those who lost their family and their belongings. All charity organisations have reacted instantaneously. The US Navy has also been quick to react and to send huge quantities of supplies and support staff.

Condoleezza Rice
The only "out of tune" remark was made by the new US State Secretary, Condoleezza Rice, when she said the tsunami had been a "wonderful opportunity" to demonstrate US solidarity. This shows that a) the US military assistance to Indonesia was a political as well as a charitable move, and b) Mrs. Rice has some way to go to learn how a diplomat should think twice before she speaks. Ask the victims of the tsunami about this "wonderful opportunity"...

Meanwhile, most of us have given some thoughts about the overhelming might of nature. This made us, for a short time, conscious about the relative power of man and our vanity.

31 October 2004 (English [almost])
The Lancet
100 000 more deaths
J'ai découvert l'article en question ce matin dans "Le Monde" en passant devant un kiosque. J'ai ensuite trouvé les détails sur Internet.

The Lancet is not an anarchist paper: it is a reputable British journal of medicine. On 29th October, it has published the first scientific study of the effects of the Iraq war on Iraqi civilians. The text below is extracted from this article.

Death in Iraq
Soldier and Iraqi woman
Burnt car
Map of Iraq
Fleeing family
Iraqi civilians

The invasion of Iraq, the displacement of a cruel dictator, and the attempt to impose a liberal democracy by force have, by themselves, been insufficient to bring peace and security to the civilian population. Democratic imperialism has led to more deaths not fewer.

Richard Horton
The Lancet, London NW1 7BY, UK


The risk of death was estimated to be 2.5-fold (95% CI* 1.6-4.2) higher after the invasion when compared with the preinvasion period. Two-thirds of all violent deaths were reported in one cluster in the city of Falluja. If we exclude the Falluja data, the risk of death is 1.5-fold (95% CI* 1.1-2.3) higher after the invasion. We estimate that 98000 more deaths than expected (8000-194000) happened after the invasion outside of Falluja and far more if the outlier Falluja cluster is included. The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8.1-419) than in the period before the war.

Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100 000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths.

*CI = Confidence Interval

16 October 2004 (English)
GW Bush Oct 2004
The worst thing they can do to mankind
Yes, re-electing today's President of the United States of America would be a disaster to humanity, to the world.

I don't want the world to be more anti-American than it is now. The USA are a mighty nation, nobody would deny it. But President G.W. Bush has turned the entire world against him.

He keeps repeating that the world is a safer place. Yet, terrorism has never been as active as today. Bush sent to the death mopre than one thousand US soldiers in Iraq. His army killed several thousands (nobody seems to count them) of Iraqis, many of them innocent civilians. The main reason he gave to start the war (mass destruction weapons) is now clearly demonstrated as unfounded. The second reason (Al Qaida terrorists enjoy the protection of Saddam in Iraq) is unfounded as well.

The American press and (perhaps) population cried for outrage when President Clinton lied about his sexual encounter with Monica Lewinsky (see my post of 17 Jan 1998). This did no harm to their country, this did no harm to the world. Now they admit that Bush lied about the situation in Iraq, and started the war that caused havoc in the Middle East and outrage in the entire world. Is the sex life of Clinton more important than peace in the world ?

Retaliation, I said on 15 Sep 2001, will not bring peace, but anger. Retaliation is a child's reaction. Bush too often reacts as a child. Do Americans want to be governed by a child ?

And his frequent reference to his Christian faith is childish as well. Where, I repeat where, does Christ encourage war ?

13 April 2004 (English)
Madrid 11 March 2004
A safer world
This is what we were told as President Bush ordered his troops to invade Iraq: it was the best way to eradicate terrorism, and the only way to make the world a safer place. The picture on the right shows the results of the terrorist attack in Madrid on 11 March 2004, and the radio today said that 40 foreigners are held hostages in Iraq.

Incidentally, US troops have killed more civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than the number of victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.


10 February 2004 (Français)
Voilà une situation intéressante. L'entreprise internationale pour laquelle je travaille, comme un grand nombre d'autres firmes, a fait des coupes claires dans deux groupes d'employés: la comptabilité et l'assistance informatique en ligne. Si je commande disons une cartouche d'encre pour mon imprimante de bureau, la facture est maintenant traitée à Shanghai. Et si le service de gestion des commandes s'empêtre dans le système SAP, il appelle la ligne d'assistance, et on lui répond de Hyderabad.

Des emplois se perdent chez nous (dans les pays nantis) et se créent dans les pays en développement, du moins certains d'entre eux. Ça marche naturellement pour plusieurs raisons:

Je me demande s'il faut déplorer cette situation ou plutôt s'en réjouir. Je suis tenté de penser qu'il s'agit d'un juste rééquilibrage entre le Nord et le Sud. Ici, on ne peut pas se retrancher derrière l'objection "on fait travailler des enfants au lieu de les éduquer à l'école". Le Maroc joue le même rôle pour les francophones. Ceci durera tant que les revenus des pays "délocalisés" seront largement inférieurs à ceux des pays qui délocalisent.

Il y a cinquante, quarante, trente ans, les Italiens, les Espagnols, les Portugais émigraient en masse vers la France pour y trouver des emplois mieux rémunérés que chez eux. Cette émigration a compètement cessé, parce que l'Italie, l'Espagne et le Portugal ont peu à peu rattrapé, ou presque, le niveau de richesse de la France. Peut-on espérer que l'Inde, le Maroc et d'autres pays africains ou asiatiques rattrapent peu à peu notre niveau de richesse ?

8 February 2004 (English)
Treading into the anthill
The international political situation is a delicate equilibrium. Those who never leave their comfortable homeland will have hard times to imagine the thousand forces applied by hundreds of states and communities that hold the entire building together.

I am not implying that the American Foreign Department does not know what happens abroad, but my feeling is the vast majority of the American people, including their President, are just too confident in the awesome power of their country. And probably too loudly proud of it.
They thought they were invulnerable, and they have been hit. And dramatically shocked that this was possible at all. As there was no obvious ennemy, they had to create some. Then they had to create excuses to attack their assumed ennemy. Few people at the time really believed there was a relation between the Iraqi dictatorship and the terrorism that hit the USA, but they pretended.
We in Europe will never forget that the American people, through the action of their armed forces, ended World Wars I and II, or at least sped their conclusion. For this, Europe is indebted to America. This happened 87 and 60 years ago, respectively.

During the last 60 years, though, the foreign policy of the USA has been less than successful. The USA kept protecting dictators and fascist governments during the "Cold War" with the excuse of preventing the communism from expanding. Where communism was not fretted, e.g. in Italy or France, it has nowadays almost disappeared. Where it has been fought by the USA, e.g. in Korea, Cuba or Vietnam, it is still there.

The development of Islamic radicalism is a threat. Protecting rigid Islamic governments such as Saudi Arabia is counterproductive, as it increases the tendency to radicalise Islam. Actually, the "protection" of Saudi by the USA and the invasion of Iraq were primarily determined by the desire to ensure oil supply. Greed. Yes, just greed. Over-protecting Israel against its Arab neighbours is also determined by the power of the Jews in the USA and deteriorates the relationship between Arab countries and the West in general. Israel is entitled to exist as a free country, but must abide by the international treaties it has signed.

And the mere idea that the American power, just by showing-off and bombing a few places here and there, will create peace in the world, is just plainly wrong. It will not protect America from terrorism. It will not tame the radicals. It's like treading into an anthill. It only creates disruption and makes the ants more aggressive.

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