Sunday, August 05, 2007

Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the man with different toothpaste

The Beatroot is a blogger from London now living in Warsaw.


Bush did his best to love the new British prime minister when they met this week, as much as he loved Our Tony. But will there be a change of policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur….?

George W. Bush once remarked that he and Tony Blair shared many things in common – “We share the same toothpaste”, said Bush, giggling like the overgrown frat boy he is.

Aside from the question: Was Bush insinuating that he and Tony had…you know…woken up together after falling asleep over the diplomatic pillow talk? –it was true Blair was good for Bush, they had a rapport.

Tony was able to articulate a policy of international intervention. Blair had had the practice – he was one of the biggest influences on Clinton bombing Serbia over Kosovo, just as he was an influence on Clinton’s bombing of Sudan in 1998. Monika Lewinski was the other.

When Bush came to power he just wanted to forget all that international, peace making, nation building stuff – having to know the name of the president of Pakistan was just too boring.

And then the world – or the Islamo-lunatic part of it – came to America on 9/11. After that, Bush had no choice but to get his school boy atlas out – “Where the hell is Pakistan, anyway?”

So Blair could tell him all about that stuff. How it was right and proper to, you know, do the ‘right thing’, which meant, in practice, smashing up national sovereignty and, ‘you know, bombing people to liberate them…’.

Blair was the bleeding hearted liberal wing of the neocons. A lib-con.

Different toothpaste, same old shit?

But what of our Gordon? Bush gave Brown lavish praise (not reciprocated), but said, after the meeting with the new British PM after a pow-wow at Camp David, that he and the Scot, ‘Didn’t use the same toothpaste’.

What could this mean? Was this code for an ideological split between the US and UK? Was the ‘special relationship’ not so special anymore? Is Brown so different from Blair?

For those of you in America who might not have a clue who this Gordon Brown is, he was the finance minister for Blair’s government ever since the ‘New Labour’ (read Clinton’s New Democrats) came to power in 1997. He has been a supporter of all that Blair has done on the international stage – including the Balkans, the ‘war on terror’, Iraq, Afghanistan…

But many in Britain – certainly many in the ‘Old Labour’ wing (a sad, isolated rump) of the New Labour party, hoped that Brown was secretly a traditionalist – not a socialist, but at least closer to the left wing roots of the party, the trade unions, the radicals, than Tony Blair – who always despised the old Labour, socialist past. He just wanted to win elections. Tony just wanted to be a Labour version of Margaret Thatcher.

Darfur, Iraq

Brown supported the Iraq war, but he is certainly in more of a hurry to get the hell out of there than Blair was. Brown has hinted that he wants to start pulling out troops at the end of this year (not that it will change the perception of the British people, or the Iraqis, about the ruin that they will leave behind). This is not too good for Bush, as he knows that the Democrats at home are thinking like Gordon Brown – they want the boys home, too (after, like Brown, supporting the invasion and occupation in the first place).

So will Brown take the British government away from Blair’s interventionist stance? Nope, nope, nope.

.In a speech at the United Nations after he left Bush, and his toothpaste, back at Camp David, Brown said this:

"Today is decision day for the United Nations to send an African Union and United Nations force of 20,000, to call on the government of Sudan for a ceasefire…Following my meeting with President Bush, the UK and the French have now, with US support, agreed and tabled a UN Security Council resolution that will mandate the deployment of the world's largest peacekeeping operation to protect the citizens of Darfur. And I hope this plan will be adopted later today.
"Immediately we will work hard to deploy this force quickly. And the plan for Darfur from now on is to achieve a ceasefire, including an end to aerial bombings of civilians, drive forward peace talks starting in Tanzania this weekend, and, as peace is established, offer to and begin to invest in recovery and reconstruction."

And what has the new British PM to say about Iran?

"On Iran, we're in agreement that sanctions are working and the next stage we are ready to move towards is to toughen the sanctions with a further U.N. resolution," [Brown told a joint news conference with Bush at Camp David].

So once again we are about to go down the same old roads. Sanctions in the belief that this will weaken the will of Tehran – and further militarism to solve civil wars.

Brown is also going to push Bush on seeming to be more onside about climate change and Kyoto, and he will want Bush to pay more attention to Israel/Palestine and the two (well, one and a half) state ‘solution’.

But don’t you lefties over that side of the pond get too excited that Brown is going to be anything too different from Blair. He ain’t. He might want to see a Democrat in the White House, and he might use different toothpaste to George, but both US and UK will still be working hard to ‘sort out’ Africa and the Middle East. The new interventionist imperialists don’t need to use the same toothpaste.

66 comments:

politiques USA said...

Bolton on Gordon Brown:
«Mr Brown cannot have it both ways (nor will President Nicolas Sarkozy), in part because many other EU members will not let the matter rest. Of course, the Security Council permanent seat itself is not the real issue – it is the question of whether Britain still has sovereignty over its foreign policy or whether it has simply taken its assigned place in the EU food chain.

»Consider also the US-UK intelligence relationship. Fundamental to that relationship is that pooled intelligence is not shared with others without mutual consent. Tension immediately arises in EU circles, however, when Britain advocates policies based on intelligence that other EU members do not have. How tempting it must already be for British diplomats to “very privately” reveal what they know to European colleagues. How does Mr Brown feel about sharing US intelligence with other Europeans?

»Finally, there is Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, which will prove in the long run more important for both countries than the current turmoil in Iraq. Here the US has followed the EU lead in a failed diplomatic effort to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. If Mr Bush decides that the only way to stop Iran is to use military force, where will Mr Brown come down? Supporting the US or allowing Iran to goose-step towards nuclear weapons?

»I will wait for answers to these and other questions before I draw conclusions about “the special relationship” under Mr Brown. But not forever.»

Steltzer nous la fait encore plus en douceur. Il s’attaque au projet de nouveau traité et aux hésitations de Brown autour de l’idée de soumettre ou non ce traité à référendum. Steltzer recommande un référendum, dans l’espoir proclamé d’un résultat négatif. Les arguments contre le traité sont connus et concernent effectivement la question des relations extérieures et de la sécurité nationale, — avec, en jeu et sans surprise, les relations avec les USA (passage souligné en gras par nous)… Là, sans aucun doute, c’est “la voix de son maître” qui parle, Rupert Murdoch lui-même.

«My guess is that, as the untenable nature of his position becomes clearer to the PM, he might well seek a dignified way to re-examine (climb down from) his unfortunate and hasty statements denying the necessity of a referendum. Fortunately, several are available.

»One is to appoint a panel of distinguished, independent lawyers to advise him whether the differences between the original constitution and the new treaty are sufficient to make his pledge of a referendum inoperative. This has its risks: Chancellor Brown was well known for appointing advisory groups that somehow recommended precisely the policy (health and housing come to mind) he favoured. But his desire for ongoing credibility, in anticipation of a general election, and the ongoing scrutiny of a feral press, might preclude such behaviour.

»Alternatively, there is a long road from the current agreement on the general contents of the treaty to October 18, when the heads of government will meet in Lisbon to give final approval to the full text of the treaty. There can be squabbles over the language developed by the EU foreign ministers who start work in Brussels on September 6, and it would not be unreasonable for the PM to find that the final text moves further in the direction of the old constitution than he and Blair expected when they signed on to the earlier draft.

»Or Brown can stick to his guns, and refuse to give voters a chance to reject or approve a ''treaty'' that will enmesh Britain further in an EU whose currency he has rejected, which he has accused of being inward-looking and protectionist, which stuck a thumb in the eye of his cherished competition policy, and which will certainly place strains on Britain's special relationship with America when Britain finds itself bound to “mutual solidarity” with the EU in foreign affairs.»

politiques USA said...

We are still allies, I believe, and we have the right, as a nation, to have different opinions than the USA.

Slave Revolt said...

politiqus usa said: "We are still allies, I believe, and
have the right, as a nation, to have different opinions than the USA."

Christ, politiques, where the hell did you ever come up with such an idea. When it matters (as with the Iraq invasion) England will fall into line like a good little junior parter in global crime. The US will pat England on the head, and the representatives of the oligarch class of England will come to Camp David and shoot the shit with the US emporer.

As the world turns.

If Gordon's middle name was 'Brown' and his last name was 'Nose" this would be more appropos and humorous.

politiques USA said...

I don't know man. We are pretty much opened in Europe, we've never asked England to make a choice between Europe and the US anyway, but for sure we won't obey to the US when it comes to go to war. Brown on his side made a declaration of independence:


«Transatlantic tensions over Iraq were evident at the two leaders’ first joint press conference, although both tried to stress unity. Mr Brown, who is fully aware that Iraq was a political disaster for his predecessor, emphasised the “progress” being made in the British-controlled provinces. He described Afghanistan, not Iraq, as the “frontline against terrorism”.

»Mr Bush, by contrast, told reporters: “There is no doubt in my mind that Gordon Brown understands that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for both our countries.”

»The president admitted that critics had questioned, in the wake of his close relationship with Tony Blair, whether he would be able to “get along” with the new prime minister. “The answer is absolutely,” he said.

»He portrayed Mr Brown in glowing terms that may play better in the US than the UK. The prime minister is a “glass half full man, not a glass half empty kind of guy”, a “humorous Scotsman” who “gets it”, in terms of the battle against terrorism. Mr Brown did not reciprocate with any praise for the president.

»The contrast between Mr Blair and Mr Brown was readily apparent to observers in the US. Many commented on Mr Brown’s gravity.

»“They looked like they had both just come out of church and listened to a sermon with which they’d particularly agreed,” said Reginald Dale, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “But most Americans will have appreciated Brown’s seriousness of tone and the fact that he clearly has a moral streak.”»

politiques USA said...

For Nicolas Sarkozy case, a few years ago I really saw this guy as a pro Bush and it turned out that in fact, he is closer to Iran and Syria compared to Chirac. I know Sarkozy pretty well since my parents are buddy with this guy. 6 months ago I had asked Sarkozy to give a letter to Bush but he refused to do it.

Slave Revolt said...

So politiques, your parents are part of the French conservative right?

Anyway, I see Western Europe as junior clients for the empire--they enable the empire, and they enjoy a cut of the profits. Germany and Japan are virtual colonies of the US--as is evidenced by the decades long military bases in those countries.

France if more independent--this is by dint of its seat in the UNSC. However, this nation will also cooperate with the empire's criminal endeavors around the world as well (as is evident with the overthrow of demcoracy in Haiti, to name but one example).

Europe fancies itself as being more indepedent than they really are. The politicians play up differences to manipulate the populations of these nations--but most of the managerial class in these nations know that the power of Europe is directly tied to US imperialism.

Crow said...

Ha ha, Brown probably switched to a more environment friendly green toothpaste after the floods in UK while Bush still thinks Katrina was caused by his use of Pretzel. But then it could cause some serious friction with Bush while deciding which toothpaste is better for spreading truth, freedom and democracy in middle east.

politiques USA said...

Where are you from Slave Revolt?
I know people who work at the slave radio revolt... My father is a socialist and anti-communist, my mother has always been far-right, she is german. This year, during the French elections, they chose Nicolas Sarkozy, not for their political beliefs okay? They chose Nicolas Sarkozy because their son has been stuck in the USA for more than 7 years, without doing anything against the USA. My parents chose to bend over the fucking rules of the criminal Bush, they chose to negotiate for their sanity. I think I have been mistreated in the USA, I have been abused, physically and emotionally, and the fucking DHS does not want to hear anything about it aka HUMAN RIGHTS. I made my choice, the system is screwed up in the USA, so I have to beat the system. SIMPLE, expeditive, efficient.

politiques USA said...

Please watch your words in here, I know people working for the USSS.

politiques USA said...

Big brother is watching us.... Sorry.

For the post of RE, there is something wrong... Check out my blog for that. The Pakistanese helped the US during 911, there is no doubt about that.

politiques USA said...

The reals terrorists are the ones from the WH.

beatroot said...

I should add that the ‘imperialists’ have changed – they are not like the old bunch. Brown, even Bush, are no racists who see the third world as inferior and are simply plundering underdeveloped countries for material gain. Brown really does believe that Africa, middle east needs UK/US. But what they are too stupid to realise is that there interventions will not bring democracy and peace…they will being chaos and horror and prolong conflicts.

The old imperialist stage has gone. What we have now is something different...

politiques USA said...

Ah beatroot, I'm sorry that you have to give a real sense to your existence. Keep up the good work, although I don't share your opinions. Maybe some of these days, you'll convince me, since I'm a voltarian and hellenist. Right now your words do not make any sense since you think between Polish/American links in Europe. Poland for sure has never been lucky in History. Oh well...

politiques USA said...

Poland has always been a second class citizen in Europe, pro american, not enough pro russian, with lots of b/s with the american missile shield.
Europe is an idea of politics, but you seem to forget that the only thing that works in Europe is the military field, better than Americans for sure, and you forget Russia, that plays a tactical role inside Europe, better than Poland.

politiques USA said...

Putin is with France 100%. Do i need to remind you about that Beatroot?

Slave Revolt said...

Beat, i would not be so sanguine about 'the end of racist imperialism' if I were you. Sure, their rhetoric is a kinder, gentler empire--but the racism has simply shape-shifted, into the same type of demeaning, exploitative paternalism that has been behind all imperial endeavors.

If they are deluded enough to believe their own political rhetoric--then they exist as the perfect functionaries to enact the poliices of transnational, corporate capital.

The fact that they can hold these beliefs while also knowing that the majority of the people in the Middle East are opposed to their support of undemocratic client states, and in the face of the fact that the majority of Iraqis want the US and its thug allies out for years now--well, this is a testament to the degree that the corporate media refuses to challenge the imperial order that is backed by US power.

politiques--grow a back bone, I never insulted your freaking parents. Posturing as though I did is simply pathetic. I don't know what your gripes are with the empire--suffice it to say that they are brazen and criminal. Leave it at that.

Good your dad is a 'socialist' anti-communist--what the hell does that mean?--that he is an establishment social democratic? Your mom is rightwing?--how does her being German have anything to do with this? I just asked the question becasue they appear to support Sarkosky. Inasmuch as the French socialist have become more and more ineffectual as they have become coopted by corporate power, I can see why the inauthentic Socialist candidate, Royal, would appeal the the middle class establishmentarians. Not that Slave would have voted for the capitalist turd, mind you.

Enlighten me, please, put do not get all whiney as though I said something about your grandmother, or whatever.

If you are being fucked by the empire, they join the club, there are millions suffering from under the boot everyday.

politiques USA said...

Slave Revolt;
You are attacking me on the side, because you don't know where my heart stands. I will respond to your comments within a few minutes. Today is Sunday, and I decided to break it loose, I want to get drunk for once. I did not drink for 4 months now, and I decided to let the furor get out of my chest. I did not attack you personally, and I will explain to you 2 or 3 things about french society. It is a very different culture, completely different from the US, that is for sure :)
I grew a backbone, trust me, it is not an irrational one at all. I am not irrational at all, I weighed my arguments, I am into geopolitics but I usually do not speak my mind for evident reasons.
I don't think I insulted you, on the contrary you may have insulted my intelligence, it is the other way around. That said, I will answer you back like a gentleman of course. Give me a few minutes and I will be right back :)

politiques USA said...

And please do not judge people with their words, get to know people first, then feel free to bash them if you please.

politiques USA said...

So what's happened in the french society lately? It's very simple. First off, Sarkozy enlarged his political field. He succeeded in convincing the far right and the socialists. For the case of the socialists, usually these people vote left, but most of the french people got some favors of the President, especially the ones who are beyond their 50 years old. The french state by tradition, whether they are from the right or the left, and it is not not very common from anglosaxon knowledge, have the unalienable right to take care of french people. If the french state misses its duty, we, as french people, have the right to overthrow the french government, and when I mean overthrowing, I talk about absolute power by all the legal means. Don't judge french people, the US constitution would not allow its citizens to do that. Cuturally we are different from you guys, and we are different because we are not ignorant and we refuse to be enslaved under the strict rules of capitalism. Life is not all about work, we have the right to get rested, we have the right to take vacations, at least 2 months in a year, sometimes even 5 months a year, and that's the way it is. These are our priviledges and nobody else will remove it from us. We feel we have to be educated in dignity and respect of the human race, whether we are white, black, yellow, or grey, we belong to the french system and we take care of the system and vice-et-versa.
That's the way it is, it belongs to our culture and nobody will remove our rights and our dignity.


For the far-right, honestly, they never knew what to vote these assholes, usually the french far right by tradition exists to tell the french government there is something wrong with the system, but they are more like pissants, they are racists, they put everything on the back of the Arabs (Bush did exactly the same things with the Mexicans), so IMO they are usually far right but for once they voted for Sarkozy: less violence in France, means more voices for Sarkozy since he was the interior minister a few months ago; and it worked. That said I don't think the level of violence shrank, but it cannot be as bad as the USA.

You have to be aware of culture all over the world. Things do not work the same way you'd like them to work. If you don't respect culture, you won't receive anything good from french people in general. For sure I do blame my parents, they voted for Sarkozy, I hate this guy, but he is the watchdog of french heritage, so I am okay with him. To tell you the truth, Sarkozy is even more to the left than Chirac when it comes to questions with Iran and Syria. We, as french, won't follow the absurdity of the US into the Middle-East. It's not because we have arabic people, it is because we know where we stand with the truth, and we are more agile to fight for the truth than fighting against terrorism.



This is the end of my 1st paragraph.

Graeme said...

we are in the age of humanitarian imperialism

politiques USA said...

And for my case, I am a socialist and a real one. It does not mean I deny capitalism, I'm a firm believer, but that said, I really believe that the US is not taking care of its citizens through the capitalist system. I believe that every people in the US, when they are not on the wrong side, such as natural catastrophes for example, should have a right in human dignity, and I firmly believe that people have the right to declare their independence from the US government. Democracy works both ways IMO, these are people that make Democracy and not the other way around.

politiques USA said...

We do not live in an era of capitalism anymore, it is an obsolet idea from the 20th century, and capitalism has gone to far, we are now living in a modern days slavery time.

Slave Revolt said...

politiques, dude, you went off on me--as though I disrespected your parents. That much is clear.

I am not trying to make the French adapt to the truncated US reality. WTF!

Iran and Syria--Sarkosy is more to the left, what does that mean? That he will not gang up with the US mafia and carpet bomb Tehran? WTF.

What kind of country would even entertain such imperialist notions?--perhaps nations that have an imperialist proclivity, with a history of imperial agression?

Politiques, I don't view Europeans as that much different from their anglo brothers around the world. Where you have capitalism, you have elites that need to manufacture narratives to dupe the demos, the people.

Europe functions as an appendenge of US imperial power--Europeans are incredibly racist and hyproctrical. What else is new? Not much different than their masters in the US.

politiques USA said...

For the case of Segolene Royal, you have to understand how french institutions work. If you are a brillant kid for example, you'll go do your military service at the school from "Saint Cyr", it is the most prestigious school in France you could ask for. If you are a brillant student, then you have to go to ENA, which means "Ecole Nationale de l'Administration". These are french principles usually before you go into politics. In France, politics are a science and you have to come from "science-po" first. French people spend lots of times in these schools compared to the american system. Everything that you can do in the US system takes twice the time in France. Usually if ever you are lucky, because of the french elitism, once you get ouf of school you are usually 24 years old at least and it can go up to 30 years old. This does not mean I like the french system, trust me, I think they are very authoritarian compared to the US system, but this is the way how things work in France, usually, and Nicolas Sarkozy did not obey these rules at all. Good for him.

That said there is a big difference between the french and american system, and most of the time, maybe for historical reasons, I have a tendancy to beleive that Americans are familiar with the french system; which is not the case obviously.

politiques USA said...

Are European more racist than Americans? Nope, I think Europeans are less racist than Americans, but it depends on where you live in the USA and in Europe. As a Frenchman here living im Las Vegas, it is a Republican state, and they treat color people like sh*t compared to french culture. But again it may come from my education, I'm colorblind, I don't care about race and religion. I guess in american culture, I would be seen as a "democrat" or a "liberal", but viewed from France, it would not be the case, whether you are from the far left all the way to the right. We were bred in another way of thinking, that's the way it is, and we do not have the same values. I'm telling you man, we are culturally completely different. Being racist in France is a felony.

As an interculturalist, I think, in all modesty please, that I should give you a cultural course. As a Frenchman, I have to say I did not understand the US system, then I realized lots of things when I learned about american history. It's amazing how history can shape your mentality.

BUT.... There is a problem between the american and the french system: we don't have the same insight with the word "REVOLUTION". Americans say the french revolution did not change anything to France, and French say that the american revolution was not revolutionnary enough. Amazing huh? :)
Take care dude.

Slave Revolt said...

Indeed, politiques, there are nuances that differentiate Western European cultures.

Of course the system is oppressive in various ways--as it is intended to reproduced status quo hierarchies of control.

The system of cultural diffusion and information flows are very strict and selective. This is how the state is reproduded on a day to day basis.

I have read a little about '68, some Foucault, Derrida, Montainge (mispell) , Rousseau, etc. Yes, this is an interesting culture.

No, I have no problems with working only 20 hours per week and taking vacations of six months per year. More power to you--this can free up time for family and to persue one's passions.

Just keep your hands off of our snails! Ok?

politiques USA said...

Yeah it's Montaigne, and I think Americans should read again about the "social contract" in all modesty :)

It is okay baby, no big deal, I love everybody, but please do not talk about snails :)

politiques USA said...

Good, and now if you'd excuse me please, I'm going to shoot myself up with some H. Take it easy or anyway you can get it :)
PEACE.

Larry Gambone said...

I have to agree with you Politiques, North americans - esp. USian North Americans have little understanding of French society. Whether it is the multi-party political system, the strength of the left (and far left) the mutual aid system, the long hoildays, the respect for intellectuals, or the fact that few workers belong to trade unions but the French have massive strikes - all of these are difficult for uneducated N. Americans to understand. I have spent a fair amount of time in France and wish that we had these aspects to a greater extent in Canada. Of course saying this does not deny SR's point that all are capitalist states and ultimately the same system.

Aaron A. said...

"But don’t you lefties over that side of the pond get too excited that Brown is going to be anything too different from Blair. He ain’t."

Too true.
I think we "Americants" are just so excited for some kinda of sanity, anyone new can't quite be as bad as the old.

beatroot said...

kdzsSlave revolt
Beat, i would not be so sanguine about 'the end of racist imperialism' if I were you. Sure, their rhetoric is a kinder, gentler empire--but the racism has simply shape-shifted, into the same type of demeaning, exploitative paternalism that has been behind all imperial endeavors.

I think that is a reasonable point – but if you think it is the same old imperialism as it always was, then you are missing the way that things have qualitatively changed.

Paternalist, yes. Patronizing, definitely. But I really don’t think that Blair or Brown, Bono or even Bush think like the old empire builders. The white man’s burden has changed. Bono really wants to help. He doesn’t feel racially superior. He really thinks he represents Africans when he goes around G8 etc demanding that they drop the debt, give micro credits, and insist that the ‘corrupt leaders of Africa’ build hospitals and schools before anything else.

What he or Blair doesn’t see – because they can’t – is that Africans might want to build roads, factories, get some economic development….raise living standards like the west has done.

Now that patronizing attitude (that Africans should be living nice, small carbon footprinted lives in (recyclable) mud huts is a very different type of empirialism than Rhodes, or Livingstone or Kipling.

Things have changed, guy…

Renegade Eye said...

Beatroot: When you use the world imperialism, are you sure you are not meaning colonialism?

a very public sociologist said...

How have the US media taken to Brown? Has Faux News been kissing his posterior?

Slave Revolt said...

Beat, I wouldn't but Bono in the same catagory that I would bureaucrats at the World Bank or politicos representing transnational capital, like Blair, Brown, or Bush. Forgiving onerous debt is not a specie of imperialism--imperialist posturing, but not imperialism in itself.

More, i don't think that the people in Africa desire to develop in the same energy hog ways that their imperial oppressors have--but their choices are obviously limited.

Of course, things have gualitatively changed--but the general patterns persist.

Mad Zionist said...

Sociologist, he is thought and spoke of the same way as Jan Peter Balkenende of Holland: not at all. I seriously doubt if more than 10% of Americans have any clue who Gordon Brown is. Of those who do know of him I would venture to guess that precious few care either way.

Britain is benign and not very interesting to us. We more or less hate the French and ignore the rest.

Renegade Eye said...

Mad Zionist: Politiques is going to get you.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, you mean there are people on this message board who don't necessarily love me? I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you.

Renegade Eye said...

Mad Zionist: Beakerkin was giving me heat for you being here. You must have some redeeming quality if that's the case.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, my two year old gets mad when I don't give her what she wants when she wants it, too. I consider our Beak ban a compliment to us both of us as hosts as well as judges of character.

Liberal White Boy said...

RE

I don't know why but all of the sudden I'm starting to like Mad Zionist. Besides, how could we ever have enough Zionist comedians. At least while defending the Israeli house of cards, he is not afraid of words. I noticed the other day that JB posts at his site.

Mad Zionist said...

I'm irresistable, Liberal white boy. Be careful, I'll make it very difficult to hate rightwing religious Zionists. You may even start warming to the plight of the Jewish settlers before long.

Liberal White Boy said...

Alright then funny boy. Bring me Sarah Silverstein on here knees and your folks can steal the rest of Palestine.

Liberal White Boy said...

That was a joke Samir.

Mad Zionist said...

Hmmm...Lib white boy you do have good taste in the ladies.

Liberal White Boy said...

She's a Babe no doubt, that's two things we've agreed upon today. What's next a peace settlement? Have your peeps get with my peeps.

politiques USA said...

OH here is a good one:

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain asked the United States on Tuesday to release five British residents from Guantanamo Bay in a change of policy that may signal Prime Minister Gordon Brown is taking a more independent stance from Washington.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband sent a formal request to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the release of the five men, who were legally resident in Britain before their detention but are not British nationals.

The decision marks a shift from the policy of former prime minister Tony Blair's government, which secured the release of all nine British citizens held at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba but maintained it was not responsible for detainees of other nationalities who had simply lived in Britain.

Speculation that Brown, who succeeded Blair in June, will steer a more independent course has been reinforced by some of his ministerial appointments and by one minister's comment that Brown and Bush were unlikely to be "joined together at the hip."

here

I don't think England with Gordon Brown is going to eat in the hands of the US. The ship wrecked and the rats left the ship.

politiques USA said...

For the differences between French and American society, I think I should write a book because it is completely different. French society reminds me more of the iranian society than the american society in the sense that the french government for example is more authoritarian, because of the French Republic that has the same place than Islam in Iran. And French secularism is different than any other kind of secularism in the world. We call it "laicite" in french.

To give you a concrete idea of these differences, so that you can see at first sight how french society thinks, let's take the word "liberal". Being a "liberal" in the french society would mean you are a "convervator" in the american society. Incredible huh?

Also the french society does not really beleive in God, for historical reasons, with the separation of the Church and the State. It is fine if you don't beleive in God in France; by contrast in the US, people hate the agnostic minds since 1957 (pledge of allegiance, the famous "under God we trust").
Also if you beleive in God, french catholics will refuse to go to another church. If you have a french buddy in the US and you try to invite this person to the church, most of the time this fellow will decline the invitation. Why? Because in the french society religion is more like a personal matter with personal choices so french people feel they can't share their religion with other people: religion is not public in France, it is a very private matter, and it only belongs to ourselves and nobody else's.

... etc

These are just a few examples.

politiques USA said...

Here is a collection of differences between France and the US:

I am a young French professional who lives in London. As a student, I lived in Spain and in the United States for a year each. These two successive experiences had a long-lasting impact on me – I realized how much influence national cultures had on the way people thought and viewed the world.

In this article I would like to write about one particular issue that affects me – how strong stereotypes about Americans and America are compared to other nations'. My problem with this is that when my fellow countrymen – the French – criticize the Americans in a stereotypical way, I feel offended because I know those are caricatures, not the complex truth.

I will try to present you with an account of the stereotypes I had before going to the US for the first time, what I found there, and then explore some differences in French and American values. I will finish with a comparison of perceptions of Spaniards and Americans in France, and how much stronger the American stereotypes are,



*Expectations*



Before going to the United States for the first time – I was 15 years old, and I left with six other French students and a teacher, and we all stayed with host families – I had a very vague idea of Americans, and the main thing I thought I would find there were beaches and smiling people with beautiful bodies (I was going to Florida). I was attracted to the country – the open landscapes, the fact that everything looked bigger and brighter.



*My American experience*



When I arrived, I was immediately blown away: everything was bigger! I particularly loved the roads – so straight and so wide! At first, it was difficult to understand the language. I had an excuse: French schools and universities insist on teaching almost exclusively British English and British culture and history. American English is viewed as a 'distorted', 'run-down' version of the 'purer', and essentially 'more civilized' British English (most French people will tell you that the Americans have no culture whatsoever).



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I also discovered *new ways of living and different values*: at my new home, I was showed all the rooms when I arrived (this contrasts with the French culture where many rooms are considered private, so either they show you extremely quickly, or they don't show you certain rooms at all), and I was allowed to help myself whenever I was hungry (in the American culture, I found that personal needs and choices are less group-dependent). In France you constantly attend to hosts and eat with them. They are rarely allowed to go through the closets, because it would be an invasion of privacy.
Basically, they are guests, not members of the family.

I also noticed that religion is much more important in the US. The second day after my arrival, I joined my host family to go to church. I met some of the other French students there, who had come with their host families. I think none of us was a Protestant, but we all wanted to go in order to discover an important part of our host families' lives. We joined the youngsters' group, with very loud Christian rock music and a stage, where we participated in a game along with everyone else. However, after an hour of extremely loud music, not understanding much of what was being said, and with jet lag weighing in, we all had big headaches. We decided to go on the porch outside for a bit of fresh air. After five minutes, the mother of my host family arrived, visibly upset, and scolded us: she said we were extremely disrespectful. She didn't give us a chance to explain anything. We were all taken home in silent cars, because the families wouldn't speak to us. Fortunately, the rest of the stay was fine, but that incident left quite an impression on me.

Looking back on it, I think the families were shocked by the answers we gave to their question - they had asked us about our religious orientation before going to church. We were all either atheists or non-practicing Catholics.
And then I think they were influenced by the French stereotypes ('immoral'
and 'godless'). Every time I told an American that I didn't believe in God (that time and other times later in my life), they looked at me with a blank stare, as if they did not understand what I was saying. And then they acted like they wanted to avoid the subject altogether, as if this was too much to cope with. I think that many Americans think that not believing in god equals having no moral sense. This is a fundamental difference between the French and the American cultures – religion doesn't play such an obvious role in France, and atheists are considered 'normal' people.



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* *

*Recommended book of the month*

A great - and funny - book about the French-American cultural divide:

NADEAU, Jean-Benoit, and Julie Barlow, *Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong*. Naperville, IL, USA: SourceBooks, 2003.



The French drink, smoke and eat more fat than anyone in the world, yet they live longer and have fewer heart problems than the English and the Americans. They work 35-hour weeks and take seven weeks' paid holiday each year, yet they are the world's fourth-biggest economic power. So how do they do it? From a distance modern France looks like a riddle. It is both rigidly authoritarian, yet incredibly inventive; traditional (even archaic) yet modern; lacking clout on the international stage yet still hugely influential. But with the observations, anecdotes and analysis of the authors, who spent nearly three years living in France, it begins to makes sense. 'Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong' is a journey into the French heart, mind and soul. This book reveals French ideas about land, food, privacy and language and weaves together the threads of French society, uncovering the essence of life in France and giving, for the first time, a complete picture of the French.



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When I was 21, I had the opportunity to study in Virginia on an exchange student program for my senior year. I loved it, although I discovered even more deep seething differences between France and the United States.

For example, in the homework we had to hand in, I was asked to state my opinion – without referencing other people's opinions, like I had to do France. In France, I was supposed to think of all the arguments supporting a point of view (the questions are generally not open-ended), and then of all the arguments supporting the opposite point of view, and then choose which side I wanted to be on. This contrasted with the American method of just stating your personal point of view. To me, it showed how communitarian France was, because my place relative to others in society was something I had to be constantly aware of. In addition, the fact that I was too young to have a valid point of view made France appear very hierarchical.

Another striking difference was that in France, I had to write most of my essays in the 'we' form (e.g., 'We should…'), while in the US, the teachers only asked for my personal opinion (e.g., 'I would…'), and didn't understand why I used the 'we' form.

Another deep difference that I noticed between French and American cultures was the strong emphasis on problem-solving in the news or in my courses. In France there is nothing wrong with discussing an idea for a long time without getting to a solution, since it is assumed that finding solutions requires time.



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*Back to France*



What struck me most when I returned to France after my stay in the US was that people were unreceptive to what I wanted to tell them about the United States. For comparison purposes, let me tell you about French people's attitudes when I went back to France from Spain.



The year before my study-abroad year in the US, I had spent a year studying in *Spain*. I went back to France for a month in between Spain and the US.
When people asked me about Spain, they always had a smile on their face.
Everything positive I said was met with an approving nod or a cheerful comment, as if they already knew that Spain was a great country and that I had enjoyed it.



The reaction was very different when I talked about the United States – people obviously expected me to say that I did not like it there. When I said that I loved my stay in the US, people often looked surprised and uncomfortable as they asked why. I could see that they were confused because what I was telling them didn't match what they had always been told. But then, they just restated their opinion about Americans and the US, as if what I had said could not fit into their view of the world. I felt like I kept on hitting against a wall of stereotypes: Americans had to either belong to the fat and stupid category (think of TV and McDonald's), or to the imperialist bullies one (think of guns and money).

* *

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* *

*Website link of the month*

An excellent website (written primarily for the Americans, but anyone can enjoy it) about the French:

http://www.understandfrance.org/France/Intercultural.html#ancre788171



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Just to be clear, I have not seen a gun once in the United States – although I know they are there – nor eaten more than once at Mc Donald's – although some people do eat there –, I never met people that were obsessed with money (certainly no more than in France), or who watched TV all day (the TV was on all day, but they didn't watch it more than the French I know). And I certainly don't think that Americans are stupid.



What I tried to tell my French friends was that some things were better for me in the US: I met really friendly people in the US. In France, when you just move in from another region or from another country, very often it is difficult to meet people or to make friends. People don't trust you until they feel they can – and that can take an awfully long time. In the US I felt that it was more or less the same for close friends, but at least people talked to you in order to get to know you, and then it was easier to make casual friends (that could become longer-lasting friends).

politiques USA said...

I had read an interesting book called "why the US has no welfare compared to Europe". This book was written by an economist from Princeton University, and I was shocked to find that the guy had stated that in the US, lots of people think that if you are poor, then it means you are lazy.
I think it is a wrong argument, but maybe in a society when you are expected to make money, then maybe crimes are higher than any other societies. That said, I still did not find the answer to my question and I keep looking for it.

Mad Zionist said...

USA: Each individual is expected to achieve to the best of his/her capabilities.

France: The State is expected to provide for the proletariat to the best of its capabilities.

Viva la difference!

Renegade Eye said...

Mad Zionist: You speak of France as it's Peking 1954. not a social democracy with a mixed economy.

Sontín said...

An interesting series of comments. Having lived in Latin America, Europe and North America at different periods of my life, I can not help but think that despite the supposed "Global Village", most people live in very small worlds know very little about other cultures. What we do know largely comes from the media and it is very easy to stir up fear and hatred of the unknown. The supposed "Clash of Civilizations" is a creation based upon our ignorance.

Viva la difference! Yes, but also understanding and respect.

politiques USA said...

Another difference I found is with main stream media in the US: they want to convince people and if they can't it is the highway. It happens especially on Fox News; in France the job of the journalists is to bring accurate news. Here is a french channel of information that you can watch on the Internet: www.france.24.com
Click on live feed to watch the streaming video, it is in English. France is not the only subject, they talk about the rest of the world too, without forgetting the US, Russia, Latin America and Africa too. And you'll see it is completely different from the US MSM.

politiques USA said...

USA: Each individual is expected to achieve to the best of his/her capabilities Yes that is a main difference between individualism and collectivism but I've been thinking a lot about the deviances of a society, and I think it is the best way to explain violence in the US. For example in the US, when people lose their jobs, or when they have medical problems, you are not very far from losing also your house,and not very far from "losing it" in the mind. Violence is unfortunately natural inside the rational animal of ourselves and I think the "providence state" is a need to amortize the free collapse of any individual.
How could we conceive a good society? What has to be done or redone for a better society?


I got home earlier today. My day was horrible, first of all, I saw a woman with seizures, then a coworker went to jail.

Mad Zionist said...

Yes that is a main difference between individualism and collectivism but I've been thinking a lot about the deviances of a society, and I think it is the best way to explain violence in the US.

Yes, personal responsibility creates all kinds of crime. Collectivism, naturally, eliminates crime because everyone gives up their sense of ambitious self and just devotes themselves to bettering the world around them. All crime slips away into utopian sharing and loving and community. Police can be disbanded, armies too, and we imagine all the people living life in peace - you-hooo ooh-oooh-oooooh.

Kumbaya.

Daniel said...

Toothpaste aside, the two countries combined sell 75% of the world's arms (the U.S. 63% and Britain 12%) and therefore have an economic interest in the never-ending continuance of war.

When it comes to making money, killing is big, big business.And once the killing is done, then other businesses move in and begin reconstruction.

Poetry in motion!

Despicable.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

No human endeavor has ever brought peace as much as war has.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Toothpaste aside, the two countries combined sell 75% of the world's arms (the U.S. 63% and Britain 12%) and therefore have an economic interest in the never-ending continuance of war.

And yet, everyone's running around with AK-47s.

Attention K-Mart shoppers, we have a premise failure in aisle nine...

Daniel said...

"No human endeavor has ever brought peace as much as war has," says Mr Beamish.

The Republican Party should snap him up immediately.

Slave Revolt said...

But, Daniel, you will note that war-mongers are not fighting, they are simply creating the propaganda that coerces other people to fight while they invest in the weapons industry and become fat and stupid in air conditioning.

I'd put a target on their back and drop them off among the 'liberated' Iraqis--see if they can find their way out of freedom-hell. LOL

Slave Revolt said...

Politiques, you are finding out that the US is not the land of milk and honey that you were propagandized into believing by the ruling elites in Europe that want to take their countries in the same direction.

Sarkozy is in the US, kissing the ring of an international war criminal.

Unfortunately, people like Sarkozy and Brown will try to keep Western Europe subservient to US interests. But when the ship starts to sink, they will jump off like rats.

politiques USA said...

Sarkozy, I beleive, is trying to renew the french oil contracts in Iraq, that were previously frozen since the war in Iraq under Paul Bremer. I don't know what the US have asked for in exchange but it does not look good, hopefully they did not negotiate french support in Iraq or an attack on Iran. This Sarkozy guy is as bad as Bush in communication with a twisted rhetoric.

politiques USA said...

Politiques, you are finding out that the US is not the land of milk and honey that you were propagandized into believing by the ruling elites in Europe that want to take their countries in the same direction.
In internal affairs the american model cannot be applied to the french model for sure, people would revolt themselves, and they would overthrow the government. In geopolitics it may be somewhat different, but then again we are culturally very very different: the US always think in terms of cultural heritage (race, religion, history ... etc), in Europe we are simply colorblind. These are the differences between a softpower and a hardpower (tolerance).
We'll see what Nicolas Sarkozy is up to in the future, I'll keep an eye on this guy :)

The US is not the land of honey and milk, that is absolutely clear. Nevertheless, on a personal level there are very good things in the US too, I'm trying not to be too negative every time.

Well gotta go, my wife wants to go outside, but I will be back in a few hours.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Daniel,

Who wrote the history book that fooled you into believing Republicans are warmongers?

Do you also see nothing wrong with ethnically cleansing the Cherokee from their sovereign territory in what is now called northern Georgia after the Surpeme Court ruled that they may stay there and retain their sovereignty?

Are you still upset that it's now illegal to sell black people in slave markets?

Do you believe there's no need to obtain search warrants against "Communists" when you want to raid their property and arrest them?

Is the one thing that pisses you off about Hitler the fact that he turned on the Soviet Union and cut off your steady supply of Polish Jew snuff porn?

Do you believe nuking two Japanese cities saved countless American lives from the Power Ranger ninja warriors interned in labor camps in the United States?

And so on [insert Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Serbia, Haiti, and East Timor riffs here]

Reblublicans are warmongers? Bwhahahaha!

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Reblublicans? hehehe,,, what a funny typo

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