mardi 16 octobre 2007

The enemies of America













In the beginning of the 70's a cartoon hero started to be published in France under the name Superdupont. The character became rapidly known as the ultimate caricature of the stupid, reactionary Frenchman with his typical obsessions. One of them, and probably the most ludicrous of them all, was his gut-rooted conviction that the enemies of France were in the hiding, just ready to jump at her and destroy la belle France. But it was Superdupont's task to protect France and defeat the ferocious and treacherous enemy in endless confrontations.

Needless to say, Superdupont is also a rather convincing portrait of what a (French) paranoid is.

Now, to any Frenchman, reading so regularly in the American MSM that the enemies of America would be emboldened if America were to loosen its defence, the enemies of America bla bla bla, the enemies of America etc. can only raise a smile in memory of the funny French character of the 70's.

Not a single French newspaper, or even European for that matter (save for the Poles maybe...), would dare use the expression "the enemies of Germany", "the enemies of France (that would have everybody burst into laugh), "the enemies of Spain" etc. Not that these countries have only friends but they're mentally safe enough not to resort to any paranoid stance.

An American will ask me if I don't think that Al Qaida is an enemy of America? Well, Al Qaida is an enemy of the west in the first place.

But wait, this isn't really funny in the end because what any European will perceive as unmistakable evidence of paranoïa is fraught with all the potential destructive energy paranoïa is all about. And when the only superpower America is becomes entangled (once again) in paranoid dynamic, the rest of the world is at risk and knows it.

But guess what? In the end I may well be perceived as another enemy of America...

15 commentaires:

L'Amerloque a dit…

Hi Flocon !


/*/ …/… Not a single French newspaper, or even European for that matter (save for the Poles maybe...), would dare use the expression "the enemies of Germany", "the enemies of France (that would have everybody burst in laugh), "the enemies of Spain" etc. Not that these countries have only friends but they're mentally safe enough not to resort to any paranoid stance …/… /*/


Well, bravo to the Poles, says Amerloque. The sooner the so-called "European Union" disappears into the trashheap of history, the better it will be for Poland … and France. For Italy and Germany, too. The Scandinavians couldn't care a whit. (grin) Perhaps it should simply be left to the Maltese and Cypriots ? (sigh)


It's clear for anyone who cares to open their eyes and minds that "Europe" is certainly no friend of France: it is an enemy.


It is also clear that the perceived quality of life is worse now than it was in the 1970s. Merci l'Europe! (Amerloque is not talking about the beancounters' massaged "statistics" or "surveys": he is talking about real people undergoing true hardship: housing, unemployment, crime, and so forth). Many of the problems in France are directly attributable to the European Union. (sigh)


With M Sarkozy as president, the French people are beginning to figure out that all this "consumerist" economy bee ess, coupled to "Europe" and "free trade" and "comptition", is a crock, and that the only way forward is … downward.


Not that Amerloque is a fan of M Sarkozy by any means … (grin) … instead of worrying about "American enmity" with the attendant coffee-table-psychology accusations of "paranoia" … (sigh)


Best,
L'Amerloue

LASunsett a dit…

Hi Flocon,

1. What Amerloque said.

2. I do not see it as paranoia. paranoia would be if we had stopped some attempts at attacks, with none of them being successful. Then, you might be able to make a case.

But the reality of the situation is, they were successful, they did hit us, and it becomes much more of a reality, when you see from this perspective.

Flocon a dit…

Hi l'amerloque,

Thanks for your slightly OT comment. I didn't know the topic of the post was the EU.

I'm all in favour of the Poles withdrawing from the EU as soon as they give back the hundreds millions of Euros they've received.
Should they be asked now whether Europe is the "ennemy" of Poland and draw the consequences (no more subsidies) I'm not so sure they would see it in the light that enlightens you.

//...the attendant coffee-table-psychology...//

This is another version of armchair-psychoanalysis.

//...accusations of "paranoia"//

The word "accusation" belongs to the same semantic group as culprit and "guilt".

I find it... "interesting" that you resort to this very word (accusation) that some "coffee-table-psychology" amateur would use as evidence of a certain proclivity to what he precisely wanted to demonstrate.

Flocon a dit…

Hi LA,

Thanks for passing by. I wrote the post in English just in case you would be kind enough to spend some of your precious time at "Shall we talk".

As you may guess, I have to disagree with you here.

//paranoia would be if we had stopped some attempts at attacks, with none of them being successful.//

I'm afraid I simply don't understand what you mean. We probably don't share the same understanding of the word "paranoia".

//...they were successful, they did hit us, and it becomes much more of a reality...///

The point isn't about the reality of the attacks but how it is spoken of.
And "the enemies of America" expression that I read on a daily basis in the American media doesn't refer only to the 9/11 attacks (real) but to all sorts of undiscriminate, undistinct and vague situations that are perceived as letal threats (imaginary).

This is paranoia when any unknown, unspecific situation is transformed into threat by "my enemies".

There have been real terrorist attacks in Spain as you know but no Spanish newspaper would use the expression "The enemies of Spain" (save for the ultra-nationalists). The same in Britain. I haven't read once in any British newspaper "the enemies of Britain" line after the London bombings.

There was a string of terrorist attacks in France in the 90'; nobody ever spoke of "the enemies of France" which would have everybody burst into laugh.

The Turks also follow the same pattern of thinking. Try to tell them about what happened to the Armenians in 1915 and they'll speak about "the enemies of Turkey"

Rocket a dit…

Thanks for the post Flocon and thanks for the explanation on Superdupont but I can't help looking at the image of Superdupont and then looking at the image of Superfrenchie and thinking that they somehow share not only the same sartorial tastes but also the same thinking.

L'Amerloque a dit…

Hi Flocon !


/*/ …/… Thanks for your slightly OT comment. I didn't know the topic of the post was the EU. …/… /*/


Amerloque didn't think the comment was OT, or he wouldn't have made it. (grin) He was simply trying to address (albeit awkwardly) the issue of "enemies" and "paranoia" by speaking to an issue closer to home (wider grin)


/*/ …/… I'm all in favour of the Poles withdrawing from the EU as soon as they give back the hundreds millions of Euros they've received.


Should they be asked now whether Europe is the "ennemy" of Poland and draw the consequences (no more subsidies) I'm not so sure they would see it in the light that enlightens you. /*/


Amerloque's interpretation is quite different. The Poles are not counting up the EU subsidies received, but … the remittances made by Poles working in other EU countries, more specifically the UK. The amounts they send home probably exceed (at least in Amerloque's view – he has no hard figures and is unaware of any reliable ones published …) the EU subsidies by a wide margin.


If the Poles were to withdraw, it won't be over money. It'll be, in Amerloque's view, over a) philosophy/religion and b) reassurance about defense against the Big Bear To The East, now that the Alpha Tin Soldier On The West has been castrated. (grin)


/*/…/… I find it... "interesting" that you resort to this very word (accusation) that some "coffee-table-psychology" amateur would use as evidence of a certain proclivity to what he precisely wanted to demonstrate. …/… /*/


(grin) It is clear (to Amerloque, anyway) that Flocon is accusing "the Americans" of "paranoia" because of repeated references to "the enemies of America." The use of the word "accusation" is hence justified, in Amerloque's view …


By the same token, of course, should one not speak of the inherent "paranoia" when the Chinese speak of "the enemies of China" (they do), the Indians speak of "the enemies of India" (they do), when the French-Canadians speak of "the enemies of Quebec" (they do), when Hugo Chavez speaks of "the enemies of Venezuela" (he does), when Fidel (El Lider) speaks of "the enemies of Cuba" (he does), or when Olmert speaks of "the enemies of Israel" (he does) …


Wait … all the countries Amerloque mentions have real, provable "enemies". There's no "paranoia" involved.


America has enemies, too.


Or is Flocon seriously suggesting that "America" has no real, provable enemies ? The mind boggles. (sigh)


Best,
L'Amerloque

Greg a dit…

This is a very common misunderstanding b/w Europeans and Americans.

Most Europeans will tell you that America has way overreacted to 9/11, and that militant islam is not such a big threat - certainly not an existential one.

I think the reason for the misunderstanding is that European countries simply aren't the target that America is. I mean, Ahmadinejad doesn't have his weekly military parade where thousands chant, "Death to France, Death to Lichtenstein," in unison. Saddam Hussein didn't plot to kill the German president, or commission murals of said president to be built into sidewalks, graphically illustrating his obsessive hatred of the person. The world's most notorious terrorists don't issue tapes espousing their obsession with the US (and its destruction). When you walk down the streets of Pyongyang, you see these posters:

http://www.dprkstudies.org/documents/nkpics/picgal.html

They don't have similar ones for Andorra or Denmark.

Seriously, can a day pass in Karachi without a march of angry (smelly) men burning American flags? I think not.

In short, Europeans haven't experienced the type of extreme hatred that we see on a daily basis on the news. If they did, they wouldn't think we are paranoid.

LASunsett a dit…

Flocon,

//I'm afraid I simply don't understand what you mean. We probably don't share the same understanding of the word "paranoia".//

Paranoia is a baseless fear. We have something to base these fears on. Any country that has been attacked in some form or fashion would have reason to say there are enemies of that particular state.

What I see are three distinct levels of reaction.

1. A heightened state of awareness or vigilance.

2. Hyper-vigilance.

3. Paranoia

Most Americans are in a heightened state of awareness caused by the anxiety from the possibility of another attack. (Some anxiety is healthy, according to many psychologists.) Some may be hyper-vigilant, but with the past events bearing out that there are those that hate us enough to want to kill us, we cannot safely say they are paranoid.

Tim McVeigh thought that the government had put a chip in him when he was in the Army. That was paranoid. Somebody knowing that there other Tim McVeighs and Mohammed Attas out there, waiting to attack cannot be misconstrued as paranoid, because there is sold evidence (past and present)to support it.

You can say France has no enemies or not say that they do. Does that mean there aren't any?

Flocon a dit…

Hi l'amerloque

"It is clear (to Amerloque, anyway) that Flocon is accusing "the Americans" of "paranoia" because of repeated references to "the enemies of America."

When I say, suggest, propose that my neighbourg suffers from a tooth cavity I'm not accusing him of anything. Just suggesting he suffers from a tooth cavity.
Your insistance about me accusing Americans leaves me thinking...

I've always noticed the same reaction when the word "paranoia" is uttered. Like it was a sin or a maladie honteuse...

The Chinese speak of the enemies of China. The Indians etc (referring to Pakistanies I suppose, who else?) then Chavez, Castro... Don't you put in the same bag dictators, dictatorships, democraties etc.? I suggested the Turks. I may add the Germans and Italians of the 30's and 40's also spoke of the enemies of Germany and Italy.
You don't seem to find it disturbing to add the US to this list? Dubious company I would say.

You perfectly know that the expression "the enemies of" is typical of all ultra nationalist regimes which use the rhetorical tools of paranoia to assert their dominance and subjugate their people. They hence contribute to a state of dangerosity around them.

Please note that I didn't mention China, Chavez or Castro, you did.

By the way, please enlight me. Which are the enemies of China??? Chile? Korea? the US maybe? Russia? Norway?????

Flocon a dit…

LA

"Paranoia is a baseless fear"

Not exactly. There's always a base to a paranoid state but it is usually a tiny one which is overblown and given a monstruous disproportion with reality.

Please, note that I didn't write that "Americans" were paranoid but I just stated that, for a Frenchman, reading the "The enemies of our country" line is an instant reminder of a French cartoon character of the 70's.

Flocon a dit…

Greg,

"Europeans haven't experienced the type of extreme hatred that we see on a daily basis on the news
One may ask the question: why so much hatred? I'm afraid the "they hate us because we're free" line won't be accepted.

Now, American flag burnings I have seen on my TV set all along the 60's in many countries all over the world. Even in GB. Do the British American flag burning sessions make the UK an enemy of the US?

As for S. Hussein, for sure he wasn't exactly a friend of the US. Didn't he have WMD intended to be used against America?

Chavez doesn't seem to like the US neither. Do the US really, I mean really, have something to fear from Venezuela?

Castro? As a matter of fact it was the US which attacked Cuba back in 1961.

http://tinyurl.com/7cgl7

Not the other way round.

Believing that Iran is an actual, real threat to the security of the US is, IMHO, a convincing sign of paranoia. Even if he were against the French, that would be ludicrous to believe he actually would be a letal, existential menace to France. And the French newspapers wouldn't dare to write "the enemies of France".

LASunsett a dit…

Flocon,

//There's always a base to a paranoid state but it is usually a tiny one which is overblown and given a monstruous disproportion with reality.//

This is where I disagree, there is not ALWAYS a base, there is SELDOM a base.

Here's the difference I see (and then I'll let this one go):

What you describe here, to me, sounds more like hyper-vigilance. Granted there may be a fine line between these two terms, but from a medical standpoint paranoia indicates irrationality in the thought processes. Here is a short piece that explains paranoia, from a psychological perspective.

L'Amerloque a dit…

Hi Flocon !


/*/ …/… I've always noticed the same reaction when the word "paranoia" is uttered. Like it was a sin or a maladie honteuse... …/… /*/


In the mouths of most, the use of the word "paranoia" is meant to be an insult, similar to the use of the word "xenophobe". Based on past performance, Amerloque has (had) no reason to assume otherwise, here.


/*/ Don't you put in the same bag dictators, dictatorships, democraties etc.? /*/


Of course. Whyever not ? Amerloque recognizes countries, not regimes (grin).


/*/ …/… I suggested the Turks. I may add the Germans and Italians of the 30's and 40's also spoke of the enemies of Germany and Italy. You don't seem to find it disturbing to add the US to this list? Dubious company I would say. …/… /*/


A ridiculous argument, with all due respect, and one that can hardly be taken seriously (sigh)


It's like saying:


a) Jean-Marie Le Pen is against AIDS.

b) Flocon is against AIDS.

c) "Why, Flocon ! What dubious company you're keeping !"


/*/ …/… You perfectly know that the expression "the enemies of" is typical of all ultra nationalist regimes which use the rhetorical tools of paranoia to assert their dominance and subjugate their people. They hence contribute to a state of dangerosity around them. …/… /*/


One must wonder, then, what Flocon would make of Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People", published in 1882 or thereabouts. (grin)


/*/ …/… An Enemy of the People addresses the irrational tendencies of the masses, and the hypocritical and corrupt nature of the political system that they support. It is the story of one man's brave struggle to do the right thing and speak the truth in the face of extreme social intolerance. …/… /*/ Wiki: http://tinyurl.com/25cbg3


/*/ …/… By the way, please enlight me. Which are the enemies of China??? Chile? Korea? the US maybe? Russia? Norway????? …/… /*/


Is this a serious question ? (sigh) What the hell, Amerloque will play the game …


a) India (how many "incidents" in the past two or three decades, including the Sino-Indian War of 1962 ?)


b) Russia (Russia has vast natural resources and few people. Both China and India have few natural resources and vast numbers of people. Neat recipes for enmity, if history is any guide.)


c) Japan (after the aborted adventure of the Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere)


d) Economically, the USA in the short run, with all that Treasury debt piling up in Beijing and Shanghai.


e) Economically, the European Union (in the long (?) run when the euro assumes a place as a world reference currency and the Europeans truly lose control of their future … and (in the relatively short run) when Europe realizes it has been displaced as the favored enconomic partner in much of Africa … )


Best,
L'Amerloque

Flocon a dit…

L'amerloque

"In the mouths of most, the use of the word "paranoia" is meant to be an insult, similar to the use of the word "xenophobe". Based on past performance, Amerloque has (had) no reason to assume otherwise, here."

In the mouth of most...
Here...
Vous frôlez l'incorrection ici l'amerloque.

"A ridiculous argument, with all due respect, and one that can hardly be taken seriously (sigh)

It's like saying:

a) Jean-Marie Le Pen is against AIDS.

b) Flocon is against AIDS.

c) "Why, Flocon ! What dubious company you're keeping !"


Je ne dirai pas que votre réponse est ridicule, elle est plus que cela. Disons... fallacieuse.

Le SIDA que vous prenez comme exemple est comparable aux tremblements de terre, aux épidémies ou à une quelconque catastrophe naturelle hors du domaine de l'agir et de la moralité humaine.
Qui est pour le SIDA? Qui est pour les tremblements de terre? Qui est pour une épidémie de choléra? Qui est pour la famine?

Quand j'ai nommé les Turcs puis les Allemands et les Italiens des années 30 comme exemples de douteuse companie des USA, nous sommes bien là dans un référent moral: on peut être contre la rhétorique paranoiaque allemande, italienne, turque etc. C'est un choix moral et raisonné qui m'engage, contrairement à un semblant d'opposition au SIDA (ou aux tremblements de terre) qui n'est en aucune façon un choix moral mais une posture superficielle sans conséquence.

Votre analogie avec le SIDA est donc parfaitement fallacieuse and one that can hardly be taken seriously.

3° I fail to understand how a reference to a play by Ibsen is in any way a solid demonstration against what I wrote about the use of paranoid rhetorics by dictators. On peut toujours trouver une référence littéraire ou une anecdote historique pour croire infirmer ce que dit son contradicteur.

"Il est facile de croire qu'on a répondu parce qu'on n'a pas su se taire"
St Augustin, Cité de Dieu
(L.V, chap 27)

4° Vous auriez pu alors ajouter Taïwan à la liste des ennemies de la Chine.
La Chine doit-elle craindre une intervention militaire de ses ennemis, les Russes, les Américains, les Japonais?
Ce que vous décrivez ce sont les conflits d'intérêts qui existent entre la Chine et un certain nombre d'autres pays. Conflits qui existent entre tous les pays du monde, voisins et éloignés altogether.
A cette aune là, la Chine n'a pas plus d'ennemis que le Chili ou la Norvège. Mais faire croire aux peuples Chinois (ou Allemand, Italien, Américain etc.) qu'il ont des ennemis, c'est utiliser une propagande de nature paranoïaque.

A ce compte là le monde (et j'en suis d'accord d'ailleurs) est une scène de conflits latents entre ennemis potentiels qui ne demandent qu'à se jeter à la gorge les uns des autres.

Je ne vous savais pas Schopenhauerien l'amerloque...

Rocket a dit…

"Vous frôlez l'incorrection ici l'amerloque."

"Il est facile de croire qu'on a répondu parce qu'on n'a pas su se taire"
St Augustin, Cité de Dieu
(L.V, chap 27)

J'ai l'impression d'entendre la maitresse reprendre l'élève au collège.

Pour mémoire

Jamais chat emmitouflé ne prit souris