Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter252



Letters to the Editor

(November 5, 2012)


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Ah, the French People... Gilles d'Aymery's French Cacophony

To the Editor:

There's no doubt now that this government had not prepared itself to face the economic crisis. But this is to me a secondary matter. One of the reasons many French people elected François Hollande is that he promised humanity in his government, which would have been a great improvement on Sarkozy's habits. However, when a few weeks ago a Rom camp was set on fire in Marseille by the neighbours, PS senator Samia Ghali claimed this was "forgivable." What, according to me, would be forgivable is that she would have her ass kicked hard enough to make her bite her tongue. Moreover, Hollande had promised he would give legal residents the right to vote in local elections, but, finally, he decided against it or at least not until later. This is a political fault, for two reasons. First, we electors feel we've been taken for fools. Second, and worse, the measure would certainly help the "pacification" of "communities" that feel so much left behind, even when many have acquired the French nationality. Last thing: the way Hollande speaks, with pauses between each word, to try to imitate Mitterrand's flow, is exasperating. It just makes him look stupid, like he couldn't remember what the next word should be. And then something happened that I thought was impossible: French people are becoming Sarko nostalgics... But French people have no memory, and this government no balls!

Marie Rennard
Annecy, France - October 22, 2012


The Tragic Futility of War: Peter Byrne's Why Are We In Vietnam? Iraq, Afghanistan, Et Cetera

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Peter Byrne's recent review of an old (1968) book (by Norman Mailer). When he asks:

"Before you growl something about Mailer's soixante-huitard somersaults, try to name another antiwar novel of the time that merits rereading."

I immediately thought of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1969). It is true Vonnegut's novel is only "of the time" if we accept the period of consideration to be more than just a few months; and it is true the Vonnegut novel draws its antiwar lessons from experiences of WWII. However, we "kids" who read it then KNEW it was all about Vietnam, since that was just the current identity of the recurrent outbreak of the core disease.

The 1972 George Roy Hill film of Slaughterhouse Five was also excellent (perhaps why it didn't do so well at the box office). In retrospect, I can see this novel as a cross between Albert Camus's serious absurd, and Richard Lester's breezily comedic attitude as in his film A Hard Day's Night. The comedy didn't impede the presentation of the painful truths about the tragic futility of war, it made that presentation bearable.

Manuel García, Jr.
Oakland, California, USA - October 22, 2012


Revisiting George Kennan's Famous (Infamous?) Quotation: Gilles d'Aymery's Context And Accuracy (March 2005)

To the Editor:

I agree that the "famous" quotation is unfair with the original text.

Nevertheless, we cannot deny that the assemblage fits perfect to the US foreign policy, regardless of what Kennan really wanted to say.

In this sense, the quotation can be thought as a derivative work from Kennan's original memo, unfaithful to the source -- we must recognize -- but tightly fit to the actual US foreign policy since those times, and until ours, and as that, carries its own symbolic truth -- again, regardless Kennan's words and thoughts.

And it cannot be thought only as a product of someone's "sloppiness or willfulness," but of all that contributed to "derive" Kennan's words and thoughts, not only in words, but mainly in concrete historic events.

Worth to mention, although not directly connected to my previous reasoning, are Kennan's words on Palestine, still on PPS/23 memo:

"The pressures to which this Government is now subjected are ones which impel us toward a position where we would shoulder major responsibility for the maintenance, and even the expansion, of a Jewish state in Palestine. To the extent that we move in this direction we will be operating directly counter to our major security interests in that area. For this reason, our policy in the Palestine issue should be dominated by the determination to avoid being impelled along this path." (stress is mine)

Only with a slight degree of "sloppiness or willfulness," I guess, does it sound almost as if Kennan was warning Americans against a major threat that could arise in the area once a wrong political movement was made. Isn't this somehow about recent, and not so recent, events, either in the area and outside it?


Mario Oneaty
Rio de Janeiro - Brazil - October 24, 2012


Ah, the French People... Gilles d'Aymery's French Cacophony

Hey Mr. d'Aymery:

You are much too benevolent with the French government. Here are the words circulating around to describe these motley fools: Amateurish, incompetents, incapables, apprentices, dogmatic idiots... You are mentioning the couacs ["false notes," errors, mistakes], it has become what someone coined a Couacophilie. It does not stop. It's all shambles or cafouillages.

On October 19, Arnaud Montebourg, the minister of the redressement productif (don't ask what a productive straightening or rectification means) made the front page of the newspaper Le Parisien in a marine T-shirt, holding a Moulinex electrical appliance, and carrying a €790 Michel Herbelin watch on his wrist -- all this to promote the "made in France" label. The dude is a handsome man with a million-dollar smile, but he is also a fake.

Yes, the T-shirt was made in France...from imported cotton. Moulinex appliances (the brand is nothing more than a marketing tool in the hands of SEB) are made in China. And most of the components of the Heberlin watch come from Switzerland. Vive the made in France!

Yesterday, our oh-so-charismatic prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, announced that the Constitutional Council had voted against an education decision made by the government. However, the council had not yet voted. Perhaps "I anticipated," said the PM, which anticipation was correct (the council did throw down the law). Mistakes happen.

Mistakes or incompetence? You tell me. In September, 46,900 additional people lost their jobs.

Look, you are lucky, sort of. You may get Mitt Romney as the new US chief executive. I hear that he recently visited Bordeaux, a region rich in wineries, and told the people there that they should not drink wine -- that he had not drunk any alchoholic beverage in his 65 years. French people appreciated the joke.

Enjoy the ride (and drink).

Alouette Arouet
Paris, France - October 25, 2012

[ed. In 2008, President Sarkozy also mentioned couacs in his government...]


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Published November 5, 2012
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