“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

Yea, Albert said that. And he was not the dimmest one of the lot.

Actually, I think he would have gladly included “blind patriotic rage” under the “nationalism” umbrella. The kind of nationalism that involved sticking a flag on your SUV and cheering at Dubya’s lame western one-liners while burping your Budweiser light in front of Fox News. The same kind of nationalism that will cause even more deaths this year in Iraq than in NYC on 9/11. A nationalism, that, like any self-respecting fanatical ideology, feeds itself on its own failure…

These past two months, I have stayed away from the most important topic of all, precisely while it was entering a particularly dramatic phase of its development. Of course, I did not stay shut for lack of a strong opinion on the war or its proponents. But I guess we all get progressively numb to disgust and consternation after a while. Further more, I did not really feel like contributing to what truely is a bit of an echo chamber… I mean, call me jaded, but do we really need thousands of identical “read this article”/”this is horrible” comments, each time a statement is made or a news is published. I’m all for popular democratic involvement, but what is the point of sharing your opinion if:
1) It is the same, verbatim, as a few thousands of other blogs/websites and does not bring any new insight on the question whatsoever.
2) It will only be read by people already sold to your cause and certainly not by people who might disagree (in fact, most of us do not write for those people).

Then why post now? Well, even if I do not put the slightest claim on any groundbreaking analysis or much originality altogether, there are a few small items I felt like sharing:

  • Regarding the Abu Ghraib “Scandal”: for as shocking and vile as these treatments are, anybody who claims to be surprised at such a behaviour being condoned by US officials is either lying through his teeth or very poorly informed. Abuses are not new, they are not even a secret. The only new factor is that, this time, the whole world is looking at it and it’s hard to keep it discreet. However, many papers (not in the US, need I precise) have been pointing for a long time at the constant trampling of the Geneva Convention rights in places such as Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo. Of course, US officials are quick to point out the “extra-territoriality” of Guantanamo, in effect preserving some appearance of respectability in the face of international law. But no legal loophole will amend the fact that the US have officially recognized using “physical intimidation” and other gulag-style methods to extract information from their illegally detained prisoners (most of whom have not been charged by any qualified tribunal). The US also does not hide the fact that they routinely use the “assistance” of other countries in interrogating their suspects. In practice, it has meant shipping “suspected terrorists” to countries known for their less-than-stellar record on human-right issues and let them handle the dirty work for them. A certain Canadian traveler who had the misfortune to tick off some US airport officers certainly know something about that.
  • Common knowledge too that US media coverage of the war in Iraq is laughably bad. Actually, US media altogether have long collapsed to a rather low level of propaganda-relaying for a conglomerate of various political and corporate interests. But that’s just my personal opinion (or rather: Noam Chomsky’s, and I share it).
    Of course, this peremptory judgement admits many exceptions, most notably Sy Hersh‘s amazing investigative work for the New Yorker (the dark irony that he had to be the very person to uncover the inconvenient Abu Ghraib scandal is certainly not lost on some people in Washington: history has strange hiccups sometimes).

    Otherwise, the Guardian. consistently brings such a strong cover of every aspects of US domestic and international policies that it will quite often precede US newspapers.

    For people who can read German, the Frankfurter Allgemeine keeps a slightly more conservative approach, though as critical of the US administration, of current affairs (I think a translation of major articles is also present on the English version of their site).

    Another great reading (in French) are the pages of Courrier International which culls the best of the press worldwide and presents a compilation of translated articles written by journalists of every nationalities.

    My personal favorite among politics/war-related blog is definitely Whiskey Bar were both content and form are a pleasure to read. Beside, any man who can quote both Monty Python and Pontecorvo’s movie Battle for Algiers in a perfectly meaningful political analysis has to be my hero…

And that will be it for tonight, as I will have to handle another kind of international conflict pretty soon if I do not close this computer immediately…