Tuesday, September 09, 2003


American-in-Paris Adam Gopnik, always worth reading as a general matter, has a piece especially worth reading in the September 9th issue of The New Yorker. Entitled "The Anti-Anti-Americans," it reports on "that small but loud bunch of [French] philosophers and journalists who share the American conviction that September 11th was an epoch-marking event, and that how open societies react to it will help determine how open they get to remain."

There is Bernard-Henri Lévy, who has written a book on the death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year (a book soon to be published in English, Gopnik tells us). “I am strongly anti-anti-American," Lévy says, "but I opposed the war in Iraq, because of what I’d seen in Pakistan.” Gopnik quotes him further:

Iraq was a false target, a mistaken target. Saddam, yes, is a terrible butcher, and we can only be glad that he is gone. But he is a twentieth-century butcher—an old-fashioned secular tyrant, who made an easy but irrelevant target. His boasting about having weapons of mass destruction and then being unable to really build them or keep them is typical—he’s just a gangster, who lived by fear and for money. Saddam has almost nothing to do with the real threat. We were attacking an Iraq that was already largely disarmed. Meanwhile, in some Pakistani bazaar someone, as we speak, is trading a Russian miniaturized nuclear weapon.
And there is André Glucksmann, an iconoclastic intellectual:

In France, the problem, more than a will against America, is a will to hide—to hope not to be seen at all. But it is insane for the French to see all this as somehow apart from them. It began against us. Nine years ago, the G.I.A. [the Algerian Islamists], who are a group of the same kind, hijacked a plane and were going to fly it into the Eiffel Tower! The only difference? They didn’t know how to fly a plane! They were trying to use the pilots to do their work. Seven years later, they knew how. So to imagine that we are somehow immune is not only crazy on principle—it is the direct opposite of what we know to be the facts!
Lévy echoes Glucksmann's conclusion:
The French opposition to the war was opportunist in part, rational in part, but mostly rooted in a desire not to know. What dominates France is not the presence of some anti-Americanism but an enormous absence—the absence of any belief aside from a handful of corporatist reflexes."
Read the whole thing (and do it quickly, since I suspect that this link will soon self-destruct.)


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