FROM THE WAR IN IRAQ TO THE JASMINE REVOLUTION IN TUNISIA. THE INIQUITY OF SPIN.
- 27 févr. 2011
- Par MONIQUE RICCARDI-CUBITT
- Blog : BLOG FRANCO BRITANNIQUE, ART, CULTURE, POÉSIE, POLITIQUE
NICOLAS SARKOZY TONY BLAIR'S CLONE. THE EVIL OF SPIN
History repeats itself in a strange way. On the 24th ofApril 2004 fifty two diplomats and high ranking civil servants signed an openletter to Tony Blair in the Guardian to protest against the war in Iraq and thedisastrous consequences it entailed. On Tuesday 22nd of Fébruary 2011, someFrench diplomats published under the pen name Marly in in the daily newspaper LeMonde, an open letter to NicolasSarkozy denouncing : France’s voice is no longer heard inthe world. The circomstances aredifferent but in the the seven years since the publication of the Britishletter, the facts remain the same. In both cases the elected head of agouvernment has abused of his power in giving priority to his own excessiveambitions to the detriment of the national interest. With the ensuingdisastrous results for the diplomay and foreign policy of two great nationsonce important on the world stage and in its balance of power.
It is no wonder if one considers the blind admirationNicolas Sarkozy has for his mentor,Tony Blair. From the very beginning the French president has imitatedBlair’s election slogan Purerthan pure. At his own election hedeclared his mandate to be An irreproachable republique. Like Blair Sarkozy has in his turn behaved in a cavalier way towards theConstitution. He too has scorned and humiliated the State institutions whichare the very foundations of national stability in a democratic society. Oncemore he has followed Bush’s poodle’s example and paid his court to the American President in the hope of future personal favours. Sarkozy and Blair are notstatesmen but business entrepreneurs. They use the credibility and prestige oftheir elected fonction and acquired status as members of an exclusive club tobuild themselves a business network and a personal fortune. They shun theadvice of wise experienced counsellors. Instead they surround themselves withshady and ambitious adventurers, those spin doctors, who having being raised tothe rank of favourites, work ceaselessly in the shadows at their lord andmaster’s good name and repution. No doubt Shakespeare would have brilliantlydescribed their shady machinations and tortuous manoeuvring. From London to nowParis, they have woven and still weave their web of deceit. Suffice it to nameHenri Guaino, Alain Minc and Claude Guéant instead of Alastair Cambell andPeter Mandelson, The Prince of Darkness.
In 2003 the former British Prime Minister, John Major,had denounced in his pamphlet TheErosion of Parliamentary Government : Spin is the pornography of politics.It perverts. It is deceit licensed by the Government. Statistics massaged.Expenditure announced and reannounced. The record reassessed. Blame attributed.Innocence proclaimed. Black declared white: all in a day's work. He added : "The systemrelies . . . on the governing party recognising the true temporary nature ofits authority and not misusing it…What I fear the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) may havefailed to understand is the importance and power of the traditions, customs andconventions that have shaped the values of our system of government andprovided its checks and balances…New Labour, apparently contemptuous of ourhistory, has swept away centuries of institutional values. Rushed, illthought-through constitutional changes have been introduced in the name ofmodernisation - changes that imperil the soul of the constitution and leavedemocracy and freedom weaker and poorer… New Labour’s obsession with spin, withstyle, with perception, has given it great presentational successes. But ourpolitical system has paid a high price as, on occasion, have its own mostskilful practitioners. Slick presentation has proved to be the forerunner of distrust.
This sharp analysis is highly relevant and pertinent intoday’s France. Thus the French dissident diplomats’ letter reflects the dismayand discontent of their British opposite numbers seven years ago.Theywrite : It is clear that the President does not show any regards norconsideration towards the State administrations. Instead he treats them withscorn and tries to charge them with the responsability of his politicies’failures. Thus the diplomatic corps as a whole is held responsible for ourdisastrous foreign policy. The members of the diplomatic corps object to thisaccusation. The policies towards Tunisia and Egypt were defined by thePresident himself without taking into account our embassies’ reports andanalysis. It is the Presidence who has nominated Messrs. Ben Ali and Moubarakas the « southern pillars » of the Union pour la Méditerranée…Had thevoice of those diplomats been heard, many a mistake would have been avoided.Those mistakes are the result of an impulsive and amateurish approach onlyconcerned with short term publicity stunts. They carry on in declaring the Union pour laMéditerranée, a right-off. It couldhave played an important role in a peace policy in the Near and Middle East.Instead they denounce the French government’s incoherence. OurMiddle East policy has become muddled and incomprehensible. It is in acul-de-sac, and plays Syria’s game… Our foreign policy is conducted in animprovised and impulsive manner, often dictated by home politics. One cannottherefore wonder at our failures. We now live in the time when minor civilservants dabble in diplomacy, when the president’s ghost writers decide ofgouvernmental policies, and spin doctors and private social and businessnetworks are all-powerful and omnipresent.
In Britain in 2003 the diplomats signatories of the letter in the Guardian had disaproved of Blair’s policy in the Iraq war and watched with deepeningconcern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem andIraq, in close cooperation with the United States. They denounced the abandoning ofthe principles which for nearly four decades have guided international effortsto restore peace in the Holy Land and which have been the basis for suchsuccesses as those efforts have produced.As well as the announcement by Ariel Sharon and President Bushof new policies which are one-sided and illegal and which will cost yet moreIsraeli and Palestinian blood…This abandonment of principle comes at a timewhen rightly or wrongly we are portrayed throughout the Arab and Muslim worldas partners in an illegal and brutal occupation in Iraq. To justify his decision Tony Blair not only liedto the nation and to Parliament on the existence of weapons of massivedestruction and tampered with Intelligence reports. But he played on people’sfears of Islam and political and religious extremists in orchestring a veryclever security and anti-terrorist campaign fuelled on by sectarian andinflammatory declarations. Nicolas Sarkozy has followed his example and donethe same in France.
At the time of the war in Irak, France’s stance in theconflict had won the admiration of the Arab world after Dominique de Villepin’sspeech at the United Nations on the 14th February 2003. His inspired, andinspiring words, had awaken a new hope. There is an alternative to war andbarbarism in order to promote political, economic and cultural interests, it is called diplomacy. This art ofshowing respect and consideration to other people, to patiently create bondsand allow time to do its work. To listen to others and endeavour to understandthem, their customs and way of life. Thus in the process to allow an exchangeto be built in trust and a cultural and social cross-fertilization to takeplace. The art of diplomcy has always been one of France’s glory. The logicalthinking and sophisticated syntax of the French language has made it a preciousinstrument in the exercise of diplomatic skills. Spin and the corruption of thelanguage have twisted its true nature. The French writer Albert Camus said: Notto use the proper word in the right place adds to the evil in the world. And George Orwell in his visionary novel 1984 describes the Newspeak :The reduction of the language was considered as an end itself. Together with the rewriting of history, and in apolice state the constant watch of the citizens by an all-powerful authority, BigBrother, Newspeak was used tocurtail personal freedom in denying to the people access to the truth and tothe collective memory.
The recent events on the Mediterranean shores have showna new way. Modern means of communications, used by dictators for their spin andpropaganda, have been used by those Arab people no one wanted to hear orthought able to govern themselves democratically. They have stood up in angerat the injustice of the oppression they have lived under. They have made happenthis democratic miracle : a peaceful revolution. It is a lesson to thearrogant West who wants to impose democracy through military means in Iraq andAfghanistan. The disastrous results denounced in the British diplomats’ letterto Tony Blair in 2003 are all too obvious. The Irakis belong to an ancientculture and sophisticated civilisation, all but destroyed now. In time theywould have found the courage, the strength and the way of toppling down SaddamHussein from his throne. The Tunisians, the Egyptians, and now the Lybians haveshown that they could do it alone.
The spin and hypocrisie of the Bush, Blair and Sarkozy’sadministrations is no longer acceptable. They only see in these countries richin oil and other natural and human resources, potential markets to be exploitedand fat contracts to be won. And the spin doctors of the French president canno longer use their smokescreens and expound emphatically the merits of theirhighly dubious deals for the Union pour la Méditerranée. It should be first and foremost a union of commonprinciples to act for the preservation of the culture and the ecology in Marenostrum, as much as therepresentation of trade, sociopolitical and geopolitical interests. The fetid corruptionwhich now thrives on fertile ground at the heart of the French government doesso through its anti democratic and anti constitutional spin. At the height of the Tunisian people’srevolt the French Foreign Minister, Mrs. Alliot-Marie, goes to Gammarth inTunisia to discuss with the dictatorial Ben Ali regime of her parents’ propertyinvestment on a formerly classified natural beauty site. This nature reserveconsisted of a coastal reserve and a forest of centuries-old pines forevergone. The trees have been felled to build a leisure complex of 20 hectaresaround a marina. Tunisia has already many such pleasure centres. And this wasnot done in order to give a boost to the Tunisian economy and provide work in afair manner respecting the antiquity of the land and the interests of itspeople. It was designed to appealto the extravagant tastes and greed of a consumerist society. In particular toserve the interests of the family and friends of the dictator Ben Ali, as wellit seems as those of his French political cronies. It must be reminded thatMr.Ben Ali together with Mr. Moubarak, to this day the richest man in theworld, were appointed by Mr. Sarkozy, President of the country of Human Rights,southern pillars of the Union pour la Méditerranée.
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