Saturday, February 10, 2007  

Jr. Caligula reads (gasp!) a book...

And amazingly enough, one for which there are no cliff notes, but, as the gods of irony would have it- a movie.

From the British Independent (why do they always know all the news?), comes a news item in which Shrub is seen (caught?) reading a book, not Anna Nicole Smith, but the way in which the French waged war in Algeria during the bloody war for independence that cost almost a million Algerian lives and which the French...lost.

As usual, enlightenment, if one could call it that, or at least some semblance of self-awareness, comes late to the present Administration. Perhaps we should be grateful that it comes at all.

The president has been reading Alistaire Horne's recent book, 'A Savage War of Peace" about a conflict surprisingly not unlike the US situation in Iraq. It includes torture...check...occupation by an unloved foreign military...check...outrages against civilians...check...corruption...check...porous borders...check...another religion...check...the profound belief on the part of the Western power that they are bringing order, civilization, enlightenment to an otherwise backward and benighted people...check.

As you may recall (discussed months ago), the Pentagon watched the Battle of Algiers and apparently learned nothing from the screening. They may have come away with the mistaken impression that the French had won something. Well, they didn't, and Pontecorvo's point was that colonization, occupation and attrocities against civilians eventually spawn an angry and resentful population, one that rises up and attacks you by any means.

There is a line (which I will have to paraphrase) from a press conference in which Colonel Matthieu is exhibiting his prize, a much sought after Algerian maquis. When asked by an outraged journalist how the resistance can plant bombs in the baskets carried by women, the Algerian calmly replies, "Give us your planes, Monsieur, and we will give you our baskets."
Horne compares the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and the indefinite detention of detainees in Guantanamo to French behaviour in Algeria. It ultimately cost France the war, because the wave of public revulsion was such when it was publicised that opinion swung violently against the conflict.

Let us hope that Bush learns from his reading and then re-screens the Battle of Algiers - the sad thing is that this time, we have already lost the war, and Iraq has yet to become a country that has its own future back.

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