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Leonardo's Adventures in the Crusade

The second album of the adventures of Leonardo da Vinci has the reluctant inventor of war-machines (gliders, tanks, scorpion vessels, etc…) forced to ship aboard the armada sailing for the Holy Land. The first mission of General Scharano's Crusaders (after their departure from the Italian peninsula, prior to their final goal of Jerusalem, and with the help of Leonardo's advanced weapons) is to bring relief to the besieged Knights of Rhodes (later the Knights of Malta) by launching a surprise attack on the Sultan's troops surrounding their outpost on this, the outskirts of the Ottoman Empire. A battle of massive proportions looms. But the Baronessa Terranova is acting oddly and treachery is lurking… A graphic novel published by Paquet, Croisade vers la Terre Sainte (Général Leonardo, Tome II) is drawn by Dan Greenberg with his usual mastery…   More


My Graphic Novel Is Published

My graphic novel, General Leonardo (Volume I), is on the bookstands. Drawn by Dan Greenberg and published by the Éditions Paquet, In the Service of the Vatican, the first album in a projected series of three, tells a little-known tale from the life of Leonardo da Vinci. How many people, indeed, know that the painter was kidnapped by an army that wanted his avant-garde military inventions to make itself invincible, sweep all enemies before it, and form a new Crusade to head for the Holy Land? …

 

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My Book Is Published!

Pearl Harbor Day saw the publication of La Bannière Étalée. A book (in French) describing the anti-Americanism prevalent in France, it comes with a plethora of examples that demonstrate irrefutably that, contrary to what the French think, it is not "only" Bush and American foreign policy they are against, it is not only visionary tolerance and boundless lucidity that runs their motivations, and their actions towards (and thoughts regarding) their "amis américains" are often far from friendly.

Double standards abound in French life, policies, and conversations. From World War II and the Cold War to the Iraqi crisis, from McDonald's to the Kyoto protocol, from "poverty" in America to "savage" capitalism, from Latin America to the United Nations, I conduct a minute examination of French claims regarding the United States and those who oppose its policies.

Here is an extract


How World War I Illustrates the European Mindset

Not long ago, I read a comment that says a world about the Old World mindset. The comment was about World War I, and it was filled with irony and bitterness. Here is the sentence:

The Americans didn't enter the war until 1917.

There was much irony and bitterness throughout, but there is so much packed into this single sentence alone that one needn't even consider the rest of the piece. It's made to sound like there was a barn-raising and those dastardly Yanks didn't arrive until the work was done, or almost done, basically in time for the party. There is no latitude for people who were against America entering the war on that date (or on any date) or for people who had wanted America to enter the war (months, years) earlier. This decision to act in what can only be termed a devious and treacherous way not only reflects on Americans of the time (all of them), it reflects on Americans living today! All Americans living today!…   More…


Chinese Outrage: Humiliations' Hidden Agenda

I fully understand China's outrage over the 2001 spy plane incident just as I fully understand why Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese foreign minister, said that his government and his people "shall never forget" the embassy blast in Belgrade in May 1999. Remembering a pilot downed by his own stupidity and the three countrymen killed by a foreign missile (through a mistake or otherwise), after all, allows the Chinese people to forget the tens of millions of countrymen who were killed by the Chinese government through the 1960s…   More…


One of the World's Most Enduring Stereotypes

The world's image of the American democracy as a cushioned people, undisciplined, and unwilling and/or unable to fight and/or accept casualties is quite possibly one of the world's most enduring stereotypes. It is also a persistently wrong — and damaging — one. And it does not date from Vietnam, but goes back through history to the beginnings of the nation…   More…


Lincoln and His Vision

Throughout the years, Abraham Lincoln has probably been the single person who most influenced my thinking about politics and world events. Follows a selection of my writings which quote the 16th president's speeches and writings. They show specific examples of how old Abe's words, thoughts, and principles are still alive today, from the potential break-up of Canada to modern-day autocrats speaking out on democracy being against their people's respective cultures…   More…


What Have We Learned from September 11?

Following the murderous attacks on 911, it became fashionable, and not only outside the United States, to hear smug voices wonder whether Americans had learned their lessons and whether they would be wise enough to apply those lessons in the future. Basically, the (self-serving) point seemed to be, that Americans should understand that they display(ed) the following traits: Americans are simple-minded, stupid, unsophisticated, reactionary, egoistical, greedy, arrogant, imperialistic, war-mongering, treacherous, and they are the reason for most of the world's problems of the past 60 years. So, did Americans learn anything? Let's see… If Americans learned any lessons, let's see what they learned…   More…


Some Thoughts About American Patriotism…

Ironic comments, tch-tching, scorn, and horselaughter seem to be the inevitable reactions when discussing American patriotism in many parts of the world. For these cynics, it would seem that U.S. patriotism is little more than a dangerous trap or some kind of disease or superstition, from people who believe — how ridiculous they are! — in something not unrelated to witches and fairy tales. Following 9-11, I expected French friends and acquaintances of mine who came back from visits to the U.S. to return with some sense of respect or admiration. Don't kid yourselves! Many remained just as cynical and shared the same tone of exasperation and disbelief in their voices: How can one be so patriotic (meaning, in their view, so superstitious)? It was a rheotrical question, and some were surprised that I answered it. My answer was that I felt their point of view was pretty skewered and that, if anything, the evidence seems to point to a type of patriotism that is both pretty reasonable and pretty low-key…   More…


Crashing the Anti-American Demonstration in Paris

When, on the eve of the anniversary of the Normandy landings, an anti-American demonstration saunters throught the streets of the capital of "America's first friend in the world", what's a disgruntled blogger to do? Specifically, how would a Danish-American blogger react, especially if he's accompanied by a German-American blogger and three French comrades-in-arms? How about waiting until the photographers and cameramen are ready to snap away at the grouchy bigwigs at the front of the procession, whipping out Old Glory and a sign saying "Sometimes the cowboy is right" (and "We are all Americans" on the other side), jumping in front of their lenses, and breaking out in (patriotic) song?… Click on "Answer"…


America's "Irresponsible" President Is the “Chief Culprit of this War"

We have nothing against the American people, I am often told, it’s only their leaders and their policies we disapprove of. Oh, I understand. Thanks for clearing that up. Thus, recently, one of Europe’s foreign ministers denounced America’s president as the “chief culprit of this war” and went on to bemoan the “American people” for having been betrayed by such an irresponsible leader. Evoking America’s “historically unique and shameless ill treatment of truth and of right” as well as "a country where everything is built on the dollar", a European head of state added that the “so-called” president was “guilty of a series of the worst crimes against international law”and that "first, he incites war, then falsifies the causes, then odiously wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy, and slowly but surely leads mankind to war, not without calling God to witness the honesty of his attack." But a question arises. Who were the courageous politicians making those stirring statements?…   More…


Two Weblogs of Note: ¡No Pasáran! and Le Monde Watch

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging too often on this website in the recent past. That's because it took many hours to write the essay-length stories, and so I have turned my day-to-day English-language blogging to a website I share with three other master bloggers: ¡No Pasarán! The month of May saw the birth of my new mainly-French-language weblog: Le Monde Watch (alias SurveilLe Monde). As it name indicates, its purpose is to show to what extent the editors, journalists, and readers of France's newspaper of reference are off the mark when they consider it to be a bastion of objectivity and an example of journalistic excellence (indeed, to be "the newspaper of reference") — even an example to their colleagues across the Atlantic Ocean. As this attitude is hardly rare in France (and Europe), other French media outlets will sometimes appear on this weblog as guests of honor.

Enjoy your reading…


"Liberty is something one needs to be deprived of to understand what it is"

As the 60th anniversary of D-Day approaches, the press will be publishing more and more material about the greatest seaborne invasion in history. A full-page article in Le Monde describes get-togethers in Normandy where veterans and civilian survivors, some of them sharing their experiences for the first time, remember the horrors of June 6, 1944, and the ensuing battle of Normandy. The article ends with an old-timer from Sainte-Mère-Église saying, "But for us, it was the Liberation. Liberty is something one needs to be deprived of to understand what it means." The article is moving, as it is supposed to be. The problem, however, is that as Le Monde explodes with indigation over the war in Iraq and the scandal of a handful of Americans abusing Iraqi prisoners, the old Frenchman's words seem to be falling on deaf ears…   More…


Le Monde Admits Bush Did Not Lie about Saddam's WMD…

…and… promptly proceeds to bury the story at the bottom of page 32! Needless to say, the title is low-key to the extreme (The Issue of Iraq's Weaponry Is Not Clear-Cut: Five experts keep the debate on the existence of WMD alive), and no wonder: the gist of the article shatters the entire controversy that has been damaging Bush and Blair with regards to their alleged lies when they mentioned Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as a reason for attacking the butcher's régime. Insofar as the issue of fibs must be addressed at all, the article not only states that if "outrageous lies" were made, they were made by the dictator's top henchmen; it also suggests that to go around carping about Dubya's alleged lies is extremely misleading, to say the least…   More…

Iraqis Complain of Western and Arab Journalistic Practices

A sculptor in Bagdad's Shabander Teahouse definitely takes a low view of French journalists. "They come here and talk against the U.S. in a stupid way. They don’t care about the crimes of Saddam Hussein." And it’s not only the French, notes a friend: "European and Arab journalists talk to us, but they don’t care about our happiness in being liberated. They only want us to make anti-American comments." After spending five to six weeks in Iraq, Steven Vincent wrote an article for Reason concerning his experience and his discussions with "as close to a full panoply of current Baghdad life as I could". He heard many stories about foreign correspondents staging news events to discredit the U.S. One Spanish photographer had posed an Iraqi woman in a nearby pile of rubble looking plaintively toward heaven, as if seeking deliverance from U.S. bombs. "These journalists come here with their minds already made up," a Bagdad painter groused. "They’re not interested in anything that contradicts their anti-American viewpoint"…   More…

Reflections on the Madrid Bombs and Aznar's Defeat in Spain

It sounds somewhat surreal to hear Europe's mainstream press clamor that "Spain punished the Popular Party for its support of the war" when one remembers that until the March 11 bombings, all the polls held that Bush's ally would win the election while the only question was by how many points the party opposed to the war would lose. If it is true that the change of régime is a "benediction", as a French reporter said and as French ministers inferred — an event that would not have occurred had bombs not torn apart three Madrid trains at rush hour three days earlier — then those who rejoice in the Socialists' advent cannot escape the simple fact that the deaths of nearly 200 innocent Spaniards must somehow be a blessing in disguise as well. That is the conclusion that you cannot escape, and it falls right into the same type of unsavory thought that says that America deserved 9-11. Furthermore, it is held by the type of people that Spain's new PM, Zapatero, feels close to and wants to draw his country closer to…   More…

Did Bush and Blair Lie About WMD?

Does the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq prove that the U.S. and the UK governments were lying when George W Bush and Tony Blair mentioned them as a main reason for going to war with Saddam Hussein? In response, the word "lie" is dissected, Bush and Blair's claims are compared to "the lies" of Nixon and Clinton, the data they relied upon is examined (by Kenneth Pollack), 2,500-year-old Greeks are (briefly) called upon, Saddam's credibility level is investigated, and members of the "peace camp" are asked to testify on what (if anything) they did and said to counter the Anglo-Saxons' charges…   More…

Is the Iraqi Insurrection Composed of Patriots or Cowards?

On February 16, a bomb exploded in northern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding three others. The difference with similar attacks since the fall of Saddam's régime was the location and the age of the victims: the crowded playground of a grammar school and Iraqi children about 7 years of age. Targeting "the safest of havens and the most helpless of victims" fits into the pattern of insurgents trying to strike a deeper chord of fear among ordinary Iraqis. The point of this article is what it shows more generally about the "insurrection", deductions that are contrary to what much of the mainstream press seems to be claiming, in Europe and America as well as the Arab world…   More…

How About Discussing the Truth Behind France's Pretexts for Once?

French politicians, media outlets, and citizens regularly join in denouncing and mocking the Iraq war, calling Washington leaders murderous egomaniacs, ridiculing George W Bush, and sputtering that the war's real cause was an unholy lust for oil. And weren't America's citizens smart enough to see through lies that were that obvious?! How moving that in a world of war, hate, terror, and oil-hungry leaders with no love for their fellow man, there are saintly figures in this world who will stand up for principles. This is why it's scandalous, preposterous, and outrageous that books and periodicals like the International Herald Tribune and The Economist have dared to suggest that Paris's attitude may have served as "pretexts" to hide some shameful secrets of its own. (And, by the way: no, France is not alone among the members of the so-called "peace camp" in this — far from it)…   More…


Americans Anonymous

Keep Your Hopes Up, Americans Overseas, Help Is Available!

"Hello, my name is Eric, and I'm an American."
"HELLO, ERIC!"
"I used to be embarrassed to admit I carried a U.S. passport, for fear of what smug and self-righteous foreigners would carp to me about my country, and ashamed in turn about the embarrassment. These dark secrets led to feelings of guilt and to an evil circle from which I couldn 't escape. That's when I discovered AA (Americans Anonymous)…”   More…


Romanticists Overlook Allende's Many Faults

It is probably appropriate that on the 30th anniversary of the coup that deposed Salvador Allende, Chile's president should wax romantically on his late predecessor at the head of the country's socialist party. It may not, however, be very truthful. Recalling that era in an interview two years earlier, the same Ricardo Lagos admitted that "we put the interests of the party before the interests of the people". In conversations that the New York Times conducted with only members of Allende's party, it emerged again and again that they implicitly blamed the party’s radicalism for Chile’s hyperinflation, shortages, and economic collapse in 1972 and 1973. “It’s wrong to say that the CIA, the armed forces, and the bourgeoisie alone brought down the Allende government", said the Partido Socialista's president. "It’s obvious we need to admit we made critical economical and political errors that were as decisive if not more decisive”…   More…


Poodles and Other American "Vassals"

No Briton should worry about his or her country serving as "a foreign policy satellite of the United States". Whenever I hear the nonsense about London being the poodle of the American democracy, I think back to the early days of World War II: when most of Europe was, willingly or not, sucking up to the Nazi dictatorship, the British bulldog was virtually alone in its resistance to becoming the poodle of what was Hitler's view of European integration…   More…

What You Admonish Can Come Back to Haunt You!

Anytime I hear a smug European pontificate on how it was a good thing that the Americans got hit on September 11, I think of Africa, where the United States enjoys relatively little presence. It should be remembered that the first attempt at crashing an airliner on a Western capital was carried out by Algerian terrorists wanting to blow up an Air France plane over Paris in December 1994…    More…

The U.S. and France: The Unspoken Message Behind "Different Visions"

French President Jacques Chirac refers to friction between France and America as merely "frank" discussions between friends, adding nonchalantly that "we have different visions of the world". As a journalist and writer who has lived in and out of Paris for the past 15 years, I can say without hesitation: this is partly disingenious and partly self-delusion…    More…

The Uphill Battle to Counter Anti-Americanism

Two articles side by side in the same issue of the International Herald Tribune speak volumes as to the nigh impossible struggle to promote a positive image of the United States abroad. They describe Washington's attempts to engage in "public diplomacy" to counter growing anti-Americanism overseas. The idea is that with enough explanations and education, foreign audiences will warm to the policies of the United States. To a certain extent, this is impossible for the simple reason that every positive aspect of the United States is regularly, if not automatically, pooh-poohed as exaggerated, as outright propaganda, or at best as a happy accident…   More…

"Oh, but it's only America's policies we are against!"

Since the publication of two excellent books that deconstruct French anti-Americanism — by Jean-François Revel and Philippe Roger — there have been reactions in the French media protesting that the French (and the Europeans and, indeed, the entire world) are not anti-American at all, they are simply opposed to Washington's "policies". Oh, we are great friends of the American people, some go as far as to say, but it is their leaders we disapprove of, understand. The seemingly innocuous phrase of "only being against their policies" is actually a smokescreen that hides self-serving anti-American propaganda…   More…


Kapos, Capos, and Hitlers

Those who put Silvio Berlusconi's use of the word "kapo" into perspective point out, correctly, that the German parliamentarian who was bestowed with that title had previously compared Italy's prime minister to a Mafia godfather. What is worse, however, is that many of those who are scandalized by Berlusconi's choice of words are the same people who like nothing better than to sound off that America is "fascist" and paint square moustaches on portraits of George W Bush. Isn't it of somewhat more consequence to compare someone to Adolf Hitler than to a "simple" kapo?…    More…


all contents © Erik Svane unless otherwise noted