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31 August 2013

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Fred

Wasn't that one of the French intel staff who briefed President Hollande about Syria? Nice to know he's already found another job.

steve

No, I believe it's the young John Kerry.

David Habakkuk

There is a game, familiar to any reader of Kipling, which one might call 'fool the stupid sahib'.

Both in the United States and Britain, there has been a major retreat from any serious attempt to engage intellectually and imaginatively with alien cultures. The poor state of Arabic skills in the State Department, to which Colonel Lang referred in a recent post, is an example of this.

Throughout the non-European world there are many people who cross cultures -- who have a good understanding both of their own cultures and of ours. Unsurprisingly, one finds among these travellers between cultures people who have a very acute awareness of how to represent conflicts in their own societies in terms which enable them to enlist our power on their side.

Speaking from some experience -- having worked for a time as a television current affairs producer -- filmed images have a number of characteristics which make them particularly well-adapted for such games. One is their immense emotive power -- particularly when, for example, the suffering of children is depicted. Another is that they characteristically come without any of the context which would allow proper interpretation of their significance.

Interpreted by people who are familiar both with that context, and with the processes of recording and transmitting visual information, this kind of material can be very illuminating.

However, when people like Kerry claim that Youtube videos are unambiguous evidence of anything, and wax emotional about the images contained in them, the overwhelmingly likelihood has to be that they are either fools or knaves, if not indeed quite probably both.

blowback

Am I correct in assuming that State Farm Insurance advertisements are very frequently parodies?

William R. Cumming

Always remember that Kerry after the passage of time still cannot make up his mind whether the US should have been involved in Viet Nam or not.

As to YOUTUBE ads they can be used in many ways to further corrupt the knowledge base of Americans.

turcopolier

WRC et someofyou

- Statefarm ads are always parodies.
- My point was that to rely on rubbish posted on the internet for proof of anything is moronic
- Kerry is simply pathetic. I used to hate the bastard. Now I just despise him. pl

Fred

I don't think so. The French intel staff who did such good work in Mali must have been fired by Hollande so he could balance the budget to keep the bankers happy. He certainly couldn't afford Kerry.

ISL

In the spirit of the ad,

http://www.eutimes.net/2013/08/putin-orders-massive-strike-against-saudi-arabia-if-west-attacks-syria/

states that Russia will bomb Saudi Arabia if the US attacks Syria.

My own analysis suggests this very very likely is propaganda (not sure who's).

yet, by the Kerry law invoked by Obama, its on the internet, so ......

Imagine what our leaders think of the citizens who elected them.

confusedponderer

"Imagine what our leaders think of the citizens who elected them"

Sucker!

mbrenner

At the time of Katrina, former Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, judged the anticipated disaster to have been averted because he saw coverage on CNN declaring that the storm was diminishing in force rapidly. It took him two days to realize that the report was incorrect. He now makes big money advising the US government and other numbskulls on how to protect against terrorism and other threats to the country. When a society unravels anything and everything can happen - as we are seeing.

As to French intelligence, we in fact have no idea who said what to whom in Paris - so let's not start imitating know-it-all talk show hosts.

jmc5588

This strikes me as an enormously perceptive series of observations. The mirror image of the cross-cultural individual Mr. Habakkuk portrays here is the person of our own culture who has a good understanding of another. Such people have always been suspect within our own society ("Whose side is he really on?"), but in previous generations the powers that be usually had enough sense to listen to and perhaps make use of what they had to say. The same cannot be said today, unless what they have to say serves an immediate political agenda (to quote Kipling yet again, "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"). The result is that we produce fewer such people than in the past. This phenomenon is in keeping with the overall political, intellectual and cultural decline of our society which our host has noted in previous posts.
On a different note, but relevant to Mr. Habakkuk's post, I met Sen. Kerry 20 years ago in our respective official capacities. He was smart, asked good questions, and seemed to take what we had to say seriously. Certainly the results of his visit to the foreign country, for which we were briefing him, were all that we could have desired. I've always thought he wanted to be the John Kennedy of our generation (I'm 66), and consciously molded himself in that image. But our generation, by the time we matured, did not, and perhaps could not, welcome a Kennedy, wannabe or not. We produced Clinton and Bush, stunted creatures both. Perhaps in trying too hard to be like someone else, he lost himself in the process. I'm in no position to judge whether he might be a knave, and intellectual capacity does not preclude folly. It may be we are all fools, to some extent. But for most of us, our follies have consequences only for ourselves and those close to us. Let us all hope that Sen Kerry proves neither a knave nor a fool.

turcopolier

jmc5588

"... the person of our own culture who has a good understanding of another. Such people have always been suspect within our own society ("Whose side is he really on?"), but in previous generations the powers that be usually had enough sense to listen to and perhaps make use of what they had to say. The same cannot be said today" Having been one of the suspect semi-foreign persons for a long time I can only endorse the thought. The US Army has a highly developed program for developing officers specialized in various parts of the world. Selected officers are language trained on an intensive and demanding basis. They are sent to graduate school in appropriate subjects and given extensive travel experience in their apponted areas. Subsequently, they are given assignment patterns consistent with the program. Both field and staff assignments are provided. Such officers are promoted frequently to full colonel and reach the top levels of selection in service schools like the War College which has a selection rate for the resident course of 2% in a given year group. Nevertheless, such officers are rarely promoted to Brigadier General or beyond. In Cold War times, there were a very few promotions for Soviet and Chinese specialists. So far as I know, no officer who is a Middle East specialist has ever been promoted to BC. Abizeid was not an area specialist. He just happened to be of Arab heritage. I think that your point regarding an inherent distrust is quite valid and the saddest part of that is that the more adept an officer is in dealing with the; Chinese, Russians, Martians or whatever, the more they are thought to be somehow "unsound." Their level of skill in tactics, logistics or intelligence does not seem to outweigh that. Lest I sound more self-pitying than usual, I should say that I decided to retire as a full colonel and became a supergrade civil servant in a grade equivalent to a lieutenant general. I would have preferred to stay in the army a few more years. The fear of "the others" and those who are their "familiars" is strong among us as it was among the British and French when they had similar expanses of territory to "patrol." pl

CK

It certainly is sexist to assume that a French accent and a ratty beard will cause a modern American woman to swoon.
Probably doesn't help sell insurance either.

turcopolier

CK

If she thinks he is French she will believe anything. America is full of such people of both sexes. That is what makes this commercial funny. pl

The beaver

CK

Ever heard of Christophe Rancourt:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophe_Rocancourt

A good example :-)

CK

That is a hoot.

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