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Pour ma part, j’ai rapporté d’Afrique la notion affligeante qu’en ce moment nous faisons la guerre d’une manière beaucoup plus barbare que les Arabes eux-mêmes. C’est, quant a présent, de leur côté que la civilisation se rencontre. Cette manière de mener la guerre me paraît aussi inintelligente qu’elle est cruelle. Elle ne peut entrer que dans l’esprit grossier et brutal d’un soldat. Ce n’était pas la peine en effet de nous mettre à la place des Turcs pour reproduire ce qui en eux méritait la détestation du monde. Cela, même au point de vue de l’intérêt, est beaucoup plus nuisible qu’utile ; car, ainsi que me le disait un autre officier, si nous ne visons qu’à égaler les Turcs nous serons par le fait dans une position bien inférieure à eux : barbares pour barbares, les Turcs auront toujours sur nous l’avantage d’être des barbares musulmans. . . Pour moi, je pense que tous les moyens de désoler les tribus doivent être employés. Je n’excepte que ceux que l’humanité et le droit des nations réprouvent.
I for my case report back from Africa with the pathetic notion that at this moment we are in our way of waging war even more barbaric than the Arabs themselves. These days, they represent civilization, we do not. This way of waging war seems to me as idiotic as it is cruel. It can only be found in the head of a coarse and brutal soldier. Indeed, what purpose was served by replacing the Turks only to reproduce what the world so properly detested about them? This, even for the sake of interest is more noxious than useful; for, as another officer was telling me, if our sole aim is to equal the Turks, in fact we shall never reach that goal: barbarians for barbarians, the Turks will always outdo us because they are Muslim barbarians. . . I personally believe that we must avail ourselves of every tactic to destroy the warring tribes, but we may not reach to those means which humankind and the law of nations forbid.
–Alexis de Tocqueville, Travail sur l’Algérie (1841) in: Œuvres complètes vol. 3, pp. 704-05 (Pléiade ed. 1991)(S.H. transl.)
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Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”