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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.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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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.'”