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Models sunbathing, wearing latest beach fashions.

Bild: Nina Leen – The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images. 

Kniv i ryggen

Chris Lehane, politisk rådgivare, om presidentvalskampanjer:

In the last five days, it always comes down to a knife fight in a telephone booth.

TAL | När Almedalen nu är över för den här gången, och alla partiledare åkt hem, kan det vara läge att lyssna på en riktig talare.

För lite mer än sjuttio år sedan, närmare bestämt den 5 mars 1946, höll Storbritanniens tidigare premiärminister Winston Churchill ett tal i Fulton, Missouri.

Talet anses vara det viktigaste Churchill höll under åren 1945-1951 som oppositionsledare.

I talet varnade han för att en järnridå sänkt sig över Europa: ”From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”

Enligt Churchill gjorde detta att relationen mellan USA och Storbritannien – ”a special relationship” – blivit än mer betydelsefull p.g.a. av kommunismens och Sovjetunionens anstormning i Europa och världen.

Talet anses allmänt ha fått västvärldens ledare att inse att Sovjetunionen inte längre var den allierade man lärt känna under andra världskriget. I stället gick världen in i en ny tid av kallt krig med supermakten i öst.

Talet kallas allmänt för Churchills ”Iron Curtain Speech” men heter egentligen “The Sinews of Peace”.

It is my duty however, for I am sure you would wish me to state the facts as I see them to you, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone-Greece with its immortal glories-is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy.

[…]

The safety of the world requires a new unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in Europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have sprung. Twice in our own lifetime we have seen the United States, against their wishes and their traditions, against arguments, the force of which it is impossible not to comprehend, drawn by irresistible forces, into these wars in time to secure the victory of the good cause, but only after frightful slaughter and devastation had occurred. Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the Atlantic to find the war; but now war can find any nation, wherever it may dwell between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand pacification of Europe, within the structure of the United Nations and in accordance with its Charter. That I feel is an open cause of policy of very great importance.

Mer: I BBC:s arkiv kan man avlyssna talet i sin helhet. The Churchill Centre har en hemsida där man kan läsa hela texten.

John Major

Bild: The Independent. Se och läs mer här och här.

I den elektroniska upplagan av Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Biblioteks medlemstidskrift Pennan & Svärdet skriver man så här om Werner Herzog och Gabe Polskys dokumentärfilm ”Red Army”:

Under 1980-talet kunde praktiskt taget varenda svensk rabbla namnen på Sovjetunionens fruktade hockeyspelare: Krutov, Larionov, Makarov, Fetisov och Kasatonov. Men de var mer än idrottsmän. De var propagandavapen i Kremls tjänst.

I kalla krigets Sovjetunionen var idrott så mycket mer än bara underhållning. Den var ett vapen i kampen mot det kapitalistiska väst och ett sätt att visa världen det egna samhällssystemets överlägsenhet – precis som rymdforskningen. Banden mellan idrott och militär var starka, vilket inte minst märktes inom ishockeyn.

IMAGE | Även den som är ointresserad av amerikansk politik minns att president Bill Clinton hade en otrolig förmåga att bli förknippad med skandaler.

The Plain Dealer den 20 december 1998

Det räcker t.ex. att nämna Monica Lewinsky för att minnena skall komma tillbaka. I många av dessa skandaler var Hillary Clinton direkt eller indirekt involverad.

Frågan alla ställer sig är om dessa skandaler – många nu tjugo år gamla – kommer att påverka Hillary Clinton negativt i valrörelsen.

Hillary Clinton är idag en välkänd person som väljarna redan har bildat sig en uppfattning om. Just av den anledningen skall det mycket till för att man skall ändra uppfattning om henne baserat bara på gamla skandaler som ingen längre minns detaljerna kring.

Så det behövs nog nya skandaler – som förstärker eventuella negativa misstankar om henne – för att väljarna idag skall börja ifrågasätta henne för vad som hände under president Clintons tid.

Med tanke på att många har en positiv bild av henne som utrikesminister så kommer kanske inte ens nya skandaler hjälpa hennes politiska motståndare.

En som borde veta när det gäller skandaler och krishanering är Chris Lehane, politisk rådgivare för demokraterna, som bl.a. jobbat för president Clinton.

Adam Nagourney, The New York Times, kallade en gång Lehane för en “fervent advocate of the dark arts of politics: the cutthroat, destroy-your-enemies, do-what-it-takes-to win approach to political campaigns”.

Eric Benson, på New York, frågade Lehane om han tror att dessa gamla skandaler kan komma att påverka synen på Clinton.

Do you see Republican attacks as potentially backfiring?

I think that the fact that she’s embracing the idea of being the first woman to become president serves as both a sword and a shield. It’s a shield because if you get down to it some of the attacks really are misogynist, and it’s a sword because this becomes part of her vision.

But Hillary already ran to become the first woman president, and Barack Obama still beat her with his “same old politics” attacks.

First of all, I’m not sure, at least in the first part of her campaign in 2008, that she really embraced the historic nature of the candidacy. In fact, if you look back, there was a real effort to not highlight that. And obviously 2008 was still only eight years removed from the Clinton presidency. When you’re running in 2016, that offers a different historical perspective. I’m doing polling all the time on campaigns across the country, and if you ask people how they voted in the Clinton years, you get 65, 70 percent of the public that say they voted for Bill Clinton even though he never, obviously, got close to those numbers.

You advocated getting in front of scandals when you were an aide in the Clinton White House. Do you think Hillary should respond when people like Rand Paul and Reince Priebus dredge up Whitewater and the impeachment?

To use a boxing analogy, I think you can sidestep those punches. I just don’t think they really connect, because they were just so long ago and they’ve been regurgitated any number of times. You’re talking about stuff, in some cases, that goes back to the mid-1980s. I mean, there’s some not-­insignificant percent of the population that wasn’t even born then!

Läs mer: ”Yeah, I Wrote the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Memo” av Chris Lehane, PoliticoMagazine.

Bild: The Plain Dealer den 20 december 1998.

USA | Jonathan Chait har skrivit en av de mer intressanta artiklarna om rasismen i USA under Barack Obamas tid som president.

Front Cover New York April 7-20 2014

Demokraterna (läs: liberalerna) håller på att vinna kriget om synen på hur man får debattera minoritetsfrågor i USA. Men man har kanske inte gjort det med metoder som är speciellt liberala.

Det har, inte minst i media och bland politiska motståndare, blivit accepterat att utmåla republikanernas konservatism som en form av dold rasism.

I bästa fall har man ”bara” anklagat dem för att deras ideologi gör dem blinda för att deras politik drabbar minoriteter i högre grad än vita.

Vad som komplicerar frågan är att liberalerna har en poäng i sin kritik av republikanerna.

Men enligt Chait har samhällsdebatten i allt större utsträckning accepterat att man tillmäter republikaner rasistiska motiv även när det talas om helt andra saker än just rasism.

Chait skriver i New York:

If you set out to write a classic history of the Obama era, once you had described the historically significant fact of Obama’s election, race would almost disappear from the narrative. […] The policy landscape of the Obama era looks more like it did during the Progressive Era and the New Deal, when Americans fought bitterly over regulation and the scope of government. The racial-policy agenda of the Obama administration has been nearly nonexistent.

But if you instead set out to write a social history of the Obama years, one that captured the day-to-day experience of political life, you would find that race has saturated everything as perhaps never before. Hardly a day goes by without a volley and counter-volley of accusations of racial insensitivity and racial hypersensitivity. And even when the red and blue tribes are not waging their endless war of mutual victimization, the subject of race courses through everything else: debt, health care, unemployment.

[…]

Racial conservatism and conservatism used to be similar things; now they are the same thing. This is also true with racial liberalism and liberalism. The mental chasm lying between red and blue America is, at bottom, an irreconcilable difference over the definition of racial justice. You can find this dispute erupting everywhere. A recent poll found a nearly 40-point partisan gap on the question of whether 12 Years a Slave deserved Best Picture.

In 1981, Lee Atwater, a South Carolina native working for the Reagan administration, gave an interview to Alexander Lamis, a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University. In it, Atwater described the process by which the conservative message evolved from explicitly racist appeals to implicitly racialized appeals to white economic self-interest:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a by-product of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites … ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger.’”

Atwater went on to run George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis in 1988, where he flamboyantly vowed to make Willie Horton, a murderer furloughed by Dukakis who subsequently raped a woman, “his running mate.”

[…]

Yet here is the point where, for all its breadth and analytic power, the liberal racial analysis collapses onto itself. It may be true that, at the level of electoral campaign messaging, conservatism and white racial resentment are functionally identical. It would follow that any conservative argument is an appeal to white racism. That is, indeed, the all-but-explicit conclusion of the ubiquitous Atwater Rosetta-stone confession: Republican politics is fundamentally racist, and even its use of the most abstract economic appeal is a sinister, coded missive.

Impressive though the historical, sociological, and psychological evidence undergirding this analysis may be, it also happens to be completely insane. Whatever Lee Atwater said, or meant to say, advocating tax cuts is not in any meaningful sense racist.

One of the greatest triumphs of liberal politics over the past 50 years has been to completely stigmatize open racial discrimination in public life […] This achievement has run headlong into an increasing liberal tendency to define conservatism as a form of covert racial discrimination. If conservatism is inextricably entangled with racism, and racism must be extinguished, then the scope for legitimate opposition to Obama shrinks to an uncomfortably small space.

The racial debate of the Obama years emits some of the poisonous waft of the debates over communism during the ­McCarthy years. It defies rational resolution in part because it is about secret motives and concealed evil.

[…]

Few liberals acknowledge that the ability to label a person racist represents, in 21st-century America, real and frequently terrifying power. Conservatives feel that dread viscerally. Though the liberal analytic method begins with a sound grasp of the broad connection between conservatism and white racial resentment, it almost always devolves into an open-ended license to target opponents on the basis of their ideological profile. The power is rife with abuse.

[…]

It’s unlikely that Obama is deliberately plotting to associate his opponents with white supremacy in a kind of reverse-Atwater maneuver. But Obama almost surely believes his race helped trigger the maniacal ferocity of his opponents. (If not, he would be one of the few Obama voters who don’t.) And it’s not hard to imagine that Obama’s constant, public frustration with the irrationality pervading the Republican Party subconsciously expresses his suspicions.

Obama is attempting to navigate the fraught, everywhere-and-yet-nowhere racial obsession that surrounds him. It’s a weird moment, but also a temporary one. […] In the long run, generational changes grind inexorably away. The rising cohort of Americans holds far more liberal views than their parents and grandparents on race, and everything else (though of course what you think about “race” and what you think about “everything else” are now interchangeable). We are living through the angry pangs of a new nation not yet fully born.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 7-20 april 2014.

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