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July 31, 2006

So, What’s Your Point?


We’ve been witnessing Administration finger wagging for years now.  I don’t recall an instance, however, when it came back at them like this.  Maybe “Old Europe” has finally had it with America’s “New Middle East.”

In the body language department, look at Condi’s eyes.  One reason she has her head cocked is because she’s a little teed off right now.  The other reason is to establish a higher plane for her gaze.  By elevating her field of vision, she negates (at least, from her mind) the very existence of Javier Solana’s gesture.

Regarding this attenuation of vision, Digby highlights Mark Lynch’s comments about BushCo’s spectacular missed opportunity in Lebanon.  (Lynch’s site, Abuaardvark, is indispensable for its coverage of Arab media, and gives generous play to the visuals, as well.)


Finally, check out this protest image close by the ASEAN forum (where the top pic was taken).  in the background is Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers.  It’s a not-so-subtle reminder of how the Administration’s embrace of 9/11 evolved into a perceived war on Islam.  (Is the second “Rice” supposed to read “race?”)  It’s also one photographer’s clever aside on how the WTC has been turned into wallpaper.

(hat tips: Brian, Bob)

(image 1: Dita Alangkara/A.P.  July 27, 2006. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  in YahooNews.  image 2: Vincent Thian/A.P.  July 28, 2006. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  in YahooNews.)

  • jt from BC

    Nope, has more to do with power than color “Just remember I represent the USA” is my take on this shoot out. A mans finger vs a womens stare, no contest especially here.

  • armonikos

    It almost looks as if Solana is scolding a puppy. What immediately came to my mind was “THAT’s not the way to teach them. . . you gotta rub their nose in it and say ‘NO!’ or they’ll never learn.”

  • Keir

    Don’t look at the finger, but where it’s pointing. She’s a robot, people.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Or perhaps Solana picked up the finger-pointing gesture from Condi. Here’s Condi at a State Department press briefing on July 21, courtesy of Reuters. She’s probably pointing to a reporter, but she looks mean as hell, and you have to wonder if that’s why the photographer nabbed the shot, and why Reuters distributed it.

  • jt from BC

    The BAG > (Is the second “Rice” supposed to read “race?”)
    I don’t know, but if J Edgar Hoover was alive he might, and change his label of communist subversion to Islamic inspired terrorism immediately open a file on the photographer.

  • Erin M

    In the second picture, the rice really does mean rice. See next to it where the letters FTA (for Free Trade Agreement) are crossed out. Similar protests have been made by South Korean farmers against a proposed U.S.-Korean FTA, with the feared result being a dumping of cheap, subsidized American rice on these Asian markets. At least one Korean committed suicide in protest. In that sense, perhaps it is a plea not to destroy the race of Malaysian rice farmers (not that that’s a racial group, I know).

  • Shaun

    Judging from Solana’s teary expression and cute little red nose, I’d say “old-Europe” has had enough ‘whine’ with dinner already…

  • Rafael

    The problem is that Solana does not represent the “Old Europe”, but in fact the new Europe. The old Europe is the Europe of religious wars, cold wars, continent spanning wars, religious and ethnic cleansing. The new Europe is trying to put all that behind them. To bad “Old Europe” migrated to the other side of the Atlantic.

  • anonymous

    you guys are making too big a deal out of this. Condi has a booger hanging on her nose and he is just offering to pick it for her.
    After all, wouldn’t be right to see pics of condi with her finger up her nose.

  • Darryl Pearce

    These two photographs ended up right next to each other on the site: On the juxtaposition of photographs of world history. Sometimes, it just hurts.

  • Shaun

    Rafael, “New Europe” may not want another World War (two was enough) but they’re not yet ‘enlightened’ as you suggest. Europe is still parochial and divided as shown by the implosion of the EU. It continues to displace its problems onto others, including its legacy of imperialism and racism (Israel and the “Mid-East Peace Crisis” only exist because of the combination of the two). Several European countries remain the chief suppliers of arms around the world behind only the US and Russia…and Europe is again rife with Antisemitism and Zenaphobia–you may have noticed the immigrants rioting in the streets of France recently (in their perpetual ghettos)…
    The suggestion they are trying to “put all that behind them” is hilariously quaint. They’re not putting NATO enlargement behind them (they scream and cry everytime we shut a base down in Germany)…I wonder why? They’re not putting stingy foreign-aid policies or free-riding on the US to police the world behind them. Nor are they putting racist/conservative social and labor policies behind them, or ceasing to turn a blind-eye to conflicts like Darfur and the violence and poverty in their former colonies like Burma, Angola, Algeria, Congo, Indonesia, Spain (Basque), Ireland, etc…
    BTW Where’s the international coalition force for South Lebanon? It aint comin’. Big talk and no action from “New Europe” as usual…
    You think just because they can turn up the Israel-bashing that means America is the new “old Europe” and Europe has finaly been transformed into a bunch of hippy intellectuals? Dream on.
    When I look at that picture I just see the long, decrepit, impotent finger of European paternalism. “Hey everybody, put down your drinks, old man whitey has something to say…”

  • Cactus

    That’s the second photo I’ve seen in a week of male leaders of foreign countries pointing fingers at Condi. Is it a trend? A turning of the screw in U.S. diplomatic relations? Perhaps a collective realization that our putative power is waning to the point that other nations can now criticize us and refuse to put up with all our BS. But I don’t think this is sexist, although it may have happened faster than it would have with a man. Who knows?
    Ms. Rice looks very, very angry, but she is eating it. Somehow she knows that she can’t explode all over Solana, but the struggle to hold back shows in the angle of her head, the set of her mouth (and face) and the popping muscles in her neck. She’s a pit bull ready to snap off his finger, if only she could be unleashed.
    I wonder how much Merkel’s rebuke of Gdub affected the willingness of other leaders to stop pretending that Gdub (and by extension, the U.S.) is the leader of the free world.
    Psychologist Carl Faber talked of the madonna/whore complex which has some relevance here. A man (usually) puts a woman up on a pedestal as the perfect love. He worships her, loves her and is quite happy with her. Then one day he sees her picking her nose and the fantasy is broken. He not only cannot love her, now he hates her. Well, the world watched as Gdub misbehaved and the spell was broken. Nothing he, nor the U.S., does from now on will be seen as a valuable contribution to the world community. We will always be questioned about our actions.
    Another point, off topic of the image, is one brought out in The Bag’s reference to Marc Lynch, via Digby: “…But by disappearing for the first days of the war and then resurfacing only to provide a megaphone for Israeli arguments and to prevent international efforts at achieving a ceasefire, the Bush administration put America at the center of the storm of blame….” This is what this administration does.
    Item: Twin Towers – Gdub is reading to school children in Florida then takes a plane ride around the country.
    Item: Katrina – Condi buys shoes, Gdub plays guitar and Darth is MIA for the first time in his life.
    Item: Americans abandoned in Lebanon – Sent a helicopter after several days, finally send military boats to evacuate.
    Item: Darth shoots hunter – Nothing for several days of rumors then alibis and excuses.
    They’re like a bunch of three year olds who, when questioned about who ate the cookies, suddenly find something really interesting about their shoelaces.

  • PTate in FR

    Solana is one of those elegant, learned, sophisticated Europeans that make all Americans seem crass and uncultured. He is everything that Rice would like to be and never will be–check out his bio on wikipedia: He’s got a PhD in Physics, speaks three languages fluently. “General Wesley Clark once asked Solana the secret of his diplomatic success. He answered: “Make no enemies, and never ask a question to which you do not know or like the answer.” This is the opposite of Bushco’s diplomatic approach which can be summarized as “Divide and conquer and don’t bother asking questions since we already know all the answers.”
    Or consider this testimonial: “U.S. ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow said of him: “He is an extraordinary consensus-builder who works behind the scenes with leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that NATO is united when it counts.”
    Rice has been appearing more and more out of her depth recently. In this picture, Solana is relaxed, amiable. He is saying something like, “You know, if the US hadn’t invaded Iraq…,” and she wants to kill him. She knows he is right, but what the hell do people expect her to do about this mess? I expect a headbutt followed.

  • ummabdulla

    PTate, did you move?
    The top photo could be a headmaster scolding a student. She is obviously furious but knows she can’t talk back in this setting. And I wonder how aware she is that they’re being photographed – that would have to make her feel even more humiliated.
    The Petronas Towers are shown all the time as a symbol of Malaysia. Now that the BAG mentions the connection to the WTC, I do see it, but I didn’t think of it before. I’m not sure that most people would, either, unless they’re seeing them through the perspective of the U.S.

  • daveminnj

    there’s another angle to this photo that has little to do with politics
    or sexism.
    the finger wagging in the face: rightists will immediately conflate
    this image with clinton’s wagging “i did not have sex….” and thus identify
    with rice; viewing this as one more
    patronizing, dishonest democrat trying
    to bluster a right-thinking true believer.
    also, and this is a question,isn’t it a
    pretty widespread assumption that, in most cultures, to put your finger in somebody’s
    face is considered provocative and disrespectful?
    i agree with the above comment that
    rice looks like a pitbull wanting to
    bite off the finger. she deserves far
    worse than she’s getting-but i think
    her response in this photograph is a very natural and human one. a first?

  • PTate in FR

    ummabdulla–I haven’t moved quite yet, but my husband has taken a two-year assignment in France so in the near future, yes. We are in France right now getting an apartment, etc. My husband will be returning as soon as all the paperwork clears, and I’ll be joining him in December.

  • Shaun

    PTate, “Solana is one of those elegant, learned, sophisticated Europeans that make all Americans seem crass and uncultured…” Give me a break. Don’t be such a drooling europhile, you peasent. Say what you will about American foreign policy but Condoleeza Rice grew up in a middle-class black family in Birmingham Alabama in the 1960s and now she’s the Secretary of State of the US; Solana grew up in a rich patrician family (of diplomats no less) in Spain…and nobody gives a shit what he thinks anyway (you had to look him up on wiki). Rice is everything Solana will never be.
    Solana: “Make no enemies, and never ask a question to which you do not know or like the answer.” Sounds like the kind of advice a comfortable little douchebag would give.
    PS: you find it impressive that a European diplomat can speak Spanish, French and English? I’m sure by your standards that’s amazing but I knew kids in middle school (even here in low-brow America), who could already do that.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Shaun, are you off your meds? I ask because of your unnecessary name-calling (very stereotypical male behavior intended to intimidate, btw; see Boob thread for references), which you sometimes can restrain.
    You can be as devoted to Condi and anti-EU as you like; your theories don’t amount to squat these days. With opposition pressure gathering with the force of a tidal wave, the reality is that Condi’s having to EAT American “foreign policy.” That might be why douchebag Solana can get away with the pointing, and why the pearl-studded Secretary has to stand there and take it like a man. I guess that’s why you’re PMS-y.

  • momly

    Rice is everything Solana would like to be.
    Incompetent? In over his head? Serioulsy lacking in skills for the job at hand? Wishing mightily that the USSR were still around so there would be a grounding point? More concerned with shoes than people drowning in his own country?
    I hear some serious ego projection in the above statement. Why do people who fall all over themselves to defend this administration identify so strongly with them? Call people who criticize Bush Co. “douchebags” all you want, Shaun. It doesn’t change reality and only points out your own insecurity.

  • Rafael

    Shaun, America is the Old Europe is that is been taken over by people that embrace theocracy (secular rulers who derive their power form the divine instead of the people), engage in conquest and Empire building and relish in the supposed superiority. Yes, Europe has it hard liners, everybody does and they better get used to the fact that immigration can not be stopped, people will go where the money is (whether is the U.S. or Europe, have money will travel).
    Yet they are trying, honest to God trying to put over 2,000 years of warfare, destruction and insanity behind them while the Bush Administration and the pseudo-Xtristian followers (some of them anyway) seem to embrace what they clearly do not understand.

  • Rafael

    It all about the EGO. They identify so strongly with the symbols of their affection, that any critique, ever so sly or coy, againts a political leader, such as Bush, sends them into an frenzy. They see themselves as been under attack. They only protest when the same political leaders them turn around and treat them as they treat everybody else.
    Harriet Myers anyone….

  • Shaun

    I’m not off my meds…they just don’t seem to be working.
    But after being called “crass and uncultured” by somebody moving to France because of how “elegant, learned and sophisticated” they are, I’m proud of myself for not having a full meltdown. Seriously, I’m gonna vomit.
    Momly: “why do people who fall all over themselves to defend this administration identify so strongly with them?” O contraire momly, the question is, why do people who criticize this administration feel such a need to distance themselves from America to the point of identifying with arrogant Europe or some anti-democratic monarchy in the Middle East? Now that’s ‘insecurity’.
    By the way guys, not that you care but I never defended Rice’s diplomacy, only her pedigree. But, I’d be willing to bet Solana comes out of this looking just as lame as she does…
    More importantly: “never ask a question to which you do not know or like the answer”…isn’t that a pretentious platitude? No? Then somebody explain the elegant, learned and sophisticated wisdom of it to me, please, because I just don’t see it…

  • black dog barking

    “General Wesley Clark once asked Solana the secret of his diplomatic success. He answered: “Make no enemies, and never ask a question to which you do not know or like the answer.”
    The minister from the EU, in response to a question, describes the essence of diplomacy in one sentence. It is succinct and clear. Don’t ask about someone’s children unless you know the kids are alive and well. Follow this advice and you’ll diplomatically avoid uncomfortable silences and quick exits.
    Here in Nebraska we call it pretentious if you manage a complete sentence without swearing or farting. So, yes, Minister Solana is pretentious.

  • Cactus

    PTateinFR: Congrats. With you in France and The Bag in Spain, our international-ness should improve. Looking forward to it.
    Shaun is acting like a 3-year-old who wants to play in the sand box with the rest of the neocons. But, alas, he still hasn’t learned to talk to adults. Notice how he misquotes others to make his “criticism” easier. Typical of a lazy mind. Perhaps, like a lot of 3-yo’s he just wants to disrupt our discussions so he can garner our attention. Makes him feel almost four. Do you suppose if we just ignore him, he will go away?
    Now, about the second photo. It was apparently taken by an Asian photographer during the recent conference. However, since the Twin Towers was a rather iconic image world wide, I find it hard to believe that it was not in the photographer’s mind. Mixing the image of Asian towers with protests of Rice/USA was probably just too good to miss. Someone suggested the agriculture connection and I think that’s spot on. Farmers around the globe are being hurt by the oppressive tactics of chemical companies and their ‘improved’ seeds. Perhaps jt from BC can comment on the problems Canadian farmers in the west are having with a certain chemical firm. I’ve just heard reports on LinkTV about it. Perhaps, even, the protestor was trying to make a pun on Rice’s name.

  • PTate in FR

    Shaun: Wow. Wow. Breathe in peace. Breathe out fear. You took my comment about “crass and uncultured” PERSONALLY???
    I find it so fascinating that Bushco and the media have been trying to attribute that European elite air to C Rice–fashionable, learned, cultured, elegant, a diplomat, etc–even as they diss the same qualities in “Old Europe”. So what is it with Conservatives and Europe: envy? ignorance? lack of perspective? competition? The culture wars extended to a new front?
    Cactus: It should be an interesting two years! I’m looking forward to it though.

  • floopmeister

    “Then somebody explain the elegant, learned and sophisticated wisdom of it to me, please, because I just don’t see it…” Shaun
    Yes, you really don’t.
    I think that illustrates the point quite well, no?

  • floopmeister

    Oh, and BTW Shaun:
    “They’re not putting stingy foreign-aid policies…”
    This is the first hint that you have absolutely no idea what the hell your talking about, Shaun. You certainly don’t have anything to do with international aid, because this comment is simply risible.
    “…and nobody gives a shit what he thinks anyway (you had to look him up on wiki).”
    Except Condi apparently has to listen now. Funny how the world turns.

  • jt from BC

    Cactus, thanks I’m delighted to add my 2 cents worth,
    Five years on and $ 200,000 (retirement saving) gone to fight Monsanto to a losing draw this seventy year old farmer, is the canary in the mine, its a costly business defending ones basic rights. Looks like he will not be retiring or stop fighting either.
    The Classic David vs Goliath is not forced to pay Monsanto anything as he did not profit from the presence of Roundup Ready canola in his fields. This issue started with Monsanto demanding Schmeiser pay the $15/acre technology fee and in the end, Schmeiser did not have to pay (*click for a short charming talk)
    “I believe that this ruling is an injustice and Parliament must act to ensure that farmer’s rights are protected. The playing field between farmer rights and the bio-tech companies rights has been tilted towards the companies with this decision.”
    He may have had folks like Shaun in mind when he made this historical and informative statement.
    “I felt very strongly about it because my grandparents came here from Europe in late 1890s and early 1900s to open this land, to be free, and to grow what they wanted to grow. Now we are going back to a feudal system that they left because they were not free—basically we are becoming serfs of the land.”

  • ummabdulla

    It’s kind of exciting that PTate is going to France and the BAG is going to Spain. I hope you and your families have great experiences there.

  • Peanut

    …And I’m so jealous I could spit!

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