Quotes: On Patience, and Resilience

“it is sometimes tiring to try to get the Vietnamese to do something which is, after all, for their own good (or so we think . . .). On the other hand, when I step back just a little to look at everything, it seems to me that the Vietnamese have taken our overbearing presence rather well over the last few years. We arrive here with no knowledge of the country or of the situation and immediately start giving advice, some of which we can really turn almost into orders because of the materials and money and transportation that we fully control. I think that no American would stand for such a deep and continuing interference in our affairs, even if it appeared that survival was at stake. Yet the Vietnamese accept it, and with rather good grace.”

– Richard Holbrooke as a young foreign service officer in Vietnam, quoted by George Packer in The Longest Wars in Foreign Affairs magazine.

“This part of the city belonged to the Westerners, and the Vietnamese here were in the business of making money off them—either by feeding them in the restaurants, selling them the items from the rickety stands, driving them about the city in the rusted cyclos, having sex with them, spying on them, or some combination of the above.”

– on Saigon, 1965 from Tatjana Soli in The Lotus Eaters

Quotes: Missed April Fools Day by a Day

Sunset through the haze over Dubai Creek, United Arab Emirates.

As everyone knows, oranges is another word for beginnings.

“I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges, the oranges of the investigation, the beginnings of that investigation.”

– our American president on the Mueller report, speaking to the press on 2 April, 2019.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m being unkind, hypercritical. He really said origins and just slurred it or something.

You can watch it here.

It came during remarks with the Secretary General of NATO, the defense collective the United States set up after the second world war, of which President Trump, a hotel owner accused of profiting from the presidency, is the de facto leader.

It came on the same day as an article at ForeignPolicy.com titled The American Empire Is the Sick Man of the 21st Century: Failure at the center has left the United States up for sale to the highest bidder.

The article gently points out that in one of the president’s hotels,

“located directly between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, … a Saudi-funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms in the month after the 2016 election.”

Update: On reflection, after all, the president is a go-to guy on orange.

Quotes: Dumbing Down, Fast as We Can

“TRUMP CUTS AID TO 3 MEXICAN COUNTRIES.”

It’s getting harder to argue this point, but to CS&W readers outside the United States, when the American cable network Fox News refers to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as “3 Mexican Countries,” there are lots of us who realize that that is a mistake. Honest.

Quotes: He Must Be Right

“And while MPs deserve credit for trying, there is unlikely to be a majority in the country for a deal cobbled together over a weekend on the basis of MPs’ third or fourth choices that could decide the next 100 years of our history.”

– Gordon Brown on the state of Brexit after the government plan’s third defeat.

Quotes: In Turkey, Food Police Are A Thing

Municipal elections are coming up in Turkey. Don’t fret, the police are on your side and they’re here to help:

Police officers walk the beat in grocery stores to monitor prices. Inspectors have seized tons of onions from warehouses, fining the owners for hoarding, even though storing the bulbs is common practice to prevent rot.

From Grocery Stores Are at the Front Line of Turkey’s Latest Political Battle.

Quotes: Bewildering Self-Harm

Today in the Brexit saga,

“Kent is going full steam ahead with its contingency plans to prevent gridlock on its roads in the event of congestion in Dover or Calais.

Concrete barriers have already been erected on the main port artery in Kent, with a section of the London-bound M20 between junction 8 and junction 9 now operating as a 50mph contraflow for normal traffic. Work on signage will be completed over the weekend.

The coastbound section will be closed off to all but lorry traffic from next week to allow Highways England to carry out a dry run to cope with possible chaos after 11pm on 29 March.”

Also,

“Manston airport near Ramsgate is in the final stages of preparation for use as a lorry park for up to 6,000 heavy goods vehicles in the event of gridlock.

Councillors will also hear from adult social care and health officers who have plans to minimise the risk of disruption to admissions of patients to hospitals, residential care homes and the supply of fuel, medication, cleaning and sanitation products.

Schools have also been issued with Brexit guidelines warning them to think twice before closing down in the event that staff cannot make it through the gridlock.”

From UK’s emergency plans for no-deal Brexit begin to be put into action in The Guardian.

•••••

Michael Hirsh writes elsewhere today that

“Britain’s humiliation has been a powerful lesson for even the most virulent populists and nationalists within the EU, rendering the idea of full exit all but unthinkable, a new political third rail.”

That may be wishful thinking, for also today, across the channel and just up the road, comes news that Far-right Forum for Democracy wins most seats in Dutch provincial elections.

Interesting times.

Quotes: Speeches of the Elite

John Lanchester from his new book, The Wall:

“I fell for a moment into a reverie, a kind of guided dream, in which I imagined baby members of the elite being born from chrysalises, already wearing their shiny suits, their ties pre-knotted, their first clichés already on their lips, being wiped down of cocoon matter and pushed toward a podium, ready to make their first big speech, spout their first platitude, lose their virginity at lying. They’d be made to do that before they were given any food or drink or comfort, just to make sure it was the thingthey knew first and best, the think that came most naturally.”