Tag Archives: United States

Yugoslavia: Yeah, you found a very cool stamp. Do you have any clue what it means?

12 Nov

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It shows the extreme lengths that the Yugoslav government went to throughout the 1920s and 1930s to hold the country together, under Crown Prince and then King Aleksandar — also known as Aleksandar the Unifier.  At some point during his reign, I think after it became clear that Croatian separatism was determined to obstruct the functioning of the Skupština and the Yugoslav government in any way possible, Aleksandar redrew the constituent regions of Yugoslavia which corresponded to various ethnic groups, and introduced new administrative banovine which were given the ethnically neutral names of the main rivers that ran through each region.

And yet even despite those reforms Serbs still tried to placate Croatian separatists by allowing them — and only them — to retain an ethnic name for its historical region: what’s shown as the “Hrvatska Banovina” on your stamp.

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There is, I think, in much of Serbian pride, or even in Serbian arrogance, a certain sense of what in Greek we call φιλότιμο, “love of honor” crudely put; perhaps a better term would be “noblesse oblige”.  Since Serbs and Serbian blood pretty much created Yugoslavia singlehandedly, by fighting off the Austrians and defeating the Ottomans (along with guaranteeing us possession of Salonica ’cause they kept the Bulgarians busy while Greek Crown Prince Constantine strolled into the city like the conquering hero), you might have expected that they would work to keep a Serbian kingdom ,under the Карађорђевић (Karađorđević) dynasty, where all other ethnic groups — who did nothing to fight for south Slav independence, except tangentially the Macedonians — would simply be subject peoples to the Serbian crown.  Instead, they made a sincere and honest attempt to make the noble experiment of south Slav unity actually work, democratically and harmoniously.  There was even an ideological current running through Serbian intellectual circles of a plan for unification with Bulgaria and even Greece into one greater Balkan state, which would have made it harder for the West to push us around and fuck us up like they did and do; maybe even made us more valuable to the West than Turkey, the tail which wags the Western/US/NATO dog.

And I think King Aleksandar, for all his theoretical faults, was a genuine personification of that sense of Serbian noblesse oblige and ἀρχοντι.

And for his efforts he was assassinated in Marseille in 1934 by a Macedonian separatist in cahoots with the nasty-piece-of-work, Vatican-supported, Croatian Über-Nazi Ustaše.

And that’s what your cool stamp is all about, Charlie Brown.

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King Aleksandar I

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

Who knew the Andrews Sisters were Greek-American from Minnesota?

12 Nov

They certainly looked Greek.

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And my — and probably everyone’s — favorite song: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.  Is it distressing or heroic and valiant that such a peppy song was popular at such a dark time?  They toured extensively wherever there was American military during WWII and entertained men who were almost certain to face horrendous violence and brutal, mass death.  The soldiers, sailors and marines adored them.  And I don’t think the men in the video are actors, but real draftees.

Sometimes I miss America.  I don’t mean New York; I always miss New York.  But sometimes I miss for-real America, like the real thing.

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I’ve become obsessed with this video partly because I can’t forgive myself for being as musically illiterate as I am and I’m desperately trying to understand what “eight to the bar” means.  Until recently I was obsessed with trying to understand what syncopation means — after finally understanding what chromaticism and melisma are, because they’re so crucial to the music of our parts.  But otherwise…I have a very musically literate best friend who explains it all to me and it just goes way over my head.  I rarely feel so stupid.

Lyrics below for those who haven’t heard the song twenty million times and didn’t wear out the vinyl in a month like I did when I first bought it :)

He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way.
He had a boogie style that no one else could play.
He was the top man at his craft,
But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft.
He’s in the army now, a blowin’ reveille.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam.
It really brought him down because he couldn’t jam.
The captain seemed to understand,
Because the next day the cap’ went out and drafted a band.
And now the company jumps when he plays reveille.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
A-Too-li-toot-li-ada, tootli-a-da, toot
He blows it eight to the bar in boogie rhythm.
He can’t blow a note unless a bass and guitar
Is playin’ with him.
He makes the company jump when he plays reveille.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
He was some boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
And when he played boogie woogie bugle
He was busy as a busy bee.
And when he plays he makes the company jump eight to the bar.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
Too-li-toot-li-ada, tootli-a-da, toot toot
He blows it eight to the bar
He can’t blow a note unless a bass and guitar
Isn’t with him.
Ha ha ha ha the company jump when he plays reveille,
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of company B.
He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night,
And wakes ’em up the same way in the early bright.
They clap their hands and stamp their feet,
because they know how it goes when someone gives him a beat.
He really breaks it up when he plays reveille
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of company B.
Ta ta ta ta-da, ta ta ta-da ta-da
And the company jumps when he plays reveille.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Macron: «᾽Ιδού ὁ νυμφίος ἔρχεται…» Not happy with his Balkan policy, but he’s the only man on the world political landscape today with anything even remotely resembling a redeeming vision.

10 Nov

The future of the EU — Emmanuel Macron warns Europe: NATO is becoming brain-dead

America is turning its back on the European project. Time to wake up, the French president tells The Economist

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During the hour-long interview, conducted in his gilt-decorated office at the Elysée Palace in Paris on October 21st, the president argues that it is high time for Europe to “wake up”. He was asked whether he believed in the effectiveness of Article Five, the idea that if one NATO member is attacked all would come to its aid, which many analysts think underpins the alliance’s deterrent effect. “I don’t know,” he replies, “but what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”

NATO, Mr Macron says, “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.” And America, in his view, shows signs of “turning its back on us,” as it demonstrated starkly with its unexpected troop withdrawal from north-eastern Syria last month, forsaking its Kurdish allies.

In President Donald Trump, Europe is now dealing for the first time with an American president who “doesn’t share our idea of the European project”, Mr Macron says. This is happening when Europe is confronted by the rise of China and the authoritarian turn of regimes in Russia and Turkey. Moreover, Europe is being weakened from within by Brexit and political instability.

This toxic mix was “unthinkable five years ago,” Mr Macron argues. “If we don’t wake up […] there’s a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear geopolitically, or at least that we will no longer be in control of our destiny. I believe that very deeply.”

Mr Macron’s energetic recent diplomatic activity has drawn a great deal of interest abroad, and almost as much criticism. He has been accused of acting unilaterally (by blocking EU enlargement in the Western Balkans), and over-reaching (by trying to engineer direct talks between America and Iran). During the interview, however, the president is in a defiant but relaxed mood, sitting in shirt sleeves on the black leather sofa he has installed in the ornate salon doré, where Charles de Gaulle used to work.

The French president pushes back against his critics, for instance arguing that it is “absurd” to open up the EU to new members before reforming accession procedures, although he adds that he is ready to reconsider if such conditions are met.

Mr Macron’s underlying message is that Europe needs to start thinking and acting not only as an economic grouping, whose chief project is market expansion, but as a strategic power. That should start with regaining “military sovereignty”, and re-opening a dialogue with Russia despite suspicion from Poland and other countries that were once under Soviet domination. Failing to do so, Mr Macron says, would be a “huge mistake”.

Dig Deeper

Cover leader (November 7th): “A continent in peril”
Briefing (November 7th): A president on a mission
Transcript: Emmanuel Macron in his own words

The Intelligence podcast: “He talked about Europe in almost apocalyptic terms”— Macron’s interview

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

NYT: Armenian Genocide — “For too long, Turkey bullied America into silence. Not anymore.” — Samantha Power

30 Oct

Not 100% sure how I feel about this; see “Screamers: Genocide: what is it and why do we need the term?.  I voice my major apprehensions there.

But “bully” is such an apt term for the Turkish Republic and the Turkish body politic (“thug” also comes to mind), that I think anything that puts Turkey in its place is a positive development.

29Power-sub-superJumboCredit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

Power’s money quotes:

Although Turkish officials may see the vote as retaliation for Turkey’s recent forced displacement of Syrian Kurds, that operation — as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s sweeping human rights crackdown in Turkey and his purchase (over American and NATO protests) of a Russian air defense system — simply reduced the impact of Turkish blackmail.

……..

First, as a baseline rule, for the sake of overall American credibility and for that of our diplomats, Washington officials must be empowered to tell the truth.

Over many years, because of the fear of alienating Turkey, diplomats have been told to avoid mentioning the well-documented genocide. In 2005, when John Evans, the American ambassador to Armenia, said that “the Armenian genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century,” he was recalled and forced into early retirement. Stating the truth was seen as an act of subordination.

When I became ambassador to the United Nations in 2013, I worried that I would be asked about the Armenian genocide and that when I affirmed the historical facts, I could cause a diplomatic rupture.

Second, when bullies feel their tactics are working, they generally bully more — a lesson worth bearing in mind in responding to threats from China and Saudi Arabia. The Turkish government devotes millions of dollars annually to lobbying American officials and lawmakers: more than $12 million during the Obama administration, and almost as much during the first two years of the Trump presidency. Turkish officials have threatened to respond to genocide recognition by suspending lucrative financial ties with American companies, reducing security cooperation and even preventing resupply of our troops in Iraq.

On Friday, the Turkish ambassador warned that passage of the “biased” House resolution would “poison” American-Turkish relations, and implied that it would jeopardize Turkish investment in the United States which provides jobs for a “considerable number of American citizens.”

It is easy to understand why any commander in chief would be leery of damaging ties with Turkey, an important ally in a turbulent neighborhood. But Turkey has far more to lose than the United States in the relationship. The United States helped build up Turkey’s military, brought it into NATO and led the coalition that defeated the Islamic State, which carried out dozens of attacks on Turkish soil. Over the past five years, American companies have invested some $20 billion in Turkey.

If Mr. Erdogan turns further away from a relationship that has been immensely beneficial for Turkey in favor of deepening ties with Russia or China, it will not be because the House voted to recognize the Armenian genocide. It will be because his own repressive tactics are coming to resemble those of the Russian and Chinese leaders. [my emphases]

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“The final prayer heralds a new beginning: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…to achieve lasting peace among all nations.””

24 Nov

I’m usually not particularly moved by Thanksgiving, but Roger Cohen‘s piece in yesterday’s Times was great:America: the Redeemer Nation.

Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 1.57.41 PMAbraham Lincoln, February 1865. Credit Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress, via Getty Images

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“Shaming…” is, itself, repulsive.

18 Nov

But I knew it’d come to this.

This article on dealing with male sexual abuse, How to Stop the Predators Who Aren’t Famous, uses the word “to shame” for how to deal with sexual predators (whatever that is or, rather, whoever we choose to define as such) several times, without the slightest compunction or socio-historical apprehensions that that word should carry with it.

Our mission should be a cold, legal, detached one that will make sure that the men who committed these acts of emotional and/or physical violence to vulnerable others are brought to justice. (And women, though I remember how many were baying for Brigitte Macron’s blood when her husband first took office and it churns my stomach.)  It’s not to make a moral example of them.

The need “to shame” is as dangerous — if not more — and revolting as the behavior we would like it to stigmatize.  It’s a moralizing, slippery slope, one that has proven particularly dangerous in American history.  I know the sweet hard-on many Americans seem to experience at the public humiliation and character assassination of an individual.  Resist it.

Hester Prynne

From @hester__pynne

And see my Michael Phelps posts.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Mapping the Greek diaspora

17 Nov

 

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Mapping the Greek diaspora from Ekathimerini — YANNIS PALAIOLOGOS

We’re definitely blue-staters, no surprise.  Wish I knew what the different colors mean.  Cluster of orange tacks around New York metropolitan area and southern New England suggest a higher percentage of recent arrivals?

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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