Daniel Butenschøn

Archive for juni, 2010|Monthly archive page

A time to appease

In meninger on juni 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Appeasement-politikken før Den andre verdenskrig har blitt stilt i et grelt, etterpåklokt lys, skriver Yale-historikeren Paul Kennedy i The American Interest. Med amerikansk makt strukket til bristepunktet mener han det er på tide å revurdere denne praksis. Bare ikke si selve ordet høyt.

“APPEASEMENT!” WHAT a powerful term it has become, growing evermore in strength as the decades advance. It is much stronger a form of opprobrium than even the loaded “L” word, since Liberals are (so their opponents charge) people with misguided political preferences; but talk of someone being an Appeaser brings us to a much darker meaning, that which involves cowardice, abandoning one’s friends and allies, failing to recognize evil in the world—a fool, then—or recognizing evil but then trying to buy it off—a knave. Nothing so alarms a president or prime minister in the Western world than to be accused of pursuing policies of appeasement. Better to be accused of stealing from a nunnery, or beating one’s family.

So it is a rather risky enterprise even for an academic to ask, in a scholarly way, whether acts of appeasing a rival might not sometimes be a good thing. You wanted to continue negotiations with Saddam Hussein? Appeaser. To avoid criticizing Chinese policies in Tibet? Appeaser. To wriggle out of Afghanistan? Appeaser. To give in to French air controllers’ wage demands? App . . . Well. Before such abuse of the term gets worse, perhaps we should all take a small History lesson.


The runaway general

In reportasjer on juni 24, 2010 at 7:37 am

Den glimrende artikkelen i Rolling Stone Magazine som førte til Stanley McChrystals avgang som Obamas øverstkommanderende i Afghanistan.

Ingressen gir løfter om massevis av temperatur, som teksten innfrir.

Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.

How’d I get screwed into going to this dinner?» demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It’s a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He’s in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actuallyhave allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany’s president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.

«The dinner comes with the position, sir,» says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.

McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.

«Hey, Charlie,» he asks, «does this come with the position?»

McChrystal gives him the middle finger.


In reportasjer on juni 22, 2010 at 8:34 am
Fortapt i de katastrofale konsekvensene av oljesølet i Mexicogulfen er den såre historien om riggarbeiderne og kystvaktene som reddet dem. GQ har gjenskapt den lange, dramatiske natten.

Countdown to Disaster. 21 Days Before the Blast.
From the pasturelands outside a little Mississippi town called Liberty, Shane Roshto steers his pickup truck toward Houma, Louisiana, a bit more than four hours to the south. He’ll sleep in his truck tonight, Tuesday, March 30, in the parking lot at the heliport off Highway 24, and get up at dawn to meet the chopper that will fly him out to the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig floating over a mile-deep canyon in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kongene av Tier’n

In reportasjer on juni 21, 2010 at 11:27 am

Frognerbadet er arnested for verdens mest hårete stupestil. Sammen med Anders Kemp og Lars Petter Pettersen (foto) laget jeg denne forhåndsreportasjen til VM i Døds på Frognerbadet.

En mann klatrer over gjerdet på Frognerbadet i Oslo en tidlig torsdag, rett fra nachspiel. Han vrenger av seg klærne ved stupetårnet og seiler opp til tier’n i bokseren. Morgenstrekkdamer med plasthetter skuler opp mot den bråkjekke silhuetten over de gamle eiketrærne. Mannen lener seg godt over rekkverket mot Vigelandsparken for liksom å få ekstra fart, bykser frem og skyter over kanten.  Badevaktens walkietalkie spraker. Et sekund senere spriker mannen ut i mageplaskposituren som har gitt den vågale disiplinen sitt navn – armene strukket tilbake mot himmelen, brystkasse og buk frem. Vannflaten farer mot ham. Nå skal han så sent som mulig krøke seg sammen og smelle i vannet med leggskinn, knær og albuer først.
Det krever at han vet hvor vannflaten befinner seg.
Foreløpig gjør han ikke det.

PDF: Kongene av Tiern’n

The Godfather Wars

In feature on juni 21, 2010 at 7:57 am

På mange måter var mennene bak  «Gudfaren» – blant dem regissør Francis Ford Coppola, produsent Al Ruddy og Paramount-sjefene Robert Evans og Peter Bart – minst like hensynsløse som gangsterne i Mario Puzo’s bestselger, ifølge denne artikkelen i Vanity Fair. Etter voldelig krangel om castingen av Marlon Brando og Al Pacino, kom de i bråk med virkelighetens mafia –  som ikke ville ha filmen laget i det hele tatt. Artikkelforfatter Mark Seal minnes hvordan møtet mellom Hollywood-haier, mafiabosser og filmgenier førte til et mesterverk.

Artikkelen ledsages av Steve Schapirosepiske  innspillingsbilder i «The Godfather Family Album».

During the 1960s, a dirty, loaded word came into currency: Mafia. It signified one of the most terrifying forces on earth, the Italian-American faction of organized crime, and naturally the men who headed this force wanted to keep the word from being spoken, if not obliterate it altogether. When it became the basis of a best-selling book, and the book was sold to the movies, those men decided that they had to take action.
It all began in the spring of 1968, when a largely unknown writer named Mario Puzo walked into the office of Robert Evans, the head of production at Paramount Pictures. He had a big cigar and a belly to match, and the all-powerful Evans had consented to take a meeting with this nobody from New York only as a favor to a friend. Under the writer’s arm was a rumpled envelope containing 50 or 60 pages of typescript, which he desperately needed to use as collateral for cash.
“In trouble?,” Evans asked.

Når ingen nyheter er dårlige nyheter

In feature on juni 21, 2010 at 7:40 am

En tidligere redaksjonsleder i Chicago Tribune, James Warren, undersøker avisindustriens kollaps og forsøker – for det meste uten hell – å finne håp for fremtidens journalistikk.

To give you an idea of the state of journalism today, I probably couldn’t do better than to tell you something about John Crewdson, a big, burly guy just past age 60, with whom I worked when I ran the Washington bureau of the Tribune. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on immigration at The New York Times in 1981, and is one of the premier investigative reporters of his generation.
In journalism’s new Internet-dominated landscape, in which attitude and attack are often valued more than precision and truth, handiwork like Crewdson’s is seen as taking too long and costing too much. His situation is hardly unique—the other investigative reporter at the Tribune’s D.C. bureau was told to leave at the same time, as was the top investigator at the Washington bureau of The Los Angeles Times, which is also owned by the Tribune Company. But as an example of journalism’s very best, Crewdson’s dismissal is a symbol of the extent to which the news media are imploding. And that implosion is a development with far-reaching implications.

The things that carried him

In reportasjer on juni 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Chris Jones’ gripende historie i Esquire om en amerikansk soldats siste reise hjem. Ble nylig belønnet med prestisjetunge National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, og tåler å bli lest igjen to år etter publiseringen. 

Den begynner med slutten:

Indiana, The End

Don Collins stood in the sun and mapped out in his mind a rectangle on the grass, eight feet by three feet. He is forty-nine, wears a handful of pomade in his hair, and no longer needs a tape to take the measure of things.

Indiana state law dictates that the lid of the burial vault be two feet below the surface. That meant Collins had to dig down five feet, ultimately lifting out about a hundred cubic feet of earth. He wouldn’t need a tape to measure that, either. Since 1969, his father, Don Sr., has owned the Collins Funeral Home, just up Elm Street, just past the little yellow house with the two yellow ribbons tied to the tree out front. As a boy, Don Jr. had lived upstairs with the spirits and the rest of his family, over the chapel. He and his younger brother, Kevin, would later work with their dad in the back room, embalming the bodies of their neighbors at three o’clock in the morning, and he still assists his father in his capacity as coroner. But Don Jr. has had enough of bodies in back rooms. He likes it better outside, in the sticky air, working with the earth.

Den ukjente historien om verdens største diamanttyveri

In reportasjer on juni 15, 2010 at 8:19 am

Wired forteller historien om Leonardo Notarbartolo, som i februar 2003 ble arrestert som ringleder for en italiensk forbryterbande. De ble anklaget for å ha brutt seg inn i et hvelv to etasjer under Antwerp Diamond Center. De kom seg unna med 100 millioner dollar i diamanter, gull, edelstener og andre verdisaker. Hvelvet skulle være ugjennomtrengelig, med ti sikkerhetslag og infrarøde varmedetektorer, Doppler radar, magnetfelt, seismisk sensor og en lås med 100 millioner kombinasjoner. Det var århundrets brekk og politiet klarer fremdeles ikke å forklare hvordan det kunne skje.
Byttet ble aldri funnet, men Notarbartolo ble likevel dømt til 10 år i fengsel. Han har ikke villet snakke med journalister før nå.