it appears, but with us it becomes ridiculous, because we are arnmeeting-place of peoples—Greeks, Normans, Arabs.” D’Alemarnforgets to mention that Greeks, Normans, and Arabs (asrnwell as Carthaginians, Goths, Lombards, Frenchmen,rnSpaniards, and Austrians) came as conquerors. He also overlooksrnthe obvious fact diat most of Italy’s conquerors were ethnicrncousins, and that most invaders shared a common religionrnand a common culture that are enhrely foreign to the Kurds,rnAlbanians, and Somalis who are currently taking up residencernas clients of the Italian welfare state.rnAs if to prove that the right can be as destructive as the left,rnItaly’s tycoon “conservative,” Sylvio Berlusconi, has now sidedrnwith the Turks and virtually recognized the state of TurkishrnCyprus, currently menaced by the sale of Russian missiles tornthe Greek Cypriots. The Greeks have the effrontery to want torndefend their lives and property against the Turks.rnParisrnNot so long ago, a man’s level of civilization could be measured,rnalmost literally, by the size of his French vocabulary.rn(Never by his accent. A good accent, I remind myself, is alwaysrnin bad taste: It puts one on the same level with the Frogs.)rnFrench is now about as much used in American schools as ancientrnGreek, and even when there are courses, the studentsrnlearn little or no French, except for schoolboy slang. It was myrnson’s third-year French book that taught me “dingue,” and I amrndelighted when a French mother corrects her seven-year-oldrnson, telling him to say “fou” instead.rnOn Sunday, I go to Notre Dame, despite the signs warningrntourists to stay out—the American and Japanese tourists are foreverrnwandering in and out. The older American women arernthe worst: Bursting out of their jeans and jogging suits, they lookrnlike overfed seals wearing fanny packs, barking and gabblingrnabout their shopping. They long ago jettisoned any evidence ofrnfemininity without ever acquiring the small virtues of thernAmerican male—a kind of shy inoffensiveness that some foreignersrncontinue to find endearing.rnIn several days of meetings with French conservatives, paganrnas well as Catholic, the inevitable topic—approached as delicatelyrnas the rumor that one has cancer—is America’s role inrnthe world. With a kindness and delicacy I had not expected,rnthey ruefully explain that they cannot help regarding the UnitedrnStates as the enemy both of European civilization and ofrnworld peace. Many French conservatives believe that Clintonrnwill seize any pretext, no matter how slim, for bombing Iraq,rnand over dinner with the leader of the Nouvelle Droite, wernagree that the bombs will probably fall before Christmas. Irnwonder, vaguely, the next day (December 14) if the tight securityrnat Charles de Gaulle is an indication that something is up.rnRockfordrnI am happy to board the flight to Chicago, and not only becausernthe United stewardesses are pretty and gracious French girls,rnwho make my free seat in steerage seem like first class. Asrnmuch as I admire French and Italian conservatives, they are thernsubjects of the imperium americanum, and even though wernhere in the States are as much victims of this regime as anyone,rnit is comforting to think that the evil empire is, at least, our evilrnempire. I’m back, back, back in the U.S.S.A.rnDICTATIONSrnWords of Mass DestructionrnHow many changes have been rung on this onernphrase: Weapons Of Mass Destruction. We arerntold we must eliminate the threat of, degrade hisrncapacity to employ, send a clear signal that we will not toleraternthe existence of Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of MassrnDestruction. Secretaries Cohen and Albright both insertedrnthe key phrase into every possible sentence, sometimesrnmore than once, and as journalists picked up the rhythmicrnchant, most of the American people obediently goosernstepped their way to the same beat.rnTlie technique of indoctrination is not new. There arerntwo essential ingredients: first, the selection of a vacuousrnphrase, which—because it is meaningless—cannot bernchallenged; then the repetition of the mantra in every conceivablerncontext until tiie words acquire the hypnotic forcernto c]uell both rational arginnent and moral scruples.rnWliat do journalists have in mind when they obedientlyrnrepeat “Weapons of Mass Destruction (WOMD)”? Ourrnimmediate thought is of nuclear weapons, even thoughrnSaddam’s nuclear capacity was eliminated first by the Israelisrnand tlien by the U.S. Air Force. Well, if not nuclear,rnthen biological and chemical weapons. But in all threerncategories of WOMD, the United States is the unchallengedrnleader, followed by Russia, Britain, France, India,rnPaki-stan, Israel, and Soutli Africa.rn”But,” honk the gaggle of goslings trailing afterrnMadeleine Mother of All Battles, “Saddam is the onlyrnleader who has actually used his WOMD.” Oh? And wernare to believe tliat the U.S. did not use chemical weaponsrnin Viehiam? “But what if some madman like Saddam gotrnhis hands on nuclear weapons, and what if he were to usernthem?” It is not an Iraqi, though, but an American secretaryrnof state who says that the high civilian death rate inrnIraq—higher than at Hiroshima—is an acceptable price tornpay for tlie United State’s imdefined political and militaryrnobjectives in Iraq.rnWeaponsofmassdestructionweaponsofmassdestruction.rnKeep on saying it long enough, and you will hear, inrnbetween the spaces, similar phrases like “running dogs ofrnYankee imperialisiri,” “un-American activities,” and “ArbeitrnMacht Frei.” ‘f’he revolution changes its name andrnpicks up new gangsters to run the operations under rewrittenrnmission statements, but the project never changes, andrnthe method never changes.rnBut why take Humpty’s word for it, when you can readrnthe words of the ma-ster: “Die breite Masse eiiies Volkes einergrossenrnLiige leichter ziim Opfer fdllt ah einer kleinen.”rnBig weapons, big lies. If we cannot reclaim our languagernfrom the demagogues, we are not fit to be a free people.rn—Humpty Dumptyrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn