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04.18.2003

Interview With Daniel Cohn-Bendit

One of the best things about the country of my birth is that, since the fall of Communism, the print media have been second to none. Much of this is thanks to the former dissident Adam Michnik, and the daily newspaper he founded, Gazeta Wyborcza. I don't know enough about contemporary journalism to praise the paper properly - all I know is that it manages to be sharp, funny, and fair at the same time. There is a lot to be said for journalists whose formative years were spent under a totalitarian regime. They tend to lack a certain credulousness with regard to authority.

Today the Gazeta Wyborcza ran a fascinating interview with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a French activist who played a leading role in the 1968 protests that were a defining moment for a generation of young people across Europe. Cohn-Bendit is far from a political caricature - he's a Green, and an opponent of the current American invasion of Iraq, but he's also the Jewish son of refugees from Germany, and carries a great hatred for dictators. His audience in this interview is a Polish public that is supportive of the United States, but very skeptical of the ideological motives behind American policy. That is, an ambivalent audience, if you can imagine such a thing.

The article is provocatively entitled "Bolsheviks in the White House", after Cohn's thesis that the current administration has an ideological view of history immune to persuasion. I am posting a translation of the interview with hopes that it will provide you with a little fresh air. Whether you agree with Cohn or not, the interview gives a perspective from Europe that I haven't seen reflected anywhere in our own press.

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