Saturday, March 15, 2014


RT | As I took in the opening night of Vancouver Opera’s Don Giovanni on the weekend, I realized there was something vaguely familiar about the libertine protagonist.

The unrepentant sociopath whose conquests number in the thousands and who remains indifferent to the pain and suffering he’s caused, didn’t just remind me of my ex boyfriend. 

No, there was something more in his smug hubris, his unabated appetites, something that recalled dramas happening outside the theatre, in the Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe. And then it dawned on me: Don Giovanni’s predatory technique of seduction and abandonment is nothing less than the modus operandum of US Foreign Policy. 

As jilted politicos – from Noriega to the Shah of Iran to Saddam Hussein – can attest, the only thing worse than being an enemy of the US is being a former ally. 

And yet the amazing thing is, just as with the seductive Don, people keep falling for the same tired old lines. “I think you’re really special, and I want to liberate you. Of course I’m not only interested in your oil fields. Your people deserve an autonomous state.” And let’s not forget the classic: “I’m here to bring you freedom and democracy honey.”
Why is it that so many folks – from the Free Syrian Army to the Ukrainian ‘rebels’ – are happy to sing Là ci darem la mano with their handsome suitor and head off to his gleaming palace, damning precedents notwithstanding? 

While Don Giovanni’s conquests, as Leporello tells his spurned lover Dona Elvira in the famous ‘Madamina, il catalogo è questo’ (‘My dear lady, this is the catalogue’) include ‘640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, but in Spain, 1,003’, he still keeps on truckin’, preying on women of all shapes, sizes and nationalities. 

To date, as professor Zoltan Grossman notes, in his ‘History of US Military Interventions since 1890’, from Wounded Knee to Chile to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the US has lots of ‘splainin to do.
They sure broke a lot of hearts in 1956 Budapest, 1968 Prague and 1991 in Southern Iraq to name only a few. And yet, just as the decidedly un-self-aware Don Giovanni, the US continues to sell itself as the apparently amnesiac romantic rescuer of the world’s unloved.


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