When local democracy is at risk

We here at POSTRmagazine really hate to say we told you so but we did tell you back in 2009 that Pieter De Crem, current Minister of Defence in Belgium, is a threat to our democracy. You must know that Pete is also the Major of a city called Aalter and with local elections coming closer the opposition in Aalter decided not to run for elections because it simply wouldn’t have any effect on how the city is run and who it is run by. That’s right, the De Crem dynasty have been running Aalter for the last 48 years.

In light of these developments we decided to publish our story again.

THE BLAND FACE OF DANGER
An altar boy with assault codes

Pieter De Crem is a dangerous man. Not because he’s the Secretary of Defense and accordingly also sort of the supreme commander of Belgium’s elite fighting forces. Not because he gets drunk during state-sponsored trips to New York and makes an ass out of himself while representing our already ridiculous excuse for a nation halfway across the world. Not even because he’s the embodiment of irony, being a Christian in charge of defense matters (turn the other cheek, remember?). This man is dangerous because he went on the record as saying that blogs are dangerous. Yes, you read it right. Blogs. Dangerous. Flee in terror and don’t turn back for your precious belongings or left-behind toddlers, our Defense secretary has declared a Blogging Threat Level 5.

According to Petey, the blogosphere is a dangerous thing because it allows anybody to just say whatever he or she wants on a public forum. Anything! About anyone or anything they feel like talking about! Without being held accountable for it! This is an outrage! Being the critical audience that we aim for, you might not take our word for it, what with this being the 21st century, and with us having had freedom of speech for quite some time now and all. Ok, then let us quote the good man himself:

“I want to use this non-event to point out a dangerous phenomenon in our society. We are living in an era where everybody is completely free to post on blogs at their own whim, without any responsibility whatsoever. This even surpasses the most rabid smearing campaigns. And together with you Mr. Chairman, my other colleagues in parliament and the government, I have to conclude that it is nearly impossible to defend oneself against this sort of thing. Every one of you is a potential victim. And I ask of you that we all contemplate this matter.”

Wow. Dangerous. Free to post. Potential victim. Yes, god forbid a critical citizen speaks of a figure as public as a politician, someone who of all people has been elected by the people. Of course, this sort of talk is always the result of a tangible case. In this particular scenario (the non-event he mentioned earlier in his tirade), the anyone was a Dutch waitress working in a New York bar; and the something she wrote about was our minister of defense tumbling into her establishment of employment in a drunken stupor while on a government assignment. A governmental mission to the UN, to be exact. He was supposed to have a load of meetings with a bunch of other officials about some topic or other, meetings that later turned out never to have taken place because half of the people who were supposed to be there were somewhere in Europe discussing something entirely different. Anyhoo, when a member of the opposition asked him about whether or not he knew of this mass Inattendance before he hopped on an A130 to the Big Apple, Mr. De Crem cleverly sidetracked the matter and focused instead on his own set of hurt feelings. Either way, in the end the woman got fired from her job after a phone call had been made from his cabinet to the B.Cafe in New York City.

The most amazing part of the story is perhaps the round of applause that befell poor Crembo after delivering his heart-felt speech to his fellow members of parliament. Everyone seemed to have forgotten that the man had gone on a fully paid trip to New York when he knew (how could he not know?) that the majority of the meetings he was scheduled to attend, had been cancelled, or that he had a woman fired (don’t deny it, what did you think the manager of the restaurant was going to do after a phone call from a Minister of Defense, for crap’s sake) for taking up her responsibility as a concerned civilian. In conclusion, Pete added that he would be talking to his staff (which is like, the army, man) to evaluate how the esteemed minister and his integrity could be better protected from these sorts of vicious attacks in the future. Mr. De Crem, if you’re reading this: the Belgian military is not your personal goon-squad, and the thing about your alleged integrity is that it is something that can only be protected by you. How, you might ask? For example by not being drunk out of your ass when going on a non-justified, tax-funded trip to New York. Goddammit.

Another reason that the High Commander of Aalter is dangerous is the fact that he doesn’t always do what he says he will, and he doesn’t always say what he’s going to do. For example, when he sent a bunch of Belgian soldiers over to Afghanistan, he said they weren’t going to participate in any field operations, instead retaining a strictly a formative role by working as advisors and instructors in the training of Afghani soldiers. However, they turned out to be patrolling right alongside these soldiers during a weapons raid that took place on a dusty Monday in April, in Kunduz, swinging their guns around and shouting orders.
Now we’re not saying that it’s wrong to take weapons from terrorists, but we do think that it’s wrong when a minister of defense lies about what our troops are doing. It seems that Pieter De Crem wants to paint a big bull’s-eye on Belgium, just to show that he won’t be deterred in his mission to become the Warlord of Western Europe. Really P, who are you trying to shock & awe? Those terrorists hiding in their sandy dunes and humid caves under Afghan soil, or the big shots from NATO and the USA who wear three-piece suits and whose favorite pastime is taking out rural settlements with $84,000 Sidewinder missiles?
Another Crembo classic was the one where he absent-mindedly admitted that the military base at Kleine Brogel had a nuclear capacity. When asked about it, he was all like ‘duh of course it does, what are you, like, retarded?’ when NATO has always considered it good practice to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear warheads in any base, ever. Not for you, ey? Never mind that a report by US scientists recently declared a lot of nuclear bases (including Kleine Brogel) as dangerously unsafe, claiming they needed to be either revised or closed, you just had to shoot off your big mouth and tell everybody that we have a couple of nuclear bombs lying around in a military base that has been deemed unsafe by experts. About the unsafe condition of the base itself, no further statement was made. Not important.

So yes, Pieter De Crem is definitely dangerous. He is a pathological megalomaniac, a Napoleonesk general who doesn’t feel the need to either motivate or seek support for his policies. He does what he feels like, and the rest of parliament and the public need to accept his decisions, simply because of the fact that he is the one who makes them. If he could, he’d probably answer every critical question with “because I say so.” If we had a properly functioning democracy, he’d be a menace to it, not only because he blatantly disregards democratic principles, but also because he’s pushing our country higher and higher on the terrorist hit list, without being able to provide the military fire power or intelligence to deter or disarm potential attacks. A word of advice to Le Crem: quit your day job and rack up your little gang of reactionary military thugs, take a complimentary C-130 ride to Afghanistan and become the warlord of your own little province. Then you can go after who ever you want without bearing the flag of a country that never gave you the democratic mandate to do what you’re doing.

MILITARY COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

Pieter De Crem is the mayor of Aalter, just like his daddy was before him. This family dynasty has led the people of Aalter to rename the local city hall. It is now lovingly or grudgingly referred to as ‘The Cremlin’.

Even though Pieter De Crem is quite the tough-talking Minister of Defense, he himself never actually was in the army. Now we can hear you thinking: “didn’t they have a draft back in those days, and wasn’t everybody supposed to serve his time in the military?”. Yes, they did, and yes, they were. But Pieter De Crem was granted a free pass for ‘medical reasons’. We reckon he was granted a free pass because his daddy was the major, because as far as we can see, there’s nothing that indicates that he couldn’t have done the job. Great way to serve your country, Pete!

This article was first published in POSTRmagazine #2: The Politics Issue — June 2009

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