In July 2008, the government of Georgia was under considerable pressure: Russia was organizing provocations in two regions of our country and amassing troops at our border. Almost every Western politician to whom my government raised concerns in those days said that Russia would not attack and urged us to keep calm and not react to Russian moves. My friend Otto von Habsburg, one of Europe’s most experienced politicians, was less reassuring. He bluntly predicted that Russia would attack with all the military might at its disposal, no matter what Georgia did to avoid such an outcome. History repeats itself, he told me.
A few weeks later, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers crossed our border, and planes started bombing us round the clock. While Vladimir Putin failed to achieve his ultimate goal, to take over Georgia’s capital, his troops still occupy a fifth of my country’s territory.
There are striking similarities between the early stages of Russian aggression against Georgia and what is happening in Ukraine. Watching recent events and the global response, I keep thinking about history repeating itself — and other instances of aggression in Europe.
In the 1930s, Nazi Germany occupied part of neighboring Czechoslovakia under the pretext of protecting ethnic Germans. Today, Russia is claiming to protect ethnic Russians — or people with hastily distributed Russian passports — in Crimea or Georgian territories. In September 1938, when Germany annexed the Sudetenland, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain called the situation “a quarrel in a far-away country, between people of whom we know nothing.” Similarly, some today question whether the West should bother about Ukraine, saying Russia has more at stake than the West. Many in the West are talking about the need to reach some kind of compromise with Russia, an option that smacks of Munich 80 years ago. They claim to be motivated by such common strategic interests as nonproliferation and the fight against terrorism; by the same token, under the guise of needing to contain the Soviet Union and stop the spread of communism, Chamberlain reached a deal with Hitler. Now, of course, we know that all attempts to appease the Nazis led the big European powers to feed one country after another to Hitler and, ultimately, led to World War II.
Such global catastrophes are what happens when the established international order collapses and rules no longer apply. Ukraine is just the most vivid recent demonstration. Imagine if Ukraine hadn’t given up its considerable nuclear arsenal in the 1990s. To persuade the Ukrainians to do so, the United States and Britain, together with Russia, signed agreements guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine giving its weapons to Russia. And yet, here we are.
But then, the European Union and Russia signed an agreement providing for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia in 2008. Russia never complied — something our European guarantors seldom mention.
Putin’s motivations are similar to those of prewar Germany: He wants to rectify what he sees as unjust treatment and humiliation by Western powers after the Cold War. He is trying to reconquer lost lands and grab natural resources. Little has been said about the offshore oil resources in Abkhazia that the Russian state monopoly Rosneft confiscated in 2009. U.S. companies have invested considerably in shale gas fields off Crimea. But Ukraine’s emergence as self-sufficient in energy, and even a major gas exporter to Europe, would be Putin’s ultimate nightmare."
Has anyone noticed Clark Kent looks a little bit like Superman?
Don’t be ridiculous. Superman doesn’t wear glasses.
I keep telling you guys: he takes them off when he transforms.
That doesn’t make any sense, he wouldn’t be able to see.
Okay, okay, I’m going to tell you what Hermione sees in Ron.
A trio is a balancing act, right? They’re equalizers of each other. Harry’s like the action, Hermione’s the brains, Ron’s the heart. Hermione has been assassinated in these movies, and I mean that genuinely—by giving her every single positive character trait that Ron has, they have assassinated her character in the movies. She’s been harmed by being made to be less human, because everything good Ron has, she’s been given.
So, for instance: “If you want to kill Harry, you’re going to have to kill me too”—RON, leg is broken, he’s in pain, gets up and stands in front of Harry and says this. Who gets that line in the movie? Hermione.
“Fear of a name increases the fear of the thing itself.” Hermione doesn’t say Voldemort’s name until well into the books—that’s Dumbledore’s line. When does Hermione say it in the movies? Beginning of Movie 2.
When the Devil’s Snare is curling itself around everybody, Hermione panics, and Ron is the one who keeps his head and says “Are you a witch or not?” In the movie, everybody else panics and Hermione keeps her head and does the biggest, brightest flare of sunlight spell there ever was.
So, Hermione—all her flaws were shaved away in the films. And that sounds like you’re making a kick-ass, amazing character, and what you’re doing is dehumanizing her. And it pisses me off. It really does.
In the books, they balance each other out, because where Hermione gets frazzled and maybe her rationality overtakes some of her instinct, Ron has that to back it up; Ron has a kind of emotional grounding that can keep Hermione’s hyper-rationalness in check. Sometimes Hermione’s super-logical nature grates Harry and bothers him, and isn’t the thing he needs even if it’s the right thing, like when she says “You have a saving people thing.” That is the thing that Harry needed to hear, she’s a hundred percent right, but the way she does it is wrong. That’s the classic “she’s super logical, she’s super brilliant, but she doesn’t know how to handle people emotionally,” at least Harry.
So in the books they are this balanced group, and in the movies, in the movies—hell, not even Harry is good enough for Hermione in the movies. No one’s good enough for Hermione in the movies—God isn’t good enough for Hermione in the movies! Hermione is everybody’s everything in the movies.
Harry’s idea to jump on the dragon in the books, who gets it in the movies? Hermione, who hates to fly. Hermione, who overcomes her withering fear of flying to take over Harry’s big idea to get out of the—like, why does Hermione get all these moments?
[John: Because we need to market the movie to girls.]
I think girls like the books, period. And like the Hermione in the books, and like the Hermione in the books just fine before Hollywood made her idealized and perfect. And if they would have trusted that, they would have been just fine.
Would the movies have been bad if she was as awesome as she was in the books, and as human as she was in the books? Would the movies get worse?
She IS a strong girl character. This is the thing that pisses me off. They are equating “strong” with superhuman. To me, the Hermione in the book is twelve times stronger than the completely unreachable ideal of Hermione in the movies. Give me the Hermione in the book who’s human and has flaws any single day of the week.
Here’s a classic example: When Snape in the first book yells at Hermione for being an insufferable know-it-all, do you want to know what Ron says in the book? “Well, you’re asking the questions, and she has to answer. Why ask if you don’t want to be told?” What does he say in the movie? “He’s got a point, you know.” Ron? Would never do that. Would NEVER do that, even before he liked Hermione. Ron would never do that."
— Melissa Anelli THROWS IT DOWN about the way Ron and Hermione have been adapted in the movies on the latest episode of PotterCast. Listen here. This glorious rant starts at about 49:00. (via karakamos)