16 May 2011

Strauss-Kahn: human catastrophe

It’s possibly the most high profile civil arrest of all time. News of it is so shocking, so repelling, that one gulps upon hearing it on the radio.

The first classedness of so squalid an accusation. The most expensive hotel suite, most of us have ever heard of, let alone seen; a mobile phone belonging to the accused; a chamber maid; the arrest itself not just aboard a departing plane at John F Kennedy Airport, but in the first class compartment of his own national airline, Air France; an identity parade and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Allegations of attempted rape, a criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment.

His arrest, the chamber maid’s allegations are each so devastating that the human mind races through every aspect of the awfulness to try to make sense of such power being brought so low even before a page of the Court register has been turned. From a $3,000 a night suite, to a limousine; to a plush first class seat and bowing French attentiveness, to the snap of American handcuffs; and the stench of a Harlem high security police cell.

Whatever the outcome it is a horribly human catastrophe. And I haven’t begun to mention the impact upon France. France, the mother of some of the most creative fiction in the world, is confronted with the front page reality – “DSK arrêté”. In France, this is a Goliath of a man – leading Sarkozy in the presidential opinion polls with a an election next year.

Read more – IMF chief faces test over sex charges

And then there is the International Monetary Fund, of which he is boss of bosses in the stabilisation of global financial systems. His arrest comes at a moment when the financial affairs of European man are in more debt related danger than in almost any other peace time period. Even France could not have written it.

As another news day dawns, it is one of the most perplexing, complex, simple, and disturbing of human stories.
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35 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    A human catastrophe ?????? No !!!!! It will only be so if the man is innocent.
    If he is guilty,it is just another squalid rich man who thinks power and money allow him to do as he wishes.If it had been in Europe presumably it would have been hushed up to protect his human rights.If he is guilty he wants locking up for a very long time.If he is innocent and it is a false complaint ,the complainant wants locking up for a long time.
    As for the man , he is just another rich powerful person,totally replaceable,yet full of his own arrogance ,believing he can do as he wishes.
    I have no sympathy whatsoever,but it shows us time and time again , the frailties of man where sex is involved and why judges should not be permitted to even consider super injunctions.

  2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    The Law applies to all, whether high profile or not .Allegations and charges have to be proved beyond a doubt though.Charges have also to be confirmed or overturned.

    I presume if this story is to be true he will get a similar sentence to any other however if it is proved to be untrue his claim for damages will exceed any other .

    Dirty tricks or justice.?

  3. Brora Seer says:

    I suppose the reason that this seems like a ‘catastrope’ to you, Jon, a highly paid Euro-centric socialist in the public eye who imagines himself to be a superior member of the establishment is because DSK is a highly paid socialist in the public eye who imagines himself to be a superior member of the establishment.

    So don’t go all Daily Mirror hysterical on us. There have been plenty of higher profile civil cases:

    – OJ Simpson preceded by slow car chase
    – Jeremy Thorpe
    – Garry Glitter
    – Jeffrey Archer
    – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      What a grubby personal attack on Jon whom you claim ‘imagines himself to be a superior member of the establishment’ – ignorant, too, unless you know first-hand whereof you speak.

      ‘The most expensive hotel suite most of us have ever heard of’ – but only one tenth of the £30,000 cost of one at the newly opened St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, formerly Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Midland Grand Gothic masterpiece. A member of staff told me there’d be punters willing to pay what is more than the average annual UK wage, given his working experience of how much is spent on gambling/drink in the capital’s elite nightclubs.

  4. anniexf says:

    I haven’t heard much detail about this but would counsel caution before condemning the man: the CIA has been known to perform dirty tricks before. On the face of it, DSK is just another powerful, arrogant & greedy man who takes what he wants without asking first; yet how easy it would be to smear such a man.

  5. Nicolas Hatton says:


    Being a French citizen living in Bristol, I have the chance to read news from the UK and the French perspective.

    We all knew that DSK’s weakness was his seemingly uncontroled sexual behaviour (a simmilar sexual assault story emerged in France a while back; if you google Tristane Banon DSK, you’ll get more info) and he will be his downfall.

    There’s no doubt that his political career is over (the US story, even if untrue, will have created the condition for the French story to re-emerge and be made available to the mainstream).

    Part of me always believed that Sarkozy put DSK at the IMF, to make him his successor so that’s another plan scuppered for Mr President.

    1. casandra says:

      The facts are not yet determined beyond reasonable doubt. That much is certain. But the sociology of a lot of the comment at present is revealing: such a man merely has a “weakness” and that is his “womanizing” ie he loved /liked women too much. These are rationalizations for violence. If he is found culpable it is not because of his love of women, it is because of his contempt. If guilty, he held the same attitude that all abusers hold and he acted upon it and did violence to a human being: the attitude is that they believe themselves superior to those who they abuse, who exist only to be abused and violated, and are contemptible. To such people those they abuse are not fully human. And they get what they deserve. Well, we shall see as the story unfolds.

    2. Marverde says:

      Full marks, Casandra.

  6. Saltaire Sam says:

    I have to say if he is a socialist then I have misunderstood socialism all my life

    1. adrian clarke says:

      I knew you had Saltaire :)

    2. Marverde says:

      Don’t worry, Sam. He’s as much a socialist as Blair was Labour.

    3. Peter Stewert says:

      Socialist + unleavened arrogance = closet-Aristocrat

      …and I say that as a socialist forever vigilante that one day I may wakeup without a healthy sense of perspective on my place in the grand scheme of things. :^

  7. Barbara says:

    Do all suspected rapists undergo such a humiliatingly sordid arrest and confinement? I can understand the necessity to quietly remove him from the flight and press charges. But surely the French Embassy could have guaranteed his appearance in court?

    There must be more here than we are aware of.
    I wonder if President Obama was aware of the treatment of such a prominent international figure.Surely a telephone call between the two presidents could have ensured a less sordid arraignment without detracting from the seriousness of the accusation.

    Prison if he is proven guilty is obviously right.
    But the insensitive handling seems to require investigation. Perhaps there have have been other cases which have been covered up.

    1. Marverde says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The mode of the arrest was pure theatre. That’s what makes it stink of politics.

    2. B Thomas says:

      It’s the common way those accused of a crime are treated in the US. There’s even a term for it: ‘perp walk’.

  8. Britt_W says:

    Testosterone moves in mysterious ways. Rich or poor – our biological system makes no distinction whatsoever, I think.
    I guess that goes for moral values and self discipline as well…
    But NB – we don’t know for certain he is guilty yet.

  9. Tanya Spooner says:

    Unfortunately,the sudden departure of this “rich, powerful socialist” was what caused the insensitive reaction of the police. Leaving in a hurry tends to cause suspicion, but because of his reputation for making alleged sexual advances whenever he feels like it, he is now condemned in most peoples’ minds. Being at heart a conspiracy theorist, I do wonder if it might have been a bit of a sting operation, but not by the CIA, by Sarkozy.

  10. Saltaire Sam says:

    Sorry to go off topic but I am incandescent with rage about the Boots story on tonight’s news.

    While what they are doing is ‘legal’ it’s completely immoral. In effect, the British taxpayers are paying £100m a year towards these sharks’ purchase of Boots.

    Government has to act. It must become illegal for people to take over companies and then put the debt back on the company to avoid tax. If they want to buy it, the debt should be their own.

    Politicians have been very slow to react as financial whizz kids have come up with ever more elaborate ways to make money for themselves at the expense of the rest of the world through rip off schemes like this and the inflation of commodity prices which serves no one but the speculators.

    I for one will never shop in Boots again and I urge everyone else to do the same.

    1. Mudplugger says:

      Never say ‘never’, Sam.

      Just imagine if, after the fall of venture capital, Boots then becomes a workers’ co-operative, sharing its bounty amongst those wage-slaves responsible for creating it, wouldn’t it be sad if that careless term ‘never’ then meant you couldn’t support it ?

      But I do share your sentiment – if more of us boycotted companies who behave in unacceptable ways, then it wouldn’t take long for the message to get through. My own boycott-list grows by the day.

    2. Ray Turner says:

      Is the debt that Boots carrying bigger than that which sunk Woolworths a few years ago…?

      If so, how can Boots carry-on whilst Woolworths is confined to the annals of history…?

    3. adrian clarke says:

      I missed the article, never do shop at boots anyway , but if users boycott it what about the poor staff you are condemning to the dole?

    4. Saltaire Sam says:

      Mudplugger, you are right. Never is OTT. But I won’t be shopping there until there is a new ownership and attitude.

      A workers’ co-operative sounds better

    5. Meg Howarth says:

      Haven’t yet caught up on news with the Boots report but just to say I’ve been boycotting them since the venture caps took over.

  11. Ray Turner says:

    Hands up everybody in the UK who had heard of Dominique Strauss-Kahn before today.

    I thought so. That’s nearly 60 million hands I see waving…

    1. Marverde says:

      Very funny. But have you considered the possibility that it could be just 60 (+ you, of course)? Check your eyesight, just in case they are not waving either…

  12. Jane says:

    You do not seem very concerned about the woman who has been allegedly violated Jon. Your report reeks of sexism. I know that you support DSK’s politics but you could at least try to be balanced;

  13. Saltaire Sam says:

    24 hours on and more news of the Greeks having to tighten their belts.

    How ironic that the man who was supposed to sort it out was living the life of Riley in vastly expensive hotel suites and first class air travel.

    Perhaps the IMF should look at how it runs its own budgets before dictating to others

    1. Mudplugger says:

      Fair comment but, before lobbing rocks in the direction of the IMF, just consider our very own Audit Commission – you know, that unit charged with ensuring that all our government departments operate with due diligence and respect for correct financial behaviour.

      The previous boss of the Audit Commission was a most blatant abuser of expenses and privileges (see Private Eye for details), yet was allowed to retire without question or sanction.

      Let him who is without sin etc………

  14. Marverde says:

    I apologize in advance to Jon, Sam, Peter et al. I remember thinking, when as a child I first learnt of the Y cromo, that it looked a bit “defective”, with that little leg missing. An incomplete X. Later I discovered that “Y fronts” described that line of humans beautifully, especially their thinking.

    But the years and the state of the world have convinced me that my first impression was generous. That cromo is not just defective, it is bloody dangerous. As the years pass I yearn for matriarchies.

    Co-ops are great, Mudplugger. Just make sure all managers are XX.

  15. Piotrus says:

    Where’s there’s muck there’s brass – and if we were to look for a reason why DSK would be set up, his declaration in February that the world should adopt a new global currency may hold the key.

    “Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has called for a new world currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar and help curb future financial instability.”


    …which certainly wouldn’t have made him any friends in Washington or on Wall St.

    Of course, he may well be guilty of the accusations against him – who are we to know otherwise. But would such a powerful and prominent public figure throw his whole life away for a few minutes of forced sexual gratification – particularly given that if it were sex he wanted/needed, his power and wealth could easily have procured it for him?

    If that were the case, the man deserves little sympathy. If it wasn’t, then this is a political hatchet job of the most vile proportions. Will we ever know?

  16. VIJAY says:

    If the allegation is true, give kahn a warning and fine him. His career – record should be taken into account. He should be respected for his achievements in IMF and other assignments. He should be accommodated in some other position so that he will continue to serve people with his great abilities in finance, industry and economy.

    1. Marverde says:

      Are you trying to provoke people or are you demented?

      If the allegation is true, he should go to prison. Full stop. And no position of any sort when he comes out.

      The world doesn’t want convicted criminals in charge. It is bad enough with the not convicted we already have.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      VIJAY, what a shocking suggestion.If it is true he will be no different from any other criminal, or are you suggesting ones position as seen by society determines the sentence?.
      If it is true he should be made an example of to show money and power is no excuse for crime.

  17. VIJAY says:

    Mr Marverde and Mr Adrian clarke, I am not supporter of criminals with arrogance from power and money etc. I just thought of his contribution to a premier institution and showed sympathy over his plight. With respects to you and all the members of this forum, I withdraw my comments and appologise for the same. Best regards – Vijay

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Vijay,thanks for the apology ,but always stick to your guns.That is the fun of blogging :)

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