The Moorish Wanderer

Wandering Thoughts, Vol.16

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Morocco, Read & Heard, The Wanderer, Wandering Thoughts by Zouhair ABH on January 29, 2012

Gary Oldman as George Smiley (

Two movies I have been watching and re-watching these last couple of days: ‘Funeral In Berlin‘ and the brand new ‘Tinker, Taylor, Soldier Spy’ movie adaptation of John LeCarré most famous novel. in fact, both are film adaptation of serial best-selling novels: George Smiley and Harry Palmer are two anti-hero spies, but with different characters, to say the least.

Palmer and Stok meeting in West Berlin

Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) and Colonel Stok (Oskar Homolka)

Tinker Taylor circa 2011 is much darker than the 1970s TV Movie with Alec Guiness; but then again I guess it has to be so – although I suspect Gary Oldman‘s performance was closely following that of Guiness’, going by the book, so to speak: George Smiley is a withdrawn, taciturn old man who doesn’t really fit in with the James Bond common type of spy. John LeCarr’sé best book so far (although I would say the final opus of that Karla-Smiley struggle did top it up) draws apparently a lot from his experience as an intelligence officer with MI5 in Austria.

Karla, the cunning Soviet master spy was found to be inspired by the head of East German intelligence Markus Wolf – Radio France Inter’s broadcast show “Rendez-Vous avec X” mentioned him in two interesting episodes about East German spy rings in France – the infamous Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HvA) was perhaps the best intelligence apparatus East of the Iron Curtain, on par with KGB’s operations –

Harry Palmer, on the other hand, is a different kind of spy: a former Corporal with the British Army, coerced into joining the Intelligence Corps after he was convicted of petty crime when stationed in Berlin. His supervisors made use of his “criminal tendencies” (as cited in “The ICPRESS File” novel) to carry on the covert side of East/West confrontation, this time in Berlin, a flashpoint of the Cold War; Berlin again, where the Karla-Smiley confrontation finds its dénouement, with Karla surrendering to the British in “Smiley’s People” (Karla’s identity is hidden in the 2011 adaptation (Mike Sarne apparently played the part) but revealed quite openly in the 1970s TV movies, portrayed by Patrick Stewart – in a manner that mirrors Smiley’s placid character.

LeCarré's cameo appearance as a Circus official

David John Moore Cornwell singing the Soviet Anthem (Picture from the film)

Oh, and LeCarré himself made a cameo appearance in the film, (humorously) singing the Soviet Anthem during a Circus’ Christmas party. The move has been very faithful to the novel’s narrative, very much so.

I don’t know why I compared these two films/novels, but they do share a lot in common: they both depict the Cold War as it really was, much more nuanced and dark than blockbusters suggest.

Back on the news front: twice nominated, never got to actually lay my hands on the much prized award. I guess Moroccan web-users have made up their minds about what they want to read and what blogs they enjoy.

So congratulations for Lcassetta Blog, voted best 2012 Blog, and for winners from other categories. The honour of being twice nominated is quite sufficient for me, I guess.

I have enjoyed a very refreshing, populist, funny, witty and spirited address delivered by our new Head Of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane.

An hour-long address during which he wandered off-topic quite a lot; perhaps it is part of his personality to be as spontaneous as he can be, and I can understand it carries some charm -and electoral appeal- to his party. But showmanship could hurt him personally as a government leader and politician. His address was his opportunity to set the record in his favour. The great thing about the unusually intense media coverage (on social media at least) is that it might well prompt a new level of civic scrutiny of government work. In essence, PJD-led coalition government has to do with opposition within and outside parliament, as well as, I hope civic awareness to their policies. 2011 showed a substantial part of the real electorate can choose wisely, 2016 is proving to be an even more exciting election, and I am looking forward to it ;the run-off to the next parliamentary elections, regional and local, will prove this optimism right or wrong.

Other than that, I have been working on a rather ambitious project – a Shadow Budget proposal of sorts, with detailed proposals on something I am increasingly considering as a sound fiscal policy: introducing a pre-computed Debt-Ceiling for the next budget year. It’s fiscal discipline and it shows a government is determined not to let the deficit go crazy – unless it warrants it. And so far, running a structural deficit because of the 2008 unsound tax cuts made the couple of last budget laws rely more and more on public debt; as long as business cycles are on the upswing, it doesn’t really matter. But with a weak stock exchange performance and an expected contraction in foreign demand for Moroccan exports, it would be sound to switch as early as possible revenues back to taxation; a deterrent on debt-financed deficit would be simply to cap it, then make it difficult to raise that ceiling mid-year.

Annual borrowing requirements almost double since mid 2007. Not the stuff to make headlines

But who cares really? The sad reality is, no one, media or politicians alike, dares to muddy their shirts and go down the numbers; taxations, fiscal exemptions, fiscal deficit and public debt surely can get technical at times, but still, the debate must start at one point. Or perhaps there is some kind of unspoken consensus running across party lines, including the pro-democracy platform, no to discuss matters that may well be more important than anything else: the livelihood of future generations.