Eagle and serpent

explorations and philosophy: in the world, of the world

Tag: policy

On ‘pretext’

Going through some word definitions and contexts of their use brought me to ‘pretext‘. Nicely contextualised to the speeches of Cato the Elder, I somehow got reminded of our present media war-drum beating against Iran.

It’s been a while since I watched this, but the past rhetorical build-up against Iraq is very similar to the ongoing one. Now, watching the video, who exactly is a threat to whom?

One thing is for sure, however. War-mongering Americans have read their history well.

Sweet, toxic

Not trying to address it now myself, just take a look at the interview!

This opens up a variety of threads of thought; food safety and regulation of substances only among them.

Alternative necessity

Volcanic ash teaches us a lesson. It’s baffling to see how people can find alternatives, and even completely change plans, when they are faced by a force majeure–and all this rather effortlessly, with no serious emotional exhaustion. It’s easy to take a relaxed view on things that cannot be acted upon.

I cannot help but think what would happen if we had an ‘Icelandic volcano’ in other matters as well. For instance, should the oil wells dry up for good, what would our energy politics (and our lifestyle with it) look like? Would there be alternatives? Of course there would. It may be that cheap flights everywhere and -when are something that we are used to, but it’s hardly necessary in the strong sense.

Another matter is the emerging demands to lift the flight restrictions. Who’s taking the risk here, actually?

Nah, I don’t think so…

When the old regime handed the power over to the new one (in America), some analysts anticipated European countries losing the ‘W-argument’ of shirking away from the unified Western coalition. That is, the old, trans-Atlantic way of doing things would re-appear and flourish.

Now that the Norwegian groupies have awarded a peace prize for intensifying violence in a futile attempt to influence future foreign (military, of course) policy, some effects can already be identified. Verily, Europe is following the lead, namely the spotless reputation of Mr. Obama. His presence and hype serve as a perfect pretext for avoiding uncomfortable agreements!

More from Klein here.

When the ice cubes melt

Been gathering some steam for a while now… I think now it’s time to vent some of it!

It hardly comes as a surprise that Ultima Thule is perhaps not the most inspiring place to live. An interesting re-phrasing caught my eye this week, however. A British anthropologist (living in Oulu, uuh) depicted Finland being “a diluted Greenland”. What a neat, condensed way of putting it!

This is exactly how it is. Religiousness, alcoholism, traditional values, lack of critical thinking… Let’s just not start, the list is far too long and f*ed up to be completed here. I’d like to focus my attention to something else, namely the mass media.

I might be exaggerating, but I think it’s extremely hard to find information of the world in this place, in the local language. If I didn’t have UK and Middle East sources in my feeds, I would almost completely be at the mercy of mainstream media. And this is full of ‘news’ that are either foolish, irrelevant, or local to ridiculousness. Maybe we should start talking about ‘newslets’?

Then again, whose relevance? It may well be the case that laypeople just.don’t.care about South Waziristan military offensive, but when the extent reaches ignoring militaristic apartheid regimes defying UN reports, I think things are going a bit too far. To prove my point, I went to the 1st source of unbiased and objective journalism. As I’m writing this, the paper has the following topics under ‘news’ -> ‘foreign’ (not always the exact wording):

  1. Additional Finnish occupiers’ return from Afghanistan likely to be delayed
  2. Farmers burned tires in Paris
  3. French bees are distressed by the countryside

What? Is there really nothing more interesting happening in the world than bees and their ‘psychological’ symptoms?

I’m not a fan of imagined conspiracies, so it might just be due to ignorance, anti-intellectualism and lack of market. Which is, kind of, soothing, right?

Anglo media and Gaza

Attending a seminar about Israeli apartheid at SOAS last week was truly intriguing. The last session (the only one I had the opportunity to attend) was about Western media and how it reported the most recent Gaza aggression.

As many of us suspected, US corporate media has no journalistic mission. Hence, is it possible to speak of money ‘creeping in’ anymore? As pointed out, commercial media corporations have audiences, agendas and sets of powerful stakeholders. This means that money (among other things), is an issue. In skilful hands, it can be effectively used to manage public opinion, which was done in the case of Gaza, early this year. Among other things, casus belli was fabricated-“it was them again, we have to respond…”

On one hand, one of the two forces at play, media is being unified in the face of the global economic downturn-media houses cannot afford to have reporters, translators and related experts in-house, reports (and reporters) are bought, um, outsourced. On the other hand, independent media is growing rapidly, and sites that observe and publish stories written by independent reporters around the world are becoming sources that collect material without the money-bias (other biases, surely). This is the way up-to-date, non-IDF sourced news were reported and spread during the last conflict.

In the discussion, a couple of interesting points of the film Waltz with Bashir emerged. Beyond the straightforward ‘sympathy for the killers’, animals (dogs and horses) were shown as the creatures suffering from the war, rather than Palestinian civilians. This is how UK and US media work, they present Israeli civilians and soldiers as feeling individuals, whereas Arabs earn the label of a crowd-‘militants’, ‘fanatics’, you name it. This rhetorical strategy is similar to the one used in Viet Nam by the force-feeder of ‘democracy’; the United States of America. This is just another example of attaching otherness to one’s enemies. But this is of course, nothing new.

Assimilation to the occupier’s society and the adoption of Western values fed to the Palestinians as the panacea to peace and prosperity was no news. The same consumerist message is delivered over and over again to the inattentive Western public. But the glorification of collaborators was new. I can understand the ‘will to power’ and using media to achieve this and all kinds of other objectives. But there is nothing more perverse than saying to the subjugated that their continued existence requires self-immolation-the ultimate humiliation!

Rhetoric and the back office

Just days before Obama’s inauguration, it will be interesting to see what will be the first *official* declaration of the new US regime to the Middle East thing.

Have the – hmm – of Tel Aviv finally reached ‘their objectives’ – a nice round number of 1000 (or more) casualties? Or will the magic number be ten bombarded schools maintained by the UN?

A thought-provoking piece of analysis can be found here.

Could there actually be an aesthetic, mathematical criterion involved, what do you think? And by the way, it must have been a coincidence that the ‘IDF’ was training for the offensive months ahead, along with the Israeli missile strikes in November (when the ceasefire was on)… Oh well, strongest wins.

I would guess one thing, though. The Obama team has given Tel Aviv time to kill until the beginning of their term. First, the burden of reaction is on Bush et al. Second, there’s a golden opportunity for Barack to play the hero. “Can we live in a peaceful ME – YWC…” Or something like that.

Apartheid out loud

For the first time in a long time, someone is calling violent, racist segregation what it is: apartheid. This wonderful Dutch word imported to English (being the only one I know and arguably one of the few) has a multitude of connotations ranging from 1930s Germany to more contemporary South Africa. Interestingly, these kinds of voices emerge only from the ‘leftist’ ranks. Does it mean that the ‘right’ is blind? An alternative explanation is that the more conservatist spheres are fine with the ongoing situation, because it serves their economic interests. Nevertheless, I quote:

“…there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”. That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.”

Full article here.

Open mandate

Just today, the United Stat… Nations security council gave a resolution to chase pirates “on land as well as at sea”. What an interesting extension, indeed. For cosmetic reasons, they added that the ‘permission’ to conduct such operations has to be granted by the US-backed Somali government.

It seems that Somalis have few friends in this world, since no-one seems to oppose such a mandate. To put more precisely, they have few things other than their waters that the ‘international community’ wants. It could also be the case that the big mom America wants another backyard to test the newest weapons, ‘liberate’ people and ‘democratise’ their property.

It is also possible that Somalia will be made the case of showing the world that “Obama is strong”! It can also be handy in distracting public opinion, if other fronts start to show signs of collapse. If there is any credibility to Guardian’s article of the ‘new’ Taleban, the time of retreat from Afghanistan could be closer than one might think. On the other hand, war-mongering is such a good business, what the heck!

According to the BBC story, the UN representative spoke once again and oh-so-familiarly about their ‘justice’. Funnily, it seems that every time one hears the American-backed institution voicing the word, it’s accompanied by violence.

Flares in the sky

Once again in the excellent Barbican… This time I saw ‘Waltz with Bashir’, an open account of a personal process told by a former soldier trying to remember what really happened during the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982.

The method of the movie earns some praise. An animation is always a daring solution, especially in handling controversial matters. On the other hand, it could be also easier this way, as shooting (interesting word in this context, right?) the film in a realist setting could be quite challenging. Where would one get the tanks and soldiers for the film, especially if the army and other security officials would see the film as detrimental to the national values?

Initially, my main interest in the movie was towards the historical events. This changed in the course of the film, however. Instead, I became intrigued by the psychoanalytic aspects of the movie. A person trying to remember happenings around a traumatic issue that are some twenty years old, raises major difficulties of the role of the individual and the constructiveness his own mind. What is false and what really happened? Perhaps most interestingly, the observer has to decide his stance towards himself, once he finally remembers.