Saturday, August 12, 2006
I enjoyed it, just enjoyed it. Didn't think about other 'fireworks' elsewhere. Simply enjoyed the spectular sounds and sights of the moment, there and then. Does that mean I've become less of a person, less concerned with the fates of my 'co-persons' elsewhere? Or does that mean, for those few moments, I was just living in the moment?
Friday, August 11, 2006
You'll probably have noticed, yesterday's post was poking fun at the terrorist plot to blow up planes on trans-Atlantic routes. As far as I'm concerned for the well being of innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the 'war on terror', I view such unravelling of events with sceptism.
Of course it's fortunate that loss of lives was prevented, and that terrorists had their (mad) plans foiled. But when the governments of the US and UK use such opportunities to instill further fear into the lives of their citizens, one must be careful.
Sure, threats of attacks are high, now, blunder after blunder, death after death in the 'global' war on terror, more than ever. Who is to blame? Who has the ability to stop the madness and state of being constantly at war, constantly at each other's throats?
Bush and Blair may seem to have the interests of the public on their lips, but their words and actions do not differ far from those of they label as terrorists. What they have in common with terrorists is their use of fear to instill obdeience into the public and society. A society under threat is a society that is easily manipulated. And an easily manipulated society is one susceptible to the whims of the few who are in power.
Laws can be bent, rules twisted, freedoms curfewed, rights infringed in the name of 'national security'. Whereas terrorists instill fear openly and admittedly, the scary thing about 'major' democracies posing as the bastions of freedom and democracy itself is that they do it silently and subtly. They do it in such a way that you willingly comply, because you are made to consume the real and imaginary threats we all face.
And a foiled terrorist attack, whether real or imaginary, is the best way to say 'look at us, we are doing our jobs'. It adds credibility to already incredible and deceitful administrations that manipulate truths and public opinion, appeal to patriotism and friends-and-foe black and white dichotomies as a means of ensuring compliance and silencing critics.
Call me a sceptic. But I'm not the only one.
"One might indeed think that the Republican Party was thrilled at the prospect of nine commercial airliners blowing up over the Atlantic Ocean, given the broad-spectrum reaction by the GOP to the news. In truth, however, they are scrambling to manufacture the one element that has served them over these past five years: fear. They cannot stand on their record; their rhetoric has grown bone-thin, and so they are pulling that hoary old club out of the bag one more time."Anything that's remotely 'terrorist', think Al Qaeda, think bin Laden!
"Nonetheless, the invocation of Al Qaeda, and the still-chilling image of Mr. bin Laden, have provided an effective way to encapsulate and personalize the otherwise overwhelming threat of terrorism. In the same way, the image of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the loosely affiliated branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq, came to stand for the entire Iraqi insurgency."Al Qaeda or not, their actions and the failure to completely stamp out those actions will continue to inspire:
"[...] it doesn't really matter whether the plotters were al-Qaeda soldiers taking orders from bin Laden or just a group of like-minded admirers working on their own. The plot demonstrates that al-Qaeda lives on, either as a functioning organization or, even more chillingly, as an inspiration to jihadists around the world.
One way not to fight [terrorists], as the Bush administration continues to demonstrate, is through reckless military action that may kill terrorists but also kills innocent civilians and thus creates a new generation of terrorists - doubtless including some bright young man or woman who will come up with a new idea for downing civilian airliners."
BUT wait: which terrorist are we talking about?
"With George Bush still insisting on the need to fight "Islamic fascism" to the bitter end, Labor Party Defense Minister Amir Peretz imploring Israeli soldiers to turn southern Lebanon "to dust," and Iran's Mahmud Ahmedinejad declaring the need to wipe Israel off the map, the hubris, arrogance, and utter disdain for human life that has brought the Middle East to its latest precipice continues to harden the hearts of leaders and peoples alike. And all will be the losers because of it"
In any case, be afraid, be very afraid:
"Perhaps the greatest illusion of any strategists, leaders, or generals is that they are in control - and perhaps the most hubristic version of this illusion is the belief that they can use chaos itself to further their control, to strengthen their situation."
What the foiled terrorist attacks on commercial airliners has shown is this: that democracies are no guarantees that fundamentalism and radicalism will not appeal to disgruntled youths and fanatics who hijack religion to justify their beliefs and force them upon other innocent bystanders, in life or in death. If anything, the fact that all 24 suspects arrested by the British authorities were in fact (shock!) British dsipells the lie that democracy is a cure-all medicine for the rest of the world, and especially the Middle East, which all must accept, if necessary by force. If states that harbour and produce terrorists should be subjected to regime change and have their government toppled, again if necessary by force, then perhaps London and Washington should brace themselves....against themselves.
- What Jihad, which Jihad? Difference between American and British response to the bomb plot
"The difference in these initial public characterizations was revealing: The American president summoned up language reaffirming that the United States is locked in a global war in which its enemies are bound together by a common ideology, and a common hatred of democracy. For the moment, the British carefully stuck to the toned-down language of law enforcement."And even the outdated ColdWar language and terminology of 'domino theory' is up-to-date today within the Bush administration.
"The test of American willpower, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush have insisted, is in Baghdad, which explains why they stick to the language that it is the "central front" in the war on terrorism and domino that America cannot let fall. Defeat there, they warn, would give the jihadists a victory and empower them to move on to the next country - maybe Pakistan, maybe Saudi Arabia, maybe Lebanon."
- What we don't know, and may never know
- Support for the war declining: "War critics are mainstream, not fringe"
" To be "strong on national security" does not mean supporting the misconceived and incompetently executed policies of the Bush administration. American security in years to come will depend on undoing this government's grave mistakes, which have weakened this country's military posture and undermined support for us around the world. Terrorism experts across the spectrum, from conservative Republican to liberal Democrat, agree that the "struggle against violent extremism" has suffered from the foolish decision to invade and occupy Iraq.
Evidently, the neoconservatives hope to escape responsibility for their debacle by complaining that the rest of us lack sufficient zeal."
plot the result of misguided foreign policy. UK
- The changing face of terrorism
" the overthrow of feudalism in Afghanistan, obviously in reference to the Taliban, has had as an immediate consequence, the "deterritorialization" of al-Qaeda.
This absence of a geographic sanctuary to which they could withdraw and train has favored the expansion of totally autonomous cells in the West."
- If you're travelling by plane soon, this "ABC guide to packing your luggage so as to avoide being mistaken as a potential terrorist and wrestled to the ground, before being escorted away into interrogation without trial" might come handy.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
- Trust no one! Everyone is a potential terrorist!
- Do not let anyone carry or handle your (hand) lugguage!
- Baby milk is suspicious!
- Watch people in headscarves and who look remotely Middle Eastern with great suspicion!
- Do not gather in a crowd of more than three people!
- Do not run suddenly
- Most of all, FEAR! Be very AFRAID.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The temperature dropped today, but the sunset was different and beautiful as usual. With a sweater I usually reserve for after Autumn, I cycled to the beach and took a long walk. The tide was low, the seagulls too. So low and so close you could almost catch them. But who would want to deny them of their freedom?
I walked and walked, not as far and long as that day in the rain, but still when I reached the end of the beach and the harbour of Scheveningen, the sky had fallen dark. The minutes, moments before it was brightly coloured, ever-changing, in sparkling hues of pink, and orange, and violet, and red. As if the sky couldn't decide what coat to put on, so tried every colour on for just a few fleeting moments.
I stood on the harbour dock, jutting out to sea, and felt brave, encouraged as the waves crashed beneath my feet. It was like I was invicible and unafraid of the violent waves. But only because I stood on firm ground. The gray water would have easily silenced me and drowned my existence the second I dropped in. Harbours lights, green and red, flashed on and off. The lighthouse stroked the land and sea with its intense ray, guiding ships and people to shore.
Cycling back, the wind picked up and it was a little struggle. On top of the dune I looked ahead, and there in the sky something smiled at me. A friendly, familar face.
It's a full moon tonight.
This articles explains that the current crisis is not as black and white as some like to see it. It’s not just a simple matter of attack and counter-attack, not just terrorists fighting for their freedoms against a heavily armed and (US) backed conventional army engaging in self-defence. Against the backdrop of the now three-weeks-and-counting conflict, there are historical wounds that have not healed but continued to be ripped open time and again:
“Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of
Why is it that
“Is it not understandable that
's ethnic preoccupation profoundly offends not only Palestinians, but many of their Arab brethren? Yet rather than demanding that Israel Israelacknowledge its foundational wrongs as a first step toward equality and coexistence, the Western world blithely insists that each and all must recognize 's right to exist at the Palestinians' expense. Israel
Western discourse seems unable to accommodate a serious, as opposed to cosmetic concern for Palestinians' rights and liberties: The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.”
And this article suggests that the conflict is not just simply about religion. Religion may be a torch to garner support and awe, but in the Middle East of today—and the global war on terror for that matter—religion is a side issue, overshadowed by the other materialistic (as opposed to spiritual) motivations:
“All fighting parties in the
"Let us leave the anti-Semitism, which indeed existed in
Arabian politicians have raised the manipulation of religion to a form of art."
>>Dirk Vlasblom, ‘Conflicten Midden-Oosten zijn niet religieus’ [Conflicts Middle East are not religious], 21 July 2006, NRC Handelsblad
>>Grijs, ‘Vergissing’ [Mistake], p79, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland
"Let us leave the anti-Semitism, which indeed existed in
“Enduring Freedom” has become synomynous with ‘enduring chaos’. There is no solution to ending the daily car bombs, suicide attacks, attacks and counter attacks, even with the newly installed governments that the US seems all too naively want to believe would placate the local populations in Iraq, and beyond. It is an illusion that neocons in
“[…] the democratic tinkering, that the ‘war against terror’ would have to be concluded by installing pro-western elites from bourgeois social backgrounds in power, has in most countries where free, or half-free elections have taken place, lead to reasonable gain for anti-western, Muslim fundamentalist parties. This has happened from
>>Gilles Kepel, ‘Eind van de unilateral illusie’ [End of the unilateral illusion], p82, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland
The stance the