everyday epiphanies treated to overanalysis. plus techno-social-cultural babble from a 3rd world point of view.
Sunday, April 06, 2003
there is no connection. this is the worst thing that can happen to me. it makes me sit back and relax and with all those xtra time, reflect on what did with my life and then eventually get dperessed. its like this vicious circle of cocaine. have work, get moving, be happy. as soon as u fall behind and u see the pillars u have created in ruins. it wastes. life does. empty time gives my mind place to fuck.
i am sleepy. damn sleepy. i think i never noticed but this took a physical toll at me. all these hours of sitting here. i have almost worked my way into kingdom invertebrae. i cannot sit straight. i cannot sleep straight. i have to slouch by compulsion. my bio clock is so fucked, i have seriously become narcoplectic. my food/sleep cycles don't exist and days go when i don't need sleep. and then there r those days. the ones i can't trace. the ones i have lost in my life and there r no records. the ones which just point their sore finger up in the calendar. i have started marking them. sometimes i wake up in park benches, sometimes in the back of friend's house. but the days are lost, forever.
in my pursuit of mental knowledge, i think my body lost its bearing. what i really want now? a good massage to take the tension out of my body.
there is so much to say when this would have been a week back. in my worst state of mind since i was born, i had become so suspectible. i was lost and confused inside of me. there was absolutely no problem. nothing standing between me and my aims. if i would have wanted to hit the gurl, nothing was stopping me. if i wanted to study, still nothing. but something inside of me was fucked and was really angry and this torment had grown to garangutan porporotions causing mood swings, general depression. yes i took the easy way out. got drunk. didn't help me. what was the point of drinking if it couldn't help me think? realize.
finally, it took me 3 hours of self actualization. not that i moved to a forest. i just went to a local mall and enjoyed the stares. people find it hard that a guy is sitting all by himself and doesn't have a companion. because it is either a gurl or a cigarette/drink.
then it hit me. we r humans. and we need something to fall back on. at the end of the day, all i want is to crawl into someone's lap instead of my bed. all everyone wants in someone else for emotional support. Dependence. and until now i had not given a fuck about anything else. now suddenly i was panting and hoping to meet a gurl and generally make a mess.
THE CONNECTION IS BACK. WHO WANTS TO BE FUCKING SAD!! ENJOY PEOPLE.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
theatre of war
by indrajit hazra
or five minutes or 20 ? depending on whether you’ve been unconvinced or not by the arguments cited by the Bush administration for invading Iraq ? try and forget why you oppose or support the war. Much will continue to be written along that frontline, despite the fact that no matter what you read or hear, you are very unlikely to change your position on the matter now. Instead, let’s move on to the subject of the unprecedented images of war that television viewers are now spectators to. A slew of disturbing visuals has led some to coin the term ‘war porno’ ? more of a moral tag than a real description. But it can’t be denied that as the war is piped live into households, TV viewers have been left shocked and awestruck (dictionary meaning: filled by an emotion compounded of dread and wonder) at being transported up-close and personal to the theatre of war.
Like the previous conflict in Iraq 12 years ago, this one, too, is being viewed in near real-time. Unlike Gulf War I, however, the images and news relating to the conflict are continuous, ready for viewing whenever you are. So the priority is not so much whether one gets the bigger and ‘correct’ picture (which only healthy intervals in between the minutiae of action can hope to provide) but whether one gets ‘fresh feed’ ? warts, misinformation, disinformation, incomplete data, retractions, rumours and all. In other words, TV audiences sitting thousands of miles away from the war zone are left unprotected from a new kind of war-fog. So it’s no surprise that war-visuals fatigue is creeping in.
The confusion created out of the various images (many times conflicting) reflects how war really unravels ? a far cry from the drama of, say, Platoon. When we see American soldiers whooping with joy after destroying an Iraqi position in Umm Qasr, we believe that in that sub-conflict, the Americans are winning. Then after an hour, when we hear a Doubting Thomas (odds are that he’s a BBC journalist) questioning the ‘coalition forces’ having ‘secured’ the town, we get an altogether different picture.
Following the war in this manner is different from being bamboozled by the spin and counter-spin that flies out of different TV channels. If you saw Iraqis in Basra celebrating in front of coalition forces, it’s either CNN or Fox that you’re watching. If you see the people in the same town somberly lining up for water, you’re probably watching images from Al Jazeera on BBC. But the sheer pace of unfolding events leaves a different trail of confusion behind. Viewers end up seeing war as a game in which only the score is to be followed.
Last Sunday, when the Austral-ian cricket team was piling up runs against the Indians in the World Cup final on Set Max, the BBC images from Umm Qasr provided an alternate source of score-keeping. The live ‘ball-by-ball’ coverage of sniper exchange, night bombings, parallel narratives of press briefings, expert analyses and interviews left the viewer excitedly puzzled. This isn’t only because he’s been getting conflicting information or analyses, but also because the rate of information-as-it-comes being flushed into his system has been too quick and unfiltered.
Imagine a soldier being asked whether his division is meeting any resistance at 12 o’clock. He says no. The journalist relays this message to the TV viewer. Two hours later, the same journalist reports back that there is indeed news of heavy resistance. This is not an
old-fashioned retraction. It is simply a case of the situation having changed from 12 pm to 1 pm and the TV viewer being taken in tow with the changing tide of information. In effect, with information atomised into the smallest of intervals having no time to ‘cool and harden’, the bigger picture ? the scorecard, if you will ? that the general viewer is really interested in becomes a shimmering swirl that refuses to take any shape.
What adds to the confusion is a paradox. Reality TV, which is what television war coverage really is, has its aesthetic moorings in non-documentary films. So TV viewers watching a group of night vision-bathed Marines shooting their target in Nasiriyah will ? however odious some of us might find the comparison once we consciously start thinking about it ? compare the image with a sequence from, say, Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down, a film which is, in turn, based on the very real battle between American soldiers and Somalian warlords in 1993.
Is it so surprising (and despicable, as some suggest) that TV viewers end up comparing a real war with pretend-wars? For most people ? and this is not applicable to the many who live in the real war zones of West Asia or Africa ? movies provide the only yardstick to measure a real war.
Just before the ongoing war in Iraq, young American soldiers in camps in Kuwait reportedly watched war movies (ironically, they’re supposed to be ‘anti-war’ movies) like We Were Soldiers, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now for inspiration. This was a strange piece of news: first-time soldiers preparing to imitate art that imitates life ? and death.
Iconic images of war have been fundamentally different from any of the visuals that this war has thrown up till date. Eddie Adams’ series of black and white photographs showing a Saigon police chief shooting a Viet Cong captain pointblank in the head stunned Americans in 1968 and turned the tide of popular opinion against the Vietnam War. Similarly, Robert Capa’s famous photograph capturing the exact moment a bullet kills a Republican militiaman during the Spanish Civil War is another visual that is stashed with potent narrative. (One wonders what the reaction of TV viewers will be if they are to witness ? live ? something like that during this war.)
The updated-since-the-last-update visuals of the ongoing war lacks the running thread that tells ‘the story’. Part of this vacuum is filled up by commentary ? hardly of the same narrative class that a rich-in-details and as-close-to-the-real-thing that, say, Saving Private Ryan is. But real war ? and one is not even talking about the fundamental difference of ‘pretend deaths’ and ‘real deaths’ ? is never a Spielberg film.
All this is, of course, besides the point for most people watching the war on Arab TV channels. For them, the yardstick isn’t Lawrence of Arabia or Band of Brothers. Al Jazeera viewers are used to seeing images that are far more disturbing than those shown in the most ‘realistic’ Hollywood war movies ? never mind ‘real war visuals’ aired on western TV channels. Unlike Americans ? who, incidentally, last witnessed a real war in their backyard during their Civil War ? their counterparts sitting in Baghdad don’t need make-believe models to compare with their war coverage.
The second sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket ? a film which coolly shows the systematic dehumanisation required to turn men into killing machines ? follows a recruit, a (embedded?) reporter for the newspaper Stars and Stripes, who finds himself fighting in the Vietnam War.
While preparing for the movie, Kubrick had studied gun and military hardware magazines and followed the war on TV and radio. He told a journalist in 1968: ?It’s great that anything that goes on long enough that’s terrible and comes into the living room every night in vivid, sync-sound-dialogue newsreel form makes a big impression on people. It will produce a more active body politic.? A few months later, on being asked whether he was glad that American troops may be getting out of Vietnam, Kubrick ? remember, the maker of a classic ‘anti-war’ film ? simply and almost ruefully replied: ?Sure.? An end to the coverage of the Iraq war ? and thus an end to the war itself ? may elicit a similar response from many of us ‘concerned’ viewers.
Sun Tzu: The real father of 'shock and awe'
By Marwaan Macan-Markar
While the US-led war on Iraq may not yet have succeeded in its stated aim of "liberating" Iraq and destroying its weapons of mass destruction, it may have succeeded in breathing new life into the writings of an ancient Asian mind - the Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu.
This week served up the latest about the Chinese thinker and general from the 5th century BC, who wrote the oldest military treatise on war, The Art of War; using knowledge he learned from fighting during China's Age of the Warring States.
Sun's work on war has punctuated the debate under way since it emerged that Washington's initial battle plans - given the name "shock and awe" - had not produced the desired results.
A commentary in Monday's Asahi Shimbun, a daily newspaper in Japan, is typical of those that acknowledge there is a Chinese link in Washington's armor.
"The 'shock and awe' operation, a massive barrage of bombardment launched at the beginning of the war on Iraq, is said to have been derived from Sun Tzu's military strategy," states the commentary, titled "The misapplication of Sun Tzu's strategy".
"This strategy is meant to achieve submission by causing the enemy psychological shock and awe before battle is even joined," it adds. But despite the "massive barrage of bombardments", the US plan "seems to have fallen far short of a successful application of what Sun Tzu recommended as the best war strategy".
The stiff resistance mounted by Iraqi soldiers in the key towns along the road to Baghdad reflects this reality. Furthermore, the US forces have suffered early casualties, with more than 30 deaths and seven prisoners of war, according to media reports.
Yet Sun enthusiasts disagree. They argue that the obstacles US-led troops have run into - from the failure of forcing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime to collapse after a steady barrage of missiles and bombs, to the stiff resistance mounted by Iraqi troops - do not mean that Sun's strategy has failed.
"Much has yet to be seen before making any conclusions," writes an analyst for Sonshi.com, a website dedicated to Sun's The Art of War.
"Based on what we have seen, and despite criticism so far, [US military planners] are applying Sun Tzu's principles surprisingly well, adds the analyst, who did not want to be identified. "There is little doubt the Iraqi forces are overwhelmed at this point. It is just a matter of time before things start to collapse."
That is also the hope of the man who conceived the term "shock and awe" - Harlan Ullman, a US military expert. In 1996, Ullman co-authored a book, Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance, for which Sun had been an intellectual source.
Since late January, the "shock and awe" theory has been gaining currency in the US media in relation to the war on Iraq. Ullman was quoted as saying that the level of force through air strikes would be devastating as to destroy the Iraqi military's psychological will to fight.
According to available reports, the "shock and awe" campaign demanded that by the end of the first two days, close to 800 Tomahawk cruise missiles would have hit the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
A ground war was to be avoided by using this tactic.
On Saturday, Ullman told Canada's National Post newspaper that the previously untested "shock and awe" military strategy was "being inaugurated in Iraq in its most extreme form, at a level of intimidation on par with the 1945 nuclear attack on Japan" - also carried out by the United States.
An account of the "shock and awe" strategy on the US Department of Defense website amplifies how much it has been influenced by Sun's thinking. "Sun was well aware of the crucial importance of achieving 'shock and awe' prior to, during, and in ending battle," it states.
In fact, words used by US military officials to describe the nature of the massive aerial attack on Iraq in the first days - such as "decapitation" - can be traced to their attempt to use Sun's strategy. He called for "instant decapitation of military or societal target to achieve shock and awe", the Defense Department document states.
It draws upon one story to describe how Sun applied such force to achieve his end. In this case, the victims were two concubines in the court of Ho Lu, the king of Wu. They were beheaded to stamp out any resistance and to achieve conformity from the remaining concubines.
"The objectives of this example are to achieve shock and awe and hence compliance through very selective, utterly brutal and ruthless, and rapid application of force to intimidate," the document adds. "Decapitation is merely one instrument."
The analyst at Sonshi.com sees other elements of Sun's The Art of War in the current US-led push into Iraq. Sun's concept of "shock and awe" can be found in Washington's effort to triumph over the Iraqi regime with minimal confrontation.
But then again, Sun Tzu's military advice has been invoked in many battles before, from thousands of years ago.
China's first emperor, the samurai generals who united Japan, and Mao Zedong also used Sun Tzu's strategies. The US military also invoked some of his principles in the 1991 Gulf War, and more recently, books and theories have been written about how Sun Tzu's thinking can be used by the United States in its "war on terrorism" after September 11, 2001.
"I am not surprised that Sun Tzu's works have influenced the thinking in the US," says Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly. "It is quite common."
editorial in hindustan times
A hanging economy
The World Bank's Report on Global Development Finance paints a gloomy picture of the world economy in case of a prolonged war in Iraq.
The American economy, however, may not be badly dented by the cost of the war which, according to Yale economist Bill Nordhaus, could be between $30 and $105 billion (even $90 billion would only be 1 per cent of the US's GDP and not a fiscal disaster). In case the US wins in a few days, the markets are likely to perk up and oil prices may stabilise at around $25 per barrel which will benefit all oil-importing countries. This is, of course, only if America gains control over Iraq's oil resources. However, the continuation of war will mean volatility in the financial markets, business and consumer confidence remaining low and the postponement of fresh investment decisions. It could mean lower GDP growth in the US, higher unemployment and the stalling of President Bush's 'jobs and growth' package of $670 billion in tax cuts over the next 10 years.
As the report points out, the rest of the world will be adversely affected by a prolonged war, especially countries with a large inflow of remittances from the Middle East. Exports will be adversely affected and foreign investment flows will dry up. Growth prospects could be damaged and the capacity to absorb imports of goods and services from the US will diminish. The demand for dollars may decline, resulting in its fall against major currencies. The US could land itself with a big fiscal deficit (currently estimated at $246 billion) as well as a huge trade deficit, which will drag the entire world economy into recession.
A quick end to the war could brighten reconstruction prospects considerably and give a new thrust to global companies based in the US and Europe. Careful planning, however, will be needed for the reconstruction of Iraq. The Afghanistan experience is instructive in this regard. The per capita income in Afghanistan has fallen steeply from $300 in 2001 to $200 in 2002 and people have gone back to poppy cultivation for want of work. Its reconstruction will pose a new challenge for the US since the Marshall Plan spirit could be diluted if the war spawns religious fundamentalism and America's spending on anti-terrorism efforts escalates. Uncertainty will affect its markets and investments, and also of the rest of the world.
Letter from Lebanon: Arabs See a Colonizer Army, Not 'Liberation'
By Rami Khouri, Pacific News Service
April 3, 2003
BEIRUT, Lebanon ? The Iraqi man who detonated a car bomb that killed himself and four American soldiers seems to have ushered in a dramatic new phase of the war in Iraq. But we should deal carefully with hyperbole that speaks of thousands of Arab suicide bombers coming to attack American-British forces. Some will try, for sure, but most such warnings probably reflect the heightened emotions of the moment.
There is clearly a profound wave of anti-colonial resistance sweeping much of the Arab world. For some, this may take the shape of indiscriminate terror, perhaps even an attempt at germ or chemical attacks on American soil. Much more certain and definable is the destructive dynamic unfolding in this region now.
The military superiority of the American-British armada leaves little doubt that Baghdad will be subjected to a siege and an assault, resulting in the overthrow of the current Iraqi regime. This is likely to come at a very high price for two parties: Iraqi lives and property, and American political standing in this region and the world at large.
The suicide bomber who killed himself and four American soldiers certainly defined his act as resistance to occupation, while the American-British command said it was an act of terror. This is an interesting but ultimately irrelevant distinction, because the invasion and the resistance it generates both will go on, regardless of how the two sides define their acts. More important is the transformed perception of the dynamic underway in the minds of most people in the Middle East.
Arabs and many others who oppose the American-British invasion do not defend Saddam Hussein, but rather the right of the Iraqi people to be spared from such unilateral assaults. The American-British armada also is being viewed increasingly in this region as an army of occupation ? and in some important ways it is behaving accordingly.
The suicide bombing has led American and British troops to be much more careful about coming into contact with Iraqis. The troops are more nervous and more trigger happy, as we witnessed when American soldiers shot and killed a number of women and children in a van at a checkpoint Monday. Television pictures show columns of young American and British troops walking through Iraqi villages with their guns drawn and loaded. Men who approach the soldiers have to take their shirts off, to show that they are not carrying bombs. Troops break down doors and rush into Iraqi houses, guns drawn and sometimes blazing. American and British guns shell entire Iraqi neighborhoods.
Tommy Franks, welcome to Nablus, the historic Palestinian West Bank city that became a symbol for Israeli bombardment, destruction and occupation last year.
The American-British army in Iraq is dangerously close to joining an ignominious list of modern occupation armies that generated fierce resistance from the natives, sought unsuccessfully to stay in place by the force of their superior firepower, and ultimately were driven out, dropped their imperial adventure, and returned home. The three most glaring examples of this cycle in recent memory are probably the Americans in Vietnam, the Russians in Afghanistan, and the Israelis in South Lebanon.
We already hear voices around the Arab and Islamic world asking for volunteers to travel to Iraq to fight and oust the invaders, just as tens of thousands of volunteers went to Afghanistan in the 1980s to oust the occupying Russians. Some have already made the trip, along with thousands of Iraqi men who have returned home to defend their country.
The common emotional response to the Iraq war throughout the Arab World has been one of anti-colonial resistance. This war is being seen widely as merely the latest phase of a long-running colonial drama by which Western armies invade, subjugate, reconfigure, and exploit the lands and resources of the Middle East. This may be a romantic, emotional notion, or it may be an accurate one.
Given the compelling historical lessons of the three other east, west and central Asian lands of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon, one would be a fool to be dazzled by the power and determination of a mighty nation that sends its army into distant Asian adventures. We should remember that these three other failed Asian episodes started with a superior military power occupying another land while repeating pleasant sounding rationales about security, democracy, liberation, prosperity and defending freedom. They all ended in humiliating failure at the hands of invaded men and women whose will to resist was greater than the invader's will to persist. The actions of both sides in the coming weeks may well reveal if we are moving in this direction.
In the propaganda war, Iraqi civilian deaths are either "terrorist tactics" or "collateral damage" -- depending on who caused them.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Robert Scheer
April 2, 2003 | "My own government," Martin Luther King Jr. said sadly, is "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." In a sermon a year before his assassination, King condemned the U.S. role in the Vietnam War, a war that had not yet reached its apex of violence, delivered mostly by U.S. non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction: fragmentation bombs, napalm firestorms, Agent Orange.
This time around, the weapons are somewhat different -- depleted uranium shells, cruise missiles and massive "bunker busters" dropped in populated areas -- but the "unintended" consequences are again disastrous for the people we are "saving."
The "terrorist" is generally considered such because he is indifferent to the fate of civilians. As the Iraqis, lacking B-52s and tens of thousands of bombs, turn to guerrilla tactics, their use of civilian shields properly horrifies us. Yet when civilians are terrorized in their homes by our high-tech explosives, their deaths and sorrow are considered beside the point, or "collateral."
When Iraqi civilians lose access to water and other necessities of life because of our bombs, we blame it on their evil ruler, as if that will prevent their getting cholera from drinking water from a polluted river.
We are told endlessly by our government's public relations machine that the "greatest care" is being taken to prevent civilian deaths, as if good intentions matter to the child whose mother is killed.
Language is everything here, as has always been the case with war propaganda, wherein the goal is inevitably the rationalization of unsavory means through the assertion of a noble end. To this end, we are on a mission to "liberate" the people of Iraq from a cruel dictator our own government supported, even armed, during decades of war crimes and human rights abuses.
After sweeping aside a U.N. disarmament program that was working, and now with the United States unable to produce evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, we find after-the-fact justification for our preemptive invasion in our talk of Saddam Hussein's desperate resort to guerrilla tactics.
How easy to forget that our own war for independence was largely fought by "irregulars" condemned as terrorists by the British because they would snipe from behind scattered trees rather than fight from the tight parade formations that were the civilized form of warfare in those days.
Ours is a long history of covert actions, political assassinations, special ops, anti-democratic coups and dirty tricks that are, even today, being used in Iraq. And we claim that the ends of U.S. policy are so noble that even clearly illegal means, such as a preemptive invasion, are justified.
Of course, the enemy also claims noble ends: God's will, defense of the national homeland, protecting one's family and land. The thing about pure causes -- that glorious end that justifies despicable means -- is that they tarnish so easily in the heat of battle.
The U.S. war in Vietnam began with President Kennedy dispatching 13,000 "aid" workers to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves and ended more than a decade later with a campaign of carpet bombing that cost hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian lives -- a killing rage that its leading practitioners, from Robert McNamara to Colin Powell, conceded, long after the fact, was in no way justified.
As long as the meaning of "terror" exists only in the eye of the beholder, the function of the word is to subvert the moral argument. It's just that arrogance that led George W. Bush to believe that the Iraqi people would be so grateful for our "smart" bombs they would rise up en masse from the ruins to greet us. Maybe they still will, cheering the victors in stunned relief that the terror -- Hussein's and that caused by U.S. firepower -- has ended.
If so, let it happen soon. For now, however, with the savagery of war on newspaper front pages, the bitter lesson is that "terror" has been turned into an amoral category defined for the convenience of the purveyors of violence -- whether fanatical "irregulars" or leaders of the most powerful nation on Earth.
Bring Back the Body Count
By Ira Chernus
April 3, 2003
"We don't do body counts," says America's soldier-in-chief, Tommy Franks. That's a damn shame.
During the Vietnam war, the body count was served up every day on the evening news. While Americans ate dinner, they watched a graphic visual scorecard: how many Americans had died that day, how many South Vietnamese and how many Communists. At the time, it seemed the height of dehumanized violence. Compared to Tommy Franks' new way of war, though, the old way looks very humane indeed.
True, the body count turned human beings into abstract numbers. But it required soldiers to say to the world, "I killed human beings today. This is exactly how many I killed. I am obliged to count each and every one." It demanded that the killers look at what they had done, think about it (however briefly), and acknowledge their deed. It was a way of taking responsibility.
Today's killers avoid that responsibility. They perpetuate the fiction so many Americans want to believe ? that no real people die in war, that it's just an exciting video game. It's not merely the dead who disappear; it's the act of killing itself. When the victim's family holds up a picture, U.S. soldiers or journalists can simply reply "Who's that? We have no record of such a person. In fact, we have no records at all."
This is not just a matter of new technology. There was plenty of long-distance impersonal killing in Vietnam too. But back then, the U.S. military at least went through the motions of going in to see what they had done. True, the investigations were often cursory and the numbers often fictional. No matter how inaccurate the numbers were, though, the message to the public every day was that each body should be counted. At some level, at least, each individual life seemed to matter.
The difference between Vietnam and Iraq lies partly in overall strategy. In Vietnam, there was no territory to be conquered and occupied. If U.S. forces seized an area, they knew that sooner or later the Viet Cong would take it back. The only way to measure "victory" was by killing more of them than they killed of us. In Iraq, the goal is control of place. U.S. forces can "take" Basra or Nassiriya and call it a victory, without ever thinking about how many Iraqis had to be killed in the process. So the body count matters less.
However, the end of body counts can not be explained simply by the difference in strategy. The old-fashioned body counts disappeared during the first war against Iraq, when the goal was still defined by territory: pushing Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
It's much more likely that "we don't do body counts" because Vietnam proved how embarrassing they could be. As the U.S. public turned against that war, the body count became a symbol of everything that was inhumane and irrational about that war. The Pentagon fears that the same might happen if the Iraq war bogs down. How much simpler to deny the inhumanity and irrationality of war by denying the obvious fact of slaughter.
What I fear is a world where thousands can be killed and no one is responsible, where deaths are erased from history as soon as they happen. The body count was more than an act of responsibility. It was a permanent record. It made each death a historical fact. You can go back and graph those Vietnam deaths from day to day, month to month, year to year. That turns the victims into nameless, faceless abstractions. But it least it confirms for ever and ever that they lived and died, because someone took the time to kill and count them.
In Iraq, it is as if the killing never happened. When a human being's death is erased from history, so is their life. Life and death together vanish without a trace.
The body count has one other virtue. It is enemy soldiers, not civilians, who are officially counted. Antiwar activists rightly warn about civilian slaughter and watch the toll rise at IraqBodyCount.org. It is easy to forget that the vast majority of Iraqi dead and wounded will be soldiers. Most of them were pressed into service, either by brute force or economic necessity. As the whole world has been telling us for months, there is no good reason for this war, no good reason for those hapless Iraqi foot-soldiers to die. They are victims of brutality ? inflicted by their own government and by ours ? just as much as the civilians. They deserve just as much to be counted.
So let us bring back the body count. If we must kill, let us kill as one human being to another, recognizing the full humanity of our victims. Without a body count, our nation becomes more of a robotic killing machine. As we dehumanize Iraqis, we slip even further into our own dehumanization. Let us bring back the body count, if only to recover our own sense of responsibility to the world's people, to history, to our own humanity.
Blair 'delayed US strike on Iraq'
Bush and Blair: British leader prevented 2001 attack on Iraq
US President George Bush was persuaded by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair not to attack Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks, it has been claimed. According to a former British ambassador to Washington, the US president had come under intense pressure from some in his own military to attack Saddam Hussein in the days after the 2001 terrorist outrages in the US.
But, said Sir Christopher Meyer, when Mr Blair met the US president at his Camp David retreat a few days later he succesfully argued for al-Qaeda and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan to be confronted first.
"Tony Blair's view was: 'Whatever you're going to do about Iraq, you should concentrate on the job at hand and the job at hand was get al-Qaeda, give the Taleban an ultimatum'," Sir Christopher said.
The former ambassador was speaking on a documentary that will be screened on the PBS network in America on Thursday.
Called Blair's War, it looks at the prime minister's attempts to try and maintain an alliance against Saddam Hussein.
He said that after listening to Mr Blair's argument, Mr Bush decided to "leave Iraq for another day".
Sir Christopher also said that after the Taleban had been removed from power, Mr Blair told the US leader he would need to exhaust peaceful options before he could attack Iraq.
He said the prime minister had offered to act as an envoy to try and persuade European leaders to back a US attack.
"Blair said: 'If you want to do this you can do this on your own, you have the military strength to go into Iraq and do it, but our advice to you is even a great superpower like the US needs to do this with partners and allies'," Sir Christopher said.
He added that many world leaders were alarmed after Mr Bush announced plans for a pre-emptive strike on Saddam Hussein's regime.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's current ambassador to the United Nations, has also been interviewed in the programme, and he said diplomats had failed to fix divisions in the Western alliance after the first resolution had been passed.
"They were differences which we knew about, looking back, I think that was a mistake of diplomacy that we didn't try and deal with those nuances that turned in to ravines by the end of the game."
He said he had been especially surprised that France continued to oppose military action.
Local Co. One of Two Finalist in Iraq Reconstruction Bid
LOS ANGELES ? Employee-owned Parsons Corp. of Pasadena and Bechtel Group Inc. of San Francisco -- the nation's biggest construction firm -- are the two finalists for the first U.S. government contract to rebuild postwar Iraq, it was reported on Thursday. An announcement could come from the U.S. Agency for International Development soon, according to reports.
The contract is worth $600 million, a relatively paltry sum for a major reconstruction project, but that amount could grow significantly as additional reconstruction contracts are handed out.
Bechtel became a flashpoint for protesters in the first days of the Iraq war, with demonstrators accusing the privately held company of war profiteering. There have been no such protests attached to little-known Parsons, which ranks 28th among U.S. contractors.
A local L.A. newspaper is reporting that Bechtel and Parsons have emerged as the two finalists in the highly publicized competition to repair Iraq's roads, railways, schools, water system, airports and ports.
Parsons has teamed up with Kellogg, Brown and Root, unit of construction giant Halliburton, whose former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney, in bidding for the contract, The Times reported. Bechtel also would be likely to subcontract much of the work.
Headquartered in a 12-story building in Pasadena, Parsons builds roads, airports and industrial parks, destroys chemical weapons and creates mass transit systems.
Bechtel's revenue in 2001, the last year for which it published figures, was $13.4 billion, with more than $10 billion coming from North America, The Times reported. New work booked -- a measure of future revenue -- fell sharply to $9.3 billion from $14.5 billion in 2000 and $23.3 billion in 1999.
Reportedly, Parsons has 9,000 employees worldwide and , had revenue of $2.4 billion last year. The future promises significant expansion, with new contracts signed in 2001 valued at $6.5 billion.
Bechtel's high-profile projects include the Hoover Dam, the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge, the English Channel tunnel and Boston's so-called Big Dig, the largest and most complex highway project in U.S. history.
Parsons was founded in 1944 as a petrochemical engineering firm and has since expanded into a broad range of engineering and construction work, largely through acquisitions.
Parsons, a key consultant on the Alameda Corridor rail project in Los Angeles, has a strong background in highways and airports, skills that will be in heavy demand in Iraq.
Winning the contract would broaden Parsons' presence in the Middle East, where it is firmly entrenched in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It also would accelerate the company's growing involvement in the world of postwar rebuilding.
Parsons won three-year contracts to help rebuild Kosovo and Bosnia- Herzegovina. During a scouting trip to Bosnia in 1996, Parsons then-Chief Executive Leonard Pieroni was killed in an airplane accident along with Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown. He was succeeded by James McNulty.
wrong in my sight. it is not for him to decide any more if he should kill or not. his job is fight and if he starts thinking he oculd ruin a lot of other people in danger.
Marine who said no to killing on his conscience
Fighting not to fight
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Tuesday April 1, 2003
The first American conscientious objector from the Iraq war will give himself up at a marine base in California this morning. He said he believed the war was "immoral because of the deception involved by our leaders". Stephen Eagle Funk, 20, a marine reserve who was due to be sent for combat duty, is currently on "unauthorised absence" from his unit. He faces a possible court martial and time in military prison for his action.
"I know I have to be punished for going UA," Mr Funk told the Guardian in an interview before surrendering to authorities, "but I would rather take my punishment now than live with what I would have to do [in Iraq] for the rest of my life. I would be going in knowing that it was wrong and that would be hypocritical."
Mr Funk, who is originally from Seattle and is half Filipino, was approached by a recruiting officer last year. At the time, he said, he was depressed after dropping out of a biology course at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was working part-time for a vet and in a pet shop.
His family and friends were surprised by his decision, he said, because they had known him to have liberal political views and not to have been interested in the military.
"I wanted to belong and I wanted another direction in my life, and this seemed to offer it," said Mr Funk. "They told me I would be able to go back to school [university]." Recruits have their college fees paid once they complete their service.
"The ads make the armed forces look so cool - 'Call this number and we'll send you a free pair of boxer shorts' - and a lot of kids don't realise what's involved," he said. Although he graduated from the famously tough marine boot camp in San Diego and excelled as a rifleman during the 12-week induction period, Mr Funk said he had started to have doubts about military service during his training.
"Every day in combat training you had to yell out 'Kill! Kill!' and we would get into trouble if you didn't shout it out, so often I would just mouth it so I didn't get into trouble." The recruits were also encouraged to hurt each other during hand-to- hand combat training. "I couldn't do that so they would pair me up with someone who was very violent or aggressive."
Mr Funk said many recruits were envious of those who were being sent to the Gulf. "They would say things like, 'Kill a raghead for me - I'm so jealous.'"
As a Catholic who attended mass most Sundays during training, he eventually decided to take his concerns to the chaplain. "He said, 'It's a lot easier if you just give in and don't question authority.' He quoted the Bible at me and said, 'Jesus says to carry a sword.'
"But I don't think Jesus was a violent man - in fact, the opposite - and I don't think God takes sides in war _ Everyone told me it was futile to try to get out."
At shooting practice, although he scored well, the instructor told him he had an attitude problem: "I was a little pissed off and I said, 'I think killing people is wrong.' That was the crystallising moment because I had never said it out loud before. It was such a relief."
He became concerned about the reasons for the conflict in Iraq. "This war is very immoral because of the deception involved by our leaders. It is very hypocritical." He is opposed to the use of war as a way of solving problems.
"War is about destruction and violence and death. It is young men fighting old men's wars. It is not the answer, it just ravages the land of the battleground. I know it's wrong but other people in the military have been programmed to think it is OK."
Mr Funk, who is being counselled by conscientious objectors from the 1991 Gulf war, said he had gone public to try to dissuade other young people who had not thought through their reasons for joining the forces. "All they [the military] want is numbers. What I'm doing is really trying to educate people to weigh their options - there are so many more ways to get money for school."
He added: "My mum had a gut feeling it wouldn't work out." Although he does not know what punishment awaits, "it's a risk I'm willing to take".
This morning, accompanied by his lawyer and former conscientious objectors from previous wars, he will arrive at his home base in San Jose, change into his uniform and give himself up.
The War's Dirty Secret: It's About Changing United States, Not Iraq
Much to her surprise, the federal government is promising to do everything Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters has spent years fighting for.
Education for the neediest souls will be transformed, quality health care will be guaranteed, damaged roadways and bridges will be rebuilt, and millions of dollars will be spent to spur new business.
Waters just never figured the beneficiaries would be residents of Iraq.
A few weeks ago, when I spent several hours with her in Washington as the start of the war approached, Waters had begun to fear the worst.
"I'm very worried about the long-term impact," she said, predicting that as the cost of the war grows, states, counties and cities will get stiffed.
Waters wasn't talking about the weeks and months ahead, but the years and decades to come. The cost of the war and rebuilding Iraq, she said, could drastically limit what government can do.
The effort to turn Iraq into a democracy, in other words, is making the U.S. less of one. Our opposition party has disappeared, corporate interests dictate public policy, and the feds may be rummaging through your e-mail.
There's a dirty secret no one has told you, and here it is: This war is not about changing Iraq, it's about changing America.
Unless you're lucky enough to be an investor in one of the corporations that will win multimillion-dollar contracts to rebuild Iraq, you may be hurting when the cost of the war and a new era of deficit spending put even more of a drag on the economy.
If you don't earn enough to hit the jackpot on President Bush's proposed tax cuts, you're just going to have to fend for yourself. The whole idea is to train you to expect less and to feel patriotic about it.
If things get really bad, you can always move to Iraq.
"I think it's terribly arrogant and overly ambitious for this president to think he can invade that country, turn it into a democracy, and use American taxpayer dollars to build an infrastructure that still is not built in some parts of this nation," Waters said.
"In addition to that, he wants to go ahead with tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country."
To clarify, Waters isn't against sending American dollars to other countries.
"I believe in foreign assistance, and I think the richest nation in the world should certainly help our neighbors in other parts of the world," she said. "But I dislike the idea that we tear up Iraq first, bombing it to smithereens, and then we go back and put in the water systems, the health-care facilities and the other things we've torn up."
Last week, Waters and the rest of the country got the first bill for Operation Iraqi Freedom when the president asked Congress for $74.7 billion to cover war-related costs. Empire-building isn't cheap.
"That's probably going to underwrite about one month's cost of the war," said Waters. "And it's just the tip of the iceberg."
Waters got nervous when she saw Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, grab one of the first rebuilding contracts before we'd even begun knocking things down. To help prevent a feeding frenzy by corporations with political connections, Waters introduced two amendments.
The first would have put a four-year hold on the awarding of military contracts to companies that helped draft the Iraqi war policy or employed high-level administration officials.
It was shot down like a sputtering Scud.
Waters went back to the drawing board and came up with a softer amendment.
"This time I just said, 'OK, let's say the person who's worked for that company in the last four years can't do the negotiating. He'd have to recuse himself from that discussion.' Now that's as simple as it can get, and they voted against that one, too."
One night last week, I called Waters' Capitol Hill office at 9 p.m. her time and she answered the phone herself, having just returned from a House session.
"I was on the floor for an hour, helping educate people about the cuts being made to veterans' programs," she said.
So let's review.
We're asking 200,000 troops to risk life and limb in Iraq, and the White House and Congress are preparing a welcome-home party by slashing veterans' benefits.
Last week, I visited the Veterans Affairs dorms in West L.A., where I met a Vietnam vet who was wounded six times. He had a brace on his leg and shrapnel scars from head to toe, and he'd finally given up on his fight for enough disability pay to live on.
When I walked away, patients were calling out to me, saying there's no hot water for showers.
Things are not looking good for the future veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
By Waters' count, current budget proposals would trim $15 billion from veterans' programs -- something's got to cover those big tax cuts -- over the next 10 years.
And that's if there are no unforeseen costs in the rebuilding of Iraq.
wow man. this w.bloggar tool is so great i can't stop myself from using it. addictive very. anyway, i got some plans for today and got some work. in the end, it all boils down to humans.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
i finally decided to write about the RSJ march issue. i did a long on eand then some fucked up thing hapenned and couldn't undo.
anyway, i just couldn't help it. there was so much of shit waiting to be thought at. so i will try this in a general point by point breakdown.
1. in the last section where they remember all the people who have died and mattered - usual suspects feat. cobain, jimi, janis, jim - they forgot about joey ramone which they had featured in their magazine some time back. that is almost a criminal offense.
2. the whole issue was laced in nostalgia. come on people, there is so much hapenning in the real world, u can't just have an issue devoted completely to past rememberances. yes there were the random jottings thing featured but as i have said earlier, they certainly need some tidying up in that section.
3. on a tangent, they featured bombay black when they opened for aerosmith. guess the other opening band? fuel! impressive to see the career graphs of both of them although i have to say that although i am a very staunch supporter of the nu-metal movement, fuel did not impress me much. there blend of metal drenched with southern loose influences brings to mind a certain without vowel band.
4. in the metal section, anthrax have been written as, "while other metal bands were getting drunk, anthrax were writing social and political commentaries". and i thought that anthrax was the only band who were quite tongue-in-cheek due to their punk influence. wonder what metalllica was doing at that time?
5. in a 96 issue, melissa etheridge is compared to janis joplin. yeah right.
6. in a 97 issue, U2's latest effort 'POP' is said to be like a very hyper active prodigy of TFOTL era. ahem. like i can call this a bit of a overstatement and i might get away with it. maybe the writer is excessively fond of U2. i mean, if gregorian chants are in, then why not christian wussies! (in jest please)
7. this is my favourite. they used to have this section very early on which used to list all new release and the labels and the corresponding genres. so this one is out of a 93 issue.
NIRVANA - BLEACH - GEFFEN - get ready - thrash/heavy metal.
8. another lateral thought. there is a review dissing remo's 'politicians don't know how to rock and roll". i haven't heard the record so i will reserve my judgements but i can say this that it had one of the best album sleeves of all time. at the back of it, the statement went,
" india is a great country. it has so many resources, so good people (blah blah blah... full bakchodi about our greatness).
to keep a country poor and illetrate for so long is a very difficult job and we salute our politicians for that."
come to think of it. this is a good idea. i am going to post a topic for the best album titles
9. in the review of faith no more's angel dust, it is written about mike patton's death metal styled vocals in jizzlober. another big ahem here.
10. finally, there is a big comparision to be made here. there is an article in the 93 ed. by amit roy who is justifying thrash metal. he is trying to clear up the confusion that thrash metal does not promote satanism or voilence or any other type of shit. he is also trying to tell us that it is not all noise.
on another note, amit or someone has questioned 'what is alternative', an article totally stemming out from a report of the lollapapooza tour that year. so he raises questions about the basic aesthetics of alternative music and where should it fit in and why it does not have any music sense. he also tells us that cobain never pracitced a guitar solo (i wasn't expecting that. but that was such a musically tuned band) and basically tries to tell us that alternative is a fad.
compare this to today. today people are quesstioning black/death metal and the ethics that go with it while earlier it was thrash. so we see that music is reaching the very edges of acceptance in society. i think this fabric would be stretched again and again in the years to come and me - i love showdown - thinks finally an apocalypse would destroy society as well as all electric equipment signalling the end of black/death whatever.
and the other comparision can be drawn between nu-metal/alternative. what alternative went through in the early 90s - scoffs from the older guards and cheered by the younger brigade - is being done to nu-metal right now.
you know what is the best part?
cornell or someone justified in that issue, ' why classify us. we r rock n roll in the grand tradition.'
i have been following POD and nonpoint and other good bands of this genre. so in interviews were people try to put them down in genres (this i think is another problem. people try to classify as a way of putting them down in some sense like they know what it is and that is why it is not so great. it must be the exhiliration of understanding), guess what they reply.
"why classify us. we r rock n roll in the grand tradition."
ok guys, i have finally decided to activate this or some sort of shit. now i am trying to find templates, cmmenting system and exactly what i intend to put up here. my basic idea is that this would be a back to the old school movement with this being basically a weblog. all the ilnks i shift through daily and additionally i plan on a music video review cuz no one's being doing it.
with that shit clear, let me make a fatalistic realization at this point. my exams are 3 weeks away. i have not studied for the whole year. and now, i don't intend to.
we fall right down on our face, remembering to be what i am not anymore.
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