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<nettime> MediaWatch 6
Ivo Skoric on Tue, 23 Oct 2001 22:44:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> MediaWatch 6

I haven't received anthrax in the mail, but I was busy otherwise - I am in 
the middle of relocating from Manhattan to a less target-rich environment 
for the winter - hence the disruption of the Media Watch campaign.

1) Why Taliban do not just give up Bin Laden?

Asking Taliban to extradite/surrender/give-up Osama Bin Laden is like 
asking US government to surrender Bill Gates. He is rich and important 
member of Taliban Afghanistan society. I've heard the surprised 
comments in American media that Taliban were not handing over Bin 
Laden even despite the heavy bombing. But that of course, probably just 
hardened their resolve. And I don't believe that anybody at Pentagon 
seriously believed that Taliban would hand over Bin Laden. Bombing is 
not aimed to accomplish that. Air strikes just naturally precede the 
ground offensive.

The introduction of foreign (British SAS and US Rangers) ground forces 
in Afghanistan, however, produced mixed blessing - it may be the only 
effective way to extricate Bin Laden out of Afghanistan, but it presents a
serious diplomatic obstacle for continuous coalition with Islamic 
countries, that are highly sensitive on West not letting them handle their
internal affairs. But Blair's hawkishness is not that surprising: after 
all Middle East is British mess originally - Osama is dating the apparent 
causes for his terror campaign to 80 years ago, i.e. at the time the US was 
not yet the pre-emptive hyper-power, and that role was, instead, played 
by the UK.

2) Why can the US/UK military operation be hardly called a success so 

Two strategically important cities (Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul) are still in
the hands of Taliban. By holding Mazar-i-Sharif, Taliban virtually split 
Northern Alliance in two: the Northern part supplied by Russians and 
the Southern part supplied by Iran, while denying them access to the 
bridge over Amur Dar to Uzbek city of Termez, where all the Western 
support waits for them.

Meanwhile the bombing continues:					

>From his hilltop village, Afghan Malai watched the two jets swoop low 
over Karam, three miles away across a valley, reports The Observer:  
'They came low over it and then there was a huge explosion and flames 
reaching high into the air. There was more explosive in these bombs than 
the ones the Russians used.'

Serious blunders like that by American warplanes may have killed at least 
100 civilians in Afghanistan, according to eye-witness accounts 
obtained by The Observer. Until now Western politicians have been 
quick to dismiss the claims as propaganda. Britain's International 
Development Secretary, Clare Short, said 'there had not been so many 
civilian casualties'. Now apparent confirmation of serious casualties 
among non-combatants is beginning to emerge.

If the evidence is accurate, an attack on Karam village, 18 miles west of 
Jalalabad, last Thursday was the most lethal blunder yet by the Allied 
forces, and will seriously shake the increasingly fragile coalition built 
by President Bush and Tony Blair (Jason Burke, Peshawar Sunday October 
21, 2001, The Observer). To underscore the seriousness of the situation, 
the United Nations is set to issue an unprecedented appeal to the United 
States and its coalition allies to halt the war on Afghanistan and allow 
time for a huge relief operation. 

UN sources in Pakistan said growing concern over the deteriorating 
humanitarian situation in the country - in part, they say, caused by the 
relentless bombing campaign - has forced them to take the radical step. 
Aid officials estimate that up to 7.5 million Afghans might be threatened 
with starvation. 

Still, despite US airstrikes, Taliban Radio is back on the air, with some 
broadcasts trying to offer reassurance to the Afghan public that nothing 
of importance had been hit, while also accusing the US and Britain of 
committing "genocide" in Afghanistan. While this sound like Serbian 
Television in 1999, the emphasis should be on the fact that Taliban Radio 
is indeed back on the air, while everybody now at least acknowledges 
civilian casualties. It looks like in this war the 'collateral damage'
exceeds the targeted damage.


3) What makes terrorism superior to conventional warfare?

Terrorism seems to be superior to air-power in terms of military 
efficiency: it is more precise, causes less unintentional collateral damage, 
yet it is vastly more debilitating (angst inducing) for the attacked side.
Al Qaeda is virtually running out of targets, while the US never even had 
them to begin with. Missiles hit dirt all over Afghanistan. We saw some 
undecipherable rubble and heard about large numbers of civilian 
casualties, while witnessing Taliban announcing with wide grins on their 
faces that on their side everything was normal and that they felt not at a
ll disturbed by American bombing. And for Al Qaeda headquarters we 
don't even know where there are. On the other hand, in the heart of the 
world's "leading" democracy, nothing is normal: the House of 
Representatives and Senate, the Capitol Hill, had to be evacuated. And 
all it took was a 34 cents postage stamp. Not a million dollar cruise 

There is a definite pattern to Osama's madness: there was no suicide 
bomber in New York subway, or poisoning of water - the attacks were 
directed at the military headquarters (Pentagon), financial center (WTC 
and downtown Manhattan), large media houses (NBC, CBS, etc.) and the 
political might (Capitol Hill). However, while the attacks were targeted, 
the methods that were used to convey them caused indiscriminate 
suffering of innocents. The use of biological agents in particular is by its 
nature indiscriminate - that's why it is banned by international 
conventions - there is no way to say if ten years from now someone 
somewhere in the States would get infected by anthrax from some spore 
over-looked in some mail-room where one of those letters passed 

But more than the end targets - the vehicles used to reach them are 
targets in themselves - the airplanes, the principal method to foster face
- to-face communication in the modern business world, were grounded for 
a week and the industry never fully recovered. Now the mail - the 
backbone of business communication - is yet another source of fear. The 
men with the box-cutters attacked air travel. The anthrax bacteria 
attacked postal service. In this puzzle, Internet should be next, as a third 
degree of separation in the means of communication. With communication 
channels obstructed, business is paralyzed. And it already is.

Than there is the time that is consumed by the events - in media, in 
policy making, in business, in everyday life of every ordinary person. It 
seems that 80% of all resources in the US are devoted to coping with this 
events. And the events came about in time of weakening economy, when 
recession word was already on everybody's mouth. Now, instead on 
working on getting out of recession, everybody is dealing with the war. 
And the government is, it has to, digging deep in the pockets of the 
future generations to mend the troubles of today.

On top of that there is the psychological effect of being under the siege 
(and the US is de facto under siege right now) for a prolonged period of 
time - particularly for younger generations - which could be conveniently 
witnessed observing people from the former Yugoslavia or 
Israel/Palestine. If this war does not end quickly the US is running into 
a danger of militarization of its society and perpetual re-enactment of 
stories like this:


"We are not forcing patriotism and not endorsing any religion," Madison 
resident Monty Clifcorn said. "The United States of America and God are 
inseparable."  - after Madison school board removed a week old ban on 
reciting the Pledge of Alliance. 

Afghanistan or Al Qaeda they don't have that particular vulnerability, 
since they are already living in that state even more so than 
Israel/Palestine or post-Yugoslav societies do. The sooner this war is 
over the less damaging for the US society it shall be.

4) Media between truth, political correctness and patriotism:

Media already changed - everybody has a 'dissent' angle now written in
and the radios are playing the questionable songs on purpose 
(Spreading the Disease by Anthrax, being the most appropriate example) -
 this is the second stage, when media are relaxing from their earlier 
posturing in denial and joining the flow (which includes dissent).

Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators took the streets of London, 
Berlin, Hamburg today, reported Dutch RTL4 News and NPS Journaal. 
Both stations had 90 second items on the subject during their prime time 
newscasts. In the US, in the article Operation Enduring Protest, Liza 
Featherstone, wrote for  <http://www.thenation.com/> The Nation on 
October 19, 2001, the most comprehensive review of the anti-war dissent 
in the US and abroad, with this capturing moment: "Punk-rock icon Patti 
Smith--who cut a sexy, stringy-haired spectacle, wearing a blue wool cap, 
a white T-shirt and non-ironic crucifix--gruffly urged the assembled to 
"wrestle the world from fools!" Smith saved the gathering from turning 
into a 1960s flashback (other performers had perpetrated folk songs, 
including the dead-tired "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More")."

Here is more on anti-war protests in London and Berlin:





And then there was the heated discussion (Channel 25, Manhattan) 
worth of Al Jazeera programming between a representative of PLO in the 
US (bent on repeating that Palestinians would be satisfied with just 22% 
of their historic land if Israel agrees to that) and the employee of Israeli 
embassy, a young rambunctious fellow short on arguments, who failed 
to convince me in Israel's righteousness with the claim that Israel indeed 
returned Sinai to Egypt, although Sinai was three times the size of Israel
(this sounded way too much like a Serb nationalist claiming that Serbia 
allowed Bosnians to have some of their state back, so therefore Karadzic 
and Mladic should be deemed good guys now).


For the record, aid to Israel and Egypt, while it varies in amount per year, 
is fixed at a 3-2 ratio, with Israel receiving the higher portion. In 
addition, much of the aid to Israel is with no strings attached, while aid 
to Egypt is funneled through USAID et al, meaning a good proportion of it is 
left in this country or given to U.S. companies working in Egypt. (Anthony 
Chase, Center for International Studies, University of Chicago)

Still, the levels of censorship in the US are unacceptably high for a free
democratic society - here is the story:


The Pentagon has spent millions of dollars to prevent the public from 
seeing civilian satellite pictures of the effects of bombing in Afghanistan, 
the UK Guardian reported Oct. 17. The images, taken by the company 
Space Imaging from Ikonos, an advanced private satellite launched in 
1999, are the best available to civilians. The decision to shut down 
access to the images was taken Oct. 11, after reports of heavy civilian 
casualties from the overnight bombing of training camps near Darunta, 
northwest of Jalalabad. Instead of invoking its legal powers to exercise 
"shutter control" over civilian satellites launched from the US, the 
Pentagon bought exclusive rights to all Ikonos pictures of Afghanistan. 
The US military does not need the pictures for its own purposes, 
because it already has seven imaging satellites in orbit. The decision to 
use commercial rather than legal powers to bar access to the images was 
criticized by many. Since images of the bombed bases would not have 
shown the position of US forces or compromised military security, the 
ban could be challenged by news media as a breach of the First 
Amendment. The only alternative source of satellite images is the 
Russian Cosmos system. But Russia has not yet decided to step into the 
information void created by the Pentagon deal with Space Imaging.  

5) Is the English-speaking Empire running a risk of being left holding the

Was that suit with large pink dots that Chinese made Bush (and Putin) 
wear a synonym for a 'dunce's hat'?  In Germany the Green Party (Die
Gruenen) is in turmoil: the party's leadership backs Bundeskanzler 
Schroeder's support for America's war on Afghanistan, the traditionally 
pacifist rank and file are dead against, according to RTL News. And in 
Berlin the SPD might have to form a coalition with former East German 
communists - which was the only party in Germany that took a public 
stand opposing the bombing of Afghanistan. Iran's Al Khamenei warned 
the US that bombing of Taliban is dragging the world into war. In South 
France, high school kids made up a situationist mock protest with 
slogans like "Long Live Osama" - they were taken in for questioning. 
They were NOT from Arab immigrant families. And Britain will not 
extradite terrorist suspects to the US, because the US still has death 
penalty on the books. New York Mayor Giuliani declined $10M from 
Saudi prince because the prince said that September 11 events were 
thanks to US foreign policies - which is perhaps true but rather bold 
coming from one of the chief benefactors of those policies such as Saudi 
royalty is. This all puts the "unequivocal" global support of the US war 
on terrorism into a perspective.

On the other hand - at some places that "support" is taken quite too 
literally: (New York, October 18, 2001) Claiming the presence of "extremist 
religious forces," the government of China is suppressing peaceful 
political and religious activity in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, 
Human Rights Watch said in a backgrounder released today. Xinjiang, a 
some 40 percent of whom are ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim, Turkic-speaking 
ethnic group, many of whom advocate independence from Beijing. The 
alleged links of Uighur separatists to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is 
likely to be a topic of discussion at the Asia-Pacific Economic 
Cooperation summit in Shanghai this weekend, where President Bush 
has put anti-terrorism efforts high on the agenda.

Meanwhile at other places things are slowly slipping out of control:


Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK

Nato warning to Macedonia 

Nato has given its strongest warning yet to the Macedonian authorities 
about their delay in ratifying the deal to end the conflict with ethnic 
Albanian rebels. The alliance's secretary general, George Robertson, said 
on arrival in Macedonia on Thursday that the delays could lead to 
renewed violence, and were preventing the return of thousands of 

6) And what happens when the bombing stops? 

As in the game of musical chairs, one participant will remain unseated 
when the music stops. There is no question that the US would win the 
war - because ultimately, in the long run, the winning of wars depends on 
availability of resources, and ability to adapt (development of new 
technologies) - and eventually the US can come up with new vaccines 
faster than Al Qaeda may come up with new diseases - but there is a 
question whether the US would be the same after such a victory, or 
would it be damaged, or, maybe, would it be more mature?

Osama is very media conscious - having "actor's awareness of the lens," 
and being "a man of homoerotic narcissism" (John Le Carre, The Globe 
and Mail, 10/13/01) - everything that he did so far was aimed to be a 
media spectacle: the World Trade Center obsession, the two 
simultaneous embassies bombed, the USS Cole, the Pentagon, anthrax - 
nothing is an end in itself, all is done for a spectacle of terror.

Osama is, also, right about the treatment of the Arab world by the 'great 
powers.' The talk about injustice and humiliation does have historic 
grounds. The massive killing of civilians in Iraq, coupled with economic 
sanctions and relentless years of bombing is not just. The US uncritical 
support of Israel is offensive. And the fact that the 'great powers' did 
everything to prevent the development of modern states in the Arab 
world is overwhelmingly sad.

But Osama is not messiah he wants his followers believe he is: his real 
motives are more down to Earth and ultimately of equally imperialist 
nature as the motives are of those whom he declared his enemies. As the 
recent literature Nobel prize winner V. S. Naipaul once wrote: "Islamic 
fundamentalism is imperialist." What we essentially now witness is the 
fight over the control of the largest reserves of the most important 
natural resource for the modern world: OIL.

The oil economy is a demand-side economy - since the largest 
consumer/importer (the U.S.) dictates the price and the pace of 
consumption/production - while the suppliers are kept divided and 
quarreling in their late baroque style; Bin Laden wants to change this to 
supply-side economy (even setting once the price at $144 a barrel - 
roughly 5 times the going price) by uniting the Arab world under his 
dadaist flag. The US is too dependent on the road and air traffic (that 
consumes oil) - everybody has a car, that's the botched, polluting 
American way of life - and that makes the US highly vulnerable to the 
eventually competing oil-supplier empire. 

While every decade the US manages to decrease its oil imports from the 
Middle East in an effort to prevent suppliers dictate (now its at about the 
1/4 of all imports), in a long run this is not the solution, since Middle 
East is blessed with 2/3 of world's oil reserves - i.e. even when other 
wells will go dry, the Mid-East oil will still flow. And when the US found 
a way around Mid-East oil - trying to tap into the second largest reserves 
at the Caspian oil basin, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bin 
Laden moved to Afghanistan, trying to lay a claim to that oil there, too.

The Chevron angle and the Caspian oil:

The spread of Islamic fundamentalist insurgency north from Afghanistan 
threatens the rich oil resources of the Caspian Basin, which multinational
corporations hope to massively exploit in the 21st century. The key 
contract was signed between Kazakhstan and Chevron in 1994, granting 
the company a stake in all oil development there (RFE Newsline, Sept. 3, 
1999). Chevron has increased its stake since then by buying out more of 
Kazakhstan's shares, and now holds a 50% share (ibid, May 22, 2000). 
Chevron has also formed a partnership with Shell and Mobil to build a 
pipeline connecting the Kazakhstan oilfields to Baku, Azerbaijan, and 
then via Turkey to Western markets (Dec. 10, 1998). The Chevron-led 
partnership is competing with the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, a Russia-
Kazakhstan-Oman joint venture which is developing a pipeline route 
through Russia (March 12, 1996). 

Vice President Dick Cheney helped broker the Chevron-Kazakhstan deal 
when he sat on the Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board in the mid-'90s 
(Amarillo Globe-News, June 13, 1998). Chevron also has on e former 
corporate board member in the Bush Administration--National Security 
Advisor Condoleezza Rice, whose financial disclosure statement 
indicates she held at least $250,000 in Chevron stock and had income of 
more than $555,000 last year (Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 
3, 2001; Dec. 18, 2000). Chevron even has a Bahamas-registered tanker 
named the Condoleezza Rice (www.usmm.org/socalships.html).

Another vulnerability: Houston Ship Channel - 45 feet deep, 520 feet 
wide, dug through the shallow Galveston bay, serves the largest port in 
the US in foreign water-bound commerce and the largest petrochemical 
complex in the US (2nd in the world) - for example: Condoleeza  sunk 
sideways in that channel would seriously disturb oil supply to this 

7) Anecdotal evidence:

Alternatives to the US foreign policy:


Why would it be better to kill Osama than to capture him alive (answered 
by The New York Times)?


>From colonel Qaddafi: The Libyan government has had an international 
warrant out for the arrest of Osama Bin Laden and some accomplices 
years longer than the USA, charging him with the murder of a German 
secret policeman and his wife. So, Qadaffi would have the right to try 
Osama before Americans do, in event Osama gets caught alive.  	

Try to smoke out Osama out of his cave:


Rebuilding done at Raccoon Space:


>From NYC Mayoral elections: in our remaining high-rise democracy we 
have Marijuana Reform Party, American Dream party, Green candidates 
for Mayor and a Libertarian guy who lists "street smart" under his 
educational background. Much better voting choices that the US 
presidential elections last year.

>From the 2001 Hamptons International Film Festival:

This year the Festival had a conflict & resolution category showing 26 
short films from or about former Yugoslavia.  In a documentary by 
Zvonimir Juric, The Fortress, about the old fortress in the city of Osijek, 
one young man is describing the first action taken in Croatia against the 
Yugoslav Army: taking over the Osijek military infirmary by 8 young 
Croats who didn't even had firearms at that time. He said that he was sad 
that nobody remembers that date: it was September 11, 1991. Well, I think 
everybody now remembers that date...

>From Internet:

Now, the real kicker: A pilot they want us to believe was trained at a 
Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a 
well-controlled downward spiral, descending the last 7,000 feet in two-
and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips
the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with 
pinpoint accuracy into the side of this building at 460 nauts. When the 
theory about learning to fly this well at the puddle-jumper school began 
to lose ground, it was added that they received further training on a 
flight simulator. This is like saying you prepared your teenager for her 
first drive on I-40 at rush hour by buying her a video driving game.	

>From Canada:

They have looked upon the most affluent and overweight people in the 
world, seen softness and not understood that underneath, there is iron and
resolve and unfathomable will. They have seen the startling diversity of
race and religion and ethnicity and heard the cacophony of voices in that
remarkable country, and failed to grasp that beneath the heart of every
hyphenated American, there rages the heart of an American, period. 

* Christie Blatchford [National Post (a Canadian national newspaper), 
September 12, 2001] 

>From L. Farrakhan (Nation of Islam) - again, I haven't seen him in 
American media after September 11, but new issue of The Economist has 
a short article on himself:

"Timothy McVeigh's behavior was unChristianlike, and, those who 
perpetrated this crime against America, their conduct was absolutely 
unMuslimlike. In the Holy Qur'an, God teaches us, "Let not hatred of a
people incite you to act unjustly." While this is good counsel from God 
for the Muslims, it is also good counsel for Christians and Jews and the 
President of the United States of America and the American people. The 
Qur'an admits that some of us will be hateful of others, but Allah 
demands that we let not hatred of any people cause us to act unjustly. 
The hatred that deprived these human beings of their sanity and their 
humanity is based on something far deeper. I heard Colin Powell, our 
Secretary of State, say that we're going to rip up these cells of terrorism 
and we will seek them out and hunt them down wherever they're found; 
and I heard a female general, General Kennedy, on television say 
yesterday, "we're not interested in capturing Osama bin Laden and 
taking this through any court. We want the head of this viper and all of 
those who are like him."

   These people are talking about violating international law, violating 
any law that will impede them from their pursuit. If Osama bin Laden were 
presented to the American people on a slab, this would not suffice the 
blood lust that this terrible tragedy has unleashed in America. 

    As our Secretary of State said that we will rip up these nests of 
terrorists, I appeal to the President and I appeal to the Secretary of State 
to take the courage to look at the foreign policy of our nation. If it is 
our foreign policy that has produced this danger and hatred toward America, 
as you go into such a war, we have to ask ourselves, what have we done 
to produce this? Not the American people, not the soldiers that are in the
armed forces of America, but what have the policy makers of this country 
done to produce this?

     I have gone all over this world preaching atonement, reconciliation, 
and responsibility, and into every nation into which I have gone, I have 
not found people hating the people of America. Whenever they speak 
disparagingly of this country, they speak of America's foreign policy, 
policies that are made that the American people know nothing about. I 
sincerely hope and I pray that the policymakers of this nation, who have 
made policy based on corporate greed, I would hope that this terrible 
tragedy would cause the policy makers of our nation to look again at 
how we formulate foreign policy."

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