|Tjebbe van Tijen on Mon, 9 Feb 2004 08:57:01 +0100 (CET)|
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|[Nettime-nl] Unbombing the World 1911-2011 project seeks support|
5 years ago the Unbombing the World Project was launched. I have been working on it on and off during the last years. A first stage of inventory of all use of aerial bombing between 1911 and 2003 has been reached and a short overview of 815 towns.areas is now available in PDF format from my website. http://imaginarymuseum.org/UBW/ubw01a.html In the coming period I will try to find financial and technical support to realize parts of the Unbombing Project. It is clear that the scope of such a project is far beyond the capabilities of one person. From the beginning the idea has been to gather the content in a collaborative way, using the knowledge and insight of many people. The Internet offers opportunities to realize such a collective work on an international level. Opportunities for financial support from the cultural and scientific sector will be used. Applications for support will be posted as down-loadable files in Acrobat PDF format: 2004/02 Proposal for German phase, blanco application (putting the German "Bombenkrieg" discussion in a global perspective, 14 pages) -UnbombingProject.pdf 2004/02 Overview of content of global Unbombing database (1911-2003 overview of all bombed towns/areas 815 records, 36 pages) -UBWdatabase.pdf This is a short introductionary text putting, again, the Unbombing project in its actual conetxt: UNBOMBING THE WORLD 1911 - 2011 one century of bombing of humans and human habitat a way to both remember and forget - a way to reconcile a project proposal by Tjebbe van Tijen The idea for the Umbombing Project came after I visited Tokyo in 1995. At first I could not understand why only such a few older buildings and landmarks could be seen, and I was shocked to discover that a great part of this huge city had been torched and burnt down during aerial bombing campaigns of the USA Air Force in March-July 1945. I was ashamed not to know that over a hundred thousand people died, probably more than the death toll taken by the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. As 1995 was the 50 years anniversary of the dropping of the atom bombs, an international debate arose. A discussion partly triggered by a proposed exhibition in the American Smithsonian Institute of Technology of the airplane that dropped the atom bombs, the Enola Gay. A discussion about whether it had been right or wrong to drop the A-bombs; if it had "saved lives" of American soldiers and, possibly, many sections of the Japanese population that would have resisted a traditional sea-born invasion; if "the aggressive and murderous" Japanese nation deserved to be strafed in such a way; if the sea blockade had not already brought Japan on its knees, and so on. 1995 was also the year in which discussion lists on the Internet started booming and many people from the USA, Japan, the world over, used this new discussion medium. The discussion was marked by an obvious split between right and wrong, victors and defeated, aggressor and counter-aggressor. It did not sufficiently address the wider problem of the use of aerial bombing: ways of waging war whereby civilians run even more risk to be killed than soldiers. The Unbombing Project is an attempt to go beyond the dichotomized way of discussing war. It raises questions on the massive use of air power during World War II as a means to defeat Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan (it certainly does not fail to document the indiscriminate and vicious attacks by the air forces of these Axis countries); it raises questions on the practice of "terror-bombing", not aimed at military or economic targets, but at the morale of the population, and thus at their lives. A military strategy that has not sufficiently been put in question, and even continued during the Korean and Vietnam/Indochina wars. The post World War II international tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo failed to address the issue of aerial bombing and the hundred thousands of victims it caused. This has left a moral-vacuum, especially on the side of the British, the Americans and allied countries that had a major involvement in the air war (Canada, South Africa, Australia). This moral-vacuum is easily filled with anti-Western, anti-American, sentiments. International justice comes to be seen as a justice which exempts the victors.The debate about the throwing of the atom bombs on Japan, the bombing of Dresden, the Hamburg fire storm, the merciless pounding of Indochina (to mention only a few major cases), smoulders and keeps flaring up at unexpected moments. . Air power (aerial bombing and missile attack) continues to be used in the last decades. Not just by 'First World', "Western powers" like the United States or Great Britain but also by 'Second World' powers like the Soviet Union and its offspring, the Russian Federation, as in the case of Afghanistan and Chechnya. 'Thirds World' nations have joined in, as in the cases of Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Congo, Angola, and Columbia. Air power is a tool both for internal repression in civil war like situations (Nicaragua, Columbia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Sri Lanka) and old fashioned inter-state wars like the one between Iran and Irak. There certainly is a decline in the number of bombing victims, massive and indiscriminate targeting of urban areas is not anymore on the military agenda, as public opinion and its management has become part of 'the military operation'. Nevertheless Gulf, Balkan and Afghanistan Wars saw "unintentional" killing, in spite of the praised "precision" of modern weapons. There may be almost "zero casualties" for the perpetrators, the ones flying, throwing, or merely plotting and pushing a button, human bodies, human lives on the ground are fragile, victims continue to occur, whereby one may also doubt whether the death of demonized adversaries (be they labeled soldiers or terrorists) by explosion or fire is the best solution for solving a conflict. A historical reconciliation process, of bombing humans and human habitat, is still needed, a process that starts with attempts at "truth finding" and "truth telling", which will reveal that there is more than one truth, which will give some understanding of the military-industrial-complex and the weakness of political decision-makers dealing with it; a process which lets us listen to those from the past who spoke against massive bombing and torching of cities and villages, against the spraying of poison, the casting of cluster bomb; a process in which the voices of the aircrews that risked and often gave their lives, must be heard as well. For many fighters of the air war it has been more than just following orders, it was a fight against totalitarian and murderous regimes, or a defense of the own nation, putting at risk their own lives. Of course this is raising questions in hindsight, but still they need to be posed. Evading them and rigidly continue to foster historical self-righteousness will be impossible. The present is changing and the past will be reappraised. Tjebbe van Tijen 9/2/2004 Tjebbe van Tijen Imaginary Museum Projects (IMP), Amsterdam http://ImaginaryMuseum.org/ When sending Emails with big attachments please use: info@ImaginaryMuseum.org < a year is a mapping device of time but allow yourself to travel beyond the coordinates of your agenda >
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