randomactsofchaos
Every war - particularly protracted ones like the ‘War on Terror’ - demands sustained dehumanization campaigns against the targets of the violence. Few populations will tolerate continuous killings if they have to confront the humanity of those who are being killed. The humanity of the victims must be hidden and denied. That’s the only way this constant extinguishing of life by their government can be justified or at least ignored. That was the key point made in the extraordinarily brave speech given by then-MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield in 2003 after she returned from Iraq, before she was demoted and then fired: that US media coverage of US violence is designed to conceal the identity and fate of its victims.

Glenn Greenwald, Newtown kids v. Yemenis and Pakistanis: what explains the disparate reactions?

The violence and rights abridgments of the Bush and Obama administrations have been applied almost exclusively to Muslims. It is, therefore, Muslims who have been systematically dehumanized. Americans virtually never hear about the Muslims killed by their government’s violence. They’re never profiled. The New York Times doesn’t put powerful graphics showing their names and ages on its front page. Their funerals are never covered. President Obama never delivers teary sermons about how these Muslim children “had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” That’s what dehumanization is: their humanity is disappeared so that we don’t have to face it.

But this dehumanization is about more than simply hiding and thus denying the personhood of Muslim victims of US violence. It is worse than that: it is based on the implicit, and sometimes overtly stated, premise that Muslims generally, even those guilty of nothing, deserve what the US does to them, or are at least presumed to carry blame. [++]

(via theamericanbear)

"US media coverage of US violence is designed to conceal the identity and fate of its victims."

Thank you.


Native Orientalists in Pakistan
The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

Native Orientalists in Pakistan

The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

Is torture justified if the torturer is a university-educated woman, and the tortured a bigoted Muslim fundamentalist? I think those are excellent questions for us to ask ourselves, arguably defining questions of the age, and I think the longer you look at them the thornier they get.

Today in Worst Questions Asked: Another instance of weaponized, imperialist feminism. The fact that this has already occurred - in Abu Ghraib and other torture cells maintained by USA and Western allies in the War on Terror - proves how Western feminism has been co-opted for global wars for many years now. What’s even worse is how many Western feminists condone these practices i.e. Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, drone attacks in Pakistan, speaking for Others, so on and so forth for the sake of “emancipation”. Subashini says it with one tweet:

If it’s justified to torture brown people, then “university-educated” (Western) women really can Have It All #thenewfeminism

The degree to which the US approach to human rights has shifted during President Obama’s administration is a highly controversial matter. Notwithstanding the extent to which Obama’s administration has followed or changed his predecessor’s lines of action, President Obama’s foreign policies increasingly rely on his rhetorical commitment to the promotion of human rights, freedom and democracy across the world. Whereas the administration of President Bush justified US interventions in a much more overtly imperialist and self-defensive manner, President Obama bases his policies on allegedly humanitarian solidarity with the wellbeing of the Other. […] A critical reader may well ask, does President Obama make the same demands of the Tea Party and the fundamentalist Christian right in his home country? The flagrant gap between the diligent vigilance he selectively shows towards sexual rights violations abroad and the lack of concern about what happens at home is indeed striking.

Orientalism and the modernisation of sexuality.

As Jasbir Puar puts it, ‘homosexual subjects who have limited legal rights in the US civil context gain significant representational currency when situated within the global scene of the war on terror’.

Praise be. Don’t forget to read this.

kawrage
Such a culture of danger as that we have lived with for far longer than this most recent iteration as “the war on terror” –warning against the Others whose presence near us, among us, “out there,” “lurking,” is understood to threaten “our” freedoms– draws upon a politics of comparison that is also practices of classification, about the world and its populations with differential access to freedom and security, and thus civilization and humanity. In this regard, the “war game,” and its extensive behind-the-scenes machinations, involves a series of measures for a certain kind of knowledge production about the alien body, producing knowledge for the calculation of danger, in the service of a broader imperative of liberal war. Liberal war, we can understand in the most basic conceptual shorthand, is conceived of as a “good war,” a rational war, a “war for humanity,” even if its violence is horrific, devastating, and otherwise completely fucked up. It is as such that sartorial “accuracy” –Tabbert studies images on the Internet, he teaches soldiers to distinguish between “bad” and “good” Arabs by their clothes– is just one of many procedures understood as a piece of a rational (and thus liberal and “good”) system of racial differentiation, contiguous with other identification-and-classification projects, such as developing biometrics systems for mobile forensics labs, scanning the irises and fingerprints of Iraqis in order to catalogue persons in an enormous database and determine their degrees of danger.

Sartorial Classification as a Weapon of War (via kawrage)

Let’s repeat that, shall we?

Liberal war, we can understand in the most basic conceptual shorthand, is conceived of as a “good war,” a rational war, a “war for humanity,” even if its violence is horrific, devastating, and otherwise completely fucked up. 

Khatam shud.

What has been created here [by the Obama administration] - permanently institutionalized - is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a “matrix” that determines the “disposition” of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be “disposed” of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.

Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent.

Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.

There you have it.

The Afghan women were used in a rhetoric of silence. As we all know, their silence was not their choice; it was a result of local as well as global power relations. Therefore, it was easy for Western women to portray themselves as the ones who gave Afghan women a voice.

Berit von der Lippe - When Feminism Legitimizes War.

Researcher Berit von der Lippe in Rhetoric and Citizenship – Public Deliberation, writes that the role of Afghan women in the war rhetoric is one example of how people in power use the rhetoric of silence.

For me as a feminist it was a paradox to see howan ideology that has criticized the universal positions and demanded women’s right to self-representation was used to legitimize the decision to go to war. Most people know that this ultimately has to do with military strategy. It gives UN Resolution 1325 and its good intentions a precarious basis on which to build peace and security.

I’ve always questioned the loopholes within Western feminist rhetoric for ‘liberating’ women in Asia and beyond. Among those words, I will never forget the slogans for supporting the invasion of Afghanistan by women living in USA: “We are us and we are them.” Except they weren’t. They could never be in the same situation as the Afghan or even Iraqi women were and are. And it’s amazing, isn’t it? That the women USA regime(s) claimed to empower were never given a complete, whole, equal opportunity to speak for themselves and explain their wants and needs at proper length.

jayaprada
But Obama has been less successful in articulating an end to the 9/11 Era Bush began, and it’s a major disconnect at the heart of his national security record. On the one hand, the Obama team contends, credibly, that al-Qaida is practically a spent force as the result of drone attacks and commando raids stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Pakistani tribal areas. But on the other, it argues that those attacks have to continue indefinitely. Senior Obama counterterrorism professionals concede they actually haven’t figured out how they’d even know if the terrorist movement is actually beaten. Obama can truthfully tell voters that he got U.S. troops out of Iraq — although maybe he should credit Bush with acquiescing to the Iraqis’ demand for that in 2008 — and will end direct U.S. combat in Afghanistan by 2014. But he can’t truthfully tell Americans that their unhappy experiment as a global counterterrorist force is finished as long as Predators loiter over Mirin Shah. Similarly, Obama has said absolutely nothing for four years about rolling back expansive surveillance programs — whether by the National Security Agency or the FBI — that arose after 9/11. While that surveillance state was supposed to be a temporary response to an emergency, dismantling it remains a marginal political position, since politicians don’t want to be smeared as terrorist fellow-travelers. It’s gotten to the point where maintaining the wartime government apparatus — sometimes by design, sometimes by inertia — isn’t even a partisan issue. GOP Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, has become one of the Senate’s leading voices for civil liberties, and for it has been demagogued by the Democratic Senate leader. A majority of Americans want to end the Afghanistan war, yet relatively few Washington politicians heed them. (No wonder Obama will emphasize the end of his surge in Charlotte, rather than the surge itself.) If Obama wanted to change the politics of national security, the GOP convention has provided only his latest opportunity to do so.

Spencer Ackerman, What Obama Won’t Say in Charlotte: War on Terror Is Done via Wired.com (via arielnietzsche)

Except that opportunity was lost and nothing changed. Take some time out to read this today.

The US military disclosed on Monday that a detainee at their prison facility, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has died. However, the name and nationality of the detainee are yet to be disclosed. […] The death of the detainee at Guantanamo Bay brings the total number of detainees at the US Naval Base to 168. This is the ninth death at the detention facility, with the majority of the deaths being suicides.

Guantanamo detainee found dead: US military

They didn’t send him home alive so they’ll send him home dead.

Those killed by the US Forces included a young Iraqi photojournalist and his assistant, a father out with his children and some neighbours who were caught in the attack while trying to help the wounded.

Permission to Engage: Victims’ families and an ex-US soldier unpick the Wikileaks film that showed US forces killing Iraqi civilians in 2007.

I will never forget that video leaked by Wikileaks of the US Apache opening fire on innocent Iraqi civilians - and then laughing.

Come on, let us shoot! Come on! Alright, hahaha. I hit ‘em.” 
"Light ‘em all up. C’mon. Fire. Keep shootin’." 
"Haha, look at all those dead bastards."

It still sends chills down my spine. Ex-US soldier who is interviewed by Al Jazeera says how he was affected by 9/11 and the ideological warfare that was encouraged by the US Government and media: “I would follow random Muslims in malls to see what they were doing. I would try to [get them to fight with me]. ‘Cause I hated them! I wanted to go kill terrorists. I wanted to go kill Muslims.” Later on the same soldier says his eyes opened when he saw the aftermath of the US Apache’s attack on Iraqi civilians. Imagine how painful it is for the victim’s parents to narrate the tragedy like a father does in the video. Watch the conversation between the ex-American soldier and a student who wants to enlist in the army. Listen to the regret in the soldier’s voice while describing the scene where the Iraqi child had glass in her belly, glass in her hair, the dying Iraqi father who tried protecting his children from the US Apache.

Imagine what would happen if a foreign force opened fire on harmless civilians in, say, a neighborhood or even a super market in USA mistaking simple cameras for weapons or opening fire because “the weapon held was anti-USA.” Apologies never bring the dead back. This is your Global War on Terror.

Even if you put someone in hell, they’re going to say it’s great, because they just left Guántanamo. […] The guards respected the animals more than (they did) us.

Al-Jazeera’s Sami al-Haj, the only journalist to have been detained in Guantánamo, talks about media coverage of the issue and how his life has changed.

This is horrifying, and terribly understated by the media and political figures.

The media is not asking the real questions: how are they going to be reunited with their families? What are they going to live from once they are released? How is their security going to be guaranteed? … Many ex-detainees are suffering. Getting back to daily life is so hard that some even say they want to go back to Guantánamo.

[…]

Sometimes I wake up and I think I am still in Guantánamo. Or it happens when I hear noises, when I see light, or I hear dogs or shoutings. I feel bad when I hear these things. But with the help of my psychological doctor, I feel my situation is (getting better). I wish in the near future I will become normal.

[…]

[The media] believe Obama and his promises, but he has not kept them. Obama said he would immediately close Guantánamo Bay when he came to power. He has not. He said he would bring the people who committed torture to trial. He has not.

How did he survive the turmoil?

"Two things helped me. First my faith. I know that God would not abandon me because He knew I was innocent. Second my profession. I lived inside Guantánamo as a journalist. It was a chance for me to leave among the detainees, see how they dealt with (their situations) and hear their stories."

You need to read this.

[T]he vagueness of the phrase “War on Terror” was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a “war on terror” did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’

By claiming that its war is similar to earlier U.S. struggles against Nazism and then Stalinism (while ignoring the fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were first-rate military powers, a status al-Qaeda neither has nor can achieve), the administration could be preparing the case for war with Iran. Such war would then plunge America into a protracted conflict spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also Pakistan.

[…]

Such fear-mongering, reinforced by security entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment industry, generates its own momentum. The terror entrepreneurs, usually described as experts on terrorism, are necessarily engaged in competition to justify their existence. Hence their task is to convince the public that it faces new threats. That puts a premium on the presentation of credible scenarios of ever-more-horrifying acts of violence, sometimes even with blueprints for their implementation.

Very important.

One US colonel involved in the investigation into the conditions at the hospital described what he saw there as “Auschwitz-like”.

Afghanistan’s ‘Auschwitz-like’ hospital. The hospital is run by the Afghan government, but it is mainly funded by the US. Its doctors and nurses are also being trained and overseen by the US and NATO.

This is a fundamental problem of the US military in Afghanistan. Most troops are deployed for one year, so by the time they can actually grasp that there’s a problem its time to get out and go back home … and also to take on the hospital is really to take on the way that the US military strategy is conducted here.

US General Caldwell ignored “Auschwitz-like” conditions at Afghan hospital. “Stopped an investigation.” (via)

According to testimony today from three U.S. Army colonels, Lt. General William Caldwell stopped an investigation for political reasons into the conditions of an Afghan hospital described by a witness as “Auschwitz-like.” “How could we make this request with elections coming,” Caldwell reportedly said, referring to President Obama. “He calls me Bill.”