....LMB: "Shame Offensive Derails?"....

February 19, 2003

Just a short while ago, I wrote about the new rhetoric of the pro-war factions in the U.S.: argue that the Iraq war will be about liberation and democracy, and anyone who opposes war therefore supports slavery and repression.

But even as these arguments were made, new information was coming to light.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Tony Blair was asked on three separate occasions about whether or not a post-war Iraq would be a democracy, and he dodged the question all three times. "The future governance of Iraq is something to discuss with the UN. There are a lot of difficult issues to be resolved without speculating about that," he said. But there were a few other ominous remarks.

"Asked if Britain would support breakaway elements which wanted to create a Kurdish state in what is now northern Iraq or a Shi'ite Islamic state in the south, Mr Blair insisted that his commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity was 'absolute.'" This implies that the U.S. and its (paid-for) coalition will prevent Kurds or Shi'ites from seceding, by force if necessary. That don't sound real democratic.

Blair also told the journalists to look to Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai as an example of what a future Iraq might look like.

Uh oh.

Karzai was sort of forced upon Afghanistan during that country's loya jirga, a convention to select a leader. The most popular choice was the former Afghan king Zahir Shah, but U.S. representatives managed to keep postponing the convention until they could convince Shah to withdraw his name from the list of candidates.

Karzai is also a former consultant for Unocal, and worked for the CIA during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (and possibly again during the Taliban's reign).

So that's what we have to look forward to in Iraq? A "democratic" process in which the nation's reins are turned over to a leader in the pocket of the oil industry and American intelligence services?

One of the "war for democracy" articles I cited recently claimed that the "Iraqi people" wanted this war, but only mentioned "Kurdish leader" Barham Salih and "Iraqi intellectual" Kanan Makiya.

Since then, U.S. plans may have changed. Because now two other "Kurdish leaders," Sami Abdul-Rahman and Hoshyar Zebari are accusing the U.S. of going back on its promises for a democratic Iraq. They claim that the new U.S. plan is to eliminate the top leaders of Saddam Hussein's regime and the Ba'ath party, and to replace those figures with members of the U.S. military.

And that "Iraqi intellectual"? He wrote an article for this weekend's Observer entitled Our Hopes Betrayed on the very same subject.

From the U.S. point of view, democracy could be harmful, as the nation's large Shi'a population could move Iraqi policy in a more Islamic direction, and independent Kurds in the north would worry Iraqi neighbor Turkey.

That's one of the problems with democracy, it's always possible that the voters will make decisions that run counter to your own self-interest. Which is why the U.S. is very supportive of democracies (or dictatorships) which share American goals, and is so unsupportive (and occasionally overthrow-y) towards democracies (or dictatorships) that oppose American goals.

Posted by Jake at 12:53 AM

The idea that democracy or human rights were ever the issue has always been laughable. If the Bush Administration was actually interested in "liberating" the world, it would first stop abusing the rights of U.S. citizens and then it would stop supporting authoritarian regimes that abuses the rights of their citizens. Till it does that, any talk about freedom should not be taken seriously.

Posted by: micah holmquist at February 19, 2003 09:01 AM

a similar 'new rhetoric' about liberating Iraq by the pro-war crowd appeared in Australia this week--just a few days after the weekend demonstrations.

I did a weblog on it,'Have you Noticed', and sort of left it at that.Then perchance I came across your posts on the new rhetoric in the US.

So I linked your work in the post, 'They Noticed', for Australian readers to follow up.


Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at February 21, 2003 06:31 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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