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<nettime> edges of the unknown
human being on Sat, 8 Mar 2003 19:13:30 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> edges of the unknown


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# Date: Fri Mar 7, 2003  12:55:27  AM US/Central
# To  president {AT} whitehouse.gov, nettime-l
# Cc secretary {AT} state.gov


edges of the unknown - online and offline

The most intangible of ideas is attempted to be communicated, which at 
first was to relate oil and international politics, with today's online 
technologies and communities. The running hypothesis has been that oil 
has had something to do with current world affairs, possibly a 
predominant role, yet as a central/defining role or primary cause for 
immediate war between the U.S.A. and Iraq, is another matter it seems.

This is to say that when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave the 
world assurances that Iraqi oil would not be used as a 'spoil of war' 
and that the U.S.American agenda was not to capture Iraqi oilfields, a 
different agenda was repurposed from the then current stagnating view.

Since then, 'democratization' of Iraq has become more and more serious 
a platform issue for warfaring in the short-term. Reasons for this may 
have secondary and long-lasting strategic importance, to protect the 
region from instability and world oil markets from political unknowns. 
Even when the U.S.American stance included Middle-East peace plans, on 
a theoretical drawing board, and a strategic vision was laid out that 
gave a semblance of a wishful but illusive future-- things continued 
spinning.

-- Out of control? In a conceivable direction? Who would know or could 
decide this, if everyone is confused, or so it may be wondered aloud. 
On the eve of war, the U.S. President of the 'most powerful nation on 
Earth' is televised in a speech, with a backdrop which looks like a 
sermon by a priest with lit candles and pulpit, to give his divinations.
God, again, preceding U.S.American 'liberty' and nullifying 300 years 
of advancement of enlightenment reason and philosophy, for a private 
world view which is running like a train-wreck into world opinion, and 
for what? Belief. Individual belief, and private at that. Not 
necessarily wrong, but possibly mistaken or fundamentally flawed or 
misjudged belief which reason cannot penetrate. Whose reason? World 
reason.

Back to time. Veritable information blackout of outside news and views, 
monoculture and monomediated, preprogrammed speech codes patterned 
after populist styles of diatribing for this and that. Speed, 
impatience, speed, impatience. Waiting, patience. Waiting, patiently, 
impatient. Now. Decision. Time. Speed, Time, Speed, Patience, Waiting, 
Impatience. Faith healers, time to pray it is said. Godly father and 
his holy son. A puritan nation-state challenges a world-state for 
predominance in being.

In directing, in steering, in questioning, and acting. The U.N. could 
be deleted as an international institution in one fell swoop of 
diplomatic chaos, and after the League of Nations and the United 
Nations, there is unlikely to be a third national symbolic-government 
body, unless it is indeed global, of world-order, and has actual power 
beyond individual states and internal political bureaucracies and 
counter-productions.

Up to this time there has been no way out, or so many have believed. 
When one amasses a quarter million troops in a desert and on ocean 
going vessels, they are there for a temporary period, a limited period 
in which to act. This wager was placed on the table- it may be the 
ultimate in a 'containment' strategy, to force action, itself a 
diplomatic show of force which apparently, because of the complexity, 
is foggy at best in its results, to wait is to lose the advantage of 
action, and in the end, to take on greater and greater risks. Who cares 
is an important question, as when self-interest is taken to its 
extremes, it is no one.

The U.S. President George W. Bush _must act, it is said. To have 
amassed all of these troops, and to play this waiting game-- it is 
absurd! say the pundits and professional analysts, who worry, 
strategically of having all of one's eggs in one basket. That is, 
placing all of one's money on a single Big Bet, and hoping, no, praying 
for a payoff. In a warped, twisted, ideological, and basically utopic 
vantage, but possibly also realistic in a certain slanted sense, it may 
be a necessary action. Who can doubt that on some level, a holy war is 
being waged, whether one wants to agree to these terms or not? Whether 
or not to meet aggression on its own terms is ponderable, Crusades 2003 
and all, yet the religious components are active in all politics in the 
regions being addressed, and U.S. politics have gone generations 
backwards (or, retro-fitted the present day into a mythical 
religious-statist past).

There is no choice, yet there is a choice that becomes very clear as 
one option that is 180 degrees from current trajectories, and would 
turn the tables on all actions and tensions for the better, and refocus 
agendas. Who is to say? No one, just another person, wondering aloud. 
And it has been said, of the temporary and time-limitations of soldiers 
on ships, and in desert heat, that action must occur in a certain 
time-frame. And, tactics are built around the delaying of this 
time-frame. And the basic question is put to the antagonist, Saddam 
Hussein: He decides, war or no war. This is a mistake. The U.S.American 
President decides if the U.S. goes to war, and the rhetoric shows the 
flaw in the logic, and control of the entire diplomatic process around 
the control, mismanagement, and illusory advancement, stopping, and 
rewinding of time on Einstein's relativity watch.

To invert such a situation, world leaders pretending, with the United 
Nations in the balance, would require a new coup of interdependent 
cooperation to do what is most necessary, firstly, and with intensity. 
One of the most major of al Qaeda figureheads was captured last week, 
and it is very big news, and yet pales in comparison to the looming 
U.S.-Iraqi war.  Yet, it should be reconsidered as a significant 
centerpiece of a new strategic realignment, if one is actually fighting 
the most immediate threat of the 'war on terror' and dealing with the 
issues related most immediately to 9/11 and in response to that 
aggression, which many nations do find shared destinies in addressing.

So too, the reignition of the Middle-East conflict and the sadistic 
ritualistic murders of Israeli and Palestinian citizens, its precipice 
reached and waiting detonation. In addition, questions of Afghanistan 
stability and that of Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden is reported to 
himself be hiding out, in a protected cultural enclave.

What if the U.S. President did the unthinkable, and requestioned the 
U.S. position, asked anew 'what to do' with all the staged forces, and 
'gave inspections' the time they needed for international diplomacy? By 
delaying any warfaring in Iraq via remotely deployed U.S. forces, the 
Iraqi defense, over time, would crumble in its falsehoods, at the same 
time international order would be repaired and rebuilt, diplomatic 
relations reconstituted for common aims. And, as forward forces, and 
under United Nations supervision, U.S.American forces could broker 
their deployment to the places it is most needed, for world stability, 
and make headway into issues another direction from increasing chaos by 
invading Iraq at this time, in this time, in this way at this very time.

Time. Timing. Controlling when the alarm goes off, how it goes off, one 
needs to know how to turn the dials and press the buttons to make the 
clock work, 'like clockwork' as is said. Iraq will take care of itself, 
in time, it is said by those closest to the system. In this situation.

So, what if the U.S. American troops forward deployed were instead to 
redeploy, and rotate in and out of their positions for a temporary 
stay, in the Middle-East, with large contingents of soldiers posted in 
_both Israel and Palestine. And, with U.N. backing, and additional 
forces, to attack one is to attack the United Nations, including those 
retaliatory measures. In this way, the main target of the delusional 
Saddam Hussien, who dreams of overtaking Israel, can be nullified 
through defensive positioning of both the U.S., Palestinians, Israel, 
and the United Nations. Other Arab states who are targets of reprisal 
for siding with the U.S. in this conflict would be further protected by 
retaining of U.S. forces in the region, as temporary peacekeepers. And, 
those students in Iraq, Iran, and other Arab nations, including whole 
realms of culture and vast repositories of intelligence and imagination 
that have yet to meet an eager world- would find their supporters 
nearby, should they decide to delicately transform from religious to 
secular governments, in a possibly utopic state of day-dreaming for an 
observer, but nonetheless, a reasonable future to join other nations of 
the world.

Another large contingent of troops, those who are having a difficult 
time getting off the ships and onto Turkish military bases, could also 
become prime factors in the 'war on terror' by directly engaging enemy 
forces and stabilizing regions near the Afghanistan border with 
Pakistan. To base forces here, temporary and rotating, would reallocate 
those forces for invasion, and put them to use for a purpose 
internationally of shared purpose, to pursue the terrorists and senior 
Taliban officials, and to do this is to squeeze them where they are, 
with the help of the neighboring states. If Pakistan's troops were to 
push towards Afghanistan and U.S. troops towards Pakistan, and indeed 
this 'safe haven' is where bin Laden and others are lying dormant, 
potentially passing hand-written notes that would limit their travel to 
1-3 days by courier (truck or horse, for instance), then a geographic 
locale should be approximated, and forces deployed to directly fight 
the terrorist threat, where it is, in cooperation and coordination with 
other nations.
This retasking of troops would have the benefit of fulfilling the U.S. 
obligation to help secure the fledgling Afghanistan, and offer 
long-term and substantial help in assuring its future is brighter than 
its past.

To do this would require rethinking the grand strategy, and inverting 
the issues of time through spatial tactics would put pressure on 
places, not on pieces of paper or logistical limitations, and would 
open up more possibilities, possibilities for peaceful solutions to 
problems, time, world support through the United Nations, a more true 
democratization through shared self-determination and representation, 
and also shared support in terms of money, diplomacy, and many types of 
power projection in which the U.S. could do what is both best for it 
and the world, now.

It would be a surprise to Saddam Hussien, and maybe even Osama bin 
Laden, as it is not the expected path, as is the invasion of Iraq, 
which could have been planned for for a year now, in advance, to foil 
various strategies well in the public realm, for timing, attacks, 
vulnerabilities, et cetera. An open-strategy which is actually a good 
strategy need not necessarily be 'secret' if it is the best move 
available, to which opponents cannot counter through usual means.

Why all of this? Talk talk talk. Well, some write about 'no war' and a 
few about 'for war' but what about how-to move towards peace, with the 
potential use of force, but even peaceful force, for the right reasons?

Utopic, surely, but not for diplomats. It is a conceptual framework 
upon which to strategize movements in space-time. Light-speed or dead 
still.

It has to do with the many peoples one meets online, from the same 
nations now at odds in the Security Council, but much further beyond 
that. People one has never met, in countries that may be embroiled in 
the chaos of war and fury and to be a citizen of a country many 
perceive as an aggressor, in one or many views, rightly so, and why 
even offer an alternative-- why not just let it all burn? Whatever 
one's morality or ethical outline, sometimes people are the most 
important body politic.

That is, maybe it is about Oil in some regard, but also weapons of mass 
destruction. Maybe it is about the U.S. not changing, and telling the 
world it is irrelevant. And, maybe it is long pent-up angers revealing 
themselves, to the point that the North Korean nuclear situation can be 
left by the international community to buzz around like a fly at a U.N. 
trashcan. What about people. The people one knows or briefly encounters.

Uncertain if every University is similar in this way, or even 
high-schools, but one experience here, in the U.S. is that one can meet 
people from all over the world in school. And, more and more, in local 
communities, as immigration patterns have changed their geographies. It 
is a delicate subject that after months of contemplation it is still 
unknown how to correctly write about without causing unnecessary 
problems in trying to discuss something very positive- and that is, 
people, and their interconnections, and their differences, and 
similarities, whether or not they are U.S.American citizens or 
visitors, that at least here there is little difference, culturally, as 
at a certain point everyone is a U.S.American, through popular or other 
culture, which is not always a bad thing, as it unites in ways that 
religion and other ways cannot. As an idea open to interpretation, and 
sometimes hijacked and made for the worse, but still, there is a 
diamond-in-the-rough here. A hidden beauty, in dreams, aspirations, 
beliefs, and a type of general respect.
Though, this is also a limitation, a well-known myopia, where 
U.S.American realities are believed by inhabitants of this surreal 
place to be the default for the remaining fiction that is the world 
beyond its naive self. In any case, there is a type of cultural 
cross-pollination, of ideas, cultures, peoples.

This is to say that yes, having met people from Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, 
Iran, India, China, Russia, many Eastern European countries, many as 
students in classes, as people, people one may say 'hi' to or 
acknowledge but never really know, or who may strike friendships with, 
temporarily or longer-term. The countries are always shifting, but they 
include cab drivers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia. They are 
people one cares about, their health and safety. Just as, if having 
exchanges via e-mail, one may care about the welfare of another kindred 
human. It is that strangeness of hearing from a someone from yesteryear 
of how the Jews and Arabs were tied together through common ancestry, 
and how when they were close to eachother, in the U.S., there is an 
unspoken way of acknowledging they are of the same world- some type of 
recognition of the other. The opposite of what seems to be happening in 
the Middle-East and with the U.S. and Iraq and the United Nations and 
the entire world right now, offline of course, but even online, a 
similar hegemony of misguided control, of institutions and ideas and 
opportunities for change.

With one's heart, one can feel for the students and artists in Iran, in 
Iraq, and fascinate at untold cultural riches of Pakistan and India, of 
Eastern Europe and Russia, and of Africa, Asia, and South America being 
included in shared global strategies focused around people, and their 
needs, not power and bombs and war. Ideal, yes, but tangible is the 
love one feels for another one meets, who remains in the memory, whose 
strife becomes entangled in another's life, through human impact, 
through the interaction, the beautiful creative clash of imaginations 
and energies and ideas and ways of being and seeing and believing. And 
compromise, and collaboration, cooperation, and freedoms to expand the 
world as wide as the web that ties every disparate part into that 
unbelievable whole.

Maybe this is why 'no war' is as simple as this- people. Today, killing 
another is killing one's neighbor- that global village phenomenon. It 
is not anonymous, nor clean, nor will it be forgotten. Nor must such a 
type of decision, war, be made in haste. That is, impatience. By the 
clock, check-in for four-years of work, check-out, getting something 
done while on the job, regardless of the rest of the world's management 
system....

The United States could successfully invert this situation to its vast 
advantage by letting go of time-lines and recompiling the 
lines-of-force via strategic spatial placements, to reinforce and 
enforce and protect and serve the world order, not usher in its rapid 
and vast decay. By allowing the power of huamn reason to predominate 
the decision making process of procedural political decision making, 
Saddam Hussien and others do not decide if 'we' go to war, 'we' decide. 
And, at this time, that is, at this very singular time on the 
relativistic clock, it may be in the best interests of everyone, 
including the U.S. to allow time, to allow endurance, patience, skill, 
craft, and perserverence to prevail. This, written as an act of 
conscience given that as there is oil, there are also all of the 
people, the relationships, the complexities, that in no way can be so 
simply dismissed in this situation to validate the quick urgency 
provoked by bad planning, for war, but necessary for a strong 
containment force, which sets the stage for a second strategy.

There is no such thing as time, only a belief, a construct, 'there is 
all the time in the world', and the world is telling 'U.S.' there need 
be more time, so let us take more time. And restrategize the moment. 
And instead of talking about what one is eventually going to do, that 
is, with Middle-East peace, or Afghanistan's reconstruction, or finding 
and destroying the al Qaeda terrorist networks- that these are done 
before a war with Iraq, in an extremely dedicated sense. If truly no 
choice has been made, then the best choice is still an option on the 
table. And a better choice presents itself, an inversion, turning the 
tables, and re-establishing critical relationships through renewed 
diplomacy and goodwill, to bring the world back into the whole as it 
can be experienced in the United States, as citizens, and how this and 
other conflicts play out internally, to a disturbing degree that 
simplistic falsehoods cannot be tolerated, for we may needlessly be 
killing our neighbors, and ourselves, and our future in the process. 
Time to change.


Part III of the Oil Commentaries, copyright free 2003.

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