Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> The United World of America
Are Flagan on Sat, 6 Sep 2003 17:24:28 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> The United World of America

Two world bodies are convening these very days: the UN and the WTO.

As predicted long before the war, the US is now pressuring the UN to invest
in its hapless Iraq venture with cash and/or fresh meat for pointless
slaughter, of self and others. Unlike the previous public showdown that had
both Bush and Powell trooping to New York with their trumped up bullshit,
the resolution negotiations this time are, so far, behind closed doors,
pending a possible agreement. No doubt an effort to save whatever distorted
grimace is left of that goody beneficence that comes with "liberation," it
does bring back memories of the very last draft the US/UK cesspool
publicized before "leading the way" -- way back when the "League of Nations"
and "debating club" failed to even more fundamentally ignore its charter.
Tacked on to the various weapons demands at that time was a little tidbit
about Saddam Hussein himself having to appear on Iraqi TV with a public
denouncement of these arsenals and his deceitful role in their
proliferation. Let's hope the UN finally sees the bright coalition light
here and follow the "lead" with a request for Dubya to ride in, hi-ho, on
the back of Powell with similar announcements. Such fantasies aside, the UN,
as a supposed world body, obviously faces a defining moment here, especially
after the Baghdad bombing that squarely put it in the crosshairs of those
seeing it as yet another executive branch of a western imperial order.
However misplaced or unfair (and, of course, horrible) such explosives may
be, they do draw attention to and force an assessment of both the conduct
and the role of the United Nations, especially in light of the decade of
sanctions it enforced on Iraq (primarily at the behest of the present
coalition, er, occupiers). Leaked generalities of the US proposal, currently
circulating in the UN corridors, is a doubly shameful attempt at
capitalizing on said attack with requests that are transparently aimed at
maintaining both US political influence and all the lucrative contracts
signed over to US companies. (A side note of special interest here appeared
on Riverbend's blog, which outlines how an Iraqi firm with plenty of
hands-on expertise from the last 1991 war was ousted in an open bid for a
bridge-reconstruction project. Their researched estimate of $300,000, based
factually on local costs, was rejected in favor of a US firm's $50,000,000.
Who, by the way, pays?) While the UN was frequently, at least rhetorically
by the US/UK, put in the position of deciding on its legitimacy and
relevance before the war, the pressure being exercised this time
inadvertently and reluctantly admits that the UN has, lo and behold, some
version of, not aversion to, after all, legitimacy and relevance. It remains
to be seen, then, what this actually amounts to; a carving up of Iraq into
smaller pieces of pie to include the EU bloc of the global economy or a
cooperative interest that looks after, and for, the sovereignty and wealth
of those that need and deserve it most, in Iraq. Bush will speak on Sunday
to no doubt echo the White House press spokesman who today sold this
shameful fishing expedition composed largely of tall tales as a world, hence
UN sanctioned and paid for, stake in the war on terrorism. Significantly,
also today, The Guardian published a deeper impression of this heroic battle
by the former UK environmental minister (in office for six years until this
year) Michael Meacher, aptly titled "This War on Terrorism is Bogus."

The other world body soon convening is of course the WTO in Cancun. Amidst
the leaked Mexican watch list for people with damaging ideas, not actions
anymore, and a police presence that would have made security-conscious
Iraqis jealous, trade ministers and their various cohorts are convening to
once more provide an updated roadmap for the process formerly known, in the
united spirit of Benetton, as globalization. As many have noted, the
resort-town theme composed of affluent high-life in guarded hotel towers and
nearby shantytowns of workers is a befitting backdrop for the enterprise.
Things to observe with some interest, however, would not only be the
inevitable clashes on the streets (a bull ring and football stadium have
apparently been reserved to serve as pens for the unruly) but any attention
paid to intellectual property questions. With a trade deficit of around $400
billion, due largely to the overextended import of material goods, the US
must expand heavily in this marketplace for "immaterial" goods to better
balance the increasingly redlined treasury books. Without the current global
revenue resulting from software licensing, IP rights, DRM and the like, this
deficit would have reached entirely different, and potentially far more
crippling, proportions. With the impetus of trade thus increasingly falling
under the worldwide policing of patents and rights (of, just to tangentially
recap, products that know no borders to secure profit yet far too easily
migrate), the role of the WTO has arguably already circumnavigated the
planet many times in terms of traditional earthbound resources and has now
firmly and forcefully entered the digital domains with a similar spin. It is
not an understatement to say that for an economically driven Internet, for
example, the decisions of the WTO and their ensuing enforcement will have a
profound effect on the future shaping of this world, either toward a
digi-cop patrolled Mall of America or what other advocates tellingly refers
to as the Commons. Incidentally, when discovered by financial bankers in the
1970s, what is now known as Cancun was transformed from a sandbar
occasionally frequented by local fishermen to the world's first giant
purpose-built holiday resort.

And so it has come to pass that the US appeals to both this and that world
body almost entirely in its own image.


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net