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<nettime> Re: Wrong Signals [2x]
nettime's signalist on Fri, 19 Dec 2003 17:09:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: Wrong Signals [2x]

Table of Contents:

   The "wrong signals" debate                                                      
     "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>                                  

   From Baghdad: Reactions to an arrest                                            
     Gita Hashemi <gita {AT} ping.ca>                                                     


Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 12:06:23 -0800
From: "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>
Subject: The "wrong signals" debate

As an American I can't help but notice that the perspectives expressed in
this debate mirror the rival ideologies currently characterizing debate in
the US.  It's a lot easier to ignore the difficult issues in the middle
and just stick to flag-waving rhetoric (in this case, your choice of the
US flag or the Palestinian flag.)

Not to single out anyone in particular, but here are some questions I
don't see people seriously addressing, largely (in my opinion) because
some of the honest answers don't easily fit into the prefab ideological

For the right: how exactly was Saddam connected to terrorism?  Did those
hypothetical connections justify violating sovereignty by invading?  
What's the plan from here?  Will we still support democracy if the voters
decide on theocracy?  How do you justify suddenly 'promoting democracy'
when we've spent the last century supporting repressive dictatorships in
the region? If international justice is such a big moral priority, why not
negotiate to join the ICC?  If we're so committed to eliminating terrorism
why are we almost completely ignoring Afghanistan, particularly in the
tribal regions straddling the Pakistani border?  If it weren't for oil and
Israel do you think we'd pay the Mideast any more attention than we pay to
sub-Saharan Africa, a region arguably more deserving of humanitarian
intervention? Speaking of Israel, how is our support of occupation and
repression of the Palestinans congruent with our proclaimed values?

For the left: when was the international community going to actually do
something about Hussein's murderous and repressive regime instead of just
passing unenforced UN resolutions?  How can we reconcile secular western
Enlightenment-based societal values of tolerance and inclusion with
intolerant repressive expansionist movements like Wahhabism?  Similarly,
how is theologically motivated terrorism even remotely justifiable in a
tolerant polytheistic global society?  Should western society accept
intolerant, misogynistic, repressive societies as cultural equals?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that we're never going to make progress on
these debates until we understand and agree that our current ideological
perspectives are hampering progress.  Which leads me to my most depressing
conclusion: the neocon right (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) does a better
job intellectually of confronting these questions, it's their ham-handed,
ideological, profiteering, imperialistic implementation that is so

Until we agree that 20th century ideologies inadequately address the
complexity of 21st century realities we're doomed to flail around
helplessly mired in the tractionless mud of hypocrisy.



Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 11:39:58 -0500
From: Gita Hashemi <gita {AT} ping.ca>
Subject: From Baghdad: Reactions to an arrest

Re: <nettime> wrong signals

the text below is forwarded with the author's permission.
gloat less, think more.
be well.

- ---forwarded text---

The day they caught Saddam, or a few days later

According to one theory circulating in Baghdad, we are not living the few
days following the capture of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was caught many days,
maybe months, ago, as that rumor goes. It has just become more convenient
for the Americans to catch him now. And there are other theories, of
course. It is not really Saddam who was caught.  It=92s him but the only
reason he didn=92t put up a fight is that he was drugged; they gassed his
hiding place before catching him.

No matter what the truth is, capturing Saddam no more has any practical
consequence. It wouldn=92t have had any even if it happened months ago.
The important thing is that Iraq fell to the invading army and is now
under American (although maybe disguised in another name) control. And the
other truth is that the Iraqis know that very well. Day after day all they
care about is what is happening to them now and what is going to happen
tomorrow. Life is getting harder day after day and the security situation
is not improving.

When I asked one of the perpetrators of the first theory, why would the
Americans stage the capture as it happened this week, he said that he and
his family, although adamant haters of Saddam who were delighted when the
Americans came and toppled the regime, have, as of a month ago, started to
lose patience with the occupation.

The attention given to the capture operation at this point serves only one
purpose: diverting attention from the problems on the ground and improving
- although superficially - the image of the American administration.

As for the Iraqi people, even the groups who were brutalized by him and
his regime, the way the capture operation was portrayed and his
humiliation throughout just added insult to their injury. To them he is
still and Iraqi and a tough one for that, and his humiliation by
foreigners is a humiliation to them all.

Ehab Lotayef, Baghdad, December 15, 2003

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