nettime's_embedded_controller on Fri, 4 Apr 2003 23:33:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> [IRAQ] 030404 digest #1 [skoric, zehle<->recktenwald, party]

"Ivo Skoric" <>
     Religion and War
"Soenke Zehle" <>
     Int'l Law Out of Africa
Heiko Recktenwald <>
     Re: <nettime> BOTHERSOME REALITY - by Tom Zummer 
Heiko Recktenwald <>
     Re: <nettime> Ecologies of War - Notes
Heiko Recktenwald <>
     Re: Int'l Law Out of Africa
Experimental Party <>
     We the Blog Update: Architects of Our Situation

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 17:09:21 -0500
Subject: Religion and War

Anglo-American campaign in Iraq, which is a questionable 
endeavor by itself, since it was unprovoked by Iraqis and 
unsanctioned by the pertinent world's body (UN Security Council), 
gets worse by the day - with an increase of civilian casualties, 
outrageous conduct of both sides (selling water?), media 
manipulation, the obvious road to a long and perditious street battle 
- but I kind of hoped that this conflict would be kept at level at least 
a notch above the conflicts that we have witnessed in the Balkans 
recently - and that at least from the aggressor in this conflict: given 
that the British and the Americans are the ubiquitous champions of 
human rights, press freedoms, and international law, one would 
expect that they would hold at least themselves accountable to 
their own high standards. 

So, the story that a pamphlet was recently distributed to U.S. 
Marines asking them to pray not for themselves and their 
commrades, not for Iraqi civilians and their enemies that they are 
about to kill (which would be their Christian duty), but for their 
"president and his advisers" to "be strong and courageous to do 
what is right regardless of critics", struck me as going over the 
edge of insanity we observed in Bosnia. This piece of ill-conceived 
propaganda smacks of the Al Qaeda suicide bomber training 
manual. Since, as it so far became quite clear what 'president and 
his advisers' think that 'it is right', they are essentially required to 
pray for themselves to be exposed to a risk of death and/or murder. 
The pamphlets were created by In Touch Ministries, an evangelical 
group that says "We may not all be in the military, but we are all 
engaged in warfare ... spiritual warfare."

And what then is the difference between the US Marines and 


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From: "Soenke Zehle" <>
Subject: Int'l Law Out of Africa
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 15:12:51 +0200


I actually disagree that the current intervention in Iraq (if one can call
it that, I prefer the ambiguity of such an appellation to the interpretation
of the war as an act of imperialist aggression, if only because I hope that
now that it is underway, some good will - simply have to, in the interest of
the much-abused and much-invoked 'Iraqi people' - come of it) amounts to an
all-or-nothing test for the international system, announcing the

Once again, that is, the same thing was already said about the Kosovo
intervention, which in the eyes of many a human rights-advocate - and you
will find that many of those who support the war against Iraq, however
reluctantly, are from this camp - inaugurated a new age of 'coercive
prevention' (sounds a bit like pre-emptive strike, doesn't it) that already
put international law to the test because it questioned its core assumption:
the inviolability of state sovereignty. But that's a different debate, even
though I would be perfectly willing to entertain the possibility, if only to
play devil's advocate, that one day this war will be interpreted - not only
by official historians - as a humanitarian intervention.

So the US is a problem, they say, its Hobbesian (some say Straussian)
unilateralism is bad for the world, somehow at odds with the Kantian world
republic envisioned by its European critics (which appear, and this is yet
another debate, to draw a historical blank on the rather violent conditions
of cold war intra-European peacefulness).

Ok. But I think that it amounts to an incredible hyprocrisy if a debate
focuses exclusively on the int'l-law-breaking US but has nothing to say on,
for example, French support for various intra/inter-state conflicts in
Africa, or the ludicrousness of a German-Russian (Chechnya, anyone?
Currently #1 on the US-Museum of Holocaust 'Genocide Watch List,'
<>')-Chinese (Tibet, anyone?) 'axis of peace'.

I am tempted to suggest that the so-called counter-discourse of the anti-war
movement is not much of a counter-discourse at all, tempted even to be a bit
crude: anti-americanism is as hegemonic as it gets, hardly extricable from
EU geopolitical ambition and post-70s neo-djihad (Qutb and his
suicide-activist buddies) alike.

Critical interventions - and I have no doubt that many anti-war protesters
desire to engage in just that - that need to stage a crisis as their own
condition of possibility don't strike me as all that critical. I guess I
share only partially the pervasive sense of rupture, a rupture that is being
interpreted as geopolitical, juridical, and perhaps even epistemological, if
you think of this conflict as a crisis of the 'West' as a world-historical
subject, as do many thinkers across the spectrum, from
post-end-of-history-Francis Fukuyama to this-is-a-war-of-monotheism-Jean-Luc

I'll start with Africa because it is, in some sense, the easiest example,
apparently doomed to serve as silent backdrop, even a constitutive outside
to whatever (split) self-image euro-america aka The West develops of itself
(and Nancy at least touches on that).

Far from being put to the ultimate test in Iraq, the international system
and its advocates have already failed elsewhere, 1994 in Rwanda - the
quickest genocide ever, ca. 800,000 dead in 100 days - and 1998-present in
the Congo, to take some of the more obvious cases.

The Congo has experienced a devastating war that has claimed an
extraordinary number of lives - estimates run between 2 and 3 million people
since 1998 - over the last couple of years, making this the most deadly
conflict at the turn of the century.

And yet the conflict-torn country only makes an occasional - and temporary -
media appearance when a volcano erupts. Which is, I guess, the point:
conflict in Africa is considered 'natural' to an extent that it merits even
less media attention than a natural catastrophe, and as reporters in the
latest issue of Reporting the World (<>)
remind their readers, the much-reproduced assumption of
'it's-tribal-warfare-stupid' had a decisive impact on the decision of the
'international system' to pull out of Africa altogether (at least in the
case of Rwanda). Now you have 4386 UN peacekeeping troops and 49 police
officers deployed in the Congo, a country almost as large as all of Western
Europe, while Rwanda gets away with a massive enlargement of its national
territory and the authoritarian Ugandan leader Museveni with many a war
crime in the Congo because the 'international community' approves of his
repressive anti-AIDS policies.

But all is quiet on the African front. Kabila signed yet another peace
accord unlikely to see implementation, elsewhere, biz as usual as well, as
there is virtually no international debate - let alone mass demonstrations -
over whether current cross-boundary military interventions in Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, or Burkina
Faso are in any way supported by UN resolutions.

Now how is the assertion that the US is breaking int'l law a critical
intervention in any sense? How does that contribute to any shift in the
terrain of critical controversy itself?

In my opinion, the US occupies such a central place in the
counter-discursive imagination that 'it' (unduly homogenized as an actor)
sets the agenda even for its self-professed opponents. A great deal of
current anti-war counter-discourse rallies around positions that have
remained almost entirely within the confines of a much older, post-cold war
debate: the future internal structure of the euro-atlantic space, always
already the privileged space of world historical occurrences in the elite
imagination, but also, and this is the sad observation about many of the
just-say-no-to-war statements, among many leftists eager to see the rise of
an at least semi-militarized Europe to defy US unilateralism.

 So yes, there is a crisis, and it requires attention, but it's not just
about Iraq.


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Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 12:17:17 +0200 (CEST)
From: Heiko Recktenwald <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> BOTHERSOME REALITY - by Tom Zummer 

> Slavoj Zizek is correct in pointing out that there are far too many
> reasons for having invaded Iraq. Each reason standing in for another, so
> that the stabilities of persuasion operate in a deferred circumlocution.
> In other words, that as soon as one argument meets objection there is a
> default to another closely aligned (public) argument. No matter that they
> might be,  at one level at least, contradictory, they are all 'good
> reasons.' And they all address the question 'why?'

But the problem is that not a single argument is convincing and the
combination doesnt make is better. 

There are only "good effects" of the war, but no legitimate reasons.


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Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 12:11:17 +0200 (CEST)
From: Heiko Recktenwald <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Ecologies of War - Notes


On Tue, 1 Apr 2003, Soenke Zehle wrote:
> Just rambling notes, I guess I am getting bored with the biz-as-usual
> criticism of the war as imperial(ist), international-law-breaking,
> neocon-inspired (although I did start to read some Leo Strauss),
> corporate-interest-driven etc etc and am simply looking for ways to stay
> with the program :)

But this is still the central question. Will this war change the law or
not and what does this mean. The big powers try to avoid the question but
it is there. And the ICC.


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Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 15:44:13 +0200 (CEST)
From: Heiko Recktenwald <>
Subject: Re: Int'l Law Out of Africa

Dear Soenke,

On Thu, 3 Apr 2003, Soenke Zehle wrote:

> Once again, that is, the same thing was already said about the Kosovo
> intervention, which in the eyes of many a human rights-advocate - and you
> will find that many of those who support the war against Iraq, however
> reluctantly, are from this camp - inaugurated a new age of 'coercive

Just one point, it is completely absurd, to mix those cases. Not all cases
are the same...

Whatever B92 etc say.

I really loved the Kosovo intervention, Kosova was only according to the
serbian constitutions a part of serbia, a part of national pride, but the
Iraq is in a complete different situation, we dont had there anything
that can be compared to the things, that happened in Kosovo, whatever
Saddam did is millions of years ago (and dont look at the dirty details).
He is just an arab leader in a difficult country who doesnt like the US
superpower, so what?

Whatever the future will be, after this lawless situation, not all states
are the same, we should not forget.

But please dont make any ideology out of Iraq.



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Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 08:29:36 -0800
From: Experimental Party <>
Subject: We the Blog Update: Architects of Our Situation

(((((((((((( We the Blog Update: Architects of Our Situation ))))))))))))

                              April  3, 2003

Kristine Stiles
Under Secretary of the Bureau for Surveying the State of Art and the Medial
State of Mind
US Department of Art & Technology



Assuming the grave responsibility of my post as Under Secretary of the
Bureau for Surveying the State of Art and the Medial State of Mind, I
remain tuned in directly and remotely (visioning) to the media.  Last night
I heard/felt a discussion of great consequence, and so pass it dutifully

Last night Joseph Cirincione, Senior Associate and Director of the Non
Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
spoke on the NPR program "Fresh Air."  His presentation was followed by a
discussion with William Kristol, editor of the neo-conservative publication
The Weekly Standard.  I strongly recommend that everyone listen to the
archived interview with both figures.  Cirincione laid out, in very clear
terms, the Defense Policy Guidance Doctrine imagined immediately following
the Gulf War by Paul Wolfowitz.  This program was for military premeption
and global aggression.

If we are to become more effective in countering the increasing fascistic
state in which we are participating as citizens - and therefore for which
we are responsible (we held the German population responsible for the
Holocaust, didn't we?) - one of the first points of action is to fully know
the architects of our situation.  For those of you, like me, who were not
yet up to speed about the real stragetists of our current global ambitions,

who had been planning this policy long before the illegitimate appointment
of this illegitimate administration by a corrupt Supreme Court, it is high
time we get busy with our homework.  I may be preaching to the
knowledgeable, in which case, mia culpa (I was the ignorant one).    If
not, you will find this very informative and bone-chilling.

What I'm trying to point out is that we have to go beyond worrying about
the current thug who is administering this policy (Rumsfeld) and the
mastermind CEO thief (Cheney) to those behind the scenes, the architects of
our current practices.  A Saudi prince, educated at Princeton, pointed out,
in a recent interview with Barbara Walters, much the same thing.  Even
though he refused to name names, he did name the "policy makers" as the
major problem.  Of course, we all know it isn't the dauphin himself.

As Cicincioni noted, the current national foreign policy being enacted in
Iraq, belonged to what many felt under the Clinton Administration to be
impossible because of its extreme position.  Now this colonialism and
empire is our reality; we are responsible for these people and this war!

May I recommend the following links to give both sides of this story:  (for the Non Proliferation
Project) and (for the neo-conservative The Weekly

On a more personal note - my six-year old cat Pasha has been increasingly
expressing his views about the war.  His revenge tactic is spraying all
metalic and ceramic surfaces in the house, a guerrilla warfare gesture that
is extremely successful in disturbing the home front, but having no effect
on the enemy.  If anyone knows a special way to calm my military man down -
aside from the Prozac that he is now taking to ease his anxiety - I would
be most grateful.

The war zone is really beginning to smell, and it would appear that the
smell is permanent unless drastic measures are taken immediately.  Is there
a cat psychic out there?

Kristine Stiles
Under Secretary of the Bureau for Surveying the State of Art and the Medial
State of Mind

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