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Contemporary Barbarism


Well. It is now Monday morning, October 4. Today’s Chicago Tribune—like pretty much the rest (and perhaps all) of the mainstream American print dailies on this first Monday of October—began with a total of six different reports on its front page. Including these two:

* “Raid’s success lifts vote hopes,” Colin McMahon, sect. 1, pp. 1-7
* “Sharon says Israel will widen Gaza incursion,” Joel Greenberg, sect. 1, pp. 1-20.

The lead to the first report, the one on the Americans’ resort to overwhelming firepower against the Iraqi city of Samarra over the weekend, informs us that “The weekend offensive in Samarra was not just about putting down guerrilla fighters who were attacking American and Iraqi troops. It also was the first step toward the Iraqi and U.S. goal of making the nation safe for democracy.” The accompanying photos depict “A boy with a white flag [walking] ahead of Iraqis taking a family member killed in the battle for Samarra for burial Sunday” (front page, above the fold), and “A U.S. soldier [scanning] his sector near the main mosque in Samarra, Iraq, on Sunday. Control of the city remains uncertain” (p. 7). One really ought to take a close look at this second photo in particular. It is a ghastly, frightening, close-up of a character straight out of a dystopic sci-fi film, with the American soldier’s whole face obstructed by the high-tech glasses he is using. Here, for once, the medium is the message. It is the kind of face the Americans present to the world on at least six different continents. The kind you ought to grab your family and friends and run from screaming, at the top of your lungs, looking for some other force to come and protect both you and the planet.

(Incidentally, the phrase “vote hope” in the headline refers to next January’s vote, the plans for which the Bush regime intends to hype at least through the November 2 presidential election in the States. The Americans’ massive display of state violence, terror, death and destruction over Samarra (as well as Fallujah and elsewhere, too) may be instrumental toward this end, the Trib‘s reasoning goes. Therefore, it is good. A “success” that also “lifts” the hopes that the January elections will go ahead as promised.—Of course, exactly whose hopes are supposed to be lifted by the Americans’ “success” in Samarra is implied more than explicitly stated. But, you catch the Chicago Tribune‘s drift, I am sure.)

The second report—”Sharon says Israel will widen Gaza incursion“—is more of the same: The existential conflict between the State of Israel and armed Palestinian militants from Hamas. As two of the paragraphs from midway through the article explain:

In the fighting Sunday, an Israeli aircraft attacked a group of militants after they fired a Qassam rocket near Beit Hanoun, hitting the squad and a cart loaded with rockets, the army said. Two militants were killed and a third critically wounded, hospital officials said.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli forces killed two militants planting a bomb, the army said. A third dead militant was found later, Palestinians reported.

You also should see the photograph from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip that accompanies this report (p. 20—the back page—sorry I can’t reproduce it). “A Palestinian stands in the rubble of a school destroyed amid Israel’s incursion into the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.” Additional words are unnecessary, however.

The final three paragraphs of this report sum up the whole of it pretty nicely:

To explain its mission, the army allowed reporters to interview a battalion commander at a position near Jabaliya. The officer, identified as Lt. Col. Ofer, said dozens of Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged during the operation because they served as cover for gunmen.

“They shoot at you from every alley, so you have to flatten the area,” he said.

He acknowledged that Palestinian civilians have been hit by army gunfire, but said those were mistakes and that the militants use civilians as human shields.

Makes me all the more anxious to learn what kind of collective structures and practical tools the UN Secretary-General’s increasingly ballyhooed High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change is going to recommend that the rest of the world—outside the United States and Israel, that is—adopt, not only to contain these two chronic belligerents, but to pre-emptively deter and to punish them for serial violations of international and humanitarian law that are so brazen, they can be reported on the front pages of major American and Israeli newspapers, and throughout their 24-hour-per-day news cycles, without so much as a tremor of concern expressed about them by their actual perpetrators.

Contemporary barbarism.—

Chicago Tribune front page, October 4, 2004
New York Times front page, October 4, 2004
Haaretz front page, October 4, 2004

Occupation Watch (Iraq)

A Failed “Transition”: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War, Phyllis Bennis et al., IPS Iraq Task Force, Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus, September, 2004
Key Findings” (summary of the same), September, 2004
“Just the Numbers” factsheet, September, 2004

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA homepage), 2004
UNRWA Emergency Appeal Reports, 2004
Response by Commissioner-General Peter Hansen to allegations regarding misuse of a UN vehicle,” UNRWA Press Release No. HQ/G/30/2004, October 2, 2004
Urgent Appeal. Stop Impending Massacre in Gaza—At least 30 dead as Sharon re-engages Gaza,” Palestine.Monitor.org, October 1, 2004
Israeli raid on northern Gaza (28 September 2004-),” The Electronic Intifada (accessed Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004)

Operation no penitence,” Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, October 4, 2004

“Killing in the Name of God”? ZNet Blogs, October 3

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