Sunday, November 24, 2002

This site has been suspended indefinitely by the miracle
of cryogenic freezing

You are invited to visit me at Scribbler.

You can get the goods on this amazingly successful military campaign at...

American Samizdat
Lying Media Bastards

...not to mention the other fine links on the sidebar.

[and now, a self-indulgent sign-off]

I didn't intend to start a warlog. I launched this page in hopes of creating a safe outlet for my frustration with an insipid and dangerous post-9/11 media landscape. The subsequent year-plus frenzy of posting has been an enriching experience, but my dwindling output forces me to acknowledge that I have neither the time nor the energy to keep up a decent topical weblog.

I will continue to post on our collective descent into madness, but within the broader context of my other page Scribbler, which I'm gently coaxing out of hibernation...

I want to sincerely thank people who regularly clicked by my little love nest of subversion for a visit, especially those who took the time to send encouragement, forward links or offer opinion. The hate mail was particularly gratifying.

A salute to the many smart and humane webloggers I've gotten to know via this page: I would have put Blowback into cold storage much earlier were it not for the inspiring work of people I came to think of as colleagues and friends.

Peace out.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

That assassination in Yemen is yet another one of those amazingly successful military triumphs -- with a catch:

Even those who applauded the strike said it was sure to inflame militant Muslims, including those belonging to the al-Qaeda network, and expose US diplomats and other overseas officials to possible retaliation. On Tuesday the US said it was closing its embassy in Yemen to the public indefinitely amid fears it might become a target for an attack to retaliate for the killings.

Then there are those icky moral issues raised by the attack...

Sweden's Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, said: "If the USA is behind this with Yemen's consent, it is nevertheless a summary execution that violates human rights. If the USA has conducted the attack without Yemen's permission it is even worse. Then it is a question of unauthorised use of force."

While military experts said the incident could herald a new era of robotic warfare, lawyers debated the implications of the surprising turn in US strategy - killing specific individuals in countries where there is no war.

"To have a drone that engages and kills people - that is quite a threshold to cross," said Clifford Beal, editor of Jane's Defence Weekly. "This is the beginning of robotic warfare. There is underlying tension in the military about using it ... this is really the first success story of this system."

A US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, refused to discuss the attack and trod carefully around questions on whether US involvement in the strike contradicted Washington's long-standing disapproval of targeted killings.

Asked whether the US had altered its opinion, Mr Boucher replied, "Our policy on targeted killings in the Israeli-Palestinian context has not changed."

::Greg Miller, Sydney Morning Herald: US braces for retaliation after Yemen assassination via Lying Media Bastards

Monday, November 04, 2002

Audio Funhouse

Scott Williams put together a characteristically excellent pinko anti-war set on WFMU not too long ago, selections included:

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - "Suppose They Give a War & No One Comes"
Aphrodite's Child - "Loud Loud Loud"
John Cale - "Fear is a Man's Best Friend"
Lee Ranaldo - "Isolation"
Cromagnon - "Caledonia"
Bonzo Dog Band - "We Are Normal"
Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey - "War Bond Advertisement"
Beyond the Fringe: "The Aftermyth of War"
The Clash - "I'm So Bored With the USA"

::See the playlist for SW on September 30, 2002: The Air Turned to Poison
::Listen (RealAudio)

Also from WFMU, Stefan started off his Spiral Sun Plan set for October 17th with nearly an hour of Alexander Cockburn's spoken-word album Beating the Devil laid over a soundbed of recordings by Xiu Xiu and Merzbow.

::Playlist for Spiral Sun Plan - October 17, 2002
::Listen (RealAudio)

Hunter Thompson has been descending deeper into incoherence since 1972 or so, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to this interview he did with ABC radio in Australia just before the one year anniversary of 9/11. He's a little foggy at times, but mostly in fine form...

Interviewer: So in that sense, there’s not enough room for dissenting voices?

Hunter S. Thompson: There’s plenty of room there’s not just enough people who are willing to take the risk. It’s sort of a herd mentality, a lemming-like mentality. If you don’t go with the flow you’re anti-American and therefore a suspect. And we’ve seen this before, these patriotic frenzies. It’s very convenient having an undeclared war that you can call a war and impose military tribunals and wartime security and we have these generals telling us that this war’s going to go on for a long, long time. Maybe not so much the generals now, the generals are a little afraid of Iraq, a little worried about it, but it’s the civilians in the White House, the gang of thieving, just lobbyists for the military industrial complex, who are running the White House, and to be against them is to be patriotic, then hell, call me a traitor.

::Program page and partial transcript
::Listen (RealAudio - 37 minutes)

Naomi Klein (No Logo) and Sameena Ahmad, author of an Economist article entitled "Pro Logo: Why Brands Are Good for You", square off in a debate that gets genuinely nasty at times.

::Listen (RealAudio - 1hr, 23 min)

NPR interviews Rami Khouri, former editor of the Jordan Times and Youssef Ibrahim, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation, who deliver a scathing assessment of reckless war-mongering and its effects.

A sample of their analysis from this article by Ibrahim:

Al Qaeda, according to the CIA and the Pentagon, is reconstituting itself. In fact every Middle East and Muslim affairs expert is saying that Al Qaeda's ranks will be fattened by new recruits right now and will have more of them when the United States attacks Iraq.

Those joining are no longer Muslim religious fanatics. They now include secularist young men and women angry at the impact of U.S. policies on the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.

In other words, a new Al Qaeda, far more dangerous than the existing one, is in the making. Witness the attack on the tourist resort of Bali, on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and on a French oil tanker off Yemen. In Afghanistan the United States' main enemies, Osama bin Laden's cadre of leadership, has disappeared, while his shock troops, the Taliban, are there in their homes and villages sitting on their weapons, patiently waiting for the right moment to go back into action when America gets busy attacking Iraq.

Thus far, all the arguments presented for sending American boys and girls into one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods are half-truths, spurious assumptions and utter nonsense. Washington simply cannot prove the case that Iraq is tied to Al Qaeda.

::Listen (Real Audio - 7 min)
::Bush's Iraq adventure is bound to backfire

Those last links both via Dack.

::Header image stolen from WFMU
It's revealing that Thomas Friedman's first question after arriving in Berlin is "where's the wall?", perhaps not quite comprehending the events of 1989... He's terribly dissappointed that the Germans haven't left it up, inexplicably suggests that its absence is at "the core of the crisis between America and Germany today", and finally asks "Would somebody please bring back the Berlin Wall?"

I haven't the strength of spirit to address each of the fatuous myths that Friedman goes on to render in hyperventilating prose, but pause to note his assertion that "Germany [is] to the left of Saudi Arabia, which at least says it will support an Iraq war if it is approved by the U.N."

We'll set aside that the United States is itself, like most countries, to the left of Saudi Arabia -- after all, Americans have sham elections from time to time, eschew beheading for the more humane electric chair, and even let their women drive cars. More to the point, what exactly is the extent of Saudi "support" for an attack on Iraq? Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal kindly elaborates:

"We will abide by the decision of the United Nations Security Council and we will co-operate with the Security Council," he told CNN.

"But as to entering the conflict or using facilities... that is something else."

He added: "Our policy is that if the United Nations takes a decision... it is obligatory on all signatories to co-operate, but that is not to the extent of using facilities in the country or the military forces of the country."

::Thomas Friedman, New York Times: Let Them Come to Berlin
::BBC News: Saudis snub US over Iraq attack

Friday, November 01, 2002

I know media coverage of the attempted coup in Qatar has reached the saturation point, but allow me to join the mob:

Diplomatic circles in the Middle East are buzzing with rumors of a failed coup against the Qatari regime on the night of Oct. 13. At least two members of the royal family are said to have joined with officers of Yemeni and Pakistani background, along with individuals from Islamic organizations, all opposed to the growing U.S. military presence. American troops stationed at the Al Udeid Air Base supposedly helped thwart the coup attempt, which had been penetrated in advance by Qatar security officials, after which 140 people were arrested. The rumors go on to suggest that Qatar suspects that the Saudis were behind the plot. The United States has been feverishly upgrading the Al Udeid base, in anticipation of a Saudi refusal to allow use of its Prince Sultan Air Base for the upcoming assault on Iraq.

::United Press International: UPI hears ...