Peace Researcher 42 – November 2011
- Dennis Small
This is the second and final
part of Dennis’ article. Part 1 was published in PR 41, July 2011,
http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr/41/pr41-006.htm. It was decided to publish
it over two issues because of its sheer length. Dennis sent us the whole article
in December 2010. Therefore, it is no fault of his that it has taken so long
to see the light of day or that many of the references are no more recent
than 2010. They were right up to the minute when he sent us the article! In
September 2011 Dennis added a lengthy postscript to bring it up to date. Ed.
Foxes Versus The Lions
Italian social theorist Vilfredo Pareto postulated a theory of circulation of elites, of so-called “foxes” and “lions”. The foxes use cunning or compromise and diplomacy, whereas the lions rely more on force. Seeing society ultimately founded in violence by the “lions” (e.g. as in the American Revolution), Pareto then saw it settling down mostly under the rule of the foxes (“The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Sociology”, ed. G. Marshall, 1994, p146). In modern American history, the Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton Administrations could be characterised as the “foxes”, and the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II Administrations as the lions, at least so far as foreign policy is concerned.
The current Obama Administration is another example of rule largely by the foxes, although the distinction between lions and foxes appears to be blurring as time goes on. A graphic case in point is Obama’s lion-like surge in Afghanistan to blitz the Taliban. Meanwhile, another very hardline “lion” government seems to be impending. “Lion” here is a euphemism for very Rightwing policy and practice. To date, lion-like strategies have been projected mainly overseas, but an American patriotism preoccupied with domestic security and the crushing of any Leftwing dissent looms as an imminently real danger.
The US And The New World Disorder
In commenting on American prospects, one of Professor Colin Gray’s mates, Jeremy Black, a Professor of History at Exeter University, says: “Alarmist talk of a police state both in the USA and the UK failed to take sufficient note” that any strong actions taken as at “Guantanamo Bay were for use against combatants” (“War and the New Disorder in the 21st Century”, Continuum, 2004, p61). Black actually gives a pretty confused projection of his own into the future at this point. Whereas he foresees a grim outlook for Europe, he bizarrely seems to be considerably more optimistic about American society for an assortment of reasons that fail to stack up when examined closely.
Black notes that: “The strong influence of American models elsewhere owes a lot to the impact of the media”, and are linked to the export of “American economic policies” (ibid.). Yet, while Europe is likely to suffer economically, the US will somehow apparently remain viable. This is set within a possible situation of the collapse of “capitalist economic growth” at the global level, certainly “in most of the Western world outside the USA” (ibid, p62)! All this is in turn again seen in a global situation of the possible “rise of far Right political parties”, as has already been happening “in modern Austria, Australia, France, Germany and Italy, which adopt an adversarial language, analysis and platform, defining and focusing on enemies within and abroad, especially immigrants” (ibid, p63). Moreover, as Black also pertinently notes with regard to Europe: “In the 1930s the crisis of the capitalist model helped produce a new authoritarianism in the shape of Nazi Germany”, and other internationally related problems connected with the Great Depression (ibid, p62).
Overall, given his own Rightwing bias, Black misreads the potential nature of American society for radical change under unprecedented stress. He sees democracy as widespread and pervasive. His optimism is misjudged and misplaced. Along with the Tea Party & co., the US has a plethora of white racist militia groups, millions of fundamentalist, Armageddon-oriented Christians, and such-like groupings. The Tea Party movement and similar groups might well appeal to the American tradition of: “Suspicion of a standing (permanent) governmental threat to rights and liberties”, something that is “central to American public culture” (ibid, p60). But they are not agitating in opposition to the ominous trend to more repressive legislation such as the Patriot Act, and the formation of the national security state – far from it! These phenomena fit in fact with much of their authoritarian political agenda. It is just a question of who exactly is in power. Incidental to this observation, it was interesting to once see a TV shot of a Tea Party demonstration with an activist holding a placard proclaiming that: “Dissent is a higher form of Patriotism”!
Double-Speak And Mythmongering
To return to the very revealing individual case of Paul Wolfowitz, mythmaking about Wolfowitz’s supposed democratic commitment apparently stems a lot from his own political claims, despite glaring contradictions with so much of both what he has said and done. For instance, James Mann, who was for many years a diplomatic correspondent and the foreign affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote “Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet”, a book which incorporates such contradictions (Penguin, 2004). In his book, Mann profiles in depth Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, and Richard Armitage. He contributes to the myth about Wolfowitz in a context in which the so-called “Vulcans” are described as linking their ideals to military power as their guiding principle. The Vulcans rejected accommodation in international relations, including détente and UN peacemaking, in favour of the rule of force, strongly advocating a very expansive view of how much power the US has and should have, i.e. a version of neo-fascism.
The Zionist Wolfowitz was recognised as the most hawkish of the Vulcans – their “intellectual high priest” - and the chief architect of the war on Iraq (e.g. Sunday Times profile article: reproduced in the Press, 25/4/07). But various conservative opinion-makers, including ex-Leftist Christopher Hitchens, have also portrayed Wolfowitz as a person with genuine compassion! Obviously, much of this image-making was calculated to try and counter a “pantomime villain stereotype” and the appearance of a “fire-breathing ideologue” (ibid.). The Orwellian principle of simply proclaiming commitment to humane ideals while violating them in practice at every turn seems to have thus become deeply ingrained in the psyche of much of the mainstream media.
Mainstreaming Hardline Militarism
Yet even some sympathetic commentators acknowledge that Wolfowitz had “hardline views”, fervently believing “that sophisticated arms technology was the key to American supremacy” (ibid.). Evidently then, all the victims of the US invasion of Iraq were so much “collateral damage” in aid of his compassionate humanitarian and democratic ideals! “Bleeding heart” Wolfowitz has helped to make plenty of other people bleed for his ideals. He was most willing to sacrifice multitudes on the bloody altar of his version of freedom - standard American practice of course! Ironically, Wolfowitz’s past and hypocrisy caught up with him at the World Bank, that bastion of American free market policy, when he was ignominiously tipped out from its head position for blatant corruption.
These considerations applying to Wolfowitz are most important because so much of the mainstream media, after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD), went on to try and justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a well-meaning attempt to establish democracy there. They endorsed the ultimate absurdity of imposing democracy by armed force – at the point of a gun! So we got a concerted, extremist effort by the mainstream media to try and dumb us all down, to persuade us of President Bush’s “fight for freedom” as proclaimed by TVNZ and other agents of disinformation and propaganda. “Neo-cons” were pictured as militant, idealist democratic crusaders (Washington Post article on “myths” about the “neo-cons” in the Press, 23/2/08). Blatant resource imperialism has got a most bizarre and contorted whitewash from its media minders - and this still goes on.
Revealingly enough, the argument is put by some that while President “Bush became the leading neo-con in his own Administration”, it also came about that “Cheney and Rumsfeld used Wolfowitz and other neo-cons to provide an intellectual patina of justification for war against Iraq” (ibid.).Whatever the definition of who exactly is a “neo-con”, this particular role in the Bush Administration expressed the shifting fortunes of groups within the wider American foreign policy power structure.
Media Makes War
The big lie about the alleged danger of Iraq’s WMD, and supporting lies about purported terrorist links, etc. promulgated by the Anglo-American axis was glaringly obvious in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq to any open-minded scrutiny. Hence the outraged, critical response by informed analysts and observers prior to the invasion. Lamentably, this desperate call for humanity and justice was very deliberately and cynically buried by the major mainstream media in a torrent of warmongering.
As described in Part 1 of this article, the framework and direction for this had already been set by Wolfowitz’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) and its crony-media manipulators. Former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director, George Tenet, has accused the Bush Administration of wrongly pushing for war with Iraq over alleged WMD (“At the Centre of the Storm”, HarperCollins, 2007). Yet Tenet himself was notoriously guilty of using the phrase “slam dunk” to express his certainty about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMD (Sunday Star Times, 29/4/07). Wolfowitz’s fiendish manipulation had worked in pressuring the CIA to conform to “neo-con” expectations, “to provide an intellectual patina of justification for war against Iraq”. Team B’s reincarnation had scored a spectacularly ominous success.
(Team B was explained in Part 1 of this article. Here is the relevant paragraph. Ed. In fact, Wolfowitz’s militarist and anti-democratic roots lie very deep. Most pertinently to his role in the OSP perversion of intelligence was that in 1976 he had been officially appointed a member of “an alternative team from outside the intelligence agencies to appraise the official estimates of Soviet [Union] capabilities and intentions” [“Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment” by Jerry Sanders, Pluto Press, p198]. This team, which came to be known as “the Team B panel”, was composed of “hawkish”, Rightwing ideologues [ibid, p199]. The panel became notorious for its propaganda in grossly overestimating and promoting the Soviet threat. It strongly accused the CIA of underestimating Soviet strength and intentions. Team B even enthusiastically promoted the strategy of nuclear war-fighting for the US [ibid, p285]).
Furthermore, despite all the damning revelations since of how the war was generated on a platform of propaganda, these media still refer to “mistakes”, and how the US and Britain “wrongly suspected [Hussein’s regime] of harbouring WMD” (from a Times article, reproduced in the Press, 19/10/10). For them, the operating Orwellian principle as ever is how best to employ the “Weapons of Mass Deception”! To repeat, emphasise, and elaborate on a key point: the evil that this artificially contrived media war has done is incalculable, given the huge cost in human life, injury and suffering; the spawning of wider destabilising conflict; instigation of more anti-Western terrorism; alienation of so many people around the world from what is still good in the West; diversion of attention from the rapidly mounting problems of world poverty, environmental decline; etc, etc. Much of the mainstream media in Aotearoa/NZ, including TVNZ, have plenty of blood on their hands. But this has never bothered them: they are more than willing to support State terrorism, and cover up or justify such practices.
Democracy And Human Rights In Decline
The particular dimension of mass society theory, which I am expounding, also relates to the continuing capacity of Western governments to create a terror alert virtually at whim. For the most part we may assume, as in the case of recent alerts in Europe, that the authorities are genuinely concerned in their warnings. But, clearly, the scope for political manipulation is now more or less pretty well endless. Ultimately, the major intelligence and security agencies remain democratically unaccountable and impervious to any proper scrutiny. Every Western citizen is thus continually subject to the uncertainty and vulnerability generated by the “War on Terror”, even though this particular slogan has now lapsed with the advent of the Obama Administration.
With due respect to Avaaz, which continues to do marvellous work, and which I regularly and actively support, Obama is indeed a “terrorist”, not the terrorist of American far Right paranoid imagination but rather a typical American Presidential State terrorist. From “Predator” drone attacks on militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc., to other overt and covert operations against America’s enemies, Sate terrorism is riding high in the hands of the Obama Administration. Besides blitzing (“shellacking” as Obama called his 2010 term election results!) Afghanistan and much of northern Pakistan, Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama and his fellow State terrorists like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have actually stepped up similar operations in various parts of the world. From Somalia to the Philippines, the US is expanding its war on Third World rebellion. Obama quickly affirmed his credentials for Pesidency soon after his inauguration. He celebrated with a flurry of murderous, macho Predator missile attacks on poor people in northern Pakistan. In fact, he has displayed definite signs of developing into an enthusiastic serial killer.
The second relevant dimension of mass society theory pertains to the increasing activism of some media operating influential networks like Fox News and Clear Channel in the US. These media have moved openly to the stage of direct social intervention for very Rightwing, even neo-fascist agendas. They are deliberately fostering social movements that affirm and promote far Rightwing values and attitudes. Again, I have presented some description and analysis of relevant episodes of this dimension.
Meantime, more and more repressive legislation, inspired by the US Patriot Act and associated legislation, is being implemented in Western societies, including Aotearoa/NZ, viz. the current Terrorism Suppression Act, and the proposed new Search & Surveillance Bill that allows installation of listening devices into our homes. In Aotearoa/NZ, the President of the Law Society, Jonathan Temm, has described “the partial removal of the right to silence under [these] proposed laws” as due to “a trend to Rightwing populism” (Sunday Star Times, 14/11/10). The ongoing “erosion of civil liberties reflected” - in his words - “a general shift in our law-making to the Right” (ibid.). So a corresponding climate is being created on a number of fronts that is conducive for reactionary and militarist media manipulation.
Clearly, as well, the two dimensions of mass society theory that I have identified overlap markedly on the US scene, and are likely to do so more in the future in other Western countries. One dimension relates to militarist manipulation while the other relates to the general promotion of Rightwing politics. One of the most recent prominent examples of reactionary media-generated activism was the very large Rightwing march in Washington on August 28th 2010, starring Glenn Beck, who was then one of the best known faces of Fox News http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Beck. As a very well-known media personality in the US, Beck was to the fore in organising a series of Rallies for America in 2003 in support of the invasion of Iraq. The later big Washington rally in August 2010 at the Lincoln Memorial was billed as a “Restoring Honour” march, and imitated that led by Martin Luther King in 1963 - the famous civil rights March on Washington. Although a niece of King’s was one of the keynote speakers at the “Restoring Honour” rally, the participants were overwhelmingly white and conservative. Critics accused the rally of trying to turn King’s values upside down, and it was widely seen as an attack on “liberal” values (i.e. “liberal” in the “progressive” sense).
In stark contrast to Martin Luther King, Glenn Beck’s dream for America derives much of its inspiration from the legacy of the far Right John Birch Society (ibid.). Beck has constantly criticised what he calls “progressivism” and its alleged threat to US society (ibid.). Moreover, according to Beck, President Obama, Al Gore, George Soros, and others belong to “Crime Inc”, which constitutes “a clandestine conspiracy to take over and transform America” (ibid.). “God” and “Patriotism” were major themes at the “Restoring Honour” rally, along with the celebration of American “heroes” and heritage. The Tea Party movement was a big supporter, organiser and participant. Beck has backed the Tea Party since its inception, “mainly due to similar views on limited government” (ibid.).
Most significantly, along with Beck, another co-sponsor of the rally was the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. This is a tax-exempt, non-profit organisation which was founded in 1980 in the wake of the debacle to rescue American hostages following the fall of the Shah and the US’ client regime in Iran. It was set up to provide college scholarships and educational counselling to the surviving children of Special Operations personnel killed in training accidents or operational missions. The rally raised funds for this particular organisation, which can also be considered to have a role as a support group helping to legitimise American-sponsored “death squad” activities. Here then we have a very cleverly designed body that obviously has a number of political purposes with public appeal – both charitable and militarist together!
Hardline, Rightwing elements in the American foreign policy Establishment have long been aiming to make US-sponsored death squad activities in the Third World more publicly acceptable. During the past decade, an ideal weapon in both such physical and psychological warfare - including the domestic home front as well with regard to the latter dimension - has proved to be the Predator drone and its Hellfire missiles. Again, it has long been the Pentagon’s intention to hit anywhere on the globe at a moment’s notice. The practice of cowardly warfare at a safe distance has been a big ongoing preoccupation for American military strategy. The more selectively targeted, lightweight drone weapon is thus a welcome successor to the clumsier Cruise missile. Long-term, the holy grail of imperial slaughter is some space-based weaponry to strike at will in a more tumultuous world, damaged already to a large extent by destructive depredations and interventions by Anglo-American imperial forces.
In the US, as previously mentioned, the Democratic Party got a mauling from a Tea Party-driven resurgence by the Republican Party in the 2010 mid-term elections. However, many Americans are still resisting the Rightwing tide. At the end of October 2010, a “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” headed by a comedy TV personality team led by Jon Stewart, drew tens of thousands to the National Mall in Washington (Press, 1/11/10). To some extent then, there has been a positive activist media-initiated response to counter reactionary militarist-inclined politics. This was a reply to what one participant called “a very radical minority that controlled the dialogue of our politics”, and against manufactured news in general (ibid.). Stewart himself “denounced cable news depictions of a country riven with animosity”, and “made an impassioned defence of American unity” (ibid.). In a critical comment on “corporate-funded public relations packages” presented as “genuine stories” on American TV networks, Sunday Star Times columnist Finlay MacDonald has noted how Stewart hosts The Daily Show in which he very cleverly satirises the “official news” (Sunday Star Times, 4/6/06).
Unless Americans can come together a lot more positively and progressively in dealing with both their socio-economic and international problems, then most assuredly “a very radical minority” will continue to propel efforts to unify the country by the imposition of authoritarian domestic control, and warmongering projections overseas. Given that in so many ways the US is really a pseudo-democracy with the Democrats and Republicans only playing musical chairs, real progressivism must eventually find its feet at a much more grassroots level to be truly effective. To date, unfortunately, the Tea Party movement and other Rightwing groups have usurped this ground. Meantime, “Republican politicians . . . have stepped up their rhetoric on Iran, demanding that US President Barack Obama make more direct threats to use military force against the country” (Press, 18/11/10). They have also been stalling a vital nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. In the past couple of decades, there have been American interventions, or American-backed interventions – overt and/or covert - in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Somalia - the list goes on and on . . .
Neo-Fascist Foreign Policy
In terms of foreign policy, the Western crony-media emphasis is very much directed against what is seen as the ever growing threat of Islamic radicalism. Consequently, in recent years, both in the US and Europe, as well as appendages like NZ, the “War on Terror” has expanded de facto into the so-called “clash of civilisations” expounded by Samuel Huntingdon and others. Humankind has got into global culture wars. Basically, this has all come about because Western civilisation is in practice a predatory, modernising “crusade” of continuous material consumption, dependent on oil and other fossil fuels, along with other mineral resources (and also renewable resources), and so needs to constantly extend its capitalist global reach into the East, and the Third World in general, a process already hallowed by centuries of exploitation.
In one of those many American foreign policy Freudian slips, President George W Bush actually used the word “crusade” with reference to the new wave of US imperialism. Maintenance of the increasing inequalities within Western society also critically depends on this predatory process of globalisation. Hence, the US-led imperial push into Central Asia, using Afghanistan as a springboard. In turn, this has initiated another round of the “Great Game”, now involving various Western states, Russia, and China. At the 1992 Earth Summit, President George HW Bush proclaimed: “The American way of life is not negotiable”. Years later, as Thomas Wheeler remarks: “Despite all the warnings that we are headed for an ecological and environmental perfect storm, many Americans are oblivious to the flashing red light on the earth’s fuel gauge” (http://baltimorechronicle.com/080304ThomasWheeler.shtml).
Resource War Bites Close To Home
Here in Aotearoa/NZ, incidentally, a prominent economist regularly compares our economy to the performance of a motorcar! (viz Robin Clements in the Press’s Mainland Monitor). Meantime, the NZ government, inspired by transnational corporate economic growth and free trade fantasies as articulated in Treasury’s neo-liberal, abstract models of reality, looks to cut taxes further for the well-off, while cutting benefits for those lower in the socio-economic pyramid (e.g. Press, 25/11/10).
Thomas Wheeler continues in regard to Bush I’s quote cited above: “That way of life requires a highly disproportionate use of the world’s nonrenewable resources. While only containing 4% of the world’s population, the US consumes 25% of the world’s oil” (op. cit.). Suburban living epitomises this lifestyle. Wheeler thus identifies the critical crux of the global free market: the US has growing resource dependence – especially for energy - on other countries. As Bush II also later observed: “America is addicted to oil”.
Professor Jeremy Black backs American “benign” neo-imperialism (“War and the New Disorder in the 21st Century, op. cit, pp. 167-69). He also puts the situation like this: “Standing up for the USA strikes a chord with American public opinion, but other states standing up for themselves, especially if in different terms, do not win American understanding, with the exception of Israel which is seen by an influential section of American opinion, almost as an extension of the USA. In addition, American attitudes will be affected by a determination to see as normal an economic world that enables the USA to use its research skills, technological capability, investment capital, operational economic control and purchasing power to gain a very disproportionate share, in aggregate, and even more in per capita terms, of global resources” (ibid, pp81/2). Professor Black surely knows how to try and hang on to his affluent lifestyle! He has that deep Western Rightwing commitment to the value of global injustice.
Europe, too, is increasingly dependent on overseas resources. So are the so-called “emerging economies” like China and India, let alone even tiny NZ. All industrial, “developed” countries, along with any aspirant “developing” country, share the same converging eventual crisis. In his study of war and the new world disorder, Black continually recognises that globalism and economic growth bring their own problems, with “economic globalisation” not only leading to keener competition for natural resources, but also proving “unpopular, resisted and subject to serious internal strains” (ibid, e.g. pp71-73).
Blowback And Backfire
Communism, and indeed any form of socialism – democratic or otherwise - failed to take root in the Muslim world. Any signs of Leftwing agitation were an anathema to the older colonial powers and later US imperial ambitions anyway. Instead, resistance against Western control and intervention has increasingly come from within the wells of the native culture, reaching back to the fundamental roots of faith, or at least its modern, aggressively politicised interpretations (see e.g. “Taliban: The True Story of the World’s Most Feared Guerrilla Fighters” by James Fergusson, Bantam/Random House, 2010). Most ironically again, of course, the Anglo-American axis has suffered a very bad case of blowback. America’s earlier selective encouragement of Islamist sentiment, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, backfired with the Taliban’s support for bin Laden and al Qaeda, although this support may have been more about money than ideology (ibid; Sunday Star Times, 14/11/10). Afghanistan has in fact suffered more than 30 years of warfare, being first cynically and brutally used by the West in its attempt to undermine Soviet Communism; and then later, to try and stem the tide of Muslim fundamentalism, and continuing resistance to foreign control.
In the last resort, the imposition of Anglo-American imperial rule over Afghanistan is crucial for greater control of Central Asia, just as the usurpation of Iraq is crucial for control of the Middle East. The massive oil and gas resources constitute the grand prize (see “The Prize”, Daniel Yergin, The Free Press, 1991, 2009, for an American Pulitzer Prize winning perspective). But, imperial over-reach is bleeding money, resources, mana, human life, rights and decency. Yet again, Western culture - especially as expressed and reflected in the mass media - has so often proved to be counterproductive. The advent of al Jazeera television network based in Qatar has incisively pointed up the biases and limitations of foreign media in these regions and beyond. During the height of the 2003-initiated assault on Iraq, real war and media war merged dramatically on a number of occasions for al Jazeera given the W. Bush Administration’s calculated physical as well as verbal attacks. TV journalist Tayek Ayoub was killed in April 2003 when American missile fire hit the al Jazeera office there, also wounding a colleague (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tareq_Ayyoub). After this convenient “accident” or “mistake”, Bush & co. apparently wanted to take out al Jazeera altogether in Qatar. While this did not happen, the Administration’s threat still had impact as a psychological warfare ploy with the network being fearful of further attacks (e.g. Sunday Star Times, 27/11/05).
West’s Resource War On The World’s Poor
American foreign policy strategists have long known that the best way to promote the defence of the current Western lifestyle in the face of growing populations, declining resources and ecosystems, mounting inequalities, etc. was to induce in its mass populace the sense of siege, of a constant state of threat. Critical to this enterprise has been a systematic propaganda programme to paint its enemies as barbarous people who want to destroy civilised life as we know it. This means permanent war a la the bleak vision of Orwell’s “1984”.
At home, the US national security State has of late been continually galvanised by repeated terror alerts and anti-Muslim expressions of feeling as in the furore over the proposed mosque near so-called “Ground Zero” (former Twin Towers site) in New York, a pastor’s proposal to burn copies of the Koran, and similar such episodes. More and more, too, poverty-stricken countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia are seen simply as areas of looming menace for affluent Westerners. So the West feels under siege from the poor, hungry and, let us add, the oppressed. Certainly, to a degree, it is now the target of both innocent desperate, would-be immigrants and some terrorists, even of the home-grown variety. What a number of influential American strategists and politicians have long worked to create has finally come about: a situation where so many US citizens (and other Westerners) have come to see their country’s resource war on the world’s poor people as a “War on Terror”.
So any perceived militant threat to the interests of the American power elite has come to be defined in the terms of “terrorism”. Since so many academics in the West are ready and eager to identify themselves with the values, material interests, and goals of this elite, and the subservient and aligned governments (including NZ) that express them (however disguised at times this motivation might be!), “anti-terrorism” has become the battle-cry for the academics that help define it as our destiny. As terrorism specialist Richard Jackson observes, the field of terrorism studies is “unbalanced, politically biased and limited in its focus” (“An Argument for Terrorism”, Perspectives on Terrorism: a Journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative, vol. II, issue 2, 2008: www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php). 
The Farce Of Politically Correct Terrorism
It is hugely revealing that the US State Department explicitly avoids any reference to “State terrorism” in its definition of “Terrorism”. In noting the enormous bias in the usual working Western definition of “terrorism”, Jackson says that, “the terrorism label is applied solely to non-state groups opposed to Western interests” (ibid.). So Leftwing groups get “an inordinate amount of attention in terrorism studies literature” whereas, on the other hand, “Rightwing groups like the [Nicaraguan] Contras, anti-Castro groups, US and South African supported movements in Angola and Mozambique, various Afghan factions, numerous Latin American death squads, and today a number of Iraqi death squads, have remained scandalously [my emphasis] understudied” (ibid.).
State terrorism, at least Western State terrorism, has been virtually ignored. This huge academic and governmental bias has naturally been reflected in the Western mass media. Overall, it is the ideological expression of powerful, vested capitalist interests. For a relevant detailed case study see my “Ghosts of a Genocide: The CIA, Suharto and the Terrorist Culture” (Peace Researcher 25, March 2002, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr25intr.htm. It includes the role of the Press in helping suppress the truth from the NZ public).
NZ’s State Terrorist Commitment
As an appendage of the Anglo-American imperial axis, NZ assiduously conforms to the prevailing “terrorist” prescription. The National government is content in ignoring the grim toll of Western victims of the “War on Terror”. Meanwhile, our Special Air Service (SAS) is closely involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) Afghanistan counter-insurgency programme. Revelations from the American book, “Operation Dark Heart” (aptly named indeed!), have indicated how some of our intelligence personnel have probably been implicated in targeted killings. This book by a former US “black ops” leader, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer, has been so revealing that the Pentagon tried to destroy the first print run, and has heavily censored the second printing (St. Martin’s Press, 2010; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Dark_Heart).
As well, in obedience to American mandate, the NZ government continues to proscribe more of the world’s poor. A recent (2010) example was the addition to the NZ government’s list of “international terrorist” organisations of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army. Prime Minister John Key claimed that these organisations “indiscriminately kill civilians”. Not only do Key and his Government obviously not care about the civilian victims of Western terrorism, but the Filipino organisations now listed have long gone to great pains to avoid civilian casualties. In contrast, CIA and Filipino government-sponsored terrorism in the Philippines against civilian Leftwing and human rights advocates is established practice. In the Anglo-American war on the world’s poor, truth is consistently a casualty. Institutionalised hypocrisy is very deeply ingrained. Besides ideological contortions, the social psychology of officially sanctioned counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism accommodates all sorts of behavioural contradictions.
A Near Conspiracy Of Silence – Now Starting To Go Badly Awry!
“The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing”, Aldous Huxley observed long ago (“Target Iraq”, op. cit, p46). “Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth” (ibid.). Overwhelmingly, deafeningly, this silence prevails over the victims of Western terrorism when real political interests are at stake. In 2010, Wikileaks released large volumes of Pentagon military documents giving unprecedented, formerly secret official information and insights on the West’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, very few media have given this material the coverage it so obviously demands in light of some devastating revelations on blunders, cover-ups, propaganda, and cold-blooded murder. I have seen no NZ examples at all, other than cursory mention, or instead articles critical of the messenger. The grim reality is thus again largely screened from public view. Systematic dissimulation rules as ever! This has been further reinforced with an obvious US Administration orchestrated cyberwar on the Wikileaks Website, following the release of previously hidden communications of US diplomats and politicians.
While the mainstream media has buried its skeletons and fresh corpses from sight as much as possible, it has directed attention instead on to the messenger, namely Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. He is now under undisguised harassment from virtually the whole Western Establishment, including his native Australia. Assange has more or less been officially proscribed as the West’s domestic Public Enemy Number One. Wanted by Interpol, under US pressure, for alleged sex crimes, Assange is even actually subject to death threats from the more openly neo-fascist elements within the ruling power structure. Professor Tim Flanagan, who is another of the former advisers of Canadian Conservative PM Stephen Harper, has publicly called for Assange to be assassinated. Thoughtfully enough, Flanagan suggested the use of a drone. Flanagan was Harper’s campaign manager for his 2003 election. Flanagan’s call echoes that for Assange’s execution from some American Republican Party sources (Press, 3/12/10). Assange is the “traitor” that we have to hate, with all the crony-media baying for his blood.
Death To Dissent!
So bring the death squads home now as well since we have finally got some academics and politicians to sanction it all! This sort of stuff could soon even become politically correct, just as in “1984”. Former Alaska governor, Tea Party heroine and former Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, has likened Assange to bin Laden and al Qaeda terrorists, and called for him to be hunted down. Assange rightly fears an Obama death squad. Despite all the desperate efforts at damage control, the capitalist mask is continuing to peel off piece by piece, bit by bit, and globally at that!
Wikileaks’ campaign is fitting payback for the horrendous, cynical manipulation of intelligence by the “neo-con” GW Bush Administration and their crony-media mates, which continues to cause further mayhem in the Middle East. It is most ironic, too, to note how American imperial predation has suffered such revelations from dissemination via the Internet with its origins in US defence research projects. Yet again, Big Brother has multiple heads. For instance, star activist-writer Arundhati Roy is facing charges of sedition for being critical of unjust policy and practices by India in regard to the hotly disputed state of Kashmir. Real Leftwing dissent will become more difficult in some supposedly democratic societies.
Over the years there have been occasional reports and articles critical of Western militarist abuses in the NZ mainstream media, at least when these have become embarrassingly evident. Yet the overwhelming context of such abuses presents them as the result of mistakes, accidents, over-enthusiasm, lapses of judgement, aberrations, and so on, certainly not as the inevitable symptoms of a systematically malevolent foreign policy. For some excellent reality checks on grossly biased, mass media reporting, see Murray Horton’s “The Terrorist ‘War on Terror’” in Peace Researcher 26 (October 2002, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr26-63.htm); and Bob Leonard’s “Domebusters’ Trial Suppressed Evidence” in PR 40, July 2010, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr40-192b.htm).One of the major social functions of the mainstream media, including State television, is to actually hide much of the truth. Besides NZ participation in US wars, another issue that illustrates this ideological, protective function of the mainstream mass media for the prevailing political power structure is the subject of “free trade”. The silence of this media on NZ’s “free trade” role in helping undermine food security, especially in poor countries, is similarly deafening. In fact, there has never actually been any proper democratic discussion on the deeper implications of free trade for Aotearoa/NZ itself.
Some media, however, are consistently better in the public dissemination of news and information than others on international issues relating to Aotearoa/NZ. For several decades, the Sunday Star Times (including previous versions), despite changes of both ownership and editorship, has been the most fair-minded and balanced mainstream newspaper, especially on Aotearoa/NZ’s independence and human rights issues. For instance, the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan by our SAS has elicited its continuing concern (e.g. editorial, 18/3/07: “It’s time we spoke out against US abuses”). The newspaper is still firmly Western-biased. And the Listener (owned by APN, part of Tony O’Reilly’s transnational media empire) changed editors in recent years and dramatically changed editorial direction to now be mostly a superficial, corporate-oriented publication.
NATO State Terrorist Death Squads In Afghanistan
In mid-2010, Britain’s Guardian in a highly unusual media article posed the headline question: “What Is Death Squad Task Force 373?” (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/25/task-force-373-secret-afghanistan-taliban). To refer to such a Western agency in these terms is most surprising indeed. The Guardian article revealed that the US-led NATO coalition has been using an undisclosed “black” unit of Special Forces, Task Force (TF) 373, to hunt down top insurgent targets (ibid.). It is certainly very enlightening to look in some detail at the sort of information that most of the mainstream media deliberately choose not to tell their publics.
For death squad TF373, standard American State terrorist procedure has been implemented. The centrepiece is the list of designated victims, a political method that goes back to Roman times at least. The big difference is that the NATO death list, as other such death squad lists, has been drawn up secretly. As well, an important rider in this particular case is that a number of people on NATO’s list have been eligible for murder or capture. Obviously, Predator drone attacks have pre-programmed murderous intent, whereas Special Forces on the ground may have the option of securing their target alive. Apparently, quite a number of targets were captured alive – probably to be tortured for further information. More than 2,000 senior Taliban figures have been on the NATO target list. There were other reports of similar secret missions, obviously related to TF373. For instance: “A squad of Special Boat Service commandos known as Task Force 42 hunted down targets on a ‘kill or capture’ list of more than 2,000 Taliban commanders” (Press, 2/8/10). The notorious methods of the Operation Phoenix death squads from the Vietnam War era of the 1960s are being systematically implemented in Afghanistan, and this has in fact been done ever since the immediate aftermath of 9/11. During his December 2010 trip to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama congratulated his troops for targeting the enemies’ leaders. Death squad operations go on.
Dirty Work! - Job Of Killer Elite Special Forces
Obama and his crony-media crew are carrying on brazenly with the relatively new American strategy of making dirty work as publicly acceptable as possible. The Guardian gives some chilling case studies. Overall, besides its targeted victims, TF373 “has also killed civilian men, women, and children, and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path” (op. cit; more quotes below in this section). These targeted killings have come under what is labelled “the joint prioritised effects list”, or “JPEL”.
In one incident, on the night of 11 June 2007 in a valley near Jalalabad, the unit shot up in the dark a group of Afghan police officers, killing seven of them and wounding four – and all because someone shone a torch on the unit! They even called in an AC-130 gunship when a firefight developed. The NATO coalition force covered up this incident. Later that same week, on 17 June 2007, TF373 launched another mission in Paktika province. They fired rockets into a village and killed seven children. On this occasion, the coalition owned up to the deaths but blamed the Taliban for holding the children. Yet there was no evidence that any Taliban had actually done this. The unit just fired the rockets unprovoked into a madrassa (Islamic school) where there were in fact no Taliban present at all. Knowledge of the use of rockets was suppressed, as of course was TF373’s involvement. In another incident where there were alleged civilian casualties of F-15 bombings: “A large number of local nationals were on site during the investigation displaying a hostile attitude so the investigation team did not continue sorting through the site”.
To be sure: “The concealment of TK373’s role is a constant theme”. These killers certainly need constant protection. But “TF373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks”. Other such incidents brought more civilian dead, including children. There was indeed a string of repeated episodes of misinformation and cover-ups. JPEL has clearly got very high status within the NATO force operations, with a “joint targeting working group”. Over 2,000 targets had been killed or captured by October 2009. Apparently, the American death squad operatives of TF373 hail from the 7th Special Forces Group stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
An Orwellian Orchestration By TVNZ
Raymond Williams has observed that: “. . . what has really survived from “1984” is Orwell’s understanding of propaganda and thought control. There have been changes of style and technology but certain basic methods of the oligarchy – endlessly repeated slogans, displacement of one kind of news by another, the regular institution of hate figures – are still clearly recognisable” (“Orwell”, Fontana, 1984, p120). The demonisation of bin Laden and al Qaeda, the “War on Terror” slogan, along with slogans like “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, and other propagandistic psychological warfare techniques a la “1984” have been rife since 9/11 in the mainstream media. Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, a former American ally for its war with Iran, was later recast as the prime enemy state. All this has happened in an international situation where US-led Western State terrorism is presented as acceptable and justifiable by the mainstream media. The “terrorist” branding, naturally, only applies to our enemies.
In particular on the NZ scene, Uncle Sam has long been the organ grinder for TVNZ on war, and much else. As the monkey, TVNZ has faithfully followed its master’s line in presenting these imperial wars - in former newsreader Richard Long’s immortal words - as President Bush’s “fight for freedom”! Long was referring here specifically to the war on Iraq initiated in 2003. These wars were all part of the endless “War on Terror”, according to the definition of international affairs as proclaimed by Washington. Then along came the Obama Administration and dropped the “War on Terror” slogan as counter-productive. For a while, momentum for its usage carried on in TVNZ presentations until the broadcaster got the strings to its puppet-master sorted. So while the terrorist “War on Terror” goes on in practice, the news has been redefined in line with what President Barack Obama’s Administration wants to project on foreign policy. This was highlighted with the visit in November 2010 of the Administration’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to Aotearoa/NZ.
TVNZ And Creating Opportunities for Clinton
The National government and TVNZ were certainly on song together for Clinton’s visit. There was some political game-playing just before Clinton’s arrival with news of an impending important announcement, and Key in a posturing ploy of ignorance. So the Wellington Declaration came to formally proclaim renewed ties between the US and NZ in a suitably expectant atmosphere. The public release of the Defence White Paper setting out the country’s strategic policy for the next 25 years was strategically timed to coincide with the visit and reinforce the American connection.
As usual, TVNZ was at its fawning best for the rich and powerful. Political Reporter Guyon Espiner asked Clinton a couple of questions geared to TVNZ’s underlying militarist agenda (One, 6 pm News, 5/11/10). One question was whether Clinton would welcome American nuclear ship visits here since these ships are supposedly now only nuclear powered (as opposed to nuclear armed). Didn’t she find our position rather odd? Clinton indicated in diplomatic fashion that she would welcome change to readmit American warships. Yet, in reality of course, change would also mean the reassignment of nuclear weapons to American warships in a time of crisis and foreign control of our ports. Espiner’s second leading question was whether Clinton wanted our troops to remain in Afghanistan? Again, she was diplomatic but very welcoming of NZ’s continued participation with a flattering remark about how “professional” our SAS soldiers are. Closeup then followed with a detailed clip on Espiner’s interview with Clinton, again signalling the end of 25 years “stand-off”.
So TVNZ’s coverage of Clinton’s visit, in tandem with so much of the mainstream media, endorsed this visit as a resounding success and a turning-point in US-NZ relations. There would now be more training and co-operation with the US, along with joint exercises. There were even rapturous endorsements from several impressionable students for Clinton’s speech delivered to a specially invited audience at the Christchurch Town Hall, while Peter Townsend of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, another invitee, appropriately expressed the warm desire for closer relations with the US. It was indeed “a meeting that exceeded expectations”!
Marginalising The Critics And Pushing Nuclear Participation
With the portrayal of a protest against Clinton’s visit, TVNZ also seized the opportunity to again try and further marginalise the local opponents of Anglo-American aggression (One, 6pm News, 4/11/10). The relatively small number of protesters outside Parliament, branded simplistically and misleadingly as “anti-American”, was an aspect emphasised in TVNZ’s coverage – less presence than the security staff! Well, of course, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama is viewed in a positive way by many people around the world for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq; imposing constraints on the possible use of nuclear weapons; trying to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons, and curb proliferation; engaging in more dialogue with the Muslim world; etc. Similarly, the Clintons come across for many as having a much better image than the “neo-con” GW Bush Administration.
The views of a couple of the protesters were selectively presented in “sound-bites” on TV1. One protester gave voice to a 9/11 conspiracy viewpoint, while the other indicated capitalism was the problem. In the latter case, TVNZ is well aware that the conditioning of most New Zealanders would very likely prompt them to dismiss this view in stereotyped fashion, however true it might ultimately be. Its reporters were correspondingly careful not to solicit articulate statements from the Peace Action Wellington organisers and speakers at their protest against US and NZ war crimes. Thus TVNZ smugly put forward the overall viewpoint of the protesters that the US was responsible for the deaths and ensuing mayhem in Afghanistan and Iraq within a deliberately marginalised context. Obviously, not only were such views opposed to that of TVNZ, but by implication, contrary to those of all right-thinking New Zealanders.
Militarist Psychological Warfare
In sum, during Hillary Clinton’s visit, TVNZ demonstrated again how it has been the principal organ of Anglo-American war propaganda in Aotearoa/NZ. Clinton’s visit was warmly welcomed as the vital signal of “relations thawing at long last”. TVNZ’s propaganda techniques and psychological warfare methods have been honed to a high level with many years of practice. The militarist trend that Harry Evison* identified on TVNZ, among other media, continued throughout 2010. Besides the war “docudramas”, The Pacific and the evocatively named Generation Kill, there has been a continual parade of TV war memories, stories and commemorations. Clearly, the underlying agenda of TVNZ, whatever the occasional “puffery” and token “fair and balanced” reporting a la the Fox News trademark, is to help forge closer ties with the US resource war and killing machine and so undermine our nuclear free status. And, hold on too, President Obama himself may even be reviving the “War on Terror” slogan – spoken in his visit to Afghanistan (One, 6pm News, 4/12/10). *From Part 1 of Dennis’ article: Prominent Christchurch historian, social commentator, and World War 2 veteran, Harry Evison, drew attention to this in a letter to the editor of the Press (24/4/10). He observed that: “The present spate of American movies portraying war as heroic, and the extraordinary surge of attention to wars of all kinds, seem to be conditioning people for another world war, like 1914 all over again” (ibid.).
Joining The Downward Spiral?
As we have seen there is another swing to the hard Right in the US. Critical boundaries for human rights have already been crossed by “neo-con” Administrations in making torture and death squad operations more acceptable to the American public. As an imperial appendage, NZ will become further subject to this process of the erosion of any standards of proper human decency. Bob Rigg, a former chairperson of the National Consultative Committee on Disarmament, has well pointed out the dangers of making military interventions in other countries (Press, 11/11/10). “If our Government adopts such decisions in secret (as our law allows), it is almost certainly guided principally by classified ‘intelligence’ provided by the US, either directly or through NATO. We know from experience that such intelligence can be manipulated to predetermine decisions fulfilling the US agenda. If key NZ defence and security advisers have been part of NATO (and US) planning and training, the probability is maximised that they will be compliant where NATO and the US are concerned” (ibid.). Rigg called for better democracy by provision of the opportunities for Parliament and the general public “to debate the merits of proposed foreign interventions” (ibid.).
In the emerging Social Darwinist era of global resource wars, Aotearoa/NZ needs to assert a policy of “positive neutrality” with peacemaking initiatives for the future as much as possible. Potential flashpoints are increasing around the globe – from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula, and from the Venezuelan/Colombian border to the China Sea. We either commit ourselves to the civilised values underpinning human rights, genuine democracy, and respect for other forms of life; or we join the culture of death and embrace its horrors. The choice is ours.
Countering The Capitalist Culture Of Death
“There is no more effective recruiter for al Qaeda than the status quo of American foreign policy” (Michael Scheuer, former CIA agent who led the bin Laden CIA team during the 1990s, Press, 28/5/11).
A lot of relevant things have happened since the above article was written. Prominent among them was the killing on 2nd May 2011 of Osama bin Laden, the US’s most wanted terrorist (the video games are available and the Hollywood film is on the way!). What was so noteworthy here was how the US proudly broadcast this particular death squad operation to the rest of the world.
Sexing Up The Death Squads
One of the major themes of my 2010 article (above, and Part 1 in PR 41, July 2011) is that American strategists have long been working to make their death squad operations publicly acceptable, above all to the American people, and more generally, to publics in the wider Western world. The biggest systematic mass murder orchestrated by the CIA and the rest of the Anglo-American interventionary apparatus was the genocide of Communists, Leftists, Chinese minority group members, and other groups in Indonesia following the 1965 Suharto coup. Possibly well over a million people were slaughtered. This remains a classic case of Western duplicity and dirty work, which still relies on the mainstream media to this day to cover up the bloody work done there.
Of course, the ongoing media cover-up also applies to so much of American-backed butchery in Latin America and elsewhere. The continuities run on today in Afghanistan and other places. To a large degree, the US has applied what is called the “El Salvador” option to its 2003 war and the ongoing repression in Iraq. James Steele had been “chief US adviser to several El Salvadoran Army battalions accused of being death squads. More recently, he had been a Vice-President at Enron [the notoriously corrupt energy company which imploded so dramatically] and had originally gone to Iraq as an energy consultant” (“The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein, Penguin, 2007, p367). Subsequently, Steele became the US chief security adviser in Iraq where he fostered torture and death squad practice according to normal Pentagon/CIA prescription and “best practice”.
During the 1960s, the relatively small but deadly Phoenix murder programme had been implemented in South Vietnam. Ironically, revelations about the Phoenix programme were to prove more embarrassing for the US government than the Indonesian takeover. In comparison, more effective secrecy and comprehensive propaganda account for the success of the Indonesian genocide operation in the mid to late 1960s. But a critical factor in America’s embarrassment over Phoenix proved to be the direct participation of American agents in death squad operations. Ever since, the challenge in the carefully calculated “War on Terror” has been to try and openly legitimise such killings. Targeted killings against proscribed “terrorists” are certainly easier to justify to the Western public than open genocide. Drone attacks and night raids on militant suspects in Pakistan and Afghanistan continue despite protests from the respective governments and their peoples. For the most part, Western callousness and indifference prevail. An American investigative TV "Frontline" documentary also shows how very counter-productive this terroristic strategy is for winning 'hearts and minds' in Afghanistan ("Operation Afghanistan - Kill/Capture", SBS1, 11/10/11).
“Collateral damage” still remains a problem for media management and public relations. But American Administrations can now consistently rely on a climate of fear to reinforce the traditional collaboration of the capitalist mainstream media for this propaganda purpose. NZ media give lots of glamorising hype to any SAS efforts in Afghanistan to rescue hostages in crisis response situations. But nasty night raids by NATO Special Forces are successfully covered up except in the very odd case as exemplified by the killing of security guards during a botched SAS Kabul operation. In conjunction with American forces, a SAS revenge attack completely wiped out a band of guerrillas, who had earlier conducted a fatal ambush on an NZ Army patrol. This slaughter was enthusiastically applauded by the militarist “War on Terror” and “Clash of Civilisations” ideologue, Dr. Ron Smith of Waikato University (TV1, 6pm News, 21/4/11).
Publicly Promoting The New Barbarism
In the case of the hated Osama bin Laden, the US had the golden opportunity to publicly perform a death squad operation with plenty of media hype, both to intimidate its opponents and to help legitimise such killings. The Obama Administration obviously felt that this could succeed despite the typical ugly aspects involved: a secretive night time, home invasion raid with the inevitable collateral damage including women casualties and traumatised children, in order to gun down in cold blood an ageing, unarmed, probably sick man, whom they did not want to capture. And remember in this particular show case the American Administration went to great lengths to minimise collateral damage as much as possible. It was yet another of the endless American violations of international law, happily rationalised by the media as usual.
For Joanne Black, Acting Editor of the New Zealand Listener, “the assassination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been hugely symbolic, even liberating” for the US (Listener, 16/7/11, p5). Black asserts this in the context of making a case for staying on in Afghanistan. The very Rightwing, pro-American military Black is also appreciative of our SAS role in “killing people”. Much of the NZ media was similarly celebratory over bin Laden’s killing in the best bloodthirsty fashion. On the commemoration of 9/11, Tim Wilson, TVNZ’s Voice of America, echoed Black’s sentiments about the symbolic value of the bloody deed for Americans (TV7, News, 11/9/11). Yet this latest 9/11 commemoration featured the paranoia of a new terror alert as usual, once again reinforcing public commitment to the national security State and perception of its enemies.
The West Against the Rest?
Along with plenty of routine disinformation and propaganda, the bin Laden death squad raid has thus been hyped up as a heroic, glorious deed in characteristic US bullshit fashion. And it certainly worked for the majority of the NZ mainstream media who are deeply committed to the terroristic resource war on the world’s poor, in conjunction with the economic imperialism of free trade in food, etc. Even the code word for the death squad’s target, “Geronimo”, was in continuity with the long tradition of American racist State terrorism.
In this vein, too, the NZ government is dedicated in its support for such terrorism; and our SAS is active within this strategy against the Taliban, who hail directly from the once lauded fundamentalist Islamist “resistance fighters” against Soviet imperialism. Taliban ruthlessness is now opposed by many of the very same people who once so heartily endorsed it. As in Iraq, American-led invasion has led to further “balkanisation” of Afghanistan along ethnic lines, ensuring that nationalist Pashtuns will fervently oppose foreign occupation, and the same applies in Pakistan as well (e.g., see Anatol Lieven’s “Pakistan: A Hard Country”). Their fight for freedom from foreign oppression will go on. The Anglo-American imperialists always insist on digging more deep holes for themselves around the planet.
In his ruthlessness as to ends and means, bin Laden aptly calculated on sucking in Western forces and slowly bleeding them to death in the Middle East maelstrom and beyond. His strategy is confirmed as to its effectiveness by former CIA bin Laden specialist, Michael Scheuer (TV3, Nightline, 6/9/11, interviewed in item on the aftermath of 9/11). Scheuer considers that bin Laden’s strategy is working since it has drawn the US into a long-term war which the US has difficulty in sustaining (ibid.). In fact, by its very nature such resource imperialism is ultimately self-destructive (see Professor Michael Klare’s “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Petroleum Dependency”; “The Empire is Eating Itself” by Ralph Nader, 3/9/11, http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/275-42/7290-focus-the-empire-is-eating-itself).
In these times, a considerable number of the world’s poorest countries - from Afghanistan to Somalia - are principally portrayed as potential or active threats to Western imperialist interests. Meanwhile, China is viewed as the rising power on course to contest American global dominance. For instance, the American Establishment/propaganda magazine Time puts a crucial dimension of the growing Chinese challenge in these terms: “Tensions are rising between China and other states over the South China Sea, thought to hold rich oil and gas deposits” (22/8/11, p28). Parallels and corresponding processes abound.
It is significant that the political entrenchment of Murdoch-backed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is closely linked to the militarisation of Canada and increasing international competition for the Arctic’s oil and gas resources (“Harper Steers Canada Hard to Right”, Sunday Star Times, 8/5/11). Harper’s Conservative government is making a “huge purchase of fighter jets from Lockheed Martin” and embarking on “massive military shipbuilding” (ibid.). Drawing its core support from the “Evangelist Christian Right”, the Conservatives are implementing a tough law and order programme (ibid.). “What happens now is the full-scale Americanisation of Canada” (ibid.). Global capitalism and militarism are intimately integrated, with the militarist dimension inevitably gaining in prominence as time goes on.
Western hypocrisy on democracy and freedom was again enormously exposed with the onset of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the movement for democracy across North Africa and much of the Middle East. Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other Western-backed repressive, torture-oriented regimes either crumbled under people power; or, as in most cases, elicited angry bouts of protest action before repression took a firmer hold. In some cases there was a show of face-saving concessions.
Payback and blowback take many forms. Even though Western media attention has focused on the brutal crackdowns and rebellions in Libya and Syria, and NATO’s response in the former case, the tangled politics involved in such countries make outcomes highly uncertain and problematic. Tellingly enough, the CIA used both Syria and Libya for the “extraordinary rendition” and torture of suspected jihadist prisoners, as even acknowledged now by some Western media. In Libya's case, such collaboration related to "lucrative oil contracts" (Press, 12/9/11).The big lie worked for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact, there has been a massive, orchestrated litany of lies. But its ramifications will work out in a multitude of unsettling ways to come. Again, too, more Western power is being sucked and drained in the widening maelstrom.
Murdoch’s Momentary Burp?
In Britain, politicians once in thrall to the Murdoch empire ungratefully turned on their former master as the phone-hacking scandal deepened. Andy Coulson, former News of the World Editor, is actually under arrest for his alleged part in the phone-hacking practice. As British PM David Cameron’s former Director of Communications as well, Coulson’s record and current plight have helped expose the extent of Murdoch’s pervasive political influence. Overall, the scandal’s fallout is a big setback for News Corp and its pernicious role but Murdoch and co still wield great power. Unfortunately, there may be little permanent damage to News Corp given the workings of global capital.
A recent example of the media mogul’s power in action was the campaign by the Murdoch press in Australia (he owns 70% of the press there) against meaningful legislation by the Labour government to control carbon emissions. It has drawn the response of a Parliamentary Inquiry. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other malevolent mainstream media ready to fill any gaps. Among further items of interest connected with Murdoch’s empire was the resignation of Glenn Beck from Fox News. Beck was an obvious loose cannon anyway. In the US, the toxic, media-cultivated Tea Party movement brought the Obama Administration into crisis mode over payment of the country’s debt, even helping trigger panic on global financial markets. As capitalist globalisation implodes worldwide, we will have to try and counter lots of irrationality. Western capitalism is certainly reaping what it sows.
More NZ Connections
Its divisive processes take various local forms. The Australian-based Fairfax Media empire has engaged in active social engineering in Aotearoa/NZ with its promotion of the so-called NZ Business Hall of Fame and all its implicit Social Darwinism. As well, the trend to corporatised news continues with the formation of its Fairfax NZ News (FNZN) outfit, following the demise of the independent NZ Press Association (NZPA) – a demise in which Fairfax played a major role. More specifically, a significant step in the further legitimisation of the militarisation of NZ society was signalled by the appointment, as our Governor-General, of former Defence Force Chief and SAS member, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who still has some big ethical questions hanging over him from the controversy over the treatment and torture of Afghan prisoners, and other activities in Afghanistan (e.g., see the critical Sunday Star Times article by Anthony Hubbard, 13/3/11).The reactionary Press considers Mateparae’s posting “perfect” (Press, 10/3/11)..
Being also our former “top spy” when briefly the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB, which operates the Waihopai spybase), Mateparae illustrates in the course of his career the increasingly close linkage between the military and intelligence surveillance institutions, signalling the mindset of the national security State. Inspired by Nicky Hager’s new investigative book, “Other People’s Wars: NZ In Afghanistan, Iraq And The War on Terror” (reviewed by Jeremy Agar elsewhere in this issue), Rod Oram also raises pertinent questions about the implications for our democracy of Mateparae’s appointment (Sunday Star Times, 11/9/11; see also Sunday Star Times, 4/9/11, for excellent coverage of some of Nicky’s revelations). However, like the political Establishment, much of the media has downplayed the book’s findings despite the extensive official documentation used. After all, their job is to suppress the truth and discussion as much as possible.
Militarisation And Public Relations Spin
There are plenty of other aspects of militarisation to monitor (for background, see Special Issue of Peace Researcher, number 29 [first series], August 1991, “Ready Reactionaries Practise Repression”, http://historicalpeaceresearcher.blogspot.com/2010/06/peace-researcher-vo1-issue29-aug-1991.html). On the Left, we need to keep very alert to the unravelling of globalisation. International events, and so domestic events, could move suddenly and quickly. US public relations firm Hill & Knowlton contributed Victoria (‘Torie’) Clarke to the Pentagon’s war on Iraq. Recently, we also learned that Hill & Knowlton were paid by the NZ government to get PM John Key’s comedy turn on the David Letterman show during his 2009 visit to America, another revealing indicator of the prevailing colonial mindset (TV1, 6pm News, 1/8/11). Also very revealing was publicity about a “jihadist” threat that Letterman had received for his antics in celebrating the “drone strike in Pakistan” killing al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri, as well as bin Laden’s death (Press, 19/8/11). Political murder and death squad operations get the full entertainment treatment these days in the US from the nation’s media minders as they deliberately cultivate the zeitgeist of the neo-fascist security State. Political manipulation, mass media, show business and militarism go hand in hand in typical American fashion. Spinning the web of death is fundamental to imperial reach, even more when this reach is in decline.
Cultivating The Culture Of Death
Since the mainstream American media are pervaded with such attitudes, values and behavioural aspects, these will increasingly impact on public standards in Aotearoa/NZ. Sadly enough, the “Death Squads for Dummies” approach is working! The offensive TV antics of Paul Henry, appealing for quite a number of people here, herald a new cultural wave geared to benefit ruling rich and powerful capitalist interests. All this, of course, both reflects and expresses the wider American culture. A casual review of American TV shows we had on our own TV channels during mid-2011 is both indicative and evocative, e.g. The Walking Dead (apocalyptic survivalism); Sons of Anarchy (gang warfare); NCIS (terrorism); Justified (killer lawman); and Survivor (survivalism). Their cumulative message suggests the “survival of the fittest” syndrome, whatever the exact meaning put on the interpretation of “fittest”. Another regular message is: revenge is good.
In the American context, such TV programming, associated with all the other related cultural trends and media input, is conducive to the inculcation of competitive Social Darwinist and neo-fascist attitudes. The black liberationist Eldridge Cleaver* ably identified the social psychological undercurrent that has now become so salient. “In a culture that secretly subscribes to the piratical ethic of ‘every man for himself’ – the Social Darwinism of ‘survival of the fittest’ being far from dead, manifesting itself in our rat race political system of competing parties, in our dog-eat-dog economic system of profit and loss, and in our adversary system of justice wherein truth is secondary to the skill and connections of the advocate – the logical culmination of this ethic, on a person-to-person level, is that the weak are seen as the natural and just prey of the strong“(“Soul on Ice”, Panther, 1970, p85). Hence the special penchant of American Administrations for regularly savaging some the world’s most vulnerable and poorest peoples. *Ironically, the “black liberationist” Eldridge Cleaver (who died in 1998) later transformed into both a born again Christian and an enthusiastic Republican Party activist and unsuccessful candidate. Ed.
A recent trend proving highly popular in the US is the spectator sport of video-wargaming. “The matches are broadcast on the Internet, and include commentary by pundits who say things like, ‘It’s a drone genocide! Flaming drone carcasses all over the place!’” (Press, 27/5/11). This new trend “has the US in its grip” (ibid.). The “crowds are apt to go crazy” when a player does something especially tricky, “such as dropping a nuclear bomb” (ibid.). Millions of people participate. Apparently, “the craze has its roots in South Korea” (ibid.). As America’s prime strategic, foreign nuclear war fighting platform – and one intermittently on the brink - the South Korean source for this craze seems understandable enough. NZ has an annual “Armageddon” celebration and related sub-culture with lots of vibes receptive to this sort of thing.
Given the connection with the computerised targeting of real-life Predator drones, the culture of death is obviously growing. Already a multitude of videogames help reinforce American and allied commitment to the US’s endless war on its enemies. A whole generation of youth is being indoctrinated in this sort of mindset and accompanying role models. Even fashion in clothes and cosmetics is currently following a military-look trend. Evidently, the “1986 hit movie ‘Top Gun’ [starring Tom Cruise] was the template for a US military alliance with Tinseltown” [Hollywood] (Sunday Star Times, 4/9/11). From this particular alliance stems “an entertainment culture rigged to produce dozens of blockbusters glorifying the military” (ibid.).
Emblematic of the recent darker trend is the British directed revenge and survivalist film, “Hanna”, about a teenage girl assassin who has been trained by her former CIA father. TV adverts for the film portrayed her cutting throats. For TVNZ film reviewer Darren Bevan, “Hanna is effortlessly cool and stylish” (Press, 1/9/11), while Your Weekend reviewer James Croot sees the film as “cool and gritty” (10/9/11). Killing is good and cool! Perhaps we have to look as well at human evolutionary psychology and Freud’s “death instinct” to help understand this cultural trend in the phase of late capitalism. Even at a much more restrained level, the state of siege mentality is widely at work. A very popular set of novels for Australian and NZ teenagers is John Marsden’s “Tomorrow, When the War Began” series about a band of teenagers and their resistance to armed invaders. Marsden is an Australian school principal.
More Foreign Political Manipulations
Wikileaks* exposed some of the workings of US influence within Aotearoa/NZ. Most interesting were revelations about US-sponsored trips and the influence that the sponsors felt had been achieved. The Green Party leadership (see the Press, 2/5/11) and journalists like TVNZ’s Political Reporter Guyon Espiner were among key US targets. In the mid-1980s, the anti-subversion group Nuclear Free Kiwis monitored the efforts of the US Information Service in sponsoring such trips and other related activities. We reported our findings in NZ Monthly Review and the first series of Peace Researcher. *The Wikileaks cables from the US Embassy in New Zealand, all 613 pages of them, can be read on the ABC Website at http://liberation.typepad.com/files/wellington-us-embassy-cables---bryce-edwards.pdf. Ed.
This went hand in hand with our monitoring and exposing of various attempts at CIA subversive activity here. So it was enlightening to learn from an informed source that the CIA maintains an office in Auckland, as has been the case in the past (Press, 23/7/11). During the 1980s’ standoff between Aotearoa/NZ and the US, a former Deputy Director of the CIA, Dr Ray Cline, tried to set up a so-called “ANZUS* think-tank” in our country. We responded with a couple of special editions of the NZ Nuclear Free Zone Committee’s newsletter/magazine, Nuclear Free. One morning, Dr Cline was interviewed in the US on NZ radio in response to the first special Cline “alert” edition of Nuclear Free. Defending himself, Cline said that the magazine’s authors must suffer from paranoiac fantasies! *ANZUS=the 1951 Australia, New Zealand, United States Treaty. NZ was expelled from it in the 1980s as “punishment” for our nuclear free policy. It continues, under the same name, but minus NZ, as the cornerstone of the Australian/American military alliance. Ed.
Ratcheting Up The Resource War
Well, we beat off the think-tank as originally proposed by Dr Ray Cline with the help of this sort of publicity and some independent journalism. Cline, incidentally, was a sinister neo-fascist who was responsible in the latter phase of his life for CIA-backed liaison with the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia on the one hand; and, on the other hand, for helping set up the death squads, which still operate in the Philippines. Significantly, David Petraeus - the former Commander of American and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the new Director of the CIA - is warmly praised by Time flunkey journo Joe Klein for his “brilliant career” in honing death squad operations (Time, op. cit, p11). Death squad dirty work gets full mainstream media endorsement these days when cleverly spun in terms of warfare. There have been “more than 2000 nigh -time Special Forces missions similar to the one that killed Osama bin Laden in the past 12 months” (Press, 12/8/11).
Since 9/11, the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has killed more “jihadist” enemies than the CIA http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/323-95/7284-the-vast-and-expansive-us-secret-army: “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State” by Dana Priest & William Arkin, Washington Post, 2/9/11). The highly secretive JSOC has grown tenfold, conducting lethal raids in Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and Syria, among other countries. The Navy Sea Air and Land Special Forces (SEALs) who killed bin Laden are part of this force. An inside informed estimate is that JSOC “only ever [gets] about 50%” of its targets accurately identified. However, JSOC apparently considers “this rate a good one”. As a result, the authors of the study on the rise of the secret American security State cited above, consider “that the counterproductive effects, still unfolding, are difficult to calculate”. The warnings of the Brandt Commission and other august authorities in the past about a coming war between the rich and poor have been tragically confirmed.
So Petraeus is now the new head of the CIA, the world’s biggest terrorist organisation. Yet he is seen by the news agencies in general as “admired” for his all dirty work to date (Press, 23/6/11). Today, psychotic-type State terrorists in the tradition of Cline’s ilk – i.e. Petraeus and his Army Command predecessor, Stanley McChrystal, a chief architect of JSOC’s current operations - are openly celebrated American and Western heroes. After all, they’re protecting our mostly white skins in the great Social Darwinist struggle for planetary control a la the film “Avatar”, aren’t they? State terrorism is thus reaching new heights of public endorsement in the West. In another Time article (its cover story), Joe Klein looks lovingly at what Petraeus believes is “the next great generation of American leaders”, drawn from the veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (“The New Greatest Generation”, 29/8/11, pp20-27, quote, p27). Klein calls Petraeus the “spiritual father” of this coming leadership (ibid, p23).
These war vets (principally a hand-picked select few interviewed by Klein) are seen as bringing home the values needed by American society: “crisp decision-making, rigour, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism” (ibid, p22). While the image-conscious Klein opposes this “real patriotism” to any “self-righteous flag waving”, he makes clear in the course of his article that this vet outlook is “conservative”, closely interested in politics, and critical of people who complain of a lack of entitlements. Committed to the American tradition of “individual accountability”, this clearly “self-righteous flag waving” vet outlook is also obviously oriented to big business mythology. Education in the Harvard Business School goes hand in hand with service in the US Marines.
Klein’s piece is obvious propaganda. Klein himself was once an “embedded” journalist in Afghanistan. Such “embedding” has become a critical dimension of the Pentagon’s media management. It is clearly paying off further down the track with journalists like Klein helping in the militarisation of American society, the consolidation of the national security State, and support for State terrorism. Petraeus takes over as CIA director “at a time when the line between the American spy agency and the military has become increasingly blurred” (Press, 8/9/11). Petraeus for President one day perhaps? – i.e., after fulsome and regular praise for his leadership of the murderous CIA!
In NZ, Cline’s original ANZUS think-tank proposal was carried on, of course, in various other ways. Informally, the most important legacy of the proposal was the perceived need to nurture and grow the network of Rightwing, American-aligned academics in NZ, enthusiasts for “counter-insurgency” operations and militarist bonding. One major aspect of this is the forging of closer links between this network and the media wherever possible, above all the medium of television. We have seen this connection illustrated again in recent times with particular reference to our military presence in Afghanistan.
For sure, killing or torturing people in poor countries (or applying rendition) in defence of the “developed” way of life has reached new levels of appreciation. As ever, as we have already noted, some New Zealanders are keen to be deeply implicated in the American killing machine. Always to the fore among this constituency is that long-time American foreign policy asset of the Press, the staunch protector and propagandist for US State terrorism and predatory social injustice over many years. So a Press editorial roundly denounces “fringe radicals” for opposition to the Western war on Afghanistan (22/8/11).
It is certainly a major function of the Press and such corporate media to constantly try and marginalise those who expose both their hypocrisy and the “oppressive horrors” of the State terrorism that they would legitimise. The Press has proved vicious in its propaganda for the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and for other American militarist, neo-fascist interventions. It has always backed both political and economic imperialism. So the editorial staff spout more cynical, self-serving crap about “just causes” and defending “freedoms”, denying of course any connection with “oil and regional influence” and the preservation of their affluent lifestyle. They continually whitewash or just simply ignore the collateral damage. They obviously believe in “The Age of Stupid” and Murdoch-style dumbing down of their readers!
The eminent, internationally recognised American scholar, the late Professor Chalmers Johnson, emerged in recent years as a damning critic of American imperialism in his magnificent trilogy: “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire”, (Little, Brown & Co, 2000); “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic”, (Verso, 2004); and “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” (Henry Holt/Scribe, 2006/7). As Professor Johnson, former CIA consultant and member of the militarist Reaganite Committee on the Present Danger, has observed, many of the organs of our “free press” have become “Pravda-like mouthpieces” [Pravda was the former Soviet Union’s lead newspaper] (“Nemesis”, p19).
In “Nemesis”, Professor Johnson clinically documents a catalogue of crimes against human rights and related political matters that the Press and other mainstream media work so hard to screen from the public. Quoting noted historian EH Carr, Chalmers Johnson observes that: “The English-speaking peoples are past masters in the art of concealing their selfish national interests in the guise of the general good . . . This kind of hypocrisy is a special and characteristic peculiarity of the Anglo-Saxon mind” (“Nemesis”, p54). A new barbarism is in the offing and indeed, as we have shown, already operating in certain spheres.
Pertinently enough here, it is worth recording the fact that the CIA invented the term “blowback” about what eventually followed the Agency-engineered, Anglo-American 1953 overthrow of the elected government of Premier Mohammed Mosaddeqh in Iran (Operation “Ajax”) when this particular government tried to nationalise the country’s oil assets (“Nemesis”, p.2). Again, all this nicely epitomises the US’s and the Press’ ideas of “freedom” and “social justice” in action, while the consequences still roll on for everybody (see Press editorial, 22/8/11).
The so-called “Carter Doctrine” formulated after the 1979 Iranian revolution – and named after President Jimmy Carter – explicitly allocates Middle East oil resources to American military control. Created in 1980, JSOC’s first mission was the abortive attempt to rescue the American hostages held in Tehran. The American government went on to back Iraq in its war against Iran, boosting the slaughter as much it could, and then caused the death of some half a million children in Iraq due to United Nations-imposed sanctions. Later, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was a stepping-stone to the prime target of Iraq (planned before 9/11), with its huge oil reserves, and the establishment of more strategic bases in the region.
Realpolitik Bites Back
Even in his role as “international peace envoy for the Middle East”, the war criminal and former British PM Tony Blair is brazenly calling for more regime change, namely “in Iran and Syria” (Press, 10/9/11). Indeed: “He suggests the West must be ready to use force against Iran if it pursues its nuclear ambitions” (ibid.). He talks about the potential of Iran to “destabilise the region very, very badly” (ibid.). Blair, President GW Bush & co. have, of course, themselves been hugely responsible for destabilising the Middle East. But Blair goes on to blame Iran for the failure of the Anglo-American axis to stabilise both Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is blamed for its backing for “terrorism” (ibid.). Blair’s imperial arrogance is as breathtaking as his stupidity and lies. The neo-cons have fallen into bin Laden’s trap, severely crippling the American economy (www.atimes.com/atimes/global_economy/mi10dj02.html).
War criminal Blair, with his usual awesome hypocrisy, also refers to the so-called “narrative” which “jihadists” adhere to, i.e. the story of Western imperialism, which Blair implies is untrue (ibid.). However, Blair is careful to project this “narrative” as only applying to religion and the “clash of civilisations”, which Blair & co. have again done so much to foster, although of course he puts the blame on the Islamists for this. He is however obliged to acknowledge that many people ascribe both to the “narrative and the ideology that prompted the extremism” (ibid.). As a foremost exemplar of Western neo-fascist imperialism, war criminal Blair could also be considered a prize idiot, all under the cover of defending the “open society”. Blair is caught in the tortured contortions of his own evildoing. History has a habit of repeating. Back in 1953 Britain froze Iran’s sterling funds and banned the export “of essential raw materials to Iran to create economic trouble for Premier Mohammed Mosaddegh” so he would resign. It was an important shot fired in the Anglo-American “Operation Ajax” to destabilize the Mosaddegh government to grab Iran’s oil resources.
To be sure, the Press’ sanctimonious realpolitik is hilariously self-satirical. It criticises so-called “fringe radicals habitually suspicious of the US” and its intentions, when these intentions and corresponding actions are now so well documented, despite the constant efforts of the Press & co try to cover them up as much as possible (Press, 22/8/11). The Press is certainly a Pravda-like mouthpiece on foreign policy. Yet, even it lets the occasional revealing article or insight slip past the editorial oversight.
Angst And Agony Of The Anglo-American Killing Machine
All the expert warnings about the folly of invading Afghanistan (and later Iraq) have been only too well vindicated, with the US falling into the same imperial trap that the Carter Administration’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, once deliberately set for the Soviet Union. History can indeed repeat itself with horrendous consequences. We get endlessly recycled stories and commemorations about the victims of 9/11, especially each September. But, horrible as this atrocity was, the total number of victims (sanctified in a roll-call of names) of this terrorist deed stands a relative handful in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of casualties (overwhelmingly nameless) and wrecked societies meted out by the Anglo-American killing machine.
As a matter of openly proclaimed and unashamed policy, American Administrations and the Pentagon do not bother to count the civilian casualties of their depredations. The reasons are obvious. Taking their cue from this, the Western mainstream media largely ignore the ever mounting toll of the victims of such State terrorism while keeping close track of any Western casualties. The sickening racism here could not be more blatantly chilling in its implications. The continual propagandistic recycling of 9/11 is of course designed to continually refuel public motivation for the “War on Terror” and reinforce the consolidation of the national security State. TV1 lavishly pumps this sort of propaganda to us.
Towards Positive Neutrality
As the great confrontation between the US and China shapes up further into the 21st Century, Aotearoa/NZ is strategically placed to be a leading peacemaking agency, a neutral intermediary cooperating with other peacemaking agencies around the planet, working to try and channel big power energies into the ongoing development of positive alternatives for the future. Militarist strategists like Professor Colin Gray see war between the US and China as inevitable. So we need to work much harder in contesting the bloody future being programmed for us. Our constant challenge to the warmongering mainstream media should be a major focus.
Over the years, peace activist John Gallagher has been a leading grassroots promoter of constructive alternatives with his articulation of positive neutrality for Aotearoa/NZ via the NZ Nuclear Free (Peacemaking) Committee and other groups. In fact, there is now an informed tradition of such efforts. Back in 1987, Warren Thomson, June Gregg & Doug Craig of the Defence Alternatives Studies Group (DASG) put forward a range of constructive considerations, some of which are still very relevant (see their “Old Myths or New Options?: The NZ Security Debate after the Nuclear Ships Ban”). Among suggested “strategies for the future” is a proposal for a “Wellington Initiative”, which can be seen as a fitting alternative counter-option to the new official militarist one between NZ and the US (ibid, p81). The DASG proposal advocates positive peacemaking efforts in the Pacific region in order to reduce tensions and help chart better directions. In 2011, it stands just as valid and urgent (and two of the three authors are still very active in the peace movement. Both Warren and Doug are ABC Committee members, albeit from Nelson in Doug’s case; and Warren is the Co-Editor of Peace Researcher. Ed.).
 Richard Jackson, Reader in International Politics, Aberystwyth University, got his PhD. from the University of Canterbury, NZ. He is the founding editor of the journal, Critical Studies on Terror.