The first Gulf War was recently descibed by Robert Fisk as a turning point, where Western society seemed indifferent to war and civilian casualties, he discerned that part of the problem was due to journalism saying “our television lads and lasses played it [the war] for all it was worth – it was the first war that had ‘theme’ music to go with the pictures”.
Militainment is a documentary on this phenomena where journalism blends with entertainment and the military establishment.
Friend of Pulse, independent journalist Dahr Jamail is in Iraq to report on the elections. Here he explains the differences in Iraq since his last trip and describes the mood as having changed from one of hope to one like a capped volcano of suffering:
Baghdad today [Thursday 29 January], on the eve of provincial elections, feels like it has emerged from several years of horrendous violence, but do not be misled. Every Iraqi I’ve spoken with feels it is tenuous, the still-fragile lull too young to trust.
There is no single journalist who is more knowledgeable and incisive when it comes to the consequences of the so-called ‘war on terror’ on Pakistan than Rahimullah Yusufzai. Since so much nonsense has been proliferating about Pakistan courtesy of both ill-informed Western journalists, and the native informers (*), PULSE will strive to provide fuller coverage of developments in the region. Here is Rahimullah Yusufzai on the continuing US bombing of the Pakistani tribal belt.
The issue of missile strikes by US drones in Pakistan’s territory has dominated politics and the media in recent days and weeks. The new Obama administration has made it clear the attacks will continue despite statements of disapproval on an almost daily basis by Pakistani leaders, who argue that this policy was undermining Islamabad’s efforts to counter the militancy.
Robert Gates, who has been retained as defence secretary by President Barack Obama to ensure continuity to Washington’s policy in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, became the first American official last week to publicly comment on the issue of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Normally, US officials avoid commenting on the topic in public and instead unnamed sources in the Pentagon or the intelligence agencies leak information to the American media about such attacks, along with the claim that someone important in Al Qaeda had been killed. At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr Gates said the US would continue to carry out missile attacks against Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan. The US, he warned, will “go after Al Qaeda wherever Al Qaeda is.” He also said the decision had been conveyed to the government of Pakistan.
The times they are a-changing. Even Alexander Cockburn appears to be tempering his cynicism with cautious optimism.
A betting man, the morning after Obama’s inauguration, would surely have found odds-on stakes that the new president’s first daring cavalry charge would be an assault on the economic crisis, worsening day by day. Our Wednesday-morning gambler would have found much longer odds being offered on any surprising moves in that graveyard of presidential initiatives sign-posted “Israel-Palestine”.
But there’s been no exciting surprise or originality in Obama’s opening engagements with the reeling economy. His team is flush with economists and bankers who helped blaze the path to ruin. He’s been selling his $819 billion stimulus program on the Hill, with all the actors playing their allotted roles and many a cheering Democrat not entirely confident that the House Republicans may not have had a point when, unanimously, they voted No on the package
As only 100-120 aid trucks are allowed into Gaza per day by the Israeli and Egyptian authorities (compared to 500-600 before June 2007), the humanitarian situation remains critical. A brief report from UN OCHA:
Israel says 453 trucks entered Gaza 18-23 January, but only about half of them carried humanitarian aid – not nearly enough for 1.5 million Gazans, say UN agencies and international aid groups.
“The donors and the general public have mobilised from all over the world but the aid is stuck outside Gaza,” said John Ging, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza.
A terrifying personal account of wanton Israeli destruction of the homes of ordinary Gazans and the resulting psychological terror that is being inflicted upon them, by Eva Bartlett.
There are many stories. Each account — each murdered individual, each wounded person, each burned-out and broken house, each shattered window, trashed kitchen, strewn item of clothing, bedroom turned upside down, bullet and shelling hole in walls, offensive Israeli army graffiti — is important.
I start to tell the stories of Ezbet Abbed Rabu, eastern Jabaliya, where homes off the main north south road, Salah al-Din, were penetrated by bullets, bombs and/or soldiers. If they weren’t destroyed, they were occupied or shot up. Or occupied and then destroyed. The army was creative in their destruction, in their defacing of property, in their insults. Creative in the ways they could shit in rooms and save their shit for cupboards and unexpected places. Actually, their creativity wasn’t so broad. The rest was routine: ransack the house from top to bottom. Turn over or break every clothing cupboard, kitchen shelf, television, computer, window pane and water tank.
‘The mere monitoring of bloody conflict assumes precedence over human suffering’ writes Robert Fisk in his swipe at the BBC.
I wonder if we are “normalising” war. It’s not just that Israel has yet again got away with the killing of hundreds of children in Gaza. And after its own foreign minister said that Israel’s army had been allowed to “go wild” there, it seems to bear out my own contention that the Israeli “Defence Force” is as much a rabble as all the other armies in the region. But we seem to have lost the sense of immorality that should accompany conflict and violence. The BBC’s refusal to handle an advertisement for Palestinian aid was highly instructive. It was the BBC’s “impartiality” that might be called into question. In other words, the protection of an institution was more important than the lives of children. War was a spectator sport whose careful monitoring – rather like a football match, even though the Middle East is a bloody tragedy – assumed precedence over human suffering.