Personal post.

14 September, 2001

It looks like my holiday has just been cancelled by a bunch of men in suits. Phone calls will ensue as per usual. *sigh* Price Waterhouse Coopers have cancelled all Ansett flights.

I don't know how much more of this I can take. I'm sitting here at work like a zombie not knowing what to do or where to turn. I think the enormity of world news in the last few days has begun to sink in. I've just been ripped off from my holiday in December, I found out yesterday that my grandad died back in Northern Ireland, and just when I thought I was dealing with things, I get a phone call from my friendly mobile phone company B, wanting to renew my contract. I'm not in the mood to give a background, but to say that their customer service and accounts standards are appalling would be the understatement of the century. That company have so ripped me off that I can't believe they want to do it even more. I think I surprised the poor customer service person who was just given a bunch of post-contract names to call, I think.

I just feel wasted, I want to go home, I want to hug somebody, I don't know what, i just cannot stay where I am doing what I am doing.


Guardian article

13 September, 2001

Guardian article – An unusually well stated arrangement of what is basically my own point of view.

Serbian newspaper editorial, 12/9/2001

13 September, 2001

Dated 12/9/01, identity of newspaper unknown, sent to me translated by a friend from the region:

“Americans will be asking their leaders many questions over the coming days. However, an aggressive power will always have enemies, and those in our fair country remember the dark days of 1999, when our sovereignty was violated by countries posing as democratic and representing the rule of law. Our people suffered from these terrorists in uniform, and [they] took our heritage and our land from us in a brutal invasion which continues to this day, as the everyday heroes, under daily persecution, living in Kosovo-Metohija today can attest.

“Our city’s citizens who remember the disease and sorrow inflicted on us, extend our heart to the people of New York, who can now appreciate the terror we ourselves endured during those dark days, under illegal acts of terrorism that rival and even exceed those committed against us. We pray for swift and fair justice against those who have killed their men, women and children just as we do for our own. We can only hope that as a brotherhood, we can together fight terrorism in all the forms it exists and share in each other’s grief, sorrow and pride.

“We can hope, too, that the New York citizens may find comfort in the example we have set of rebuilding our city, and that we can help them from our own dreadful experience.”

– from a Belgrade newspaper.

Originally posted at a previous blog.

Thoughts on post-Sep 11

12 September, 2001

Sorry this hasn’t been updated, I’ve been very busy, and am surviving on sleep deprivation. I’ve been up since 10am yesterday and still got a full shift to get thru. Got a quite disturbing media report from Belgrade, will translate when I have time.

The racism and prejudice and hatred arising in ordinary people on all sides of the equation after the New York bombing sickens and worries me. On one side, you’ve got those wanting to nuke Kabul and the Gaza Strip which will somehow (!?) solve the problem. On the other you have people who say “they had it coming”. The US has made a lot of enemies, and done some dastardly and dark things overseas, but 30,000 odd civilians going about their business had no involvement or interest in such deeds. Just as common, decent people in Kabul, Tehran or Gaza don’t deserve the tag of terrorist just because by some accident of birth they were born a particular nationality. These people, like sadly so many in the past in other countries such as Serbia, Angola, Germany, China, Iraq and so many others, were sacrificed by some person or people totally lacking in any humanity for some political statement.

Somehow I like to believe that “we live in a beautiful world” … *sigh* It gets harder. And the media aren’t helping either. Grr.

(Note: at the time 30,000 was the media’s estimate of the casualties, which later fell to a figure around 2,900. It’s interesting that in tragedies of this kind in the Western world, the figure usually starts high and falls dramatically over the following days, while in the tsunamis and earthquakes of the developing world, the figure usually starts low and escalates persistently. Is our society really so afraid?)

Newsgroup post on causes of terrorism

12 September, 2001

Someone on a newsgroup posted “Look at what America’s been doing for years” and got attacked. I responded thus.

Keep in mind the timing of this post, just after 11 Sep when emotions on all sides were feverish. I don’t think that were I to write a post for the same purpose today (2005) I’d have been quite as brutal or one-sided about it, but I have left what I said intact here because to do otherwise means to have no perspective on what has gone before, and what I wrote at the time received a lot of praise.

He wasn’t saying America deserved it, that it wasn’t a sick, cowardly act, that it wasn’t just plain wrong, or that it was justified.

All he was saying is that there’s always two sides to every story. Unfortunately on both sides there are people who will take things into their own hands and then something like this happens. Having come from Northern Ireland, having friends from South Africa and Lebanon, and being very well acquainted with the Serbian and Korean situations through friends, acquaintances and a lot of reading, I can say with confidence that *anywhere* you apply this logic to, it makes sense.

Basically you have two extreme sides. You have millions or tens of millions of people or whatever who are disposed one way or the other by religion, political or national affiliation, or an accident of birth (the usual way). 90% of those people don’t care, don’t want to know, and would be happy if everyone else just partied on and was excellent to each other. 10% do care, and try to either negotiate directly, or in a smaller percentage, get caught up in the violence the situation (for them) seems to demand. A lot of these people feel they are owed something, for whatever reason.

One thing though. Those extremes who kill people, almost always kill people of the opposite affiliation who are *not* terrorists. As I said, most of them are that by an accident of birth. For instance, in Northern Ireland, the IRA killed mostly ordinary individuals who happened to be British or Protestant. The UDA killed mostly Catholic business owners and family people. The only time the extremists themselves get knocked off usually are either when their group is fractured, as the IRA is for instance, or when they really really piss off their mates. Nearly all of them are inside jobs.

Now apply this logic to America. The US has one of the world’s most aggressive foreign policies, if not the most. It has meddled in the political affairs of third world countries, effectively deposing and appointing leaders in those countries. In Vietnam and Serbia it got involved in what was basically a civil war.

Yet when they were bombing Serbia, you can be certain it was not military installations they were bombing. Four residential neighbourhoods in Belgrade, two in Novi Sad, one in Nis, clothing and textile companies with mostly foreign workers, water supplies, and of course a refugee shelter with 500 people in it. I didn’t even mention the Chinese Embassy, as it’s possible the CIA were right and it was an accident. But over 90% of the hits were civilian targets. This was *not* a war – the US, France and other allies never declared one. I knew people in Belgrade who were wondering which of their friends’ apartment blocks was going to be next. One of my friends was in a supermarket and the air raid siren was going off. Suddenly the entire supermarket was on fire, and people were running in all directions, some *into* the fires because they were so panicked. Also it is believed the US *intended* to kill civilians by using splinter bombs, plutonium shells, and low-level chemical weapons. The incidence of leukaemia in areas on the Danube west of Belgrade has escalated by 25 times since the US incursion. The level of poverty in the country is higher than at any time since World War II.

On the other side, the Serbian armed forces and some guerilla groups allied with it were deliberately targeting mosques, shrines and other such targets belonging to the Albanians. A routine way to clear a village apparently was to move from three sides, fight house-to-house, truck away the men, rape the women before killing them, etc. We all know about the mass graves subsequently uncovered, and we also know that Milosevic, the then president of Yugoslavia, and the Serbian president who was about as bad, were directly instructing their armies. These men were evil, and most Serbians agreed – however it was treason to oppose them, and there were a lot of mistreated political prisoners. Milosevic wanted to break the Albanians – it was not a campaign waged against the terrorist KLA and allied organisations who were based in the hills around and nearby – they were largely untouched. It was those who by whatever accidents of history or genetics happened to be Albanian and/or Muslim. As those who have studied Milosevic’s campaigns will know, it was his 4th, and last, time in 8 years – it was how he kept up popular support. I honestly think, though, that the Internet – meaning that exiled Serbian opposition groups living in London, Paris and elsewhere could set up websites easily visible to everyday Serbians – was what finally broke Milosevic. The economic factors would have helped, no doubt, but the Serbians are a proud people and would withstand any adversity if they thought it worth it. I think Milosevic’s failures in 4 separate campaigns combined with the first real opposition he’d had in 8 years of office were what finished him off as a leader.

The US got involved not to protect the Albanians, but to protect its relations with powerful Arab states who were allied to Albania as a Muslim country. It’s interesting that now the conflict is over and it’s all off the media, the Albanians, backed with guns, have been raping, pillaging and looting in Serbian districts in Kosovo, and the Serbians, who have been prevented by their own government from migrating to Serbia proper, have had to form enclaves inside Kosovo with guerrila groups protecting them with guns from the black market. It’s a total mess.

As I’m trying to demonstrate here, the KLA, and the Serbian army come in as the “extreme” groups on either side. Suddenly one has US, British and German unconditional backing and the other side are demonised in the world media. What you get is a whole heap of civilians getting killed off because they were born the wrong race. There are lasting radiation and effects from the chemical weapons that could last 30-50 years. And it wasn’t even a war.

There’s a lot of extreme groups who either
(1) the US symbolises evil, or
(2) the US and/or other allies have caused them harm in the past

and those groups, for whatever reason, see attacking strategic targets as being more important than worrying about civilian lives – they probably have some ideas about “washing in blood” anyway. I’ve heard revolutionaries talking and they honestly sound hilariously like Saddam Hussein’s use of language at times. Yet they’re not trying to be funny – they’re deadly serious. And if you inspect closely, their ultimate aims appear to be good, but the means totally wipe out any chance of my supporting their organisational aims. These civilians are the innocent casualties of a phoney war between America and those against the so-called “American Way” – unfortunately fuelled in recent times by talk of a missile defence system, and some extreme rhetorics that seem to have been going on in most Western countries, including Australia, since jobs became more unstable due to technological change and a mere whimper on the stock market can cause all sorts of chaos.

As an aside, my own country is currently paranoid about “waves” of “illegal immigrants” who have been coming over by boats, and the government here have been acting in a paranoid and closed-minded fashion, simply trying to demonise them, and in the most recent case, technically committing an act of piracy on the high seas on a commercial Norwegian vessel whose only crime was to respond to an Australian call for help because the refugees’ unseaworthy vessel was sinking – and then bar said vessel from entering Australian waters. Thankfully our High Court today declared this action illegal – it remains to see whether we will still be inflicting hundreds of refugees on a tiny and impoverished island neighbour or not. A lot of it is a pre-election stunt being pulled by the current conservative government, who have lost every state election since middle of last year, and know they have to appeal to redneck right-wingers, of whom there are sadly too many, to electorally survive.

Holy shit!

11 September, 2001

That’s all I can say. At least it seems now the chances of World War III are somewhat less than they may have been. But still, it’s far worse than the assassination of some archduke. I sincerely hope that people in power in the US act more rationally than they have been doing in recent weeks and can prevent the world from slipping into yet another world war. I never thought it could happen again during my lifetime. Do people ever learn ??

My 9/11 story

The above was written barely an hour after the missiles had hit. I was working late that evening at a TV station in Perth, and a friend phoned me to let me know what had happened. I thought he was joking, but he put the phone to the TV so I could hear it for myself. I wandered out and informed a newsroom employee who had just locked up for the night – they ran into the newsroom and flicked the coverage to CNN. Within minutes, a swarm of confused employees had descended on the building and were tripping over each other in the absence of any form of management. Even the next morning, no-one knew exactly what was going on and a lot of rumours (eg. the White House had been hit) were everywhere. The media got caught up in editorialising – with very little news but much demand for it, we had four straight days of analysis upon analysis, with occasional doses of propaganda from the usual suspects. After all, the world is black and white, good and evil, and all that.