Sex, lies and videotape… and the odd war or two

12 September, 2003

I’ve come out of media blackout early, as it seems the Sep 11 coverage was a bit of a fizzer. I think we can thank Iraq for that. Even the normally right-wing ‘West Australian’ had a half page piece yesterday which pretty much said the American administration had expended the goodwill from September 11 by their actions in Iraq and elsewhere.

One trend I’ve noticed in the last 6-9 months in particular is here in Australia, people are now quite openly anti-America and anti-Israel – not militantly, but in attitude – whereas if they were before, it wasn’t really fashionable to say so. I was sitting on the train on Wednesday listening to a pair of ladies in their 30s, who may have been bank employees judging by their uniform, discussing how the war on and occupation of Iraq would be seen by Bob and Betty Baghdad, as they put it, as criminal. Another guy was saying during a discussion about faces on TV that he turns off the TV every time George Bush is on it as “only the Americans would elect such a f***ing retard”. Our media, which used to report largely from CNN and NBC, now has shifted towards the BBC and is more inclined to report contrary views to the Americans coming from respectable quarters.

In the 90s, the mood in Australia was strongly pro-Israel. Now it’s the reverse. People here generally think that the Israelis are in the wrong and should give the land back to the Palestinians. Our government, despite its own neo-conservative leanings (and its own issues with giving land back to dispossessed natives), has stayed relatively neutral in the debate, largely I suspect because of fear of our near neighbours and – probably more likely – our trading relationships with them. Most people seem to believe that if the Palestinian problem had been solved, 11 Sep 2001 would never have happened.

Another trend I’ve noticed is that all the stuff us self-identified lefties knew about US’s dodgy foreign policy aims years ago is now public knowledge. Pretty much everyone knows about Chile, Guatemala, the Iran-Contra affair and what really went on in Afghanistan back in the 80s.

I’m writing an article on this for a friend of mine’s magazine, which I’ll link to once it’s up and happening, but the argument is basically looking at the history of the modern superpower, and whether the superpower is in fact a relic of 1900s history that ought to be left there. It’s also looking at whether Australia, New Zealand and Canada, working together, could be a collaborative superpower not unlike the EU – I don’t actually see why not. The article will also evaluate the EU and China, and why I feel that they have what it takes to be superpowers but are held back by massive problems that can only get worse.



10 September, 2003

A close friend of mine is going to be in Washington DC on September 11 for work reasons. While I will be in self-imposed media blackout mode from now until the weekend to avoid the media event that is The Anniversary (thank God I don’t work in the news department of my company, I guess!), I will be thinking of him and hoping he is alright.


11 September, 2002

This farce which is what the media and public coverage of September 11 has become is officially worse than Christmas, I think.

God help us if we’ve gotta put up with this every year! I hate to sound heartless, but this outpouring of mourning on the anniversary of September 11 (from people who only knew of it via the media) doesn’t appear to me to be a very constructive thing. People, instead of getting on with their lives and realising maybe how precious their lives and their loved ones are, are dwelling on the past, crying over people they didn’t even know at the other side of the world and vowing revenge against a faceless enemy (usually someone who looks very different and doesn’t live next door). It’s psychologically unhealthy to dwell on this sort of tragedy.

All this rhetoric about an assault on democracy and the free world utterly disgusts me too. They attacked a large building which was fairly important in a country known for its aggressive foreign policy, which is not beyond destroying millions of innocent civilians for essentially political reasons. America, or for that matter any Western nation, is not truly free – it’s just bound by a different set of dogmas. The fact they seem familiar to us, living in an individualistic/capitalist Western society heavily influenced by Christianity, is the only reason that we take them for granted and assume they are right.

There is so much heartache and tragedy already in modern society.
It’s different if you knew somebody who died, or lived in the area – that I can very much understand and my thoughts are with you.

But for the others, I ask you, why does this matter so much to you? I don’t want to hear an answer that I could get by turning on my radio or opening my newspaper (which I’ve chosen not to do today). I’m asking *you* personally, if you feel that way, why *you* feel that way. Why does this tragedy, as opposed to other tragedies which may even be on a much bigger scale, matter so much? Is it because of the media attention given to it by our American-dominated commercial television networks? Do your thoughts merely echo what was said on these networks?

OK, I’m over it. Back to work. 🙂

Update: The first anniversary was also the last to be truly commemorated. I came out of my 2003 blackout a day early to find noone was talking about it. It’s amazing how quickly the US squandered their goodwill from 2001.

Weird stuff!

15 November, 2001

Two people seem to have found my Sep 11 page via Google, it seems – basic as it may be.

Anyway, I just wanted to publish the two completely opposing responses just for a laugh. The first is so extreme that I think even most right wing commentators would strongly disagree with it. The second is surprisingly refreshing.

Response # 1:

“I saw what u wrote, I found it on google yesterday. u must be a terrorist cuz afghanistan deserves all it gets frmo the US, if thye have to kill every last one of those islamic bastards to pay for 9/11 then it must be done. and the serbians? well they got their reward, we shoulda nuked em. fucking animal I hope you die with osama bin lamer, enjoy fucking him in hell mate!”

Response # 2:

“Your page, while small, showed a level of insight that’s really been lacking in this whole situation, and gave us a valuable opportunity to see non-mainstream views (i.e. those that promote the value of human life generally) of the conflict. I honestly hope you expand on what you’ve done and write even more. It’s sad that many people who’ve taken the non-mainstream line have also swallowed implausible conspiracy theories and I’m glad to see that you’ve avoided that temptation. Keep up the good work.”

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?)