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Post Rwandan Genocide; Blood washed away with money.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3, 2011 by niky4

There have been countless dark episodes in human history where genocide has occurred and whole swathes of human beings have been wiped out because their identity was not right. The complicity of external nations and international organisations in genocides is often chronicled. However, it seems that anything is possible and nothing is questionable after genocides even if those who stood idly by as it occurred can line their pockets in the aftermath. Rwanda serves as a disgraceful example of this.

In 2008 President George Bush and President Paul Kagame (former Tutsi rebel leader) met and agreed to a bilateral agreement to open investment. The treaty was implemented to provide legal protections for U.S. and Rwandan investors that underscore a shared commitment to open investment and trade policies. It seems that the treaty has worked, and no amount of bureaucracy in the U.S. or its neoliberal love child the World Bank has scuppered Rwanda climbing from 143 to the dizzying heights of 67 in the vaguely named “Ease of doing business” indicators within two years of the deal.  This all could not have been done without US help and involvement in the Rwandan economy in the last two years. If the United States displayed the same act of friendship to this tiny African nation in 1994, perhaps the creation of 800,000 corpses could have been avoided. Perhaps if the U.S. had not lobbied the U.N. for a total withdrawal of UNAMIR forces in 1994, had not refused to jam extremist Hutu Power radio channels the violence might have been minimalized. It’s astoundingly pathetic that the US state department can have bureaucratic infighting over the usage of the word “genocide” but have no problem performing a neo-liberal economic face lift on Rwanda. Rwanda has a duty to be perceptive to this thin veil of guilt that shrouds the more sinister economic motives of the west in Rwanda. The French in 1994 viewed the Tutsi rebels as a manifestation of Anglophile encroachment into French speaking Africa and so dutifully trained Hutu Militias to protect their neo-colonial interests. East African Business Week commented that the meeting between Sarkozy and Kagame in February of last year as;

“…good, timely and a welcome development for international relations.

Sarkozy in Feb. 2010 commented on the mistakes of France to halt the genocide, however stopping short of a full apology. Evidently that was enough to enable France to invest into Rwanda with plans for trade agreements and preliminary investment plans being etched out for early 2011. However like the ocean could never wash Duncans blood from Macbeths hands, no amount of Euros, Dollars or Pounds can wash the blood from the Hands of the International community.

American Culture; A charming parasite

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 by niky4

Pre-packaged, shiny, and gleaming with promise. The exported American culture that the world has been receiving since the United States started to branch out its Hegemony desiring tentacles after the Second World War has festooned itself over every single continent on the planet. Culture hybrids have been created from New Zealand to Nepal to Nigeria to Nicaragua. This is not to say that this exported culture represents America, I believe that there are two Americas, however the America that gets exported is lucrative and malleable and can latch itself onto whatever it sets its eyes upon.

There was a time when I used to be hooked on this very addictive drug. American culture was what I lived and breathed I wanted to be adopted by my rich uncle in Bel Air, I wanted to drink coffee in central Perk, I wanted play baseball and go to school on a yellow bus.  This was when I was living in New Zealand, between 1994 and 2000, a time that was a very promising for the exportation of American culture, both morally and monetarily. Apartheid had fallen in South Africa and the darling of the liberal west, Nelson Mandela, had opened up South Africa for business.  McDonalds could set up shop on land recently taken from Blacks in townships across the country. Coke could plaster their “enjoy” advertisements on the side of corrugated iron shacks laced in tetanus. They could all do this with a happy conscious as blacks were enfranchised and could now enjoy the hollowing out of their unique culture by exported American consumerism and materialism, unabated and un checked.

These years were also the years of economic liberalisation in the new Russian Republic. Gorbachev had removed the cultural dam that was the Iron Curtain and Yeltsin did little to stem the tidal wave of American culture that was mediated through and already Americanised Europe. The availability of cars throughout these six years enabled an “automobilization” of Russia states Ivan Tsetkov (http://spbu.academia.edu/IvanTsvetkov/Papers/110364/Americanization_and_anti-Americanism_in_contemporary_Russia), the ability  to pick the kids up from school, short haul grocery shopping, etc. The individualism that characterizes American society has transplanted itself onto Russian. One of the few positives of Soviet era Russia, a communal spirit, has been replaced by a crude atomization of society. The Americanisation of Russian pancakes stalls, and there distribution and taste, the influx of consumer goods has also latched itself onto Russian society. However the onslaught of Coke and Nike only forms one part of a symbolic cultural diffusion. Implicit cultural diffusion has seeped into Russian life, unperceived yet rampant. The acknowledgement of a stratification of society between Oligarch and lower class, a terminology only becoming popular in the last twenty or so years. The commercialisation of national symbols like vodka, the bear, , balalaika, ballet draws direct parallels to the American commercialisation of Jack Daniels, the eagle, the Guitar and modern street dancing (see “step up” “save the last dance”). The one time only strong and seemingly impervious bulwark to American cultural dissemination is now its greatest fiend.

Vietnam withstood thirty years of international assault. From the French, the Americans, the Khmer Rouge and China. This was all at huge cost to its own population and its capacity to stand on its own two feet. Children mutilated by cluster bombs, deformed by Agent Orange and malnourished by international sanctions. It is beyond belief that they managed to establish a free healthcare and educational system. However even this is now being ravaged by the exported commodity culture of the United States.  Vietnam was once the testing ground for US B52 bombers; however it is now the workshop for American garments and domestic products being made on the cheap. Gucci emporiums lace the newly fangled high streets in Ho Chi Minh City.

It seems American culture has weaselled its way and bred with cultures on almost every single corner of the planet, Arabised Sky scrapers dot the vista of Beirut as petrol guzzling 4×4’s dodge between the feet of these monstrosities en route to another shopping mall. In Accra market you can buy a substantial portion of Jolloff rice, two legs of chicken, red red and plantain for 2.50 cedis. It will cost you five times that amount to buy a pizza in Accra mall just twenty minutes away. In the midst of my “Yankee bashing” what must be mentioned is that there are two Americas. The one that is packaged and covered in sprinkles, and the one that is raw and true. The civil rights movement, that has come to characterize a metamorphosis in American cultural life is embodied and exported in the image of Martin Luther King. However the Black Panthers did as much as King did to raise the Dignity of Blacks in America distributing meals to poor black Children and developing an original and intricate Maoist based ideology. What about Arthur Miller? Cultural critic and ground breaking playwright, his scathing depiction of capitalist America and its pitfalls deserve as much attention as “Spy Kids 3D”. Gore Vidals depiction of Homosexuality in his 1948 novel “The City and The Pillar” enforces this history of enlightening and forthright literature. “Democracy Now” is the complete antithesis to “Fox News” where leftist views are un hounded by corporate contaminated “Journalists”. The United States is a plethora of ideas, views and histories; however we are always presented, via the exportation of a certain brand of culture, with a single narrative.

What needs to happen for all cultures of the world to flourish and evolve independently is for the United States to stop ramming its culture down the throats of other nations, but also for these other nations not to dutifully sit there, mouths open. The world needs to wake up to its own individualistic cultural idiosyncrasies, not to manufacture them and export them (in this process watering down their innocence and purity) but to embrace them. In tern the United States needs to delve deeper into its multiflorous culture and embrace all facets, even those that can’t be wrapped up in a bow and exported.

Female Violence; An Unhealthy Social Obsession

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2010 by niky4

In western society today there seems to be an inexplicable and unmentionable obsession with violence perpetrated by women. This fetishism manifests itself through a variety of mediums and its effect on society in my opinion, are detrimental.

Personally for me, my first encounter with violent females (outside my dearest mother taking a her loving hand across various parts of my body in expression of exasperation/anger/discipline) was when I was an 11 year old high school goer. Beside the science lab I came across two girls, interlocked in combat were pulling and yanking each other’s hair and slapping each other’s faces in raw anger. As I stood there watching perplexed, I noticed older boys from my school glazed over in what can only be described in retrospect as eroticism. “Take her shirt off!”, “catfight!” The way these “catfights” were dealt with both by the students and the teachers illustrates to me how female violence is dealt with by society at large. The reasons these girls were fighting was trivial, stupid and churlish. Teachers passed them off as petty squabbles and approached these girls as whining little brats that just needed to be calmed down and relaxed. When boys equally got into fights in my school a veritable inquiry was put into full swing. Why did these boys want to beat each other up? Was it race based? Was there bullying? The reasons were very serious and punishment was also severe. Buy why this difference? Why is it treated differently?

The eroticism that was attached to these girls battling away in their school uniform seems to echo in the film world. Sexy, sultry vixens wielding samurai blades and shotguns seems to be the norm, in regards to the content that pours out from Hollywood. Everything that is violent and female in mainstream cinema has sex latched onto it. In cinema it seems, if you want to be an all-action heroine with agency you need to have your breasts out and lips pouted. If this isn’t possible you had better wait for a knight in shining armour to come.

The media world has also followed this trend of bizarre obsession and misrepresentation. Female serial killers are an oddity, an inexplicable phenomenon that does not follow the masculine tagline that serial killers should normally have. Even though women have been killing as long as men have. It’s nothing new. The media circus that followed the trial and execution of Aileen Wuornos is a prime example of the Medias manic fixation with Women who kill. Ailleen provided the inspiration for the Academy Award winning Film “Monster”. The film does go a long way to illuminate to the viewer that Aileen was a very troubled women with an obviously traumatic past. What the film fails to divulge however, is how Aileen was represented to the world at large. Nick Broomfield’s documentary “Selling of a serial Killer and his follow up “the life and death of a serial Killer” goes a long way to contextualize the nature of the media in the United States at the time. Aileen is depicted in the by the American Press as “The world’s first serial killer” and her long history of being sexually abused and manipulated is not touched upon.  Instead sensationalised books and operas were created and convoluted the true tragic story of Aileen Wuoronos.  Aileen Wurnos was described by one prosecutor  in her 1992 trial as a “homicidal predator,” saying “She was like a spider on the side of the road, waiting for prey—men.” This gross misrepresentation of a sex worker as a predator is a grotesquely false analysis of the sex trade. Prostitutes are victims and are prey to pimps and drug dealers. To our failing social empathy and our sensationalist press. If they are violent or commit murders this must be documented, but the root causes of this must also be articulated in these accounts.

Nick Broomfields documentary was a refreshing portrayal of a women so commonly misrepresented by the media in the United States

The US media is not alone in its inability to explore the reasons for the abhorrent violence employed by women. The case of Baby P was a dream come true for the media however he was not a victim of his mother’s violence, and it is simplistic to posit this as the key cause for the tragic death of this toddler.  Baby Ps mother Tracey Connelly was a woman whose entire life was defined by neglect and abuse.  However this is how the Mail chose to depict her

“Pale blue, lifeless eyes, devoid of any recognisable human emotion, stare from a pasty face bloated from years of junk food and vodka.”

Who got her to this state?

“Society’s amoral and brutalised underclass breeds such monsters”

These sex laden depictions of female violence in film, and the embellished representations in the media are extremely corrosive both to female empowerment and understanding the root causes of certain case studies of female violence. This issue needs to be addressed and this bizarrely obsessive taboo needs to be explored in more detail.

Language Betrays- Israels Pretence

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 by niky4

Today after reading a rather dense set of readings on international politics my musings turned to the incredible connotations drawn up by the language and prose of statesmen, governments and media alike

Language is a beautiful and diverse construction that has been utilised by the human race to construct societies, ways of living, ideas, some even say religion. Its malleability and force is awe inspiring and the imagery single words elucidate has lasting impacts. The way statesmen and women, religious leaders etc have used imagery to explain or predict events speaks volumes of their actions and their views of the world around them.  During the Korean war the US state and its engines of propaganda in the state department envisaged “hordes of Chinese pouring over the boarder” as the marines approached the Manchurian boundary. Connotations of an unending supply of Maoist fanatics baying for GI blood comes to mind, falsely of course.

Other instances of this can be shown through the views by George Bush Jnr’s explanation to why two planes were flown into the world trade towers was done in the most maddeningly simple way

” They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”

The emphasis on freedom here is painfully hysterical. This agency of freedom that George Bush believed was so attainable was clearly not available to those who did not fall into the ever increasing unemployed sector of US society which was, at the time of Bushs slobbering speech,  at a 4.9 per cent high. How can these Americans don a clown suit and join in the liberal democratic political circus in the United States when they don’t have the freedom to put food on their table?

I wish to now to turn to more contemporary usages of language and my own personal interpretation of one particular incident. Last year Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu imposed ten month settlements freeze in the west bank. Freeze, draws up imagery of an icy standoff between Arabs and Jews. No violence no peace, just a chilling respite. In my experience when something is frozen, it can melt, and this happens with heat. In the last ten months the heat on this particular freeze which is now a watery puddle came from the malignant Zionist project.

As the freeze was lifted by the Israeli government the rabid dogs that are the west bank settlers scurried into Palestinian areas in the West bank and began works on the building of 1,888 housing units. Netanyahu’s belief that he was taking the initiative is illustrated in his statement at the start of the settlement

“We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond.”

1,888 planned housing units require a lot of planning and logistics. Over ten months’ worth. Netanyahu truly is a wonderful architect of the political masquerade and as a reward for this charade has been   presented a 3 billion dollar treat in the form of fighter jets from its economically ailing imperial patron. The patron as Chomsky aptly puts it

“might object formally, but with a wink, and would continue to provide the decisive military, economic and diplomatic support for the criminal endeavours.”

These criminal endeavours include the annexation of arable land and water supplies which is quite literally starving these shrivelled little Bantustans. The more sinister acts include the endless beatings and assaults upon Arab women and children in the west Bank and the ransacking of mosques.

It is quite ludicrous why many of us who sympathise with the Palestinian cause and fell for Obamas rhetoric and Netanyahus apparent benevolence. We were tired and weary of eight years of “war on terror” and the caterwauling from Washington that their poodle on the Mediterranean basin was the last bastion of liberal freedom in the face of Islamic based despotism. I don’t blame you, I wanted to believe Clinton and Bidens apparent anger as well.

However, blood had been spilt between Camp David and Oslo and between Oslo and the road map. The US as an intermediary does not have a molecule of impartiality and has always opposed, along with Israel, a settlement that resounds with universality.

If we detect the caveats that are laid down in the language used by politicians we will discover that as mark twain said “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.

Leadership- A pure Chalice that is poisoned by the Establishment

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by niky4

Leadership is an interesting noun that raises huge questions merely by its definition.  It can be defined as the office of leadership. For example,” Ed Milliband has won the leadership race to be head of the labour party”. Or it can be defined as the characteristics of a leader’s way of leading. For example, “Ed Millibands leadership will be of a conventionally new labour style disguised by a shroud of “Change” and apologies for the past mistakes of his party” (this last definition is of course subjective). The post of leadership is always reached after a journey. Be it arduous or comfortable, democratic or seized, there is always a journey which moulds and shapes the eventual leaders mind-set and of course that second definition of leadership, their characteristics of leading. The question is, has this leader got the ability to connect to their followers?  How much of this leaders ethics, and integrity remains after this journey has been complete how much is betrayed along the winding road to the top? Finally, how much is forcefully or unknowingly adopted to reach the zenith?

Tony Blair’s early life can be described as something of prestige and comfort. He received the best of educations at Fettes College in the leafy outskirts of Edinburgh. A Hogwarts style Gothic independent boarding school that haughtily rises above  Edinburgh’s panorama.  Alumni include a variety of Viscounts and Businessmen as well as Generals.  How many of these alumni had come from Sedgefield, a traditional mining community when Tony Blair was a teenager I do not know. However I hazard to bet coal smudging fingers were not looked upon as suitable for the powers that be at Fettes.  The disconnection between Tony Blair and the constituency he won a seat for in 1983 illustrates the inner workings of British politics. He was placed leader of a constituency that was being ravaged by Mine foreclosures of the Thatcher regime yet during his years as Prime minister of the country his new labour ideals involved pandering to the private sector and opening up British economy and very little was done to ease the blows to the economies of the north. In many ways carrying on the Baton of economic deregulation that Thatcher had passed onto Major. Blair brandished it, blazing, and his rhetoric and hyperbole shrouded the unequal society we lived in throughout the nineties and noughties. As the markets played craps with the countries savings, traditional Labour protected bastions of society began to be contaminated with the touch of privatisation. The NHS and our universities now had a price. To most of the population, growing up with the benefits of free university education was a beneficial and indispensable fact of life. To Privately educated Tony Blair this institute was expendable, surplus to requirements. Men and women from his ilk could use their money and nepotism to achieve success in life, just like he did. Tony Blair throughout his political career has had no connection the people he has supposed to lead. His road to premier went through a period of social turmoil in this country, he was a front seat witness to the socially destructive nature of Thatchers regime yet he placed no barrier to halt it entrenching. He has had no regard to the views of the country he was elected to lead and that is illustrated in his contempt to public opinion over the Iraq war.

The future of this country seems to be in the hands of the same crop of people who carved out its past. White, Oxbridge trained careerists with little credentials for leadership. Nick Clegg went to a private school in Farnham Buckinghamshire yet now holds the Liberal Democrat seat in the constituency of Sheffield Hallam and the position of deputy leader for the coalition. David Cameron was born with a silver spoon is his mouth and is at the helm of this nation trying to guide it out of an economic quagmire whose seeds were laid by his party. His road map will line the pockets of a chosen minority and batter our hospitals, schools and Universities. Ed Milliband has been painted by many as a breath of fresh air. State schooled left leaning son of a Marxist theologian. What I could do now, is quote revolutionary zeal laden snippets from one of Millibands many celebratory speeches that he has concocted in the past forty-eight hours to illustrate how “progressive” he is and how he embodies a movement for “change”. What I am instead going to do is quote another leader of the labour party, Tony Blair;

“I am a socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral. It stands for cooperation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality.”

Tony Blair did not enact out any of these credos.

 So to rest on what Ed has been prophetically preaching from the creaking pulpit of new Labour as a compass to where he will be taking his party and possibly this country is dangerous. We can only so far gage his direction by analyzing the momentum from where he has come from. He played the political game and climbed the ladders of New Labour through building bridges and being the loyal guard dog of Gordon Brown. He saw the light touch approach on the economy by his mentor and its ramifications and thought “these are my people”. He saw the proposal for ID cards and a 90 day detention sentence and thought “these are my people”. He saw the Iraq war and was disgusted, but not enough to leave his precious job as poster boy for New Labour because they were his people. One million Iraqis died as a direct result from Anglo-American atrocities in Iraq. To Ed MIlliband these deaths are “a profound mistake”, not a crime. It seems that his political careerism knows no bounds, even with his integrity.

Death, Morte, War, Guerre

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 by niky4

All my life I have been untouched by death and war. Growing up in the stability of the western world and prosperity of the rich “north” of the world’s north south divide I have never heard a gun being fired in anger. My first experience of modern day weapons of devastation was at an air show in Duxford. I am, as middle class as it gets, son of a cardiovascular scientist and PCT leader. That “squeezed middle” as David Cameron likes to put it. This air show that I was taken on with my parents is typical of outings that children from my background will have gone on. To be completely fair to my parents, they were normally much more educationally enriching then this air show of military grandeur. However, this air show was my first encounter with the most destructive instruments that humans have ever made. Colossal jets stormed across the sky as their engines approached the sound barrier, their sidewinder missiles and air-to-surface cluster bombs brandished on the underbellies of these imperial, steel sky hawks. Little did I know that just across the north sea, mainland Europe and the Mediterranean basin, in the land where for over one and a half thousand years three of the world’s largest Abrahamic religions have been at each other’s throats, these jet fighters were carpet bombing flimsy Palestinian houses with white phosphorus and cluster bombs, ripping apart houses, schools and bodies alike. The fear which must have filled the air of Ramallah, Gaza and Nablus must have been toxic. Not that abstract fear one feels after watching a horror film but a very real, ever present, suffocating terror. This can be directly contrasted with the ambience of Duxford. Awe and amazement was painted across the faces of me and my brothers as these jets stormed across a crisp Cambridge sky. I can remember my older brother Chris, stating his ambition to become a pilot in the RAF after this very moving piece of military propaganda as we climbed into our rusty Renault Savannah. Our first encounter with these machines left an indelible mark on our minds. The first encounter for the children of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan with these beasts of war would leave them terrified, scarred, burnt, limbless, parentless or dead.

We often deplore those pilots who drop bombs and fire missiles at inanimate apartment blocks and small clay villages. Their disconnection with this industry of death they are perpetrating sickens us. However in our society a negative label is never attached to these instruments, they are never stigmatised in quite the way they should be. Instead they are distinguished as works of human ingenuity. We are not in the militaristic societies of yesteryear where warriors are glorified and wars are celebrated however war is fêted in a subtle way.  David Cameron speaks of the dead soldiers coming back from Afghanistan as having made a huge sacrifice for their country. Hollywood films do not award soldiers with warrior status as tapestries would have done hundreds of years ago. Instead they paint soldiers as victims of the conflict their governments have undertaken with “good intentions”.  War and death are so inexorably linked yet by glorifying the dead soldiers in the way we do seems to  gift warmongers ideological fuel to perpetrate these crimes. For society, the premise and ideology of our current war on terror is idiotic and illogical. The troops are misguided patriots. The fallen are untouchable heroes. Immortalised because they died in military garb. The civilians of these nations we are warring in receive a status only when they are ripped to pieces by our bombs and bullets, and that status is a statistic.

Last year I went to Lebanon.  I entered the country through the Damascus Beirut highway with a football team, and the countryside we went through was breath-taking. Huge jagged mountains scarred the landscape like the earths skin had been burnt by a scorching fire and was now peeled upwards roughly after years of treatment had healed these horrific geological blisters.  As the coach entered Beirut I was struck by its modernity. It’s European like cafes, restaurants and shopping malls reminded more of Lisbon and Barcelona then Aleppo or Amman. Only old apartments dated from the seventies and eighties peppered with bullet holes and pockmarked with shell wounds reminded me of Lebanon’s blood stained past. During the eighties Beirut was the battleground for  three armies all of varying strength. The Israeli army being at the top of this triumvirate. Commanding the skies above Beirut Israeli jets dive bombed a trapped Syrian army which had come under the premise to enforce stability but had become captivated by Lebanon and stayed too long. The other targets of these Israeli jets were PLO guerrillas who had been herded into the city by the advancing Israeli army in the south. Amongst all this rival Christian, Druze and Muslim factions stalked the streets battling it   out with each other, allying themselves with either of the three armies. The atmosphere would have been saturated in dread especially for the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees cooped up in apartment basements. Death was dealt with as a day to day reality.

The war wounded buildings today are juxtaposed by a skyline of gulf inspired sky scrapers. Not unlike the ones that have been erected in the U.A.E. and Dubai. This was an image of Lebanon’s future, her path away from civil unrest and strife and to a prosperous future in the bosom of Gulf investment (an ironic quid pro quo). This conflicting spectacle of a war torn past and a promising lucrative future is visible in the numerous BMWs  and Range Rovers being bomb checked on their way to refurbished beaches that were stormed by Israeli commandos just over twenty years ago. The memory of death and war is very real in Beirut, how much must be put to bed and how much must be remembered in order for such a multifaceted society to move on is a precarious question. Lest we forget, or best we forget?     

How humans deal with the horrors, realties and memories of war seems to be trivial and complex. How can the bitter memories of war be overcome without resigning the dead to distant memories? No wars have been committed under benevolent auspices, the fine line between respecting fallen soldiers and glorifying the war they have been in must be clearly defined. When we remember them, it must be as human beings and within that commemoration their innocent victims must also be added. That is how we gain back our humanity.

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 by niky4

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