Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Stateside With Rosalea: Think Big. Move Fast.

Stateside with Rosalea, Part 2

Think big. Move fast

.

So says the TV ad for CONOCO, whose double-hulled oil tankers are probably at this very moment hanging out at the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan waiting for that pipeline from Central Asia to arrive. Hey, maybe the Pope's going to turn the spigot while he's visiting Kazakstan this weekend!

It's so good to have commercials back - and they're so patriotic. Why, General Motors is doing its bit for the sagging economy by offering interest-free financing on its new vehicles. "The American Dream. We refuse to let anyone take it away. Believe in the dream. Believe in each other. Keep America rolling." Not that interest-free financing is any big deal in the auto market here. Ad breaks have been saturated with substantial cash-back offers and zero-percent financing for cars and SUVs for at least as long as I have been living here. And automobiles are incredibly cheap in the first place.

The US national obsession with the car worries even conservative commentators. Back on June 7, 2000 in the 'San Francisco Chronicle' Robert Ware, who conducts field research in the Caucasus and has published extensively on Islam and ethnic politics in the region, wrote: "A storm is brewing in Central Asia, and we Americans are literally driving into it." The article refers to Harvard professor Samuel Huntington's concerns about the effect of the appropriation of natural resources and of globalisation on countries where the benefits of it go to the few, while the many find themselves excluded and see their traditional life destroyed - which makes them easy converts to the conservative, often puritanical backlash against the globalising force.

During the past two weeks the only channels that continued carrying advertising were the public television stations. My secret reason for watching public television is that among the sponsor promos between each programme they screen a graphic saying "Viewers like you", which does wonders for my self-esteem. The thought that countless anonymous people are fond of me is a beacon of hope in workdays filled with countless fears that people don't like me. Why else don't they do what I want them to do? Can't they see I'm important? Isn't being important why people are liked? Sigh. I can see that already I've absorbed the fundamental insecurity of people in the US, reflected so eloquently in its foreign policy.

Of course I really watch public television because it brings me what one vox-popper in KQED's promos calls "informed information." If the notion that information could ever be "uninformed" seems oxymoronic to you, I suggest you are one prefix away from self-description. By the way, I am totally puzzled by the local CBS channel's choice of music for its vox-pop promos about "this national tragedy". Since when was 'God Save the Queen' a patriotic tune in the United States?

As an example of rampant idiocy labelled patriotism you need go no further than the comments Senator John McCain made at the memorial service for one of the people on Flight 93, which some people believe was headed for the Capitol or the White House but was crashed instead into a field in Pennsylvania by the actions of some passengers.

Don't listen to people who think the United States brought the events of September 11 on itself, he said. "Their hearts are cramped by hatred and fear." Since a large number of highly knowledgeable and respected people in the United States - from ambassadors to military affairs correspondents - have been warning for over a decade of this very fate, I think the senator should get a grip. Not only that, but he should realise that there is only one currency which can repay the "debt you incur for life" that he and other occupants of "the Great House of Democracy" in Washington owe to the humble people aboard that plane. That currency is truth. Anything less is an outright insult.

Earlier in the week a comment by Ambassador Oakley on 'Jim Lehrer's NewsHour' about the failure of sanctions in Central Asia took my thoughts back to the talk I attended in May this year - "Rediscovering the Silk Road" - given by S. Frederick Starr, Chairman of the Central Asian Studies Institute at John Hopkins University. Four hundred thousand people have died of starvation in Afghanistan in the past six months, he said, but don't despair. "It's a problem of poverty, therefore it's soluble." The tools needed to solve the problem? "A hoe and a shovel, combined with modest hillside irrigation schemes." How hard can that be?

While we're on the subject of tools, here is what Dana Priest, military affairs correspondent for 'The Washington Post' said in remarks she made to an Open Forum at the State Department in March this year. Referring to the department's underfunding and its lack of transparency to the media she said: "Is it any wonder that the public is willing to fund a new generation of precision guided missiles -- things that can fly through clouds, enter a building through a chimney, speed down three floors and not explode until it reaches the basement -- but that no one is clamoring for a new generation of precision guided diplomacy, something to replace antiquated economic sanctions which have done little to effect regime changes in Yugoslavia, Haiti, Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, and North Korea, but are just as certain to cause civilian casualties as the use of cluster bombs in a market square, which no one would approve of?" No doubt she didn't have the financial world's market square in New York in mind when she said that, but surely her point was all-too-sadly proven on September 11.

The most a propos quote I've come across for what's happening on the Hill at the moment actually comes from a US congressman. It refers to the passage of the joint resolution of annexation of Hawaii that was whooped through both houses on July 7, 1898 in order to protect the business interests of a couple of individuals there: "The jingo bacillus is indefatiguable in its work."

I wonder, wonder whose payroll it's on.


Lea Barker
Berkeley, California
Sunday 23 September 2001

For the transcripts of Priest's speech and Ambassador Oakley's comments on it go to http://www.state.gov/s/p/of/proc/tr/index.cfm

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news