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Re: Study on Media, Defence and Security
by Louis Proyect
31 January 2002 16:56 UTC
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At 11:07 AM 1/31/02 -0000, Rohit Talwar wrote:
>   Hi   This is my first posting to the list - I've been  following it for
>some time and have found it a stimulating and valuable forum. I  now wanted
>to request the list's assistance with some research we are  undertaking.  
>We are doing a study on the Media, Defence and  Security with a focus on
>three themes:   1. How is the way the media portrays defence and  security
>issues changing and how might it change over the next 15-30  years? 2. What
>impact does the media's portrayal of  defence and security matters
>influence public perceptions of the issues and of  the defence and security
>forces - how is this likely to change over the next  15-30 years? 3. How is
>the tension between the freedom of the  press and the security forces'
>requirements for confidentiality / censorship  likely to play itself out
>over the next 15-30 years?   I'd be interested in any thoughts on the topic
>and  references to any existing work that's been conducted in this  field. 
> Thank you in advance   Regards _____________________   
>Rohit Talwar
>Fast Future 
>55-63 Goswell  Rd
>London EC1V 7EN England UK   t + 44 (0)20 7689 8771
>m +44 (0)7973 405  145
>  7689 0804

I would refer you to the work of Rahul Mahajan, who has been writing about
these sorts of issues on various websites since 9/11. Here is something he
wrote to Counterpunch today, which is the website associated with a
newsletter published by Alex Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair.

January 31, 2002

The State of the Union and the New Cold War
By Rahul Mahajan

Any who doubted the characterization of the war on terrorism as a new Cold
War had only to listen to the State of the Union address, Bush's most
depressing speech since he launched his unlimited war with his address to a
joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

The following points, all stunningly reminiscent of the 1950's and early
1960's, are easily discerned from the text of the speech:

We are once again a beacon of civilization, on a higher moral plane than
others, opposing absolute evil in addition to Bush's two references to the
"civilized world," mentioned earlier, we learn that Iran, Iraq, and North
Korea, along with their "terrorist allies" constitute an "axis of evil." In
a stunning display of hypocrisy, Bush even indicted Iraq for attempting to
weaponize anthrax, something the United States has been doing itself.
Although couched in universalist terms -- "the rule of law, limits on the
power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal
justice and religious tolerance" this renewed, over cultural supremacism is
no less odious than that of the supposedly bygone colonial era.

We assert as forcefully as we did in the days of fighting the
"international Communist conspiracy," that the war on terrorism allows us
to intervene wherever we like, if we so choose "some governments will be
timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake: If they do not act,
America will." Once again, any development anywhere is a threat to our
national security, and "all nations should know: America will do what is
necessary to ensure our nation's security."

We need permanently higher military budgets in order to "defend" ourselves
(with useless and expensive high-tech programs like missile defense and the
joint-strike fighter, not with ways to defend against realistic terrorist
attacks) "My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in
two decades, because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is
never too high: whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay it."
Bush's proposed new military budget is $379 billion, an increase of $48
billion over the already unexpectedly high 2001 budget the increase alone
is larger than any other nation's military budget.

We are once again beset by internal enemies "And as government works to
better secure our homeland, America will continue to depend on the eyes and
ears of alert citizens." This is not yet at the level of the House
Un-American Activities Committee hearings and pamphlets on how to tell if
your neighbor is a communist that characterized the 1950's, but it is a
significant step closer.

Our "economic security" is essential to our national security, so
disagreements on economic policy and on how high corporate profit should be
must be submerged to an artificial national unity. Congress must pass an
energy policy that involves more drilling for oil in the United States,
must give the president Trade Promotion Authority (popularly known as
fast-track) in concluding "free trade" agreements, and must make the Bush
tax cut permanent all in the name of security.

We are called once again to sacrifice for a very particularly conceived
"national good" "My call tonight is for every American to commit at least
two years 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime to the service of your
neighbors and your nation." The newly created USA Freedom Corps needs
volunteers to help preserve our "homeland security." The call for citizens
to do some form of public service, in itself, is not a bad thing, but the
choice to ask them to prepare for possible terrorist attacks instead of
trying to provide education, housing, and social services to people who
need them is about attempting to mobilize the time and energy of the people
in the service of the existing power structure and about co-opting other
kinds of popular mobilization.

In sum, the war on terrorism will involve more frequent military
interventions, with less of an attempt to placate international
sensibilities, and with the constant excuse of protecting American
security. It will involve more overt appeals to Western cultural supremacy,
although couched in universalist terms. It will involve more arms
proliferation and a growth of military spending, and a lessening of
democracy in this country, both in terms of the public's ability to affect
decisions and in terms of individual freedom to dissent from the course
advocated by dominant institutions.

If this were the whole story, it would be a very depressing one. But excess
inevitably produces a reaction and empires sooner or later overreach

This country has already seen an antiwar movement spring up with
unprecedented speed, in the aftermath of September 11. Twin upcoming
events, the planned protests at the World Economic Forum in New York, and
the gathering of an estimated 50,000 people at the "alternative" World
Social Forum (in its second year already far larger than the WEF) will
signify the depth and breadth of resistance to the renewed projects of
American imperial domination and domestic social control articulated in
Bush's speech.

If the power fantasies of the Bush administration are met with renewed and
increased popular mobilization, the frightening world envisioned in the
State of the Union address may not come to pass.

Rahul Mahajan serves on the National Boards of Peace Action and the
Education for Peace in Iraq Center, and is a member of the Nowar
Collective. He is the author of the forthcoming The New Crusade: America's
War on Terrorism, out in March from Monthly Review Press. He can be reached
at rahul@tao.ca

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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