Note: some typos fixed for the web edition of these posts, italics added, some hyperlinks activated.
Otherwise unchanged. Originals archived/retrievable by listserv and/or Deja News.
Re the post below, note that NATO did not use its bases in Turkey to bomb Serbia -- mainly for
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 11:30:57 -0800 From: Kirby Urner
Subject: [Q-P] Explaining NATO... To: QUAKER-P@yang.earlham.edu A young newsgroup poster was suggesting that NATO is primarily a "Christian club" serving a Christian agenda -- a premise this young poster went on to declaim as objectionable. I replied with an overview of recent events designed to question the premise and spiel out a different narrative of my own devising (below). Thanks to Landrum Bolling, a former president of Earlham College with first hand experience in the Balkans, articles by Diana Johnstone in the Winter 1999 Covert Action Quarterly, Noam Chomsky and others for some of the threads woven together below. The spin is entirely my own, however, and probably does not precisely convey the viewpoint of anyone but me. Note: a couple typos fixed for sharing on Quaker-P and Synergetics-L. Relevant web pages might be: http://members.xoom.com/Urner/afsc/ (for Quakers) http://www.teleport.com/~pdx4d/bosnia.html (for Syn-lers) Kirby ========================================== Newsgroups: alt.politics.org.cia Subject: Re: Just How Evil Is NATO? Reply-To: email@example.com Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 05:04:19 GMT email@example.com wrote: >I want that Christian club disbanded. You should provide more reasoning for your premise -- that NATO is an armed arm of Christendom. Consider that Turkey is a NATO member and big importer of weapons made in the USA. Turkey is against any idea of Kurdistan, an idea which Israel also rejects, because it doesn't want a "land bridge" between Iran and Syria. The USA doesn't want a Kurdistan either, and was glad when Turkey grabbed that Kurdistani resistence leader guy. Bosnia is a majority-Muslim state and the elder leader there advocates an Islamic-based non-secular style of government. Iran is a good example of this kind of administration and the USA encouraged Iran to send arms to Bosnia back when the Bosnians and Serbs were fighting. Then NATO came in, after doing some bombing, a scenario which it would like to repeat in Kosovo. Kosovar Albanians tend to be Islamic as well. So you have Turkey (Islamic) serving as an air base for NATO bombings against Iraq (Islamic) and Serbs (Christian). Notice how NATO bombs irrespective of religion. In order to maintain equilibrium, if you bomb Muslims, you also need to bomb Christians, as that makes it more fair. Of course in the Vietnam days a lot of Buddhists were bombed, but that wasn't directly done by NATO, which is mainly concerned with the European theater. Of course the Jews have been targets forever (of both Christians and Muslims) and the Hindus get to fight the Muslims over Kashmir and stuff like that -- you really don't get to be a major religion if you haven't fought with some other major religion over some extremely important issue. Basically, the USA has a similar solution for most crisis situations these days: bombing. The USA really likes the new computerized systems that keep USA casualities to a minimum, so the only kind of military activism that's really going to fly is aerial, with an emphasis on cruise missiles and stealth bombers. These very expensive weapons need to justify their existence as a tool of foreign policy, so letting them go over Iraq and maybe Serbia soon is seen as a big win for the manufacturers, who glow with pride every time one of their "babies" goes ballistic and hits a hard target in some enemy territory. NATO is one of the essential "dispensing mechanisms" for getting these weapons to their destinations, intact and ready for detonation. In sum, NATO is an equal opportunity dispenser of weapons-based solutions. Just because you're a Christian or a Moslem doesn't mean you're not a target, not on the hit list. Lots of Serbs are quite fundamentalist and would probably not seem seriously out of place on the 700 Club, but their clinging to territories is not earning them any friends and the embargo has put them in a "nothing to lose" siege mentality, kind of like the Iraqis. When you're backed into a corner with nowhere to go, you don't always make the most rational decisions, from the point of view of those holding all the cards. NATO's bombings will likely make Serbians all that much more defiant, just as USA bombings of Iraq have helped to entrench the Iraqi regime. Of course lots of innocent civilians will be killed in the process, kind of like in Vietnam. Demonizing some other group as the genocidal killers is a good way for the USA to feel good about itself again, to see clearly that it is on the side of goodness and justice against pure evil. People in the USA need to feel righteous and pure, and bombing evil people for a good cause is very healthy for them, from a psychological viewpoint. This is probably why exCIA Director Woolsey is suggesting the "no fly zones" be extended across Iraq. By making it impermissable for Iraqis to fly anywhere over Iraq, the USA will be dramatizing the illegitimacy of the current regime. This will cause the Iraqi people to rally around some exiled government, which the USA will support. In this way, the USA will feel much better about itself than it does today (which is already pretty good), because it will end this ambivalence around the on-again off-again Iraqi crisis, which is leading some people to question whether any high principles and moral values are indeed at stake. Unless the stakes are really high, then the whole thing starts to look like a bad play with a poor script and no point -- sort of like one of those existentialist plays like 'Waiting for Godot' where nothing ever happens except a few explosions, a lot of meaningless deaths -- and that gets old after awhile. The USA administration instinctively understands the need to ignite patriotic fervor somewhere in the world, so that the USA will feel good about itself the way it does when watching 'Saving Private Ryan'. It would be great if a just and positive battle against evil (using the NATO dispensing mechanism) could be timed right along with the Academy Awards, in which 'Saving Private Ryan' is expected to get a lot of Oscars. Maybe the National Security Council will get lucky and their prayers will be answered. It's not just Christians who need to feel patriotic but secular people as well. This administration needs to prove that it was holding high moral ground behind the scenes even while the public and the media pigged out on the Monica story. We need to see a grand foreign policy unveiled or some bold domestic agenda. Otherwise it just looks like the administration was treading water for a year and hasn't had a coherent thought about much of anything all this time, just like most TV viewers, who walk around in a daze and think about whether Y2K will affect their microwave ovens. If the administration appears as out of touch with reality as the couch potatoes, this will lead to a lot of misunderstandings of the inner workings of government, which at its core is absolutely wise and undistracted by Monica-type stuff. Wars prove that bold action and manly planning has been going on behind the scenes. So if we can have a righteous and just war (around the time of the Academy Awards), then maybe we can all breathe a sigh of relief, taking comfort in the fact that wise leaders have been organizing on our behalf and still know how to make perfect sense of this world: good versus evil and all that rot, what? Cheers, Kirby ========================================== Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:13:48 -0800 From: Kirby Urner Subject: Re: [Q-P] NATO a christian club? To: QUAKER-P@yang.earlham.edu At 08:54 AM 3/18/99 -0500, you wrote: >It is interesting that the three nations recently added to NATO were the >Roman Catholic to make the NATO v. non-NATO division equal to the old >Roman Catholic v. Eastern Orthodox. Of course the exception of Turkey >is obvious. Of course we can't count the USA as Xtian. True, "In God We Trust" is emblazoned on the logos, but there's no stipulation this must be the God of Abraham -- seeing as no state religion defines the kernel OS. Of course I like to posit a Quaker core to USA corporatism, a "saving grace" one might say -- but then so many Xtians consider my liberal brand of Quakerism too unXtian for their tastes, so back to my earlier point. Kirby ========================================== Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 14:39:05 -0800 Sender: Quaker-P List From: Kirby Urner Subject: [Q-P] Re immanent bombing of Serbia X-cc: Tetworld@listbot.com From a newsgroup exchange. For more re my AFSC-style "care centers" and peacekeeper pods, see my personal archives at http://members.xoom.com/Urner/afsc/ -- Kirby ============= > If this is not a place where American leadership and military > intervention is dictated there never will be one.--David Bagley I'm all for peacekeeping and the evacuation of civilians from nut houses wherein the criminally insane are armed to the teeth by the moneymakers. My AFSC-style "care centers" haven't been getting a lot of funding though, nor our Fly's Eye "peacekeeper pods", complete with GIS/GPS and internet access. Hollywood hasn't dramatized the possibilities yet, so the popular mind remains uninspired, content to recycle yesteryear's fantasies, like 'Saving Private Ryan'. When all you're willing to pay for is high powered weaponry, small wonder these are the only tools at hand when solutions are needed. NATO lacks credibility not because it fails to make good on its threats, but because it procures so much inappropriate technology. Saying "bombs away" over the former Yugoslavia is only going to underline this failure of the military imagination (not everyone in the chain of command is such a dim bulb however -- a lot have been doing their homework (but not enough, apparently)). I see nothing glorious in joining the melee and resent the squandering of lives (including those of close relatives) which this incurs. But of course waiting for this to become a major crisis was the only way to get the public to respond to a fait accompli -- and by then the response is always the same: hit 'em and hit 'em hard. To head off any number of future scenarios of this kind, we'll need to do a lot more to counter nutso nationalism. Your style of rhetoric is no help in this regard -- sounds old and scratchy to my ears, nothing to get swelled up about. Hot war is for losers. My company of USAers (we too say "we") is not behind this sorry misadventure, which is the work of wannabe stars on the world stage, vain rhetoriticians who think it matters more because this is Europe we're talking about, and not Sierra Leone. Kirby ========================================== Newsgroups: alt.politics.org.cia Subject: NYT forum: responding to Safire editorial Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 09:04:24 GMT William Safire: <<SNIP>> If the repressing country is powerful, the sovereignty does not change; too bad for now, Tibet. If its leadership is savagely dictatorial but vulnerable, as in Iraq, repression is restricted from outside: We'll enforce your autonomy, you Kurds, but no independent Kurdistan lest your compatriots in Turkey and Iran get ideas. If the villainous sovereign is relatively weak and the potential bloodshed is horrendous, then in we go (with bombs, not troops) to save the Kosovars. Consistent and principled? Not quite. But the trend at century's end is toward self-determination, propelled by a world audience humanely averse to seeing casualties up close. http://www.nytimes.com/library/opinion/safire/032599safi.html ============== pdx4d - 02:30am Mar 25, 1999 EST (#4284 of 4284) Safire got it right about self-determination being in vogue in the 21st century, but doesn't state the obvious, which is that high tech obviates the need to organize your "state" around some dirt clod of continguous land area. Since when did IBM need a plot the size of Kosovo to conduct a "corporate culture" with assets and resources several times bigger? If your goal is freedom and idependence for friends and family, you can think of better ways of getting this than backing 1800s-minded oblivious numbskulls with guns. This isn't to trivialize the challenge in getting access to the relevant goods and services. The technology isn't that easy to come by (yet). But if business wants profits to keep rolling in, it'll find it easy to push solutions which give people more freedoms (to travel, to get away from hot spots where gun runners have stolen the peace). We have ways to give the Kosovars and East Timorese cultural continuity, as long as all concerned are willing to acclimate to world maps which show no nations at all -- because the networks have gotten too complicated and overlapping to make these neat little jigsaw puzzles out of national identities any more -- anyone who's lived in New York City for awhile should know that without needing to be told. http://forums.nytimes.com/webin/WebX?11@^150295@.ee7d2b4 ========================================== Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 09:28:20 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Kirby Urner Subject: AFSC: more re assisting Kosovars Cc: Tetworld@listbot.com Tetworld Peace Through Development Project - http://members.tripod.com/~Tetworld/+index.html Another Quaker-minded post to newsgroups hawking my AFSC- style "care centers" for the Balkans. One typo fixed. To be posted at 'Synergetics on the Web', linked from http://www.teleport.com/~pdx4d/bosnia.html Kirby ================= Newsgroups: alt.politics.org.cia Subject: Mobilizing to assist Kosovars (go FEMA!!) Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 17:20:16 GMT I'm glad to hear a great many civilian families have escaped from the looney bin and have flooded to safe havens elsewhere. The real story here is what happens next to these homeless refugees in need of logistical support and supplies. Their plight is far more interesting and important to me than what these military pundits have to say, including these jerk-offs with scale models of their favorite warplanes (cite the PBS News Hour). We have the technology to cover tent cities with hard shell geodesic structures -- cheaper to heat and keep out the weather. We should also be taking oral histories, and getting as many who want to be enrolled logged in database files, to start some schooling for the kids (cultural continuity important). Getting lots of NGOs and assistence agencies involved makes plenty of sense. Macedonia could be a staging ground, Albania too. Lots of internet websites with live webcams needed pronto. Please post URLs to this newsgroup (FEMA, how about by next week?). I'll be scanning the web and news for stories about high technology solutions to the plight of civilians. The day is over when we can treat civilians as "extras" and hog the limelight for the weapons engineers. Their job is difficult, and deserves press, sure, but not exclusively. Civilians are not "backdrop", not "collateral", not "irrelevant". I didn't see many Congressional resolutions about protecting Kosovar families from harm. Shame. That's what our brave armed forces are over there risking their lives to protect, according to the commander in chief. Doesn't anyone believe this? Is cynicism really that deep? Lets pick a sampling of Kosovars and follow them in detail over the next 10 to 20 years. Lots of useful sociological findings could flow from such studies. Every TV news hour should devote at least as much time to Kosovar refugees as to Pentagon strut and puffers, posing for the cameras in front of their silly maps (as if we don't already have access to 10x more accurate ones, updated in real time). Given the whole point of these NATO bombings is to improve the quality of life for Kosovars on the ground, it's extremely important that DC walk its talk and provide a lot of health and recreation facilities for displaced Kosovars. As a rule of thumb, I suggest we look at each head of household as at least GS-7, with plenty of GS-13s scattered throughout. Kosovars should have commisary privileges, and full access to travel agents for relocating to more auspicious surroundings, with a very generous baggage allocation (say 400 lbs per family member, minimum). All this needs to be paid for by the governments who say this is an humanitarian cause -- otherwise their hypocrisy will be just too unbearable and ridiculous, turn them into laughing stocks. I hope we see plenty of Congress people tending to the needs and demands of the Kosovar refugees ASAP. A visit by Hillary certainly wouldn't hurt. Corporate sponsors, including ADM "supermarket to the world" now have a golden opportunity to assist these people who have suffered enough. I maintain a long list of geodesic dome vendors at my website and would hope that at least some experimental use of these for protecting disaster relief sites against the elements would be tried. FEMA personnel should be in on this scenario. I'll be looking forward to the TV segments on this. Kirby Russia Desk PS: for my list of dome manufacturers: http://www.teleport.com/~pdx4d/domeman.html PPS: certainly this would be a useful venue in which to include more Russians on the ground, in parallel efforts to assist Serb civilians whose lives will inevitably be impacted by ongoing bombing campaigns against vital infrastructure throughout Serbia. The same geodesic dome technology is available to all non-combatants in this scenario. Showing that this really is a humantarian endeavour, and not some cynical duping of the American people by parasitical powers using our public-owned frequencies to promulgate real politik with no thought for our American Heritage, is very much in the national interest. The Russians would be much heartened by such a display. Otherwise, it's clear that the USA really has very little to do with this LAWCAP-directed show of military might, meaning the full faith and credit of the American people is not behind any of it. If the war against Serbia is really just a shallow puppeting of the USA by Eurocentric powers, then we'll know this soon. Only lots of geodesic domes in this movie might save it from disaster. Otherwise it's just more Burger King (big USA flag for show, but LAWCAP-corporate to the core and not at all reflective of our hard won freedoms to do and see things differently from those Brits who chose to stay behind). ______________________________________________________________________ To unsubscribe, write to Tetworldemail@example.com Start Your Own FREE Email List at http://www.listbot.com/ ========================================== Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 20:42:16 -0800 Sender: Quaker-P List From: Kirby Urner Subject: [Q-P] NATO: logistical support for civilians Posting to CNN message board (copy): Kirby Urner - Thursday, 03/25/99, 11:34:08pm (#25968 of 25968) === I'm very keen to see how much forethought and planning has gone into logistical support for inevitable mass exodus of civilians from Kosovo. Since the NATO line is this is an humanitarian effort, if civilians are neglected, left to fend for themselves as nameless, faceless refugees, this will prove hypocrisy on NATO's part. The USA needs to back its rhetoric with massive on the ground support for civilian refugees flooding into Macedonia and offer similar assistance in Albania. I'm not talking about NATO troops but about well organized, high tech, humanitarian assistance -- medical, shelter and so on. I suggest FEMA should have a role to play. If we don't see action of this kind immediately, then we know the rhetoric is empty, that NATO is just trying to show the Russians who is boss in the post Cold War era. USAers should not allow DC to drive so incompetently and recklessly in the name of the American people, breaking laws and flaunting the fragile infrastructure of groundrules such as many hard-working diplomats have been able to agree on via the UN and other international institutions. Or does this president still have trouble realizing that the same laws apply to him as to ordinary mortals? NATO: either do exactly what you say you're doing (helping the civilians of Kosovo, big time) or come clean about your true motives. Don't expect the American people to cynically play along when the rhetoric is so blatantly a ruse. Going up against the Russians with lies and ruses is not going to work. Period. I remain glued to my TV looking for evidence of forethought on the part of USAers behind these latest moves. Surely we'll be seeing some evidence that the plight of civilians is top priority, vs. a lot of empty hype about how thrilling it is to ride in the cockpit of a B2.