Monthly Archives: February 2013

L’aventure continue…France’s Mali intervention not over soon

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About two months ago, the French Defense Minister had anounced that French troops would be back home within a couple of weeks, three or maybe four, and when they took three major cities by storm he seemed to be absolutely right. Yet, until two, threes weeks ago they had been fighting nobody, really…the “islamist terrorists” had vanished into the desert. And so the French went after them and then…well, then… we don’t really know. French and international media seem to have lost their interest after the big party in Timbuktu and instead of having daily fat headlines on missiles, terrorist nests and shoot-outs there is only an occasional short note somewhere. Meanwhile, the cost of the operation has doubled from the initial 50 Million Euro to 100 Million — a “flash éco” news in the conservative newspaper Le Figaro, that’s all.

Le Drian justifies this pretty expense by pointing out that the French troops are now finally doing what they were sent in for: killing islamists. He doesn’t know how many they are killing but he reassures everyone that they are doing their job properly as they kill several every day. If they really do so and under what circumstances nobody acutally knows, however. Concrete information is confused and contradictory: suicide bombings in towns that had been “cleared” of terrorists, mountain battles with or without success and casualties…. Various sources juggle numbers of islamist casualties ranging from 15 to 20 in a recent shoot-out to hundreds. But who cares actually when the important thing is that “our” boys kills terrorists without being killed. It’s the two French soldiers (legionnaires, more precisely) being killed that make the headlines, of course.

What is relatively well known is the number of displaced and refugees: 6,500 from the North since the French marched in and the fighting began; 240,000 since the Northern insurgency began a bit more than a year ago. But they don’t make the headlines either. After all, the French did not march in heroically to be associated with ragged homeless IDPs and refugees…

The French intervention is far from being the neat and simple march-through they had anounced back in January; it was never really declared a humanitarian intervention which, in the end, is good as it dispenses the government from trying to explain why it is creating more violence, misery and havoc than there was before. But then, there has never been a declared goal anyway except to kill terrorists and this, at least, the French are now doing! But as those islamists don’t want to be so easily killed, it seems that the French are there to stay and continue their cat-and-mouse game. And as this war has moved out of the news, hence the public consciousness, just as the Afghanistan and Iraq intervention have, it can continue for a loooong time. The hopes of a clear victory and an easy little army work out are already shattered and with it any potential homegrown political solution.

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The US’ xenophobic drones or why the Republicans don’t want to confirm Hagel

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So, the Republican senators do not want to confirm Hagel as Secretary of Defense on the grounds that his answers to questions about the legal grounds for the domestic use of drowns were considered insufficient? Should the Republicans all of the sudden have discovered their hidden consciousness for human and civil rights? Far from it. On the contrary, this debate just clearly reveals how deeply xenophobic the war on terror is.

Humanitarian interventions, the war on terrorism and interventions under the responsibiltiy to protect doctrine are all considered to be decided on the universal grounds of human rights and humanity. Consequently, the means of violence deployed are supposedley taking into consideration the universal human rights of menkind or so it is often argued. If drones are used in this struggle and “islamists” or other “terrorists” are killed then this has, up to now, caused little outrage; on the contrary many even argue that drones are a means of killing that is particularly respectful of human rights as it allows precise targeting of the person to be killed.

But now that the US Department of Justice is thinking of using drones for targeted killings of US citizens, or to be more precise of US cititzens under suspicion of being “terrorists”, and to do so on US territory, there is nothing universal anymore about terrorist threats and the way to deal with them. Now there is outrage in the US. Now the Senate has questions to ask about the legality of these killings. Now congressmen and women have a word to say. Now special commissions should be created. Killing people is one thing, killing Americans is quite another, it seems. The war on terror is now openly revealed to be a war against the US’ other as, by definition, a US citizen seemingly cannot be a terrorist. And even if he (or she) ever was, then this would have to be proven in a lawful procedure first in the great ol’ country of the rule of law…Yet, as the celebration of torture in recent Hollywood films shows, the least the war on terror needs is such fancy decorum as rightfulness, legality or rights so it’s absolutely fine to put away with this stuff for those outside the US. It’s like turning the Declaration of Independence on its head: if the Declaration can be read as a universal invitation to everyone who is pursuing happiness to become a US citizen, then the war on terror has redefined this as a doctrine where anyone who is not a US citizen is not pursuing happiness and, potentially, hostile to the American dream…in short: a terrorist. So, in the Republican’s view there is the US and its citizens, and there is the world out there and its terrorists.

It’s 2013 by the way, year 16 after Netscape.

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