A blast of fear blinds us

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Here’s an interesting and counterintuitive piece from the November issue of Le Monde diplomatique. Ramonet claims that, despite our sense of the world as a whirlwind of political violence, such violence (though not violence itself) is at a moment of relative — even ominous — quiescence. He more or less makes the case globally that Michael Moore makes domestically in his new movie Bowling for Columbine: the media (and our leaders as well) give us such a blast of fearful “news” that we can’t faintly see the world for what it is — in some ways less violent and more frightening. While I’m at it, I’m including a piece from last month’s Le Monde diplomatique by Ramonet that reminds me of the piece I sent out earlier today by Eric Margolis. Tom

The social wars
By Ignacio Ramonet, November 2002, Le Monde diplomatique

SINCE September 2001 and the war in Afghanistan people feel the world has been dominated by political violence and terrorism. For over a year the press has created an atmosphere of fear with images of bombings, massacres, hostage-taking.

Hardly a week seems to pass without bloodshed in the world – Israel, Bali, Karachi, Moscow, Yemen, Palestine. It feels as if a hurricane of conflict of a new kind is sweeping the planet, and as if we face the prospect of a war against terrorism even more cruel than the wars that preceded it – a war in which the American invasion of Iraq will be merely one episode.

This impression is false. In fact, political violence has never been at such a low ebb. Politically motivated insurrections, wars and conflicts have rarely been so few.

For more of this Le Monde diplomatique piece, click here.


Servile states
By Ignacio Ramonet, October 2002, Le Monde diplomatique

AN empire does not have allies, it has only vassals. This is a fact of history that most governments in the European Union seem to have forgotten. As they come under pressure from Washington to sign up for war against Iraq, we see nominally sovereign countries allowing themselves to be reduced to the demeaning status of satellites.

People have been asking what changed in international politics after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. With the publication this September of the Bush administration’s document defining the new “national security strategy of the United States” (1), we have the answer. The world’s geopolitical architecture now has at its apex a single hyperpower, the US, which “possesses unprecedented and unequalled strength and influence in the world” and which “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defence by acting pre-emptively.”

For more of this Le Monde diplomatique piece, click here.