[The following text is an extract from Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes’ recent book Weapon of the Strong: Conversations on US State Terrorism (Pluto, 2012), also featuring Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Edward S. Herman, Norman Finkelstein, and others. Click here for more details.]
To what extent, in your view, do the ways in which mainstream media select and contextualise events determine the boundaries of public thinking? You have said on one hand, regarding the “framing” of war and terrorism, that, “Efforts to control the visual and narrative dimensions of war delimit public discourse by establishing and disposing the sensuous parameters of reality itself”,[i] but also that “specters are produced that haunt the ratified version of reality”.[ii]
Judith Butler: There are surely many ways that this happens, but we can note at the most obvious level the way in which forms of resistance or violence get cast as “conflicts” that assume two sides that are fighting only against one another. We are more often than not asked, for instance, to regard Israel and Palestine as in a conflict of this kind, a framing that sets each of them on equal footing, and implicitly analogises the political situation to a fist fight, a soccer match, or a domestic quarrel. So if, then, the only two intelligible political positions are “pro-Palestinian” or “pro-Israeli,” the presumption is that one’s position is determined by a sentiment that wants one side to win over the other. In the meantime, what is lost is any sense that the Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonial rule is waged from a situation of occupation or expulsion, that there is a military order that controls the boundaries of what would be a sovereign Palestinian state, that the land on which that state is now thinkable has been radically diminished by an ongoing practice of land confiscation and appropriation. So we set the actors on the scene through the banal discourse of “conflict” in ways that fully deflect from the history and struggle of colonial resistance, refusing as well by that means to link the resistance to other forms of colonial resistance, their rationale, and their tactics.
Obviously, visual renditions of war not only establish what can be seen, and the audio-track established what can be heard, but the photographs also “train” us in ways of focusing on targets, ways of regarding suffering and loss. So photographs can be forms of recruitment, ways of bringing the viewer into the military, as it were. In this way, they prepare us for war, even enlist us in war, at the level of the senses, establishing a sensate regime of war.
Since the beginning of July 2013, the Sudanese government started planting mines in the area of Unch- the Nuba tribes- south of Dillanj city, the second largest city in Nuba mountains Southern Kordofan state. The government troops planted mines through the valley that connect the west and the east of Nuba mountains, crossing the villages of Daliba, Wata, Alrajol, Altungol, and the Alaf agricultural project.
Fleeing home has come with an unexpected benefit - for the first time the girls are going to school.
Ten-year-old Aliya and eight-year-old Asma arrived at Jalozai refugee camp two weeks ago, after escaping a recent surge in hostilities between government forces and militants near the border with Afghanistan.
La guerre au Mali ne se limite pas à mettre fin au terrorisme ; c’est une lutte pour défendre une société tolérante et laïque.
Avant même que ne commence l’intervention française au Mali, 412 000 personnes avaient déjà quitté leurs maisons au nord du pays, fuyant la torture, les exécutions sommaires, le recrutement d’ enfants-soldats et la violence sexuelle envers les femmes aux mains des intégristes. A la fin de l’année dernière, en Algérie et dans le sud du Mali, j’ai interviewé des dizaines de maliens du nord, y compris nombre de ceux qui avaient fui récemment. Leurs témoignages confirment les horreurs que les radicaux islamistes, autoproclamés guerriers de dieu, ont fait subir à leurs communautés.
In conversation with Jessica Horn, a leading Malian women’s rights activist identifies the roots of the crisis in Mali, and the opportunistic use of the crisis by Malian and international Islamic fundamentalists to gain a popular foothold in the north of the country
Jessica Horn: Were there any early warnings that this crisis would emerge?
While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” sanctions.