The post-post colonial world
When's a death a death? Yahoo News carries this report on deaths in East Timor caused by Indonesian occupation.
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Indonesia killed up to 180,000 East Timorese through massacres, torture and starvation during its 24-year occupation, a report to be handed to the United Nations has found, an Australian daily said on Thursday. Napalm and chemical weapons were used to poison food and water and some victims were burned or buried while still alive, and others sexually mutilated, the Australian newspaper quoted the report saying. It said 90 percent of the 180,000 deaths -- almost a third of the pre-invasion population -- were caused by starvation and disease, saying starvation was used as a weapon. "Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters," the paper quoted the report saying.
The Third World is place where deaths are accounted with altogether different arithmetic than the First World. Events there happen as on another planet. Democracy Rising in a post called Hate Radio Returns As Ivory Coast Teeters On The Brink Of War talks about the implosion of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Ivory Coast.:
The continent plagued by armed-militias, ethnic conflict, corruption and tin-pot dictators is heading into familiar territory tonight. In scenes that echo Rwanda, what was once a relative African success story, has turned into a nightmare. On the streets of Ivory Coast tonight, the UN is under seige - hounded out of two towns and now facing the threat of serious violence at its HQ in Andijan.
Kinshasha on the Potomac wonders if there is even an end of the tunnel in the Ivory Coast:
Well, Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire for all you Francophones out there) has been down the tubes for a while. But, the situation is getting worse with supporters of the government fighting with UN peacekeepers at one of their basecamps. ... No one in the right mind can fault the peacekeepers for protecting themselves. And, maybe if they - and the French troops stationed there (who wiped out the Cote d'Ivoire airforce in 2004) - were even more proactive, than Gbagbo and his bully boys and the rebels would stop this stupid conflict and finally come to terms. Or, alternately, the world community can just kill off the current generation of thugs and see if there are some reasonable people who might want to run the country and not fight over the scraps.
EU Referendum points out that the old formulas, whatever they were, no longer work.
... one of the sharpest critiques of French involvement come from Le Monde diplomatique, which in April 2005 wrote:
The actions of the French Operation Unicorn peacekeeping force in the former French west African colony of Ivory Coast have exposed the greed and seaminess of France's dual role as both mediator and participant. ...
Above all though, this issue points up the indolence and hypocrisy of our media. While the hacks are quite happy to slag off the American administration and military – from the comfort of their luxury hotels in the Baghdad Green Zone, protected by the lives of those very troops they so detest - none of the professionals who employ them and use their copy have stirred themselves to find out what is going on the Ivory Coast, and report it.
That's probably because the "hacks" as the EU Referendum calls them, are grateful they have something to criticize without the burden of suggesting an alternative. The problem of what to do with chaos in the Third World is the one thing to which the pop doctrines of multiculturalism and transnationalism had no answer. The system of double-accounting, where Washington news was highlighted while events resulting in hundreds of thousands of Third World deaths was relegated to the back pages was the outcome of a system which knew how to the critique the one but not the other. Michelle Malkin recently had a post describing how key clues used to solve the London subway bombings came from Guantanamo Bay interrogations. It perfectly illustrates why perceptions are so distorted: the MSM is uneasy with narratives of how intelligence is obtained from prisoners to solve problems; it's a story they didn't "do". But the watchtowers, guards and exotic prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was a story they could "do" to perfection. And so, like the drunk searching for a coin beneath the lampost because it was the only place lit, our vision had become matched to the limits of our perception.
But the problems in the Third World won't go away; and in an age of globalization and mass immigration, they are no longer separable from events in the First World. Problems like those in the Ivory Coast, as well as the more proximate crisis of Iran are remarkable in that they do not involve Great Powers. For the last twenty years the World News has been driven by events in the what used to be the periphery of the world. The Balkans, Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia have somehow insinuated themselves into the center stage of history. What events like the Ivory Coast and the humiliating rejection of the EU3 in Iran will do is add to the growing disrepute of the traditional instruments of statecraft upon which the First World relied upon to deal with Third World problems. Multilateral organizations, aid programs, nongovernment organizations, while not completely useless, are in their present forms completely inadequate to the task.