Archive for May, 2010

Fighting Terror for other reasons.

Terrorism is a great rallying call, I believe.  It’s what I consider a “go word”.  If something is terrorism, then everyone is obligated to do something about it.  Similar to ‘genocide’ another “go word” – if genocide is happening, then people have to do something.

Apparently, though, this is not the case.  My Pen Pal Jaisis lives in Poland, and Poland supports the US in its “War on Terror.”  A while back, Rumsfeld was thanking Poland for its help in the wars and counterterrorism efforts. Yet, according to Jaisis, the Polish government doesn’t really care about terrorism.  Poland hasn’t exactly been the target of Islamic extremists.

So why are they fighting?  Jaisis told me that the Polish government is very interested in relations with the US, partly because the Poles want the US to raise the (rather selective) visa restrictions that Poles traveling to the US endure.  This is what the politicians speak about to the people, though she notes that she is not very in tune with politics at the moment.

Looking around online, I found that in the same article where Rumsfeld thanks Poland for its contributions, the Polish minister of defense thanks the US for it’s help in modernizing the Polish military.

Maybe countries support the “war on terror” not because it is righteous, but because cozying up to the US is a good thing to do.  I wonder what would have happened if it some country that was not the world’s main superpower had suffered 9/11.  How much of the support is because the USA is so prominent?

Assassination: Pen Pal thoughts

After the Dubai assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, I asked my French Pen Pal waht she thought of the assassination, and, failing that, assassinations against terrorist leaders in general.  The resulting point of view was not terribly far from my own.  For her, assassination was wrong for a variety of reasons.  In more detail:

“…people must be judged before put in jail / killed”   One of the major differences for her is that assassination is unofficial, and does not allow for the expression of statements in the target’s defense.  This was the difference between judgement by a judge, and judgement by an intelligence agency – even if the intelligence agency is right, it still does not let the target speak in his defense.

When I asked her whether she thought assassinations could be effective, irregardless of their legality or justness, she  replied:  “It might have an effect, it might not have an effect. Terrorists are willing to die, so they don’t mind too much if they are killed / if their leaders is killed. This leader might be replaced bu another extremist leader who is not scared of death.”

She also noted that terrorists did not judge people before they killed them either.  However, she went on to note that just because terrorists do not bring proper judgement before killing, it does not mean that such behavior is alright.

Lastly, she also noted that assassinations are perhaps a little bit better than terrorism in that at least they target the people responsible.  Still wrong, though.

The Red Army in Poland

After watching The Baader-Meinhof Complex, I went and asked my Polish pen pal about it.  She had heard of the movie, but didn’t know anything about it.  I explained it was about the Red Army Faction, and we talked for a bit before we realized that we were talking about different things.  She had not, in fact, heard of the Red Army Faction, but was instead talking about that other Red Army… the soviet army. Read more

Penpal: Conversation with Kenya

Me: Can you tell me your story about finding out about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11/2001? Like, how you found out about it, when, and what you thought about it? Read more

The Hurt Locker: A Tale of Hidden Truth

In 2008, director Kathryn Bigelow awed not only moviegoers, but also citizens across the nation with her innovated, and inventive war film, “The Hurt Locker”.  For the past decade films depicting the war in Iraq, and other politically war-centered films have taken a plunge in the box office.  Films like “In The Valley of Elah” saw depressing reviews and a small fan base.  While “The Hurt Locker” has become well known for its historical war tale, its unique angle made it a “must see” movie of the year.  Surprisingly, the aspect of the film that drew viewers in the most was its lack of controversy.    Watching the film it is quite evident that the story represents those of men fighting “the war on terrorism” in Iraq, however there is not even a single mention about politics or government.  Film blogger, Michael Cusumano, comments, “The Hurt Locker was marketed as a film with all of the excitement of war films with none of the preachiness, and the ecstatic reviews greeting the film focused mainly on Bigelow’s filmmaking prowess with the action scenes.”  However, despite the lack of direct correlation between the film, and the war in Iraq there seems to be something utterly realistic about its story.

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Psychological Wounds and Definitions of Terrorism

I was somewhat aghast when reading the definitions of terrorism put up by the class for the mid-term.  So many of them were so vague, and so wide.  I presented my thoughts to my pen pal:

Me: There is a lot of disagreement over what terrorism is, and who qualities as a terrorist.  I think that the label “terrorist” is being applied too widely these days.  People who are doing bad things in any variety of ways are labeled as terrorists by the US.  Do you think this is the case?

Fear: Box Office Hit

The press, and film can be considered two of terrorism’s most prominent outlets in distributing and creating fear.  One of the most prevalent examples of our obsession with fear lies in the depiction and portrayal of terrorism.  Its presence will never age with time, and its existence knows no countries’ borders.  While we read about terrorist attacks everyday in the paper, its stories are carried onto film, and other means of media. Whether its context is completely accurate, or created by art directors, or whether it’s an article in the newspaper, or a box office hit “based on actual events”, its only message to its audience is “fear”.  While it may not seem obvious at first glance, film and the press produce many of the same effects.  Both the press, and film tell stories.  They also tell stories through an angle, or bias known as framing.  While the press may decide to produce a story on terrorism at an angle that focuses on government contribution, film makers may chose to tell the story from an emotional perspective which focuses on personal hardship throughout the event.  Film and the press also help to shape the opinions and thoughts of their viewers through this framing.  Whether the thought is positive, or negative, the plot of the story told is what shapes it.  The two have, no doubt, different purposes, but their final message always remains the same: be afraid.

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Appearance of Invisible Morality

The concept of morality may be the one and only concept that people spend their entire lives studying, and searching for, but never find the right answers.  What is morality?  The Oxford American Dictionary defines morality as “the principles of concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior”.   While the definition seems simple, the confusion lies in the definitions of good, bad, wrong, and right.  While attempting to define these concepts of morality, our focus should not be on those who do wrong, but rather we should reach further and discover the fuel, which drives immorality to the surface.

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New Zealand Pen Pal’s Thoughts on Eco-Terrorism

Today, my pen pal and I discussed eco-terrorism.  What I really enjoyed about this groups presentation was its originality.  I wasn’t expecting a topic like theirs, so it was very exciting to learn about something so new.  It also held my attention!  Needless to say, when I signed onto skype and saw that my pen pal, Jaron, was logged on—I quickly started to talk to him about this topic called “eco-terrorism”.  Oddly enough, he had quite a lot of knowledge regarding the subject.  Here were some of his views:

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WTC 93: Failed or Successful

While discussing 9 11 again the other day, Jaron and myself began to discuss other terrorist attacks that we remember others discussing.  It’s interesting to see how people our age associate certain terrorist attacks when they don’t remember.  One of the terrorist attacks that Jaron brought up was another attack that was profiled by our classmates:

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.