Tag Archive 'propaganda'

When They Came for Kenny…

Photos of Russian kids mounting a street protest against the banning of South Park by the state. This is no small or meaningless act.

As daily experience, one of the worst aspects of living under a repressive fascist regime is how utterly boring it is. It is a horrible experience to be a teenager in a society where every radio station plays only opera, and every television show is a boring panegyric to the wisdom of the regime.

This is an intrinsic hostility to youthful enthusiasms too. In more than one way fascism can be described as a permanent war conducted by the state on the innate liberality and frivolousness of youth. Under fascism, something as light-hearted as South Park becomes “extremist propaganda” because the fascist is altogether incapable of understanding the necessary playfulness of entertainment. He feels the driving necessity to infect everything with deep political significance.

It is by such a course that the abolition of free expression induces the characteristically pervasive and perverse boredom of its societies. This does not only affect youth either, as a society robs itself of its own vitality by repressing its youth’s enthusiasm.

Sphere: Related Content

Rumors from the Necrocracy

Kim Jong Il as Colonel Sanders by Jonathan Barnbrook (photo: acb | The Null Device)

North Korea is already a formal necrocracy (government by the dead), given that Kim Il-sung –who has been dead since 1994– remains the titular head of state there. But according to Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura in Japan, Kim’s son and successor in power Kim Jong Il has been dead himself since 2003. Shigemura has a number of family contacts which might validate a rumor which has been circulating since a period of peculiar diplomatic activity which attended Kim the Younger’s alleged death.

According to Shigemura, the role of leader is being filled by a number of body-doubles in an elaborate international charade which would seem unlikely in any other country. However, such a ruse seems completely plausible in the hermit kingdom, in which even more ludicrous fantasies are routinely employed to justify government policy and loyalty (for instance the state maintains that the birds of the country sang praise in Korean, when Kim Jong Il was born).

Evidently Japanese intelligence was concerned enough that former Prime Minister Koizumi had held a summit with a body double in 2004, that they considered voice-printing Kim and the suspected double. Only the prospect of political embarrassment for Koizumi made them hold off. With Koizumi out of office, I wouldn’t mind them doing as much now to clarify the issue.

Sphere: Related Content

Blameless are the Bellicose?

(photo: Pavel Trebukov | blog)

From the gang who brought you the “because Georgia has invaded its own country we had to attack” rationale for the South Ossetian War, Poland has now apparently “made itself a target” for Russian nuclear strike, by agreeing to base an entirely defensive missile system which could not possibly repel even a small Russian ballistic missile salvo.

Alas, this preposterous Russian claim like so many others, can find plenty of eager advocates in the West, who believe it is “aggressive” to create a defensive system against an Iranian missile threat, because Russia (!) says her “right” to target a country with ICBMs could be infringed…only to then confess the lie of that, by targeting the country with missiles. It’s an utterly immoral and entirely ludicrous formula on its face; indefensible from every direction.

And such a painfully helpless claim for erasing or even obscuring the fact that it was Russia alone which invaded Georgia, and it is Russia alone which is targeting Poland — and most sadly of all, it is Russia alone which is destroying Yeltsin’s great security achievement of an international framework for peaceful borders between friendly republics. A squandered and priceless inheritance, traded cheaply, in favor of an engineered frontier war for the vanity of militarism.

Sphere: Related Content

(Relatively) Measuring Success

This is the most recent of a series of posts on Registan.net where I explore some of the fundamentals of conflict within the tribal areas of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. At the end of this post is a link to the rest of them.

Nightwatch argues that May was the most violent month in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion:

NightWatch almost has completed its monthly assessments of combat for both April and May. In the data sample drawn from unclassified reporting sources that NightWatch uses, April featured 199 violent incidents in 86 districts, making it the most lethal April in the six year conflict. May featured 214 incidents of violence in over 100 districts, also a new six-year total for May and the highest single monthly total. Despite official efforts to spotlight improvement, the spring offensive thus far is worse than last year’s spring offensive. The security situation has deteriorated again.

At no prior time has the Taliban managed to stage attacks in over 100 of the 398 districts. The previous highs were 86 in April 2008 and 83 in May 2007. Fighting has been heavy in Garmser District in Helmand Province but it has been significantly higher in Zormat District in Paktia Province; Andar District in Ghazni Province and Asadabad District in Konar, all across from the tribal areas of northern and central Pakistan. If Taliban fighters are heading to Pakistan, they are going back to base to rest and to get more ammunition and supplies.

Now, it is notable that the worst fighting has actually not been in the south, but in Paktya, Ghazni, and Kunar, all of which are provinces operating under the new success metrics breathlessly regurgitated by our lazy propagandists. Kunar in particular was the site of David Kilcullen’s now-seminal piece on the magical IED-stopping power of roads; Asadabad in particular is the site of one of the PRTs making the most talked-about progress in terms of construction and violence reduction.

Are we being sold a bill of goods? Are the areas bordering the FATA in far worse shape than we were lead to believe, and is the South in comparative good health?

It is not as simple to answer as it may seem. There are three metrics to look at: actual numbers, comparative numbers, and perceived numbers. For our purposes—i.e. for the purpose of some sort of permanent defeat of the Taliban and associated militias—the real numbers don’t matter. The comparative numbers might, if there was an effective IO campaign in place—not selling roads as bomb shields, but selling the astonishing success of the brand new national telecommunications network, or the very real benefits of steadily improving developmental indicators. But since there is not, the comparative numbers could be interesting, but haven’t really gone anywhere.

What of the perception? Again, this is a difficult question to unravel: security is rarely at the top of a typical Afghan’s priority. Most want food, or an end to the pervasive and devastating impact of official corruption.


Sphere: Related Content

A Retreating Periphery

Indian Frontiers
(photo: Mani Babbar)

After 9/11 widened Al Qaeda’s ambitious war against most of the world, Osama bin Laden described his own axis-o-evil as being composed of “Crusaders, Zionists and Hindus.” But at some point, without anyone much noticing, that seems to have changed for Hindus.


Sphere: Related Content

Sunni Bloc To Rejoin Government

This is a positive development:

Iraq’s largest Sunni bloc has agreed to return to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s cabinet after a nine-month boycott, several Sunni leaders said on Thursday, citing a recently passed amnesty law and the Maliki government’s crackdown on Shiite militias as reasons for the move.

The Sunni leaders said they were still working out the details of their return, an indication that the deal could still fall through.


“Our conditions were very clear, and the government achieved some of them,” said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni bloc in the government. Mr. Duleimi said the achievements included “the general amnesty, chasing down the militias and disbanding them and curbing the outlaws.”

The recently passed amnesty law has already led to the release of many Sunni prisoners, encouraging Sunni parties that the government is serious about enforcing it. And the attacks on Shiite militias have apparently begun to assuage longstanding complaints that only Sunni groups blamed for the insurgency have been the targets of American and Iraqi security forces.

Exactly which ministries will be given to which Sunni politicians is still under negotiation, said Ayad Samarrai, the deputy general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest party within Tawafiq. Among those under consideration are the Ministries of Culture, Planning, Higher Education and Women’s Affairs and the State Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Samarrai said.

What the greater affects of the Sunnis rejoining will be remain to be seen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if future events precipitate another walkout. But I think it’s hard to deny that Maliki’s offensive in Basra is paying the political dividends he had hoped for.

On another note, the NYT piece is prefaced with an incongruous image of what is claimed to be the remnants of a car bomb blast:
Caption: The site of a car bombing where one civilian was killed while six others were wounded on Thursday in Baghdad. // Photo by:Mohammed Ameen/Reuters

Does that look like the results of a car bomb? None of the buildings near the wreckage look like they’ve sustained blast damage. There’s no cratering in the ground, and there’s no shrapnel from the blast strewn around. And, of course, there’s the obligatory wailing woman in the foreground. Is this another fauxtography case? Even if it’s not, and the photo is exactly what it claims to be, what does it have to do with a story about Sunnis ending their boycott of the Iraqi government?

UPDATE: Keith provides another view of the car bomb wreckage in the comments. It appears to be a legitimate bomb scene, just with the staged wailing woman for affect. I guess the bomb wasn’t terribly big so there isn’t any noticeable damage to the surrounding scene. Either way, it does not appear to be a case of fauxtography, although it is a strange photo to accompany a news story about political reconciliation.

Sphere: Related Content

Pompeii Against Allah?

Pompeii mosaic
photo: Martin Dixon

Here’s a grim laugh for your Friday morning. A Muslim which preposterously seeks to explain the death and burial of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 1st century, as the result of the wrath of Allah against the decadent Roman empire. The video marvels at how people were struck down with little warning by the eruption of Vesuvius, and cites the Quran as evidence of divine retribution. Particularly offensive is the implication that slavery was a uniquely Roman institution. Something that no doubt would come as a great surprise to slaves who suffer to this day, under cruel ownership by devout Muslim masters in Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Sphere: Related Content

Visit the People’s Paradise

Communist documents promoting North Korea, which were seized from Cuban personnel during the invasion of Grenada in 1983. Not your ordinary tourist brochures. Click to enlarge:

Grenada communist documents
photo: Department of Defense

Sphere: Related Content

Mitt Hatred Explained

Not too crazy about Mitt Romney but don’t know why? Amy D. Goldstein is ready to help. Among the many reasons you hate Mitt, is because you’re jealous of his hair and are a religious bigot. Yep, it’s true. *cough* Loyal Mitt advocate Amy has prepared a helpful eight point list of the most preposterously self-serving and stupefyingly propagandistic fake reasons for opposition to Mitt Romney you may ever read. (via coMITTed to Mitt).

Sphere: Related Content

The Smell Of Socialism

What does socialism smell like? At first blush I can’t be much more specific than “pungent and bad.” Luckily the enterprising Catalan Socialist Party has brewed up a concoction as a campaign stunt that promises to answer this confounding quandary:

Election campaigns have witnessed some strange political strategies over the years, but the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) surely broke new ground today when it launched its very own perfume.

At a press conference today, the PSC answered the question on everybody’s noses since the party announced last week it had created the fragrance: what does socialism smell like?

Apparently, it mixes Mediterranean herbs and fruits such as Bergamot orange and white tea with base notes from the Orient, which come together to produced an aroma of “confidence, equality, progress and efficiency”.

I’ll just note an appalling dearth of blood, rotting food and jack boot polish. But, I’m no perfume expert.

Oddly, it also smells a little like air freshener. One journalist at the press conference said the smell was so strong that he was practically overwhelmed and left feeling faint.

Hmm, maybe the PSC is on to something here. Air freshener is used to hide unpleasant odiferous realities and too much of it can leave one feeling lightheaded. In comparison, socialism has been known to mask certain economic realities with an air of fruitful abundance, and too much socialism has caused millions of people to pass out. Permanently.

Soviet Propaganda

The creator, Albert Majós, told Cadena Ser radio station today that it was neither a “perfume nor air-freshener” but the aromatic representation of socialism’s values.

Well, I’m glad he cleared that up.

The vice-president of the PSC, Manuela de Madre, argued that overall “it would be no bad thing if Catalan politics could relax a little using this fragrance” and recommended “the aromatic and relaxing herbs” to the conservative opposition People’s Party (PP).

De Madre said the PSC would be sending a sample to all the political parties in the Catalan parliament.

The fragrance, which comes in little bags to be placed in all good leftwing wardrobes, will go on sale at the PSC headquarters in Barcelona and its other offices, as well as at party meetings.

For his next fragrance, De Madre plans to create “the sweet smell of Irony.”

A spokesman for the PSC said it could also be used in offices to create a pleasant environment of equality and fairness.

I think that one already exists. It’s called Neutra Air.

* The Soviet Era poster above is from here, which provides the following comment:

This poster reads, “Work happily, and the crop will be good. Spring, summer, fall, winter” and depicts this woman that we assume to be hardworking is happy in her work and reaping great success. Implicit in this poster is the idea that Stalin brought this change about.

Sphere: Related Content

Get rewarded at leading casinos.

online casino real money usa