Naomi Klein

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September 11’s Legacy: War as Franchise

The Marriot Hotel in Jakarta was still burning when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political and security affairs, explained the implications of the day’s attack.

“Those who criticize about human rights being breached must understand that all the bombing victims are more important than any human rights issue.”

In a sentence, we got the best summary yet of the philosophy underlying Bush’s so-called “war on terror.” Terrorism doesn’t just blow up buildings; it blasts every other issue off the political map. The spectre of terrorism, real and exaggerated, has become a shield of impunity, protecting governments around the world from scrutiny for their human rights abuses.

Many have argued that the war on terror is the United States government’s thinly veiled excuse for constructing a classic Empire, in the model of Rome or Britain. Two years into the crusade, it’s clear that this is a mistake: the Bush gang doesn’t have the stick-to-it-ness to successfully occupy one country, let alone a dozen.

Manila’s Rebel Soldiers

What does it take to become a major news story in the summer of Arnold and Kobe, Ben and Jen?

A lot, as a group of young Philippine soldiers discovered recently. On July 27, 300 soldiers rigged a giant Manila shopping mall with C-4 explosives, accused one of Washington's closest allies of blowing up its own buildings to attract US military dollars — and still barely managed to make the international news.

That's our loss, because in the wake of the Marriott bombing in Jakarta and newly leaked intelligence reports claiming that the September 11 attacks were hatched in Manila, it looks like Southeast Asia is about to become the next major front in Washington's War on Terror.™

The Olympics Land Grab

In sports, as in life, “security” trumps peace.

That’s what happened when the International Olympic Committee faced a choice between Pyeongchang, South Korea and Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.

South Korea pitched itself as the Peace Candidate: with the world in turmoil, bring the games to the very border of George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” and make a gesture of reconciliation.

Vancouver, on the other hand, sold itself as the Safety and Security Candidate: with the world in turmoil, hold the games somewhere you can be almost certain that nothing will happen. The Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid presented the province of British Columbia as a model of harmonious, sustainable living, a place where everyone gets along: Native and non-Native, rural and urban, rich and poor.

Before the vote, IOC President Jacques Rogge tipped his hand by declaring South Korean’s peace theme to be “secondary” and telling the Los Angeles Times that his top priority was “the best possible security.”

Canada: Hippie Nation?

Canadians can't quite believe it: Suddenly, we're interesting.

After months of making the news only with our various communicable diseases-SARS, mad cow and West Nile-we're now getting world famous for our cutting-edge laws on gay marriage and legalized drugs. The Bush conservatives are repulsed by our depravity. My friends in New York and San Francisco have been quietly inquiring about applying for citizenship.

Bush to NGOs: Watch Your Mouths

The Bush administration has found its next target for pre-emptive war, but it's not Iran, Syria or North Korea — not yet, anyway.

Before launching any new foreign adventures, the Bush gang has some homeland housekeeping to take care of: It is going to sweep up those pesky non-governmental organizations that are helping to turn world opinion against US bombs and brands.

The war on NGOs is being fought on two clear fronts. One buys the silence and complicity of mainstream humanitarian and religious groups by offering lucrative reconstruction contracts. The other marginalizes and criminalizes more independent-minded NGOs by claiming that their work is a threat to democracy. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is in charge of handing out the carrots, while the American Enterprise Institute, the most powerful think tank in Washington, D.C., is wielding the sticks.

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