The Middle East, Empire, Etc.

I don’t have much to add to the current discussions in the blogosphere about the crisis in the Middle East. So instead I’ll link to some of recent reading:

anyways, music and drawing are the only things keeping me going these days.

i recorded two hours of bombs + trumpet from my balcony yesterday night.

some bombs were really close (what kind of mouthpiece do the israeli pilots use to have this sound?). the tension you get in your playing is incredible. also, i draw all time.

i always said that i regret not being adult during the war to see if you can

do something in these situations. now i feel bad to draw or play music while

people are burning. i convince myself by saying it is my only way to resist. that i have to witness. that it is very important.

but i am not really convinced. i try to be a fucking witness. to show a

little bit what’s happening here. in my own way. but having regards for what

is a good drawing or a good music track drives me crazy. i cannot stop

saying after a bomb: “yeah, this one was huge. i’ll leave a long silence

then make a small sound to balance the track.” this is totally crazy!

I was reading Empire of Capital by Ellen Meiksins Wood last night. Her basic argument is that the United States has created and continues to support the global capitalist system by using it’s massive military power to coerce other countries into joining.

The capitalist mode of economic imperialism is the first imperialism in history that does not depend simply on capturing this or that bit of territory, or dominating this or that subject people. It needs to oversee the whole global system of states and ensure that imperial capital can safely and profitably navigate throughout that global system. It has to deal not just with the problem of ‘rogue’ states or ‘failed’ states. It also has to keep subordinate states vulnerable to exploitation. Moreover, to be really effective, it has to establish the military and political supremacy of one power over all others, because, if global capital needs an orderly system of multiple states, it is hard to see how it can tolerate a system in which military power is more or less evenly distributed among various states.

But the physical coercion is more often than not hidden. Iraq was a perfect target in the Middle East because it wasn’t a major threat. It “was a suitable target not because it represented a threat to the US and its allies but, on the contrary, because it represented no threat at all. The US could thus ‘shock and awe the whole region (and the world), with (or so the geniuses in the White House thought) little risk to itself.”

Listening to the recording of Mazen playing his trumpet as rockets explode around him and car alarms go off I was struck by how arrogantly we, all of us as Americans, can be. We will never have to live through an aerial attack or ‘shock and awe’. Our military is too strong to be challenged in that way.

So my sympathies go out to all those, Lebanese, Israeli, Iraqi, who are suffering today in the Middle East. I wish for better times ahead.

Todd Suomela
Associate Director for Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship Department

My interests include digital scholarship, citizen science, leadership, and communications.