Tjebbe van Tijen cached version 17/01/2019 17:03:43 en Pigeon post: privacy in the Information Age <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A tableau for whistleblower Snowden - just strap your USB stick on! (visual montage)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Click to enlarge." width="460" height="460" /></a><span class="image-caption">Click to enlarge.</span></p><p><span>The first message carried across to a friend in good secrecy might be this work from the year 1641: "</span><a href=";printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Mercury, Or The Secret and Swift Messenger: Shewing, how a Man May with Privacy and Speed Communicate His Thoughts to a Friend at Any Distance</a><span>" by John Wilkins, who gives many more antique examples in this early master work on private data-communication, like using dolphins, ot inscribing a message on the shaven head of a slave and let his hair grow and next send him through the enemy lines. The reflective properties of the moon and their potential is mentioned as well, along with communication in the way 'the angels do', in other words telepathy. Given the present circumstances, this last one may be the most secure, also in our digital age.</span></p><p><span><em>You will find additional information on this tableau on the author's <a href="">Flickr page</a>.</em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/magnus-nome/retake-your-privacy-0">Retake your privacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/bilderberg-2013-100-privacy-100-security-yes-some-can-have-it">Bilderberg 2013: 100% privacy &amp; 100% security? &quot;YES SOME CAN HAVE IT&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Can Europe make it? Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Tue, 25 Jun 2013 14:52:50 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 73572 at Bilderberg 2013: 100% privacy & 100% security? "YES SOME CAN HAVE IT" <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Apart from the regular conspiracy reactions, in the present context the&nbsp;Bilderberg&nbsp;Conference is proof of the favoured treatment of the elites over the masses when it comes to privacy, security and convenience....&nbsp;(visual montage)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="(click to enlarge)" height="613" width="460" /></a><span class="image-caption">(click to enlarge)</span></p><p>No snooping on the 134 Bilderberg participants in the neatly sealed off premises of the Grove Hotel - former home of the Earls of Clarendon - near the British village of Watford, not far from London. Three days of seclusion from 7 June onward, "a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about megatrends and the major issues facing the world." No intrusive cameras. No journalists. No declarations afterward. No demonstrators, as the hotel area and its surroundings are placed under a restricted access order.<br /><br /> "100 percent privacy, 100 percent security and 100 percent convenience, yes it can be done" (*) - for those who are not part of the suspected masses that are put under constant automated surveillance by their states.<br /><br /> (*) Paraphrase of the Obama speech of 7 June 2013 on the scandal of mass snooping of citizens' data communications by the NSA and the sharing of this surveillance data with their British counterparts: &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to recognize that you can&rsquo;t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.&rdquo;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/back-to-old-cold-war-game">Back to the old Cold War game</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/italia-sveglia-basta-con-la-gerontocrazia">&quot;Italia, sveglia!&quot; Basta con la Gerontocrazia!</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Tue, 11 Jun 2013 13:17:56 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 73237 at Back to the old Cold War game <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the upcoming lifting of the arms embargo for Assad regime opponents in Syria we are back to the old game: Cold War - &nbsp;the USA and the former Soviet Union both offering advanced weapon systems to the belligerent parties (visual montage).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Click to enlarge." width="460" height="714" /></a><span class="image-caption">(click to enlarge)</span></p><p>Ugly and murderous times when local populations were squeezed to death between heavily armed forces in what became more than "just civil wars": Korea, Vietnam, Angola and Afghanistan to name a few, the Cold War lasted from the fifties to the eighties of the last century. We are also reminded of the aftermath, the missile crises of Cuba and Egypt &nbsp;- with Syria being equipped with missile capacity by the Russians, from the Khrushchev to the Putin era. This, as a deterrent against Israel being equipped by the Americans.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/italia-sveglia-basta-con-la-gerontocrazia">&quot;Italia, sveglia!&quot; Basta con la Gerontocrazia!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/tableau-for-thatcher">A tableau for Thatcher</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/euro-sunset-on-cyprus">Euro sunset on Cyprus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/il-grillo-parlante">Il Grillo Parlante</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/chavez-when-great-leaders-die">Chavez: when great leaders die</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> </div> </div> Russia United States Syria Tjebbe van Tijen Wed, 29 May 2013 09:35:27 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 72953 at "Italia, sveglia!" Basta con la Gerontocrazia! <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"Italy, wake up!" Away with the Gerontocracy! (visual montage)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Click to enlarge." width="460" height="641" /></a><span class="image-caption">Click to enlarge</span><span class="image-caption">.</span></p><p>With the death of Giulio Andreotti (1919-2013), an almost life long parliamentarian and political conspirator, and the election of Giorgio Napolitano, 88 this summer, for a second term of seven years as President of Italy, it is time for Italy to put an end to more than half a century of rule by old men and their clientelist networks. <em>Geronto</em> - old man - networks serve political aims and personal profits equally.<br /><br />With political actors such as Silvio Berlusconi - who will be 77 in September - and Stefano Rodot&aacute; - the other candidate in the presidential election - turning 80 this month, Italy should wake up and put an end to this 'gerontocracy' that has hampered its development for so long.<br /><br />They could take a hint from Pope Benedict XVI who after a 'papacy' of only eight years (2005-2013) rejected his life long power position and retired to become citizen Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (1927-) once again.<br /><br />As a new generation of politicians emerges, like Beppe Grillo (born in 1948) and Enrico Letta (the new Prime Minister, born in 1966), there is a chance for change, but only if women are also better represented in government positions and the political arena.<br /><br />Clientelism still makes up the skeleton of Italy's brontosaurus politics. The shadow of Andreotti - a man who has dominated the Italian political scene since 1946 and is commonly known as Beelzebub, (a devilish angel) - needs to be dissipated first.<br /><br />Berlusconi is only a bleak mirror image of Andreotti when it comes to corruption, embezzlement and behind the scene associations with all parts of the Italian ruling class, legal and illegal.</p><p><em>For further documentation on Italian Gerontocracy see:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/tableau-for-thatcher">A tableau for Thatcher</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/euro-sunset-on-cyprus">Euro sunset on Cyprus</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/il-grillo-parlante">Il Grillo Parlante</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Italy </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Italy Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Mon, 13 May 2013 11:23:57 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 72674 at A tableau for Thatcher <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nothing lasts... (visual montage)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a>(<span class="image-caption">Click on the picture to enlarge)</span></p><p><a href="">Read more</a> on the sinking of the Belgrano.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/euro-sunset-on-cyprus">Euro sunset on Cyprus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/il-grillo-parlante">Il Grillo Parlante</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/chavez-when-great-leaders-die">Chavez: when great leaders die</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk UK Thatcher's legacy Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:00:17 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 72209 at Euro sunset on Cyprus <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Euro sunset on Cyprus: while Vladimir&nbsp;Putin&nbsp;dives for the Gazprom treasure, diligent locals are facing a tax grab of their small savings&nbsp;</span>(visual montage).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" height="370" /></a><span class="image-caption">(click <a href=""> here</a> for large version with additional contextual documentation)</span></p> <p>There are many ramifications of the financial crisis of Cyprus, the role of Russian money deposits and the alleged whitewashing of the biggest Russian enterprise Gazprom. This also makes visible of course the role of President Putin as &nbsp;someone for a long time directly related to Gazprom. The broken amphoras of the Cypriot banking system, may be on further exploration be supplanted with uncountable amphoras filled with natural gas.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/il-grillo-parlante">Il Grillo Parlante</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/chavez-when-great-leaders-die">Chavez: when great leaders die</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/promised-land-2013">The Promised Land 2013</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cyprus </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Cyprus Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Tue, 19 Mar 2013 16:30:08 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 71679 at Il Grillo Parlante <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; line-height: normal;">Will "il Grillo Parlante" the speaking Cricket of Pinocchio change the Phallocentric style of Italian politics? (visual montage)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" height="456" /></a></p><p><span>Can the flow of words, the rhetorics as displayed in Italian politics - dominated by male leaders - be changed by the main actors that have been voted into parliament in February 2013? Will Beppe Grillo act like 'the wise cricket' in the Pinocchio tale and change the tone and content of the debate, opening new doors to an era beyond the discourses of Berlusconi con sui?</span><br /><br /><span>Most people only know the Walt Disney interpretation of the original Italian story by Carlo Lorenzini, 1826 &ndash; 1890, "Le avventure di Pinocchio." The cricket that appears in it is called "Il Grillo Parlante" and is described as "gentile, generoso, saggio, preoccupato, riluttante, severo ed intelligente" (friendly, generous, wise, preoccupied, ungrudging, strict and intelligent). Il Grillo Parlante tries to appeal to the good feelings of the wooden marionette that becomes human, as he warns him several times. These warnings are neglected at first, 'il grillo' &nbsp;is even dismissed in his role of educator. But in the end there is the repentance of Pinocchio and the value of the wise cricket is recognised.</span><br /><br /><span>Pinocchio is depicted here as the Italy of Berlusconi, full of phallocentric lies. Will Beppo Grillo who seems to be in his methods a mirror image of Berlusconi, indulging in his overwhelming monologues addressed at admiring crowds, really do anything different?</span><br /><br /><span>Will the 'grillini' - as they call themselves - develop their own discourse, local and national? All the signs are that the movement led by Beppo Grillo is first of all a 'reaction movement', blown into existence in response to the blunt lies and bad practice of Berlusconi and his allies. More is needed than just reacting. A coherent practical vision on what to do with Pinocchio-land, how to wrestle with the stock-exchange and EU financial power structures, at first all united in their scandalous disapproval of what - whatever one says - &nbsp;has been a democratic election by the people of Italy of a new government.</span></p><p><span><em>Click <a href="">here</a> for more</em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/chavez-when-great-leaders-die">Chavez: when great leaders die</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/promised-land-2013">The Promised Land 2013</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Can Europe make it? Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:03:55 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 71371 at Chavez: when great leaders die <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When great leaders die their heritage is the power they usurped and failed to share with others (a visual montage).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" height="575" /></a><br /><em><span>Click </span><a href="">here</a><span> for notes and references.</span></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ivan-briscoe/ch%C3%A1vez-to-eternity">Chávez to eternity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/promised-land-2013">The Promised Land 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/im-westen-nichts">IM WESTEN NICHTS</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Venezuela </div> </div> </div> Venezuela Tjebbe van Tijen Wed, 06 Mar 2013 07:28:41 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 71346 at The Promised Land 2013 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="color: #434343;">This month's&nbsp;</span><em>Europe at a glance</em><span style="color: #434343;">, a collection of visual thoughts on Europe and where it is heading - if anywhere.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" /></a><span class="image-caption">(click on the image to enlarge)</span></p><p>"BEST COUNTRY TO BE BORN IN 2013 = SWITZERLAND"<br /><br />...<a href="">according</a> to the The Economist Intelligence Unit ranking system.&nbsp;<br /><br />The highest number of asylum seekers in Switzerland (according to the Neue Z&uuml;rcher Zeitung of January the 12th, 2013, do come from Eritrea (a country that does not rank within the first 80 countries in the world in order of living standards), Nigeria (ranks 80), Tunisia (ranks 59), Serbia (ranks 54), Afghanistan (does not rank in the first 80), Syria (ranks 73) and Macedonia (does not rank in the first 80). There were <a href="">28.600 asylum seekers</a> in Switzerland in the year 2012.<br /><br />There has always been an often invisible dividing line between human rights and economic reasons for migration, like with the colours of the rainbow. More prosperity elsewhere, means less migration here. Sometimes the position of countries in our global communicative vessel system changes from receiving to sending. This has happened so often in a past nobody wants to remember. How many thousands of people from the Netherlands emigrated right after World War II to Australia, Canada and the United States? Let alone to call to mind the colonial and neo-colonial migration movements many of the European countries have been taken part in.<br /><br />It needs courage and desperation to leave your home, as most human societies have become used to a sedentary life style and thus develop all kind of attachments to the place where they have been born and raised. Time for The Economist to also publish a list and map of...<br /><br />WORST COUNTRY TO BE BORN IN 2013.<br /><br />To make the inhabitants of the high up countries in the Best Country List realise why they have become THE PROMISED LAND.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/im-westen-nichts">IM WESTEN NICHTS</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Can Europe make it? Photo Essay Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Thu, 17 Jan 2013 14:57:36 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 70422 at IM WESTEN NICHTS <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This month's <em>Europe at a glance</em>, a collection of visual thoughts on Europe and where it is heading - if anywhere.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" height="460" /></a></p><p><span><em>"IM WESTEN NICHTS..." back to the trenches of the old European battlefields.. as the EU Budget summit failed last week in Brussels...</em></span></p><p><span><em>"All Quiet on the Western Front" (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.</em></span></p><p><span><em>The phrase "all quiet on the Western Front" has become a colloquial expression meaning stagnation, or lack of visible change, in any context.</em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tjebbe-van-tijen/promised-land-2013">The Promised Land 2013</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Can Europe make it? Tjebbe van Tijen Europe at a glance Mon, 26 Nov 2012 09:05:40 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 69547 at A tableau for Václav Havel <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img class="image-right" src=" HAvel_530.jpg" alt="Vaclav Havel" width="50" /> <span class="image-caption"></span></p><p>Tjebbe van Tijen presents a montage of graffiti and photographs in honour of Václav Havel</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>V&aacute;clav Havel died on December 18 this year: he lived from 1936 till 2011. The tableau is in his honour. It shows: a wall graffiti in Prague (probably 1979) "Havel behind bars" (he spent his longest time in prison as a dissident under the Czech Communist Regime from 1979 to 1984); Havel, photographed during a concert of the Czech underground rock band the Plastic People of the Universe, whose persecution led - among other incidents - to the founding of the Charta 77 human rights group, and a demonstration in Prague in December 1989 demanding that V&aacute;clav Havel be nominated president. </p><p><img class="image-left" src="" alt="Vaclav Havel" width="530" /><span class="image-caption">Image credit: Tjebbe van Tijen. All Rights Reserved.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: 15.05pt; background: white;"><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-fareast-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; color: #222222; mso-ansi-language: EN-US;"> The poor image quality expresses my own personal contacts with Czech dissidents; we carried out for instance a support action for several Czech rock groups that were persecuted, including the &lsquo;Plastic People of the Universe&rsquo;... Havel was going to open our big demonstration &lsquo;Europe Against the Current&rsquo; in September 1989 in Amsterdam... but being under house arrest he had to open the demonstration over the telephone....</span></p><p> Czech samizdat was produced in the most low tech way, by hammering out manuscripts using carbon paper and producing at most 10 copies at the time... it was all primitive beyond belief, even at the end of the eighties...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Czech Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Czech Republic Democracy and government postsoviet politics of protest people Tjebbe van Tijen Tue, 20 Dec 2011 09:46:08 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 63337 at After Gaddafi: tableau <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A picture poem on Gaddafi's fall </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>The last view Gaddafi took of this world?&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="530" /><br /></strong></p> <p>what will be the last view Gaddafi takes of this world?</p><p>which way up?</p> <p>which way down?&nbsp;</p> <p>what will be our last view of him?</p> <p>the anti-colonial guerilla fighter hero he associated with <a href="">Omar al Mukhtar</a> - Lion of the Desert - hung in 1931 by the Italian fascist colonial regime under <a href="">Benito Mussolini</a> (Gaddafi wore the last photograph of Mukhtar alive just before his execution as a badge on his military uniform when visiting <a href="">Silvio Berlusconi</a> in Italy in 2009)</p> <p>or</p> <p>the ruthless dictator <a href="">Benito Mussolini</a>, as captured by Italian Partisans in 1945, when he tried to flee to Switzerland, and was executed on the spot, hung by his feet&nbsp;</p> <p>the flag of his copy cat green revolution waved for four decades</p> <p>the regime he helped create repressed as many people as it did bind to its peculiar form of commonwealth&nbsp;</p> <p>despised and embraced at the same time by other leaders from other countries&nbsp;who drew their plans for his removal while celebrating their meetings with him</p> <p>those from his own camp, who now leave him to face up to his last days&nbsp;will trample on his face to hide their own past</p> <p>will his court be in the streets or in The Hague?</p> <p>there will be no singular view of Gaddafi</p> <p>as with all dictators both his face</p> <p>and the way we see it</p> <p>is split</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="530" /></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item even"> Italy </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Italy Libya Conflict Democracy and government International politics Tjebbe van Tijen Thu, 25 Aug 2011 12:56:22 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 61060 at NATO’s collateral tyrannicide <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Will the killing of Osama Bin Laden bring justice and peace to the world? There is a growing body of evidence reaching back through the centuries, to suggest that it will not. </div> </div> </div> <p>The dust of the impact of <a href="">a NATO bomb on the compound of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya</a> &ndash; leaving some of his family members dead &ndash; has scarcely settled, when the news of the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan is proudly announced by the American president. Whereas the NATO spokesman denied purposefully targeting the Libyan head of state using the commonly used argument in such cases that the targeted object had a military-strategic function, the undercover operation of targeting and killing of Bin Laden &ndash; who is not a head of state and is considered an international outlaw &ndash; was triumphantly claimed by President Obama. Had Gaddafi been killed in the NATO attack, it would have been classified as &ldquo;a case of collateral tyrannicide.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES &lsquo;NO-FLY ZONE&rsquo; OVER LIBYA, AUTHORIZING &lsquo;ALL NECESSARY&nbsp;MEASURES&rsquo; TO PROTECT CIVILIANS, BY VOTE OF 10 IN FAVOUR WITH 5 ABSTENTIONS</em></p> <p>That is what &ldquo;<a href="">Resolution 1973&Prime;</a> of the Security Council in it&rsquo;s 6498th meeting on March 17, 2011 says. Whoever reads through the details sees: protection of civilians; No-fly zone&rsquo; ; enforcement of arms embargo; &nbsp;ban on flights; asset freeze; but nowhere mentioned is the option of eliminating a head of state, let alone targeting his life. On the contrary &ndash; in the same document &ndash; the Prosecutor of the International Court of Justice in The Hague is alerted to the possible targeting of the Libyan civilian population by its authorities, in order to call them to justice. Our modern courts do not pronounce justice any more on those of the accused who are dead.</p> <p><a href=""> <img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a></p> <p class="image-caption">In antiquity the slaying of a tyrant was seen as an honourable act, a self sacrifice for the public cause, but the institutional execution of murder by international associations of states seems to be of another order. One can not pretend to uphold a state of international justice on the one hand and order summary execution without trial of misbehaving heads of state at the other, because who will be the judge of such decisions? The same reasoning does apply to the execution of those who are labeled as terrorists. What Gaddafi, Bin Laden and Assad have in common is that they have been declared in public opinion as public enemies and as such in the political practice of today they stand almost no chance to be brought to court alive and face their judges. They are on the informal 'hit list' of legal representatives of state coalitions, designated to die violently. Will that serve the cause of justice and peace? (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p><a href="">&lsquo;Mission creep&rsquo;</a> has become a household word in today&rsquo;s international politics: half a war is started on a quarter of evidence whipped up in &lsquo;the news&rsquo; and those who may have a good historical insight in any of these areas of turmoil are the last to be consulted, as diplomatic options are cast aside in haste and overridden by military solutions. Politicians &ndash; with their own national and international agendas &ndash; are even competing in proposing faster and more efficient military approaches. What started off as a temporary intervention to prevent mass killings, pre-emptive strikes against the employment of mass murder weapons, and other direct threats against humanity, proves &nbsp;- in the longer term &ndash; to be an operation that is more of a&nbsp; &lsquo;problem maker&rsquo; than a &lsquo;problem solver&rsquo;. The military are saddled with practical questions diplomats are not able or not allowed to solve: is there a rational basis to deciding who is going to be helped, who needs to be attacked, who to be protected and what about bloody revenge in the aftermath of a state collapse?</p> <p>On the one hand there is the notion of sovereign states and the principle of non-intervention under international law and, on the other, &nbsp;the aim to protect human rights and prevent mass violence. &ldquo;Protection of civilians by all necessary means&rdquo; is the mission in the case of Libya. One should read the &ldquo;all necessary&rdquo; as acts that still need to be within the legal bounds of laws, agreements and regulations that form the foundation of the United Nations. The United Nations does not endorse the killing of a head of state, even when she or he is labelled as someone acting against their own population - known as a tyrant. Head of states do not have (anymore) full impunity, they can be called to justice: an International Criminal Court has been set up in The Hague which is supposed to pursue such persons. The killing of a tyrant &ndash; tyrannicide &ndash; is not supported by international law, however beneficial it may seem to be in short range. But, in law, one needs always to reverse the logic and ask the question: &ldquo;but, is it explicitly forbidden and if so where and how is that prohibition formulated?&rdquo;</p> <p>Two years ago this question was already raised in a thoroughgoing article by the scholar, Shannon Brincat in the &lsquo;Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy&rsquo; under the title <a href=";handle=hein.journals/ajlph34&amp;id=159">&ldquo;Legal Philosophy of Internationally Assisted Tyrannicide.&rdquo;</a> Brincat is not a lawyer but a political scientist and rightly focuses on the underlying historical principles of the practice of international law and tyrannicide as he looks back a few centuries, citing Gentili (1522-1608), Grotius (1583-1645) and Vattel (1714-1767) on the issue of whether it is acceptable to kill a tyrant, a person belonging to the classical legal category of &lsquo;hostis humani generis&rsquo; (common enemies of mankind). Brincat shows the acceptance of &lsquo;tyrannicide&rsquo; as a way to get rid of a despotic and cruel ruler abusing the public power, through history. The legitimacy of a ruler was thought to be based on a common bond with his subjects. When a ruler failed to work for the welfare of all, the bond would be nullified and murder could be contemplated to put an end to tyranny. Murder of a tyrant has been often an act of a private citizen for the common good of his fellow citizens. In some cases it has been classified as &lsquo;an act of self-defence&rsquo;.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" title="ObamaOperationGeronimo2" alt="" width="500" /></a></p> <p class="image-caption">&ldquo;It be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill.&rdquo; Hugo Grotius seen as the father of 'international law' in "On the Law of war and peace" (De Jure Belli ac Pacis; 1625. Book II, 10.), self defence not only after an attack but also to prevent it. Grotius uses all kind of classical references to support this point. The killing of tyrants is deeply embedded in human history and has also a strong presence in Renaissance art, whereby the biblical story in the Christian Old testament of Judith beheading Holofernes, an Assyrian general who is about to slaughter her besieged home town Betylua in Judea, is the most famous example. A gruesome deed, acted out by Judith as 'the hand of God'. Our forebears were not afraid of gruesome pictures as can be seen here in two of artistic renderings of this 'parable': 'The discovery of the murder of Holofernes' by Botticelli painted in 1472, and the sculpture by Donatello dramatising the same subject in 1460. The meaning of Donatello's sculpture in Firenze was an explicit political one, pointing to the liberty of the citizens to dispose of a tyrant if needed. The portrait to the right is of Grotius known by the Dutch as Hugo de Groot. (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>There is also the planned assassination of a tyrant of one state by those governing another state, in support of oppressed people trying to revolt. This needs to be clearly set apart from all kinds of inter-state conspiracy to bring down another power by treacherous acts. Brincat tries to distinguish all kind of murders arranged for political gain - assassinations - from the act of tyrannicide. He points to the context in which a murder is committed and how that can change its status, from being &lsquo;a war crime&rsquo; , a &lsquo;terrorist act&rsquo;, &lsquo;aggression against a state&rsquo;, or &lsquo;intervention in internal affairs&rsquo;. International regulations of war are documented in some detail in the article, like the many conventions of The Hague and Geneva over a period of one and a half centuries, whereby the &lsquo;treacherous killing of citizens&rsquo; has been formally forbidden, and more recently joined by the restricting of &lsquo;military covert action&rsquo;. In spite of all this, military practice never finally rids itself of this capacity, as it cannot work without using treacherous tactics, hence the constant trespassing of all limits laid down in whatever convention. In the theatre of war the old adage rules supreme: &ldquo;everything is lawful against enemies.&rdquo;</p> <p>The United Nations &nbsp;<a href="">&lsquo;New York Convention&rsquo;</a> &ndash; as it is known &ndash; in full Prevention and Punishment of Crime Against Internationally Protected Persons, dating from 1973, does give protection to heads of states, ministers, diplomats and their family outside of their country - this to support international diplomacy - but does not speak about the attempts on the lives of these same persons within their own country.</p> <p><em>The States Parties to this Convention, Having in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations concerning the maintenance of international peace and the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation among States, Considering that crimes against diplomatic agents and other internationally protected persons jeopardizing the safety of these persons create a serious threat to the maintenance of normal international relations which are necessary for cooperation among States, Believing that the commission of such crimes is a matter of grave concern to the international community, Convinced that there is an urgent need to adopt appropriate and effective measures for the prevention and punishment of such crimes (&hellip;) [Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons..; 14 December 1973]</em></p> <p>This omission creates a window of opportunity for everyone from legal advisers to military commanders as to the repercussions to be feared when targeting heads of state and their government echelon at home. In the recent case of the alleged targeting of Gaddafi and his family by NATO, this can still be seen as a &lsquo;hostile act of intervention in the internal affairs of a state&rsquo;, but there are loopholes in UN &lsquo;Resolution 1973&prime;. When an attack will be classified as an operation necessary &nbsp;to keep the forces of Gaddafi from attacking civilians, it suddenly is not illegal anymore. That the great leader or his family are hurt as a side effect is just &lsquo;their&rsquo; bad luck. Even when seated peacefully in his berber tent in an oasis next to a swimming pool, not engaged himself in the activity of his nearby entourage with their communication equipment who are busy commanding operations, Gaddafi can still be marked as a legitimate military target - Gaddafi being just a collateral victim.</p> <p><em>&ldquo;All NATO&rsquo;s targets are military in nature &hellip; We do not target individuals&rdquo; [NATO spokesman the Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Brussels May 1, </em><a href=""><em>as reported by Reuters</em></a><em>]</em></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" title="ObamaOperationGeronimo2" alt="" width="500" /></a></p> <p class="image-caption">When demonstrators change the labelling of a head of state this does not mean that the legal position of the person according to international law has been changed accordingly, there is still the process of law that needs "to investigate the alleged commission of war crimes" Press Release: 04.05.2011 of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International criminal Court in The Hague. (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>Heads of states &ndash; metamorphosed into tyrants or not &ndash; do not have international legal protection against attacks by other nations on their lives in their own country, as it has been thought obvious that local laws protect them sufficiently - any constitution secures the safety of its head of state. A situation that provoked President Ronald Reagan and his advisers to the cowboy tactics of <a href="">&ldquo;Operation El Dorado Canyon&rdquo;</a> was in 1986, when they bombed the headquarters of Colonel Gaddafi in retaliation for alleged Libyan support for several urban guerrilla actions in the period 1985-86, the last being a bomb attack on a dance in West-Berlin in April 1986 (frequented by American soldiers; 3 death and 230 people injured). The number of people that died in the USA revenge bomb attack vary in different sources, from 15 to 60, including an adopted daughter of Gaddafi (some say it was a post-mortem adoption for propaganda reasons). The American cowboy action was condemned by many countries and led to a resolution in the General Assembly of the United Nations (79 in favour, 28 against, 33 abstentions).The &rsquo;Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity&rsquo; also condemned this.</p> <p><em>Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity on the aerial and naval military attack against the Socialist People&rsquo;s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by the present United States Administration in April 1986:&nbsp;1. Condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People&rsquo;s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on 15 April 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law; 2. Calls upon the Government of the United States in this regard to refrain from the threat or use of force in the settlement of disputes and differences with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and to resort to peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (&hellip;) [</em><a href=""><em>A/RES/41/38 20 November 1986 78th plenary meeting</em></a><em>]</em></p> <p> <a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">The U.S. President Ronald Reagan meeting with bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress to discuss the air strike on Libya ("Operation El Dorado Canyon") in Room 208 of the Old Executive office building, 14 April 1986.</p> <p>The Iraq war of 2003 saw a repetition of such tactics: first, a plan to murder Saddam Hussein was devised and when that did not work, tons of bombs and missiles have been dropped on the palaces and bunkers of the &lsquo;head of state&rsquo;, while the mission was officially not aimed at a change of regime, or the killing of the &lsquo;tyrant&rsquo;. Mission creep on a grand scale&hellip;</p> <p>At the other end of the international juridical spectrum are &lsquo;the people&rsquo;, the whole population, and how they are protected by international law against their own government when it turns against them. They are not protected, as we all know, as the principle of our international community in its actual form, the United Nations, is based on its Charter that defines the association of sovereign states as the most basic principle. Any intrusion of this sovereignty of an existing government by an outer force can be labelled as &lsquo;intervention in internal affairs&rsquo;.</p> <p><em>All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations</em>. [<a href="">UN Charter article 2 (4)</a>]</p> <p>There are of course, since the 1948 &lsquo;Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide&hellip;&rsquo;, all kinds of mechanism to protect human rights and human lives, but the enforcement of these rights remains problematic. The Genocide Convention itself is limited by its origin to preventing repetition of the racially-based extermination policy of the Nazis and has proven useless when it came to mass killings with political or &lsquo;social class&rsquo; motives be it in China, Cambodia, or elsewhere.</p> <p>The principle of the right to &lsquo;self defence&rsquo; of individuals against an attacker is seen as customary and has found its way in all national laws, though many persons or groups that have been attacked by adversaries &ndash; be they local or national -&nbsp;and themselves defended,&nbsp;have found themselves categorised and treated as insurgents and outlaws by their local government.</p> <p>The right of self-defence has been attributed to states as sovereign entities also and laid down in international law, albeit in a limited form. For once the arbiter of inter-state conflicts, the Security Council of the United Nations, has sounded the alarm and undertaken measures, this self-defence right should no longer be invoked.</p> <p><em>Nothing in the present Charter impairs the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.&nbsp;[Article 51 of the UN Charter]</em></p> <p>Not everyone reads this UN Charter article in the same way. Niaz A.Shah has written a thirty page long article in 2007 in the &lsquo;Journal of Conflict and Security Law&rsquo; on the raging debate between international law professors and the different state and government bodies that pick from these various academic deliberations what serves them best. &ldquo;Self-defence, Anticipatory Self-defence and Pre-emption: International Law&rsquo;s Response to Terrorism&rdquo; is the title of his overview of this battlefield of law and it becomes clear that two main schools of interpretation can be distinguished: the &lsquo;restricted&rsquo; and &lsquo;expanded&rsquo;. It starts with the question of when self-defence begins and even more importantly when it ends, whereby the development of ever more deadly and extreme rapid delivery of weaponry effects, has shifted some of the initial argument, when a state could not react before it had been actually attacked, to a situation whereby suspicion of imminent attack is sufficient. The interpretation of what must be understood by the two words &ldquo;armed attack&rdquo; has also changed since the UN Charter has been drafted and signed in 1945, its intention being &ldquo;to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.&rdquo;</p> <p>Some states do see &lsquo;anticipatory self-defence&rsquo; as a statutory right and greatly widen its interpretation, like the &lsquo;pre-emptive strike against the terrorism strategy of US President George Bush. The impotence of the UN Security Council, its constant failure to act swiftly, its awkward system of five big states that can pronounce a veto over any proposal, is mentioned as the main reason why the idea of &ldquo;peaceful settlement&rdquo; of conflicts and the internationally controlled use of force by the United Nations constantly fails. The right to self-defence may thus &ndash; by some states &ndash; be put above international law.</p> <p>At the time of the writing of the UN Charter, international conflicts were solely seen as between states, but the non-state based phenomenon of international terrorism has altered that view. Does article 51 of the UN Charter also apply to non-state actors like al-Qaeda? when can one state be held responsible for such non-state terrorist actors? and can the principle of self-defence of a state be stretched to such an extent that a supposed host of terrorists can be attacked, either in reactive self-defence, or as a pre-emptive strike to prevent suspected future attacks? &ldquo;We cannot let our enemy strike first&rdquo; or &ldquo;We cannot just wait and accept our fate like a sitting duck&rdquo;, are the well-known arguments that at first sound pretty convincing.</p> <p>Niaz A.Shah cites a counter argument by Professor J. Lobel who refers to the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan in response to terrorist attacks in an article in Yale Journal of International Law published in 1999:</p> <p><em>It is untenable for international law to permit one nation to attack another merely because it alone claims that a group operating in the other country is launching terrorist attacks against it. Such a rule would obliterate the prohibition against the use of force, as unsubstantiated claims by a single state would become the new legal predicate for the use of force. Those who urge a looser interpretation of Article 51 have yet to prescribe a viable method of ensuring that self-serving characterisation of facts are subject to some clear legal standard and international oversight.</em></p> <p>The Security Council issued in 2001 Resolution number 1368 as a reaction on the 9/11 terrorist attack: &ldquo;to bring to justice the perpetrators.&rdquo; Has justice been done now, since Osama Bin Laden has been shot dead in an undercover operation in Pakistan? A great nation like the United States of America at war with a non-nation like al-Qaeda, does that mean that on the one hand legality of &lsquo;self defence&rsquo; based on article 51 of the UN Charter is used, while on the other no &lsquo;rule or law of war&rsquo; seem to apply in the way this new kind of anti-terrorist battle is fought.</p> <p>It has dawned on me that the supposed killing in battle of Osama Bin Laden, applauded worldwide as a victory of justice, has all the aspects of a classical act of &lsquo;tyrannicide&rsquo;. David George of Cambridge University published in 1988 - in the year that al-Qaeda has been founded and was not yet widely known &nbsp;- an article entitled &ldquo;Distinguishing Classical Tyrannicide from Modern Terrorism&rdquo; in &lsquo;The review of Politics&rsquo;. In his summary is this concluding statement: &ldquo;Terrorism, in short, is a form of tyranny of which tyrannicide is a negation.&rdquo; George sees &lsquo;terrorism&rsquo; and &lsquo;tyrannicide&rsquo; as different antagonistic categories even when some of the assassinations perpetrated by modern terrorists are seen &ndash; by some &ndash; as &lsquo;self-denying acts for the public good&rsquo; (&lsquo;one man&rsquo;s terrorist is another man&rsquo;s hero&rsquo;). Bin Laden thus has become the emperor reigning over a non-state imperium, whose death has liberated us from a cruel reign.</p> <p> <a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">A painting one could imagine awaiting a central place in the Oval Office of the White House with the title "Geronimo-EKIA", meaning "Bin Laden - Enemy Killed in Action", Geronimo referring to the Indian Apache fighter against Mexican and American settlers colonising his land; a peculiar historical reference chosen as an operation name by the CIA. Though White House sources have stated that the actually killing has not been broadcasted live to the command centre of the President and the CIA, we see Obama and Clinton with their staff watching something 'we' are not allowed to see. Those who were present, they do the looking for us, like the official representatives during an execution in a state prison. The intentions and effects of this purposely made and widely distributed photograph by the official White House photographer are multiple. One of the possible interpretations is that this photograph makes us 'witnesses' the 'historical witnessing' by others, implicitly acknowledging the legality of the operation. On the drawer of the Oval Office we see a bust of President Abraham Lincoln who proposed once the following inscription for the Great Seal of the United States: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God." (click picture for a detailed view) (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p><a href="">US Attorney General Eric Holder speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 4th.</a> said it was &ldquo;an act of national self-defense&rdquo; &nbsp;and &ldquo;lawful.&rdquo;&nbsp;Tyrannicide as an act of state self-defence? The tyrant killed in battle, ending his unjust cause. In the case of Bin Laden one can hardly speak about a pre-emptive strike or &lsquo;bringing someone to justice&rsquo;, though the distinction between &ldquo;Enemy Killed In Battle&rdquo; and &lsquo;<a href="">summary execution</a>&lsquo; has &ndash; in practice &ndash; always been hard to make. The internationally approved rules in no way allow a killing on the spot without a prior judgment. The Geneva Convention of 1977 has a special paragraph forbidding it.</p> <p><em>&ldquo;Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No man shall be deprived of his life arbitrarily.&rdquo; &ldquo;[The Death] penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court&rdquo; &ndash; ICCPR Articles 6.1 and 6.2.[1]</em></p> <p>One of the most classic cases of tyrannicide is by a group of senators, jointly stabbing emperor Julius Caesar to death in the hall of the Senate. &nbsp;This is more an example of a &lsquo;preemptive strike&rsquo; than an execution or revenge. The royal ambitions and proposed absolute rule of the &lsquo;dictator perpetuo&rsquo; of the Republic of Rome, had to be halted. The conspirators abandoned the corpse of Caesar on the spot where he was killed and ran through the streets of Rome shouting &ldquo;People of Rome, we are once again free!&rdquo; Not many responded and curiously enough the fact that they left the body of Caesar was also to their disadvantage as it became a symbol for his followers later. The abandoning of the body of Bin Laden right after his violent death may suggest that some classicists on the team prepared the operation in Pakistan.</p> <p> <a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p><p class="image-caption">The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCA here in an eighteenth century depiction of the the Italian painter Vincenzo Camuccini was a joint undertaking of a group of noblemen having the position of senators, who were fearing loss of their influence, something they saw a congruent with the safeguard of the liberties and influence of the people in the politics of the Republic of Rome. It set a series of events in motion that ended in civil war and the destruction of the same 'republic' they intended to safe. The centralising of power in the hands of one man as initiated by Caesar became after all practice in the later Roman Empire. Strangely - till this day - the assassination of Caesar is proposed as a successful prominent example of tyrannicide.</p> <p>Humanitarian intervention by other states or international associations of states may be the only way to alter an unbearable state of suffering for the main part of a population, but however noble the incentive, practice may prove to be different in many cases. Imposed change of regime from the outside, the invasion to establish democracy, we have seen how such undertakings can develop into yet another human disaster in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The question remains, if a change of regime is imposed, is it aimed just at a dictator or at a set of rulers, or is it &lsquo;the system of government&rsquo; which is targeted. Who is to judge and on what premises?</p> <p>Brincat mentions recent proposals for possible legal endorsement &ndash; in special cases &ndash; of the act of tyrannicide, in order to halt the extreme suffering of a population, and he also notes its drawbacks.</p> <p><em>&ldquo;As many have warned the danger is that a unilateral assessment of tyranny could become a Trojan horse and may corrupt tyrannicide to an asymmetrical right only of powerful states.&rdquo; [</em><a href=";handle=hein.journals/ajlph34&amp;id=190"><em>page 182 of his article</em></a><em>]</em></p> <p>Is that not what we observe these days? Who makes the so-called &lsquo;tyrant hit list&rsquo;: who will be on it? Who will have enough power to execute it? What about all those who do not agree with such irrevocable acts? &nbsp;High technology aerial attacks on a head of state &ndash; or premises that are felt to be symbolic for a nation&rsquo;s pride &ndash; by an outside force can also have the counter-effect of rallying a nation around a national leader in demise, as was the case after the NATO bombardments on Serbia in 1999 and the increase of support it elicited for President Slobodan Milo&scaron;evi&#263;, who could play out his new role as a victim of NATO aggression. It is not surprising that till this day, this NATO bombardment, meant to protect the Albanians in Kosovo, is not forgotten in Serbia and remains a political rallying point for ultra nationalists like the Serbian &lsquo;Radical Party&rsquo; of Vojislav Seselj (who is on trial at the Yugoslav Court in the Hague) a party who staged a pro-Gaddafi demonstration in Belgrade on March 27 this year.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">Left: March 20 demonstration outside the compound of Gaddafi in Tripoli who say to form a human shield to protect their leader against attacks of Coalition forces. Right: Pro-Gaddafi demonstration in front of the Belgrade House of Parliament by Serbian ultra nationalists on March 27th. Some may call these demonstrators blinded zealots following the wrong cause, but one should consider that aerial attacks by a foreign military force will create antagonistic feeling toward the powers bombing in broad layers of the population of a country being hit by it. (Tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>There are other arguments against the act of &lsquo;tyrannicide&rsquo; especially when arranged or perpetrated from the outside, by other nations and other interest groups (like multinationals), not part of the nation that suffers tyranny. It distorts the social relations of a society &ndash; already in turmoil &ndash; with a foreign element which tends to be outside the scope of control of the population in question. It hinders the social revolution, apparently on its way. In the process of the shifting of power it puts its weight only on one scale and thus disfavours genuine equalitarian forms of change.<br />It also puts too much emphasis on &lsquo;the one supreme leader&rsquo; whereas each tyrant is a complex social system of alliances, with many collaborators that will be all too happy that the head of the tyrant is cut while the social body of the tyrant may life on for quiet a while or never vanish.</p> <p>We should be aware that there is no great difference between &lsquo;tyrannicide&rsquo; and &lsquo;revenge judgement&rsquo;. The hurried execution of the Rumanian dictator Ceausescu and his wife and the speedy trial and hanging of Saddam Hussein and only a selected group of his associates, are examples to bear in mind. When we think about long-lived regimes like the one of Saddam Hussein, the Assad family and Gaddafi, there must be all kind of entangled social layers related in many ways to the ruling system. For such societies to reassess themselves is a cumbersome and long process and the concept of &lsquo;Voluntary Servitude&rsquo; as formulated by Etienne de la Bo&eacute;tie (1530-1563) already centuries ago, must be born in mind. The text is also known in French as <em>Le Contr&rsquo;un</em> which translates in English as the AntiDictator. Any usurper of power needs enough willing people to make him the ruler he is. A society must come to recognize how this process of mental and physical enslavement took place in order to find the right remedies to heal its historical wounds.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">In September 2006 Gaddafi was celebrated as the 'knight of 40 years of Green Revolution'. A year later the habitual commemorative series of stamps was published "The 41st Anniversary of the September Revolution" by the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"; Jamahiriya meaning "the state of the masses." (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>As with the tyrants of the family Assad, Saddam Hussein (*) and Colonel Gaddafi, world leaders have been supportive of their regimes for decades for all kind of reasons: the stability of the Middle East and the position of Israel, a state opposing Iran and its ambitions after the fall of the western-oriented Shah, leading to indirect support of one of the most bloody post World War II wars, the one between Iraq and Iran. Other reasons are oil, gas and nuclear power contracts some of them signed only recently by the same political leaders of the Coalition Forces now involved in the military containment and overthrow of Gaddafi&rsquo;s state. What about the economic interests colouring their vision? One can observe that shifts of power also imply shifts of political relationships, like the recent visit of a trade mission of the People&rsquo;s Republic of China to Cairo, after the fall of Mubarak.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">Pictures from the family albums of heads of state to remember meeting Colonel Gaddafi: Putin, Chavez, Zapatero, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Hosni Mubarak, Mandela, Blair, Brown, Berlusconi, Chirac, Sarkozy, Obama. (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>The choice for military force, the attempts at collateral killing of Gaddafi, leaves no space for the later appearance in any court &ndash; be it Libyan or International &ndash; of Gaddafi. Imagine this: Gaddafi taking the stage to defend himself, what might he have to say about his former powerful friends? Just the idea&hellip; better have him dead! Images of the process of Saddam Hussein come to mind, with the judge hammering off his public statements.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">A simulated targeting view of the compound of Gaddafi in Tripoli. The inset shows Nicolas Sarkozy during his state visit to Libya in 2007 standing next to Gaddafi in front of the monument commemorating the bombardment ordered by USA President Ronal Reagan in 1986 of the same compound he is standing in. This year March Sarkozy has been involved in the bombardment of the same spot. (tableau by Tjebbe van Tijen)</p> <p>Are we ready yet for a real functioning of an <a href="">International Criminal Court</a> that prosecutes individuals and their crimes in an impartial fashion? A process of judgment that will create the space necessary for rebuilding in a nation what has been destroyed, a minimal common bond between the people and its government? The double-talk we see now on the international stage of politics is one of human rights protection and the necessity of some form of democracy in Libya this time, in Syria soon. What is supposed to bring about such a change remains limited to long distance military force: &lsquo;Big Stick Policy&rsquo;. Under such dire circumstances who will appear, and who will be dead before they can face their judges, here on earth?</p> <p> <a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="500" /></a> </p> <p class="image-caption">'Big Stick Policy' in American cartoons from 1902 Roosevelt to 2011 Obama. Roosevelt attributed the term 'big stick' he started to use in 1900 to an African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." The same metaphor comes back now-a-days in modern political cartoons with Obama speaking with Hillary Clinton who holds behind her back a big stick: "Hillary I trust you will speak softly and carry a big stick", with a think balloon of Clinton saying "Always."</p> <p>In conclusion, will peace be served by state-led tyrannicide and assassination? I think not. The way a regime is changed determines the next one to come. &nbsp;There is now more than half a century of experience of how to apply international justice. The limitations of the victor courts of justice of Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War II have long been surpassed. The examples of national and international courts for Yugoslavia, Uganda, Cambodia, Sudan, Congo, and so on, whatever their shortcomings, point the way. The emphasis should be on the suppression of tyranny by the rule of law. (**)</p> <p>&mdash;&mdash;</p> <p>*) See my interactive <a href="">Meta-Map of Saddam Hussein &nbsp;1927-2007</a> (published in the Dutch Daily de Volkskrant in the year 2006)</p> <p>**) <a href=",%20but%20targeting%20him%20is%20wrong%20In%20war,%20international%20law%20is%20all%20we%20have.%20If%20we%20cast%20it%20aside,%20there'll%20be%20nothing%20left%20but%20might-is-right,%20arms,%20oil%20and%20profits">Jackie Ashley wrote a comment in the Guardian of Sunday May 1</a>. &ldquo;Few would weep for Colonel Gaddafi, but targeting him is wrong. In war, international law is all we have. If we cast it aside, there&rsquo;ll be nothing left but might-is-right, arms, oil and profits.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Pakistan Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Shock and Awe: one hundred years of bombing from above Shock and Awe - OpenDemocracy Bombing Archive Tjebbe van Tijen Sat, 07 May 2011 12:00:45 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 59338 at Wilders and the Dutch press: scapegoater hunted down as a witch <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Judgmental journalism directed at members of parliament is an orchestrated form of ‘mob-justice’ in the Netherlands today. Self-appointed media watchdogs present a bigger danger to society than the persons they pursue </div> </div> </div> <p>A neo-<a href="">McCarthyism</a> is flooding the Low Countries these days with the Islamophobe law &amp; order PVV party of Wilders being hunted down by almost the whole spectre of 'respectable' Dutch news media. Five of the 24 PVV members of parliament appear to have some sort of <a href=";ers-wordt-gesel-in-handen-oppositie.ece">criminal record</a>, though most of these for minor violations. The hunters of the PVV, chasing what they see as persons and behaviours that threaten their image of what the Netherlands should be, have now become prey themselves. The media that have served Wilders and the PVV and helped them to rise to power, have now turned against them. Party chief <a href="">Wilders</a> started today to send around one of his <a href="">famous</a> Twitter comments to newspapers complaining about what he feels is an orchestrated persecution.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="530" height="205" /></p> <p>It makes me feel queasy. This burrowing of the media into the past of PVV members starts to look like a common or garden witch hunt. So, I for one will no longer be party to this.</p> <p>When one reads the sensational front page articles and watches prime time television programmes over the last few days, one is meant to conclude that members of parliament should have have had no intercourse with real life in their pasts. Parliamentarians should be as innocent as lambs. As in the shivering early years of the Cold War, every member of parliament is checked and each sidestep in the career of any politician is dredged from the deep and smelly wastebins of history. A few days ago, one of the commercial television companies, RTL, formally <a href="">asked</a> all the parties in the Dutch parliament which of their members in the Second Chamber (<a href="">Tweede kamer</a>) had a criminal record. Of the 150 members, 149 answered this question. One member refused at first, but later gave in when confronted with some driving-under-the-influence-of-alcohol incident, a decade or so ago. This call to confess by RTL Television News may have its origin in complaints about their alleged bias toward Wilders and the PVV. The outcome has been 7 members of parliament with a formal criminal record of which &ndash; as said before &ndash; 5 belong to the parliamentary fraction of the PVV.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>In the year 2008, the other side of the political spectrum was attacked by the same media who always present themselves as the legitimatized representative of an abstraction called &lsquo;public opinion&rsquo; - as the watchdogs that protect the requisite &lsquo;credibility&rsquo; of &lsquo;representatives of the people&rsquo;. A politician of the Green Left Party, <a href="">Wijnand Duyvendak</a>, felt compelled to give up his seat in parliament because of his &ndash; previously known &ndash; involvement in radical direct actions against nuclear energy a few decades back. A carefully-selected tactical moment of media amplification of this dated piece of public knowledge, was sufficient to bring about his fall. All this media hunting is done with the implied intention of supporting &lsquo;democracy&rsquo; by cleansing the house of representatives of anybody having whatever &lsquo;criminal record&rsquo;. The assumption of these &lsquo;righteous press campaigns&rsquo; is that elected representatives should have no criminal or any other kind of controversial past. The house of parliament appears &ndash; in this vision &ndash; to be some kind of church solely populated by purified and canonized saints.</p> <p>This premise is more destructive than supportive of a system of elected representatives. Society has more to offer than innocent lambs: and national crime statistics show this clearly. Sanctions (sancties) and sentences (veroordelingen) range into the hundreds of thousands. There is something positive to be said for the experience of &lsquo;unclean&rsquo; members of parliament. First of all, the definition of &lsquo;<a href="">crime</a>&rsquo; is always shifting, so that squatting has become a criminal act in the Netherlands only recently, and maybe soon smoking soft drugs will becoming a punishable offence, whereas hitherto these activities were tolerated. Ex-criminals and ex-offenders in parliament may help to tone down hard-liners with neither social understanding nor human empathy. Deviancy in someone&rsquo;s career &ndash; also in the political party domain &ndash; should be verified and accepted. The prevailing witchhunt mentality we see now has the opposite effect. Politicians try to hide their past and tend to pursue even more extreme repressive policy measures (if only to cover up their own past inclinations).</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The <a href="">notion</a> of what is &lsquo;criminal&rsquo; has as many shades of colour as a rainbow: from almost legal <a href="">white collar crime</a> committed by those who mostly manage to stay out of prison, to the &lsquo;<a href="">blue collar criminals</a>&lsquo; that are picked up from the streets and make up the main population of our state prisons. When any citizen who has committed a crime reaches the point of a conviction and subsequent punishment, there is one social rule that applies: for any given case of law-breaking, the matter ha been settled. The &lsquo;criminal&rsquo; has become an &lsquo;ex-criminal&rsquo; who should be helped to reintegrate into society. Such a basic humane understanding of social relations has disappeared from the media landscape and been replaced with the practice of eager journalists acting like witch-hunters from some twenty-first century Inquisition.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Wilders and his &lsquo;Party of Freedom&rsquo; (PVV) &ndash; well-known for their scapegoating of Muslims and other <a href="">&lsquo;Non-Western-Allochtones&rsquo;</a> &ndash; are now targets themselves. Such sudden changes in the direction in which the cleansing wind of media attention blows, do occur. The &lsquo;line of legality&rsquo; is never straight, bending this or another way constantly as power relations in society change. Side-stepping from what is supposed to be &lsquo;the correct path&rsquo; may happen to anyone. But there is an established juridical system to judge both the perpetrators and the laws they may have ignored. Additional levels of punishment should be avoided. A democracy cannot allow the &lsquo;<a href="">faux pas&rsquo;</a> of one of its citizens to be met with eternal damnation. Disqualification from active voting and passive voting (being a candidate for parliament) <a href="">can be imposed by a court decision</a>, but the cases in which this is possible are very much restricted. This is for a good reason. The right to vote and to be elected are constitutional rights. Criminal acts against the head of state or attempts to overthrow a government are specifically mentioned as a basis for exclusion from voting. There are <a href="">hardly any cases of disqualification from voting or election</a> in the Netherlands over the last decades.</p> <p>I see such judgmental journalism directed at members of parliament as an orchestrated &lsquo;mob-justice&rsquo;, presenting a bigger danger to society than the persons pursued by it. Over the years I have come to the opinion that, &lsquo;the enemies of my enemies are not necessarily my friends&rsquo;. I will rejoice in the demise of Wilders and his PVV, but I would prefer that this happens on the basis of a more generalized understanding of the faulty premises in their xenophobic argumentation. The PVV is primed at any moment to take up the cause of the lower middle or middle class underdog. Victimhood always has been an effective political weapon.</p> <p>The former Prince of the Netherlands, husband of the deceased Queen Juliana, had a long history of trespassing over the lines drawn by the law, from causing car accidents to accepting dirty money for weapon deals and being involved in conspiracies against another state, only to mention a few of his misdeeds. All this was somehow accommodated over decades in such a way that the Prince did not ever have to face a public court. It is a grotesque example of the double standards of law- abiding officialdom in the Netherlands who &ndash; on the other hand &ndash;have no scruples whatsoever in prosecuting someone with fewer royal credentials.</p> <p>Structurally speaking, this whole cleansing fury functions as a media smokescreen for the draconian economic measures being pursued by this peculiar minority government coalition of VVD liberals (31 seats) and CDA Christians (21 seats), with the extra-governmental PVV of Wilders conditionally supporting a government which is hostage to his voting machine (24 seats), deemed criminal or not. (In the Dutch House of Representatives, 76 seats creates what is called a &lsquo;democratic majority&rsquo;: i.e. half of the 150 seats +1).</p> <p>However contemptible Wilders and his PVV movement is, their involvement in &lsquo;white collar&rsquo; and &lsquo;fountain pen&rsquo; crime is &ndash; to date &ndash; negligeable in comparison with the older, more embedded parties with their long histories in the governance of the country (be they on the right, left or in the middle of the political spectrum). Theft on a gigantic scale - such as the channeling away in the 1990&rsquo;s of 25 thousand million Euro from the reserves of the largest Dutch Pension Fund for civil service workers, ABP, to be <a href="">disclosed</a> this coming Saturday in a television programme by a former investment director of that fund, Jan Frijns,&nbsp;will most probably not even rank as an &lsquo;economic crime&rsquo;. It will almost certainly instead be classified as a &lsquo;<a href="">governmental budget policy measure</a>&rsquo; of that period.</p> <p>Critical self-reflection on the part of the Dutch media with respect to their role in the recent blamefests is rare, and when it occurs it is only offered as a sideshow, like an editorial comment on the Wilders Witch Hunt by the national News Hour television programme (Nieuwsuur), not broadcast, but hidden away somewhere in <a href="">writing</a> on their web blog&hellip;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Netherlands </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Netherlands Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Tjebbe van Tijen Tue, 30 Nov 2010 22:27:38 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 57035 at Tjebbe van Tijen <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tjebbe van Tijen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tjebbe van </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tijen </div> </div> </div> <p>Tjebbe van Tijen was curator of the department for the documentation of “modern social movements” at the University of Amsterdam and in the International Institute of Social History. </p><p>He works as a multi-media artist under the name <a href="" target="_blank">Imaginary Museum</a>, making interactive installations to dramatise history. He now works for the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong developing a visual narrative education system'.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tjebbe van Tijen works as a multi-media artist under the name &lt;a href= target=_blank&gt;Imaginary Museum&lt;/a&gt;, making inter-active installations to dramatise history. </div> </div> </div> Tjebbe van Tijen Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:15:42 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 52651 at The sorrow of the Netherlands <i>The renowned British historian, Simon Schama, opened his epic portrait of the golden age of Dutch culture with the words: &#147;It is the peculiar genius of the Dutch to seem, at the same time, familiar and incomprehensible&#148;. In the days after the killing of Pim Fortuyn, it could be said that the resonance of this singular judgment came to be shared by the people of the Netherlands themselves.</i><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="remembering Pim Fortuyn" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>(click for collage and poem)</i></span> </div><i>In the most painful and shocking of circumstances, and under the intense, unexpected gaze of the world&#146;s media, they became collaborators in a new enterprise: making sense of a still familiar but suddenly incomprehensible social landscape. </i><p> For a country, as for an individual, putting oneself under honest scrutiny can be a difficult as well as a necessary task. It is also one that, inevitably, generates insights and understandings that are different to those produced by outside scrutiny. Without these, no larger truth is possible. </p><p> This, then, is a first attempt to communicate to a mainly non-Dutch audience, some elements of politics and society in the Netherlands that form the background to the crisis the Dutch people are now living through. It is merely an overture, an invitation to the familiar strangeness of this northern European country of sixteen million inhabitants. </p><p> <b>Puncturing harmony: politics in the Dutch lands</b> </p><p> Every few decades Dutch party politics seem to need a shake-up and a wake-up to re-establish the power balance of the social forces in the country, be they good or bad. Just before and after the Second World War, the NSB (Dutch Fascist Party) and the Communist Party had brief periods of sharply rising support. In the early 1960s, three new parties successively emerged: the Boerenpartij (a protest party of farmers fighting the rationalisation of agricultural production), the Amsterdam-based Provos (an anarchist mockery of the parliamentary system as such), and D66 (Democrats 1966, a party advocating reform of the Dutch parliamentary system, including referenda). </p><p> Some of these parties (NSB, Boerenpartij) have vanished completely from the political scene. Others fused some of their ideas and membership into what could be called &#145;regrouping parties&#146;, new entities made up of bits and pieces of minor older parties, like Groen Links (Green Left, a funny fusion of former communists, Maoists, pacifists and radical Christians). </p><p> In the 1990s, a stable governmental alliance between Social Democrats (PvdA), free market Liberals (VVD), and the reformist D66 ran the country, consigning the main Christian Democratic Party (CDA) to a minor role on the opposition benches. This troika is labelled &#145;purple&#146; in Dutch &#150; the mix of the three party colours: red, blue and green. </p><p> This decade of &#145;purple&#146; politics in the Netherlands was in itself a break with a much longer tradition of power sharing, in many cabinets, of the PvdA and the CDA, with one or two smaller parties added to make up a governmental majority. </p><p> <b>The end of purple stability</b> </p><p> The shake-up to this recent period of &#145;purple rule&#146; had its first expression in local elections, with many locally initiated parties &#150; often called Leefbaar-(Liveable) followed by the name of a village or town. The issues raised by these parties varied depending on the particular area. But in general they focused on &#145;quality of life&#146; issues: recurring elements were environmental, housing, and traffic problems, and sometimes also questions about &#145;foreigners&#146;, be it the influx of refugees or lamentations about the lack of adaptation of other nations, religions and cultures to Dutch society. </p><p> After the success of such Leefbaar parties in some bigger cities in the mid-1990s, an initiative was made to try to bundle this locally dispersed force into a national Leefbaar Nederland party. </p><p> <b>A short-lived reign</b> </p><p> The bundling of loose parts implies the use of a binding element, and little coherence could be found in the diverse assembly of many of those local parties. Also, the initiators of the new Leefbaar Nederland party did not manage to formulate a coherent party philosophy or programme. So, as in older days when a new nation was looking for a king to help force a diverse population into a unified state, they started looking for a leader. </p><p> Soon a king was found and crowned in the person of a commentator on Dutch social and economic affairs, a former professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, a &#145;coming out&#146; homosexual, and a provocative public debater: Pim Fortuyn. </p><p> But his reign over the new national party, which he was supposed to lead into the national elections on 15 May 2002, could be counted in days. Fortuyn&#146;s strong statements on controversial issues, like the lack of integration of Muslims in Dutch society and the halt to accepting more refugees, led to a polarisation of public opinion. The disapproval extended also within the &#145;eclectic&#146; structure of Leefbaar Nederland itself, with its base in many local and differing single- (or dual-) issue component parties. </p><p> Though some of these local party voters could associate themselves with Fortuyn&#146;s views on &#145;foreigners&#146; and &#145;integration&#146;, it certainly was not the highest common factor among them. A congress of Leefbaar Nederland even voted against such ideas and policies. </p><p> <b>Fear of foreigners</b> </p><p> Why, then, was Pim Fortuyn asked at all to become the leader and public &#145;face&#146; of this party? The answer is to be found in the Dutch mass media &#150; television, radio and the written press. </p><p> Fortuyn&#146;s own position as a former columnist for a conservative weekly, <i>Elsevier</i>, his close relations with some Dutch television figures (especially on the commercial RTL channels), and most of all the irresistible attraction of his flamboyant figure that was making the rather dull Dutch political debate tasty again, meant that more and more journalists were eager to interview him, host his presence, have him join their debating table. </p><p> Selecting Fortuyn as party leader of Leefbaar Nederland meant a secure ticket to a lot of media exposure; it was the fastest and cheapest way to reach a mass audience. He had the charisma that the already bickering founders of this new party certainly had not. The leadership of the Leefbaar Nederland party was aware of Fortuyn&#146;s &#145;soloist&#146; tendencies, and the possible incompatibility of his views with part of its membership. At the same time they gambled, as they knew that some of Fortuyn&#146;s views &#150; giving expression to widespread &#145;xenophobic&#146; sentiments in Dutch society &#150; could attract growing support (it should be noted that the word &#145;xenophobic&#146; means &#145;fear&#146; of foreigners and certainly not &#145;hatred&#146; of foreigners). </p><p> <b>Free speech champion</b> </p><p> It was, then, a double-dealing policy &#150; trying to reach out to a wide spectrum of the electorate, both progressive and conservative &#150; with Fortuyn as the Janus-faced priest. Fortuyn was to be allowed to express his radical views on religion and the position of foreigners, but not too explicitly, as that would alienate the more tolerant potential voters. </p><p> The problem was that Pim Fortuyn behaved like an absolute, not a constitutional monarch. He continued to express his ideas freely, and to make provocative statements. An article in the national daily <i>De Volkskrant</i> in early 2002 ended his leadership of the Leefbaar Nederland party. The article not only inveighed against the &#145;backwardness&#146; of Muslim culture, it also announced that, once in power, Fortuyn would close Dutch borders to all refugees. </p><p> Moreover, Fortuyn stated that the amendment to the first article of the Dutch fundamental law in 1983, forbidding discrimination (&#147;on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, or sex or on any other grounds&#148;), should be scrapped, as it contradicted the older and more fundamental constitutional article protecting &#147;freedom of expression&#148; (article 7: &#147;No one shall require prior permission to publish thoughts or opinions through the press, without prejudice to the responsibility of every person under the law&#148;). </p><p> Fortuyn paradoxically also made reference, in this controversial interview, to the dangers of Muslim fundamentalists in the Netherlands wanting to deny him free expression of his homosexuality. As Fortuyn refused to recant his public statements, emphasising the need to be true to his convictions, he was relieved of his office by those he was supposed to lead. All this happened in the full glare of the media, making Fortuyn into a champion of free speech, the &#145;only one&#146; in the nation who dared to speak his mind in public. </p><p> <b>Landslide victory</b> </p><p> Ejected from his throne at Leefbaar Nederland, Fortuyn had to found his own kingdom. He turned defeat into a victory, waving from his car at the press after he left the party meeting that had dismissed him, shouting &#147;Watch me, I will be the next prime minister of this country!&#148; </p><p> With a small group of followers, Fortuyn created a new party and within a few weeks rose spectacularly in the opinion polls. In his home town, Rotterdam, he won a landslide victory in the local elections, ending over half a century of social democrat rule (although other places, like the city of Amsterdam, were hardly touched by the &#145;Fortuyn effect&#146;). </p><p> After these municipal elections, some opinion polls suggested that Fortuyn&#146;s new national party (Lijst Fortuyn) could become the second biggest political force in the Netherlands. As the established political parties saw their support shrink by the day, they were forced to direct their fire against the high-profile leader of this brand new party composed of otherwise obscure or indistinct figures. </p><p> <b>Such labels do not fit</b> </p><p> Fortuyn publicly employed a sharp, attacking rhetoric, and received the same in return. The usual vocabulary, made up of names and notions related to former dictators, was applied to him. Possible resemblances to Hitler, Himmler and Mussolini were tested, and the old pair of scissors to cut the social tissue in two halves could be found in many people&#146;s hands &#150; left and right, right and wrong &#150; depending on their position in the political field. </p><p> Fortuyn was placed, from the beginning, on the &#145;right&#146; side of this imaginary cutting line, which has its roots in the English parliament and the French assembly of two centuries and more ago: &#145;left&#146; being those who want movement and change, &#145;right&#146; those who want to fix and preserve. (One may ask if any society can be represented at all by such a simplified dichotomy. At best the terms &#145;left&#146; and &#145;right&#146; are mere markers on a scale on which opposing political forces in a particular society and at a particular historical moment can be compared.) </p><p> In the context of Pim Fortuyn and the Netherlands, this simplified dichotomy made little sense: after all, it was the &#145;right&#146; which wanted radical change and the &#145;left&#146; which was defending what they had attained. Yet demonic comparisons with actual political and religious figures from other countries were used by both sides in the election campaign. Fortuyn made a grotesque comparison between Osama bin Laden and elderly lady Els Borst, the Democrat party minister of health, because she had failed to shorten hospital waiting lists (thus, in Fortuyn&#146;s vision, costing more human lives than the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre). Fortuyn in return was labelled as the Dutch Le Pen, Haider and Berlusconi. (He refuted all but the last comparison, perhaps because of a shared fondness for smart suits.) </p><p> Only in hindsight is this atmosphere of harsh rhetoric an element of the tragedy of 6 May; that explains why literally everybody, for or against Fortuyn, was so stunned by the violent act of one individual who went (for reasons still unknown) out of his mind and killed. Of course these glib labels do not really &#145;fit&#146; and they do little to explain the realities of Dutch politics or society. Rather, this society needs to be explained, even by the Dutch to themselves, first of all in its own terms. </p><p> <b>Fragments of Dutch identity</b> </p><p> What are the relevant characteristics of Dutch society that are part of the &#145;deep background&#146; of this extraordinary event in the country&#146;s history, the murder of Pim Fortuyn? It is both too early and too late to make more than a preliminary sketch, so here are just a few pointers on the way: </p><p> It is a country that has a tradition, over centuries, of covering up social differences and problems: with elaborate charity distribution systems within its own borders, yet a ruthless slave trade and exploitation of people in distant colonies. </p><p> It is a country that has been able successfully to link freedom of trade with freedom of expression (in that order!). </p><p> It is a country that has accepted religious refugees while at the same time selling weapons or war services to the same nations people were fleeing from. </p><p> It is a country where opposing Christian churches, at last, learned to compromise, be it partly for financial reasons, with no mass killings of Catholics once the Protestants got into power (like the alteration of power in Amsterdam in 1587: an &#147;un-bloody revolution&#148;). </p><p> It is a country that has been a republic with a prince, and became a kingdom with monarchical socialists. </p><p> It is a country that was unable to protect its Jewish minority against the Nazis. </p><p> It is a country that fought a nasty colonial war half a century ago in Indonesia and still has not come to terms with it (as reflected in the war&#146;s official title, <i>politionele acties</i> or &#147;police actions&#148;). </p><p> It is a country where homosexuals have been able to become emancipated and where women&#146;s emancipation, in the economic sense, is lagging behind. </p><p> It is a country where the defeat of the proletariat by consumerism was declared thirty-five years ago (by the Provo movement). </p><p> It is a country where the art of repressive tolerance as a policy instrument has been flowering for decades. </p><p> It is a country where the membership and dense structure of volunteer civil organisations in all fields of life far exceeds that in any political organisation. </p><p> It is a country that tries to accommodate thriving Surinam and Antillean communities composed of people whose ancestors were once its slaves, and has some difficulties in sharing its prosperity with the <i>gastarbeiders</i> (literally &#147;guest workers&#148;) who helped to create it. </p><p> It is an over-developed country, offering great mobility to its own citizens, but denying similar mobility to &#147;refugee tourists&#148; from other parts of the world. </p><p> It is a country where many opposed South African apartheid and the horrors of the Balkan war, but very few would oppose the less spectacular process, just around the corner, of economic cleansing, the unsafe havens of Dutch welfare society, and local ghettoes in the making. </p><p> These, no doubt, are somewhat crude simplifications of the rich complexities of Dutch society. My aim is to play a sort of overture, to create an imaginative picture for non-Dutch people to get some understanding of the drama of the moment that we, in the Netherlands, are living through. </p><p> It seems especially needed at this time. For while we Dutch tend often to be well-informed about the fate of other nations, this does not work the other way round, because of language problems and the disinterest of many Dutch in communicating their own society to outsiders. </p><p> This is a very personal interpretation of recent events, with no claims to objectivity. But I have tried to accord all players in this drama, alive and dead, the dignity they deserve.</p></div> democracy & power europe Tjebbe van Tijen Tributaries of the right Original Copyright Tue, 21 May 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Tjebbe van Tijen 382 at