Western military cartography and the “terror
By Ben Tanosborn
ccun.org, June 7, 2009
If you want an accurate representation of the world, I am
reminded… get a globe! A two- dimensional geographical sketch of
our planet just won’t do.
As I type away my thoughts for this
article, right above the monitor, hanging on the wall, is a 4’ wide by 2
½’ high Rand McNally world map that at times inspires and often emits
some dynamic view of geopolitics: a Mercator projection flattening our
globe which in my rectangular map has the land and oceans over the
equator taking up twice as much space as those in the Southern
Hemisphere… sans Antarctica, of course.
A great map, I’ve always
told myself, thanks to the genius of a Flemish cartographer, Gerardus
Mercator, whose map-making didn’t project so well with the Roman Church
almost five centuries ago. But for all its value allowing true
bearings of courses to be measured directly; for most of us,
non-navigators, such map does distort things as you go north or south of
the equator. As my eyes turn north, I see a Greenland considerably
larger than all of South America, while the latter is in actuality eight
times the size of the first. And, as if such were not enough, I
see two Indias, two Chinas and a never-ending Russia as the geo-day is
elongated by three hours in purposeful overlap.
Of course, I
could replace my Rand McNally map with a Peters Projection map which is
accurate to scale… but that would give unduly influence to parts of the
world lacking it. So I’ll stick with my Rand McNally map keeping
in mind that cartography is just art or technique for making maps; and
that purposeful distortion must be taken into account.
And I can
see that purposeful distortion being projected, coming out of that
perennial hawk and former vice-president, Dick Cheney, who continues as
the voice of evil after leaving office as the screamer for the political
right… perhaps in an effort to drown the noise from those of us intent
in bringing him to international justice for his leading role in torture
and genocide. But the distortion neither starts nor ends in the
figure of Cheney. The distortion, although often echoed in the
halls of the State Department, really has its roots at that mausoleum of
belligerence and epicenter for the defense of Corporate Capitalism: the
Pentagon. Here, in this five-sided sepulcher-pantheon housing
Mars’ dark angels is where cartography comes alive defining the empire.
The cartography which a few decades ago used the “communism technique”
projections to map the world is now using the “terror technique”
projections to keep us in stride. Step aside Mercator and Peters,
a new two-dimensional map of the planet has now been drawn, projecting
the world according to how the American elite, and its Squires in
Europe, want us all to view the geo-economic-political world.
Tuesday, May 26, General George William Casey, Jr., the current Chief of
Staff of the United States Army – 36th in the proud line – was telling a
Washington audience that “Global Trends” (cartographic requirements, as
I read it) could force our troops to remain in Afghanistan and Iraq for
a decade; American commitment to PM Nouri al-Maliki to have US troops
out of Iraq by the end of 2011 superceded by the “higher” US commitment
to fight extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. And we should
listen, and pay attention, to Gen. Casey (take-off from the original
Lebanese name Kehdi), a serious soldier and voice for his peers at the
Pentagon, with dozens of awards, decorations and badges, among them the
“German Parachutist Badge – in bronze,” and the “Bundeswehr Gold Cross
of Honor.” [Our military, 64 years after V-E Day, continues to be
in awe of the Wehrmacht and its Commander-in-Chief.]
So we have
drafted a two-dimensional map of the world, using the terror technique;
or, at the very least, terror as we see it; paying no mind as to the
actions we take that incur the terrorists’ wrath. We, Americans,
are quick to label groups (Hamas, Hezbollah and the Talibans) and
nations as terrorists, and rogues, if they stand in the way of our own
Hegemonic desires to be the police force for the major capitalist powers
in the world.
Has it occurred to us that maybe part of the world
might be pointing the finger at us as a rogue, even if at times
benevolent, state? Has anyone ever dared measure the social and
economic harm we may have caused to others in the world, Cuba being a
case in point? Our actions against Cuba for almost five decades
were certainly roguish! Is that what we now intend to do in the
Obama was quick to pay his dues at the Pentagon
with the continuation of war policies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now, Netanyahu’s visit brought an even greater closeness to the sibling
relationship between the United States and Israel.
Can we afford
to let the Pentagon cartographers use the “terror technique” to map the
world? After all, others could just as easily portray the US and
Israel as rogue states.
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