Media Spectacle and Insurrection, 2011: From the Arab Uprisings to Occupy Everywhere 9781628928167, 9781441160973, 9781441102539

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Introduction The Triumph of Media Spectacle

In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation. Guy Debord

In the past decades, media spectacle has become a dominant form in which news and information, politics, war, entertainment, sports, and scandals are presented to the public and circulated through the matrix of old and new media and technologies.1 By “media spectacles” I am referring to media constructs that present events which disrupt ordinary and habitual flows of information, and that become popular stories which capture the attention of the media and the public. These media spectacles circulate through broadcasting networks, the internet, social networking, cell phones, and other new media and communication technologies centering public attention on certain events. In a global networked society, media spectacles proliferate instantaneously, become virtual and viral, and in some cases become tools of socio-political control while in other cases they can become instruments of opposition and political transformation, as well as mere moments of media hype and tabloidized sensationalism. Dramatic news and events are presented as media spectacles and dominate certain news cycles. Stories like the 9/11 terror attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and Barack Obama and the 2008 US presidential election were produced and distributed throughout the media and technoscape as media spectacles which were central events of their era. In 2011, the Arab Uprisings, the Libyan Revolution, the UK riots, the Occupy movements and the other major media spectacles engaged in this book cascaded through broadcasting, print, and digital media, seizing people’s attention and emotions, and generating complex and multiple effects that may make 2011

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as memorable a year in the history of social upheaval as 1968 and perhaps one as significant. In today’s highly competitive media environment, “Breaking News!” of various sorts play out as media spectacle, including mega-events like wars, 9/11 and other major terrorist attacks, extreme weather disasters, or, in spring 2011, political insurrections and upheavals. These spectacles assume a narrative form and become focuses of attention during a specific temporal and historical period, that may only last a few days, but may come to dominate news and information for extended periods of time, as did the O. J. Simpson trial and the Clinton sex/impeachment scandal in the mid-1990s (Kellner 2003a), the stolen election of 2000 in the Bush/ Gore presidential campaign (Kellner 2001), or natural and other disasters that have significant destructive effects and political implications such as Hurricane Katrina, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or the FukushimaDaiichi nuclear catastrophe. Media spectacles can even become signature events of an entire epoch as were, arguably, the 9/11 terrorist attacks which inaugurated a historical period that I describe as Terror War (Kellner 2003b).2 While in this era the central global media focus on the “war of terror” appeared to be coming to an end with the emergence of the Arab Uprisings of 2011 (see Chapters 2 and 5 below), the spectacle of Terror War has also taken new forms after the killing of Osama Bin Laden and subsequent revenge killings (Chapter 4). While, by the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, spectacles of terror continue to appear to be part of our future destiny as we proceed into the second decade of a new millennium, the Occupy movements which erupted throughout the world, in conjunction with the Arab Uprisings and popular political struggles that cascaded globally, might well portend a new era of political insurrection and transformation, the emergence of which is a central theme of this book. The media spectacles of the Arab Uprisings in turn generated tumultuous global spectacles of political struggles throughout the Middle East and other parts of the world, in which political upheaval and revolution were circulated, promoted, and took a multitude of forms. I will argue that a significant dimension of globalization involves the circulation of images of popular political uprisings and insurrections. Of course, globalization continues to reproduce neo-liberal market economics and intensifying global economic crisis, but globalization also has a significant political and cultural dimension that involves the circulation of discourses of human rights, international law, and democracy and freedom—as well as terrorism and other darker phenomena. Globalization is thus highly contradictory and ambiguous, and is increasingly a terrain of political and social struggle.3 This study will look at major global events of 2011 through the prisms of the crisis of neoliberalism and the circulation of insurrection as global

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media spectacles. First, however, I want to establish a historical context for what I see as the emergence of media spectacle as a dominant form of culture, media, and now political struggle, and ground theoretically and historically my conception of media spectacle.

The Rise of Media Spectacle “With the development of capitalism, irreversible time is unified on a world scale…. Unified irreversible time is the time of the world market and, as a corollary, of the world spectacle.” Guy Debord

The emergence of media spectacle as a dominant form of “Breaking News!” that came to construct major news cycles arose as a central mode of news and information in the US with the development of 24/7 cable and satellite news channels which broadcast news and opinion 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With the rise of global media based on cable and satellite television, and then the internet, the spectacle has become global. Major examples include Gulf War 1, the first live TV war (Kellner 1992); the 9/11 and associated al-Qaeda terrorist attacks (Kellner 2003b); the Iraq War of 2003 (Kellner 2005); and, most recently, the Arab Awakening and Uprisings of 2011. Tumultuous global media spectacles inspired political struggles throughout the Middle East in 2011 in which political insurrection and revolution were circulated, promoted, and presented as media spectacle –– momentous events that I will explore in this book to help chart the role of global media and media spectacle in the construction and history of the contemporary moment. The infrastructure of media spectacle that generates its proliferation is, initially, global cable and satellite television which emerged in the 1980s era of neo-liberalism and deregulation, and increased media monopoly and competition between different media corporations and media technologies. The period marks the rise of cable news networks that broadcast news 24/7 and used media spectacle to capture viewers. In the 1990s in the United States, new media and politicized forms of media proliferated including Talk Radio, Fox News and other highly partisan and explosive talk shows, in conjunction with the explosive emergence and the diversity and contentiousness of internet news, opinion, and multitudinous new media and forms of expression. Highly politicized mainstream media continue to heat up and expand today in the US, illustrated by the battles between Fox News on the Right and MSNBC and Current TV cable news channels on the Left, as well as within the internet which has become a contested terrain used by left, right, and everyone in-between (Best and Kellner 2001; Kahn and Kellner 2005).

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The 1990s in the US thus saw the explosive rise of the internet as well as contentious news cable channels and Talk Radio, providing new forms of political media spectacle that captured the attention of the general public. The 1990s was also an era in which media spectacle accelerated in the fields of sports, entertainment, fashion, and consumer culture, which were always a domain of the spectacle. In addition, the 1990s witnessed the spectacle of globalization and anti-globalization movements, the global commodity spectacle such as the McDonald’s and Nike spectacle, NBA basketball, the World Cup, and other global sports spectacles. This was also a period in which spectacle came to play an even greater role in Hollywood film during the blockbuster era (see Kellner 2003a). In the 2000s, blogs, wikis, Facebook, MySpace, and other new media and social networking sites, such as YouTube and Twitter, further proliferated the ubiquitous and omnipresent media matrix. Hence, the political economy and communications technology infrastructure of media spectacle have generated a proliferation of cable and satellite television, followed by the dramatic eruption of new technologies like the internet and social networking media. The internet made it possible for everyone to voice opinions and to circulate news and information through ever-expanding new media and social network sites, in which Facebook, MySpace, iPhones and iPads, and other new technologies enable everyone to become part of the spectacle (if you can afford and know how to use the technology). Hence, today, everyone, from Hollywood and political celebrities to internet activists in Egypt and Tunisia, or terrorists like al-Qaeda or deranged killers, can create their own media spectacles, or participate in the media spectacle of the day—as the Occupy movements are dramatically demonstrating on a global scale as I write. The epoch of neo-liberalism in which media spectacle triumphed exhibited the rise of infotainment, with the implosion of news and entertainment (i.e. the O. J. Simpson trial, Clinton sex scandals, celebrity scandals and the like; see Kellner 2003a). Fierce competition for ratings and advertising led information and news to become more visual and engaging, bringing codes of entertainment into journalism. News accordingly became more narrative and tabloid, with scandals and ever-multiplying segments on fashion, health, entertainment, and items of personal interest. In this media environment, hard politics and international news are now declining on the major US television networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC, while the cable news networks are dominated by media spectacle and often partisan political talk shows. Media spectacles traditionally have an aesthetic dimension and often are dramatic, bound up with ritual events and competition, like the Olympics, World Cup, Superbowl, or Oscars that feature compelling images, montage, and stories, and which engage mass audiences and generate discussion and debate throughout the media.4 Spectacles have a theatrical dimension and

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dramatize key issues and conflicts of a given society, as the O. J. Simpson murder trial and Clinton sex scandals in the 1990s were spectacles in which key battles concerning gender, sexuality, race, celebrity, power, and the justice and political system played out (Kellner 2003a). The spectacles take a narrative form, becoming stories around which the society is constructed at a given moment and which can be contested and used for various social and political ends, such as the 9/11 terror attacks and ensuing Terror War (Kellner 2003b) and now the Arab Uprisings and Occupy movements. Hence, media spectacle in the contemporary era encompasses both news and information and sports and entertainment. In an era of globalization, the forms and content of media spectacle circulate through global culture via flows of commerce and technology, in which cable and satellite television, new media and social networking, and new cultural forms like blogging, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other new media circulate globally, creating the possibility for a new participatory culture that can be used for insurrection and social transformation, as well as personal expression and communication. In the following studies, I will focus on how news media, social networking and new media, and popular forms of entertainment and culture helped circulate during the struggles in the North African Arab Uprisings through the Occupy movements. The length, duration, and import of media spectacles, of course, vary. Certain media spectacles like the O. J. Simpson trial may dominate news cycles until they are replaced by a new media spectacle, such as the Clinton sex scandals (Kellner 2003a). The September 11, 2001, spectacles of terror have helped generate an era of Terror War with global terror networks fighting local, national, and global security and military networks, and it may be that this historical era is coming to an end as the 2011 Arab Uprisings, Occupy movements, and other popular struggles proliferate (of course, it is likely that both cycles of media spectacle will continue and overlap for some time).

Media Spectacles of the Contemporary Moment [The spectacle] “unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena.” Guy Debord

Media spectacle in my conception therefore refers to technologically mediated events, in which dominant media forms like broadcasting, print media, and the internet process contemporary historical events and struggles in a spectacular form. The Triumph of Media Spectacle marks

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a historical moment when contemporary news and information media process, present, and distribute major historical events as media spectacle. We live today in a time when media spectacles dominate our multi-mediated, networked, digitized, and virtual culture, in which the media spectacles of the day provide a contested terrain on which social and political battles are presented and fought. Evidence of the triumph and evanescence of the spectacle was provided in late April 2011 with the media frenzy around the wedding of Prince William and his “commoner” bride Kate Middleton in the UK. For days, there were copious reports on global television networks like CNN, BCC, and even Al Jazeera, as well as the US network television stations like ABC, CBS, and NBC, which had nightly reports on the event weeks before it finally took place. There were internet sites on the Royals, PBS and other television channels broadcast programs about the history of the Windsor family and the workings of the British monarchy, and individuals tweeted, YouTubed, blogged, and discoursed about the coming event profusely. Kate Middleton was featured on the cover of scores of magazines, and she was quickly becoming a fashion icon,5 role model, and fantasy figure, while the impending marriage was billed as a boost to the institution of marriage during an era when more and more young people were not marrying (William and Kate had allegedly lived together for years). Further, the Royal Wedding was presented as a boost and insertion of fresh blood into the sclerotic institutions of British monarchy, which the Windsor family had seriously stressed with scandals and tabloid stories galore, the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, followed by the death of Diana, and the appalling possibility of the ascent to the throne of Charles and Camilla, whose adulterous affair drove Diana to seek divorce and become a sacrificial victim of Royal Misconduct.6 Kate and William’s Royal Wedding itself may have been something of a letdown after all the hype, although many global and national TV stations played the affair live, and US broadcasting networks sent most of their high-profile talking heads to London to cover it. While over a million people in the street seemed to be having a good time, and over two billion had reportedly seen the ceremonies on television, the event itself was rather evanescent and fleeting, as are many media spectacles in the Time of the Spectacle, where one spectacle after another constitutes the mediascape of the moment. Moreover, according to Royal Wedding analysts, Pippa Middleton’s sexy dress and prominent rear-end trumped the internet spectacle of the Royal Couple, as videos of Pippa’s derriere became the spectacle of hotness and hot gossip item of the moment.7 The politics of democracies as well as monarchies are pervaded and ritualized as media spectacles. Some years earlier, on November 7, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, the first African American to win the presidency and a transformative event in

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contemporary US politics. In Chapter 1, I will argue that Obama won the presidency in part through his mastery of media spectacle, and that presidential politics are now mediated by media spectacle, a claim that I will attempt to justify in a study of the 2008 US presidential election and one that is certainly apparent as the 2012 US presidential election heats up. As I will argue, Obama’s presidency is now hotly contested, as rightwing media with complicity of the mainstream provide a daily anti-Obama spectacle that attacks the President and his policies with the same fervor in which his defenders and partisans promote the man and his presidency. Yet new forms of democratic struggle are also emerging as a potent and fecund field of media spectacle. During the spring of 2011, media spectacles of the North African Arab Uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, followed by uprisings throughout the Middle East, suggested that a new era of popular uprisings was transforming parts of the world that had been ruled for decades by oppressive dictatorships which were supported by Western neo-colonialist and imperialist powers. The global Arab cable channel Al Jazeera, located in Doha, Qatar, and which will be a major producer of many of the spectacles scrutinized in the following pages, initially referred to these events collectively as “The Arab Awakening,” which many thought inaugurated a new period of history and struggle. Indeed, the overthrow of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt in spring 2011 inspired insurrectionary movements in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, which are dramatically developing in multiple and unpredictable forms as I conclude this book in early 2012. On May 1, 2011, a major media spectacle unfolded as President Barack Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the central icon and myth of the spectacle of terror and bogeyman of “the war on terrorism” throughout the past decade. Bin Laden’s death and its aftermath would generate a media spectacle of cycles of terror and retaliation that might last for months and perhaps years, marking the trajectory of media and contemporary politics in unforeseeable ways (see Chapter 4). Yet the spectacles of the Occupy movement may suggest transition to a new historical epoch (see Chapter 5). Thus a variety of forms of contemporary politics emerge and develop as media spectacles, which can help define historical eras. Media spectacles have particular temporalities, trajectories, and consequences, and unfold in unpredictable fashion. Initially, they constitute a rupture and break with everyday life and normal routines which capture audiences and focus attention on specific issues. As dramatic events, they engage large and sometimes global audiences and become the focus of the full spectrum of media and social networking. Media spectacles are cumulative, as their stories and effects become and more complex. Each media spectacle has its own specific temporality, trajectory, consequences, and histories, requiring careful study of the origins, unfolding, and aftermath of each media spectacle, as I attempt to do below.

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In the following studies, I’ll elaborate my theory of media spectacle as a key to interpreting contemporary culture and politics, arguing that politics, war, news and information, media events like terrorist attacks or Royal Weddings, and now popular uprisings/revolutions, are currently organized around media spectacle. In the following studies, I will be deploying media/ cultural studies and critical social theory to interrogate contemporary media spectacles and politics.8 I am using critical social theory to contextualize the media spectacles that I am interrogating with a view of illuminating key crises and political struggles of the contemporary era. Employing what I call “diagnostic critique,” I interrogate contemporary media spectacles to see what they tell us about the contemporary era.9 Using the method of diagnostic critique, I will thus interrogate major media spectacles of the contemporary era, indicate the social problems, conflicts, and crises they point to and may intensify, and anticipate possible future developments toward which contemporary media spectacles are pointing, while raising issues for debate and political struggle. But first let me further explicate and illustrate my concept of media spectacle, and how it differs from Guy Debord, whose book The Society of the Spectacle has had a major impact on post-1960s critical theory and shaped my own work in multiple ways.

Guy Debord and The Society of the Spectacle “When the real world changes into simple images, simple images become real beings and effective motivations of a hypnotic behavior. The spectacle as a tendency to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations.” Guy Debord

To clarify my concept of media spectacle, I will next indicate some differences between my use of media spectacle from French theorist Guy Debord’s 1960s classic, The Society of the Spectacle and his concept of the “society of the spectacle” developed by Debord and his comrades in the Situationist International, which has had a major impact on a variety of contemporary theories of society and culture.10 Influenced by avant-garde French aesthetic movements, Debord and the Situationists developed radical critiques of capitalist media and consumer culture and developed oppositional forms of culture and politics that influenced the May 1968 uprisings in France. Debord’s conception of the society of the spectacle, first developed in the 1960s, continues to circulate through the internet and other academic and subcultural sites today. It describes a media and consumer society, organized around the production and consumption of images, commodities, and

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Guy Debord (in the middle) with comrades and May 1968 Upheaval in Paris

staged events. For Debord, spectacle “unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena” (Debord 1967: #10), describing media events and programming, advertising and the display of commodities, stores, malls, and other sites of consumption in the media and consumer society. Hence, for Debord, spectacle constituted the overarching concept to describe the media and consumer society, including the packaging, promotion, and display of commodities and the production and effects of all media. Using the term “media spectacle,” I am largely focusing on various forms of technologically constructed media productions that are produced and disseminated through the so-called mass media, ranging from radio and television to the internet and latest wireless gadgets and social networking. Every medium, from music to television, from news to advertising, has its multitudinous forms of spectacle, involving such things in the realm of music as the classical music spectacle, the opera spectacle, the rock spectacle, and the hip hop spectacle. Spectacle forms evolve over time and multiply with new technological developments. As we proceed into an era of ever-proliferating spectacle, multiple media are becoming more technologically dazzling and are playing expanding and intensifying roles in everyday life. Under the influence of a multimedia image culture, seductive spectacles fascinate the denizens of the media and consumer society and involve them in the semiotics of an ever-expanding world of entertainment, information, and consumption, which deeply influence thought and action. In Debord’s words: “When the real world changes into simple images, simple images become real beings and effective motivations of a hypnotic behavior. The spectacle as a tendency to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations (it can no longer be grasped directly), naturally finds vision to be the privileged human sense which the sense of touch was for other epochs” (#18). Experience and everyday life are thus shaped and mediated for Debord by the spectacles of media culture and the consumer society. For Debord,

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the spectacle is a tool of pacification and depoliticization; it is a “permanent opium war” (#44) that stupefies social subjects and distracts them from the most urgent task of real life—recovering the full range of their human powers through creative practice. Debord’s concept of the spectacle is integrally connected to the concept of separation and passivity, for in submissively consuming spectacles, one is estranged from actively producing one’s life. Capitalist society separates workers from the products of their labor, art from life, and consumption from human needs and selfdirecting activity, as individuals inertly observe the spectacles of social life from within the privacy of their homes (#25 and #26). The Situationist project, by contrast, involved an overcoming of all forms of separation, in which individuals would directly produce their own life and modes of selfactivity and collective practice, illustrated today by the Occupy movements (see Chapter 5). The correlative to the spectacle for Debord is the spectator, the reactive viewer and consumer of a social system predicated on submission, conformity, and the cultivation of marketable difference. The concept of the spectacle therefore involves a distinction between passivity and activity, and consumption and production, condemning lifeless consumption of spectacle as an alienation from human potentiality for creativity and imagination. The spectacular society spreads its wares mainly through the cultural mechanisms of leisure and consumption, services and entertainment, ruled by the dictates of advertising and a commercialized media and consumer culture. This structural shift to a society of the spectacle involves a commodification of previously non-colonized sectors of social life and the extension of bureaucratic control to the realms of leisure, desire, and everyday life. Parallel to the Frankfurt School conception of a “totally administered,” or “one-dimensional,” society (Horkheimer and Adorno 1972; Marcuse 1964), Debord states that: “The spectacle is the moment when the consumption has attained the total occupation of social life” (#42). Here exploitation is raised to a psychological level; basic physical privation is augmented by “enriched privation” of pseudo-needs; alienation is generalized, made comfortable, and alienated consumption becomes “a duty supplementary to alienated production” (ibid). Hence, Debord’s work is totalizing, with spectacle encompassing and reproducing the entirety of capitalist media/consumer society, so that for Debord everything is part of the spectacle. By contrast, I analyze specific media spectacles and types of media spectacle like political spectacles and spectacles of terror, such as the 9/11 attacks and the acts of domestic terrorism and school shootings that I describe in my book Guys and Guns Amok (Kellner 2008). Thus, while Debord presents a rather generalized and abstract notion of spectacle, I engage specific examples of media spectacle and how they are produced, constructed, circulated, and function in the

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present era. Further, I distinguish between different types of spectacle such as Obama and the political spectacle, spectacles of terror, and spectacles of insurrection and revolution. In addition, I am reading the production, text, and effects of various media spectacles from a standpoint within contemporary US and global society in order to help illuminate and theorize its socio-political dynamics and culture, and more broadly, globalization and global culture. Debord, by contrast, was analyzing a specific stage of capitalist society, that of the media and consumer society organized around spectacle as experienced in 1960s France. In addition, Debord deploys a French radical intellectual and neo-Marxian perspective, while I employ a multiperspectivist model, using Frankfurt School critical theory, British cultural studies, French postmodern theory, and many other theoretical constructs (Kellner 1995, 2003a, 2003b, 2008, 2010). In sum, Debord’s concept of the spectacle is monolithic and overpowering. For Debord, the society of the spectacle generates a system of domination enforcing passivity, obedience, consumerism, and submission. To be sure, Debord opposes the passive spectator of spectacle and valorizes the active creator of situations, and offers strategies for forms of resistance to the spectacle that have been influential on subsequent politics and continue to be of import in an era of new media and social networking.11 Yet Debord’s conception of creating situations tends to valorize artistic and subcultural activity, while I am arguing that media spectacle itself is a contested terrain that can be as a force of political opposition and resistance, as well as domination and hegemony—and can be a site of contestation, reversal, and even revolution, as I argue in this book. Further, I analyze the contradictions and reversals of the spectacle, whereas Debord tends to project a unitary and hegemonic notion of the society of the spectacle, although he and his comrades sketched out various models of opposition and struggle and, in fact, inspired in part the rather spectacular May ’68 events in France. For an example of the reversal of a media spectacle, or at least its contradictions and contestation, the Clinton sex scandal became a contested arena in which, surprisingly, Clinton’s popularity rose as the scandal unfolded and the Republicans began carrying out impeachment (Kellner 2003a). Further, the 2003 Iraq War was initially presented as a triumph for the Bush/Cheney administration and the Pentagon, but was contested and soon became an unpopular war (Kellner 2005). Barack Obama arguably won the Democratic Party primary in part because he was the only major Democratic candidate who opposed the Iraq War in the beginning, although Obama was also a master of media spectacle, which enabled him to win the presidency and become a worldclass celebrity politician.12 Yet in a situation of an intensively polarized US society, the Obama spectacle has itself become sharply contested as his opponents have been attempting by all possible means to undermine his presidency.

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Finally, Debord’s analysis of the spectacle is denunciatory, developing a neo-Marxian attack on consumer capitalism. My concept, by contrast, is diagnostic, analyzing social problems, conflicts, and key events and transformations of the contemporary era. Debord’s notion of the society of the spectacle theorizes the emergence in the post-World War II era of the media and consumer society and continues to be relevant in analyzing today’s social formations and politics. Both his social critique and models of radical politics continue to be of utmost importance for critical social theory and oppositional politics today. Yet the emergence of new media, new forms of global capitalism, new crises of neoliberalism, and new models of political struggle call for updating of Debord’s concepts in a transformed socioeconomic, political, and cultural context. My focus in this book will be to offer interpretations and socio-political critique of the major events and media spectacles of 2011, but I am also doing social diagnostics dealing with crucial problems of the contemporary era, as well as analysis and interpretation. I argue that a multiplicity of media spectacles is part of a contested terrain for contemporary politics, and that this model helps illuminate some key political struggles during a period of intense political insurrections, as well as changed socio-economic and cultural conditions in an emergent era of global media and culture, political upheaval, and global economic crisis. While media spectacle is a ubiquitous force in contemporary culture, society, and politics, I am focusing in this book on specific political spectacles encompassing the Obama spectacle and the spectacles of insurrection and mass protest from the North African Arab Uprisings through the Occupy movements, as well as spectacles of terror, from al-Qaeda terrorism to acts of deranged individuals such as the Norway terrorist Andreas Breivik. While the main focus is on political media spectacle in the watershed year of 2011, I begin with the Obama spectacle, as the presidency of Barack Obama plays a role throughout the various political spectacles of the era and illustrates how elections in the United States and elsewhere are dominated by media spectacle.

In This Book Accordingly, I will first illustrate my concept of media spectacle and diagnostic critique in Chapter 1 with a study of the 2008 US presidential election and Barack Obama’s mastery of media spectacle which helped him win the presidency. I argue that the presidency of the Bush-Cheney administration (2000–8) followed the logic of North American power elite theory, but that the victory in the 2008 presidential election by Barack Obama points to a new political logic governed by the rise of media spectacle and

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a pluralization of US politics. I discuss Obama’s electoral success through his mastery of media spectacle and mobilization of new media and social networking. Yet I also argue that his policies have confronted traditional power elites during his turn as President. Hence, I conclude that contemporary US politics can be explained by a combination of power elite theory and more postmodern pluralist theories of power. In Chapter 2, I discuss “The North African Arab Uprisings of 2011,” and the emergence of what Al Jazeera calls “The Arab Awakening” with, first, studies of the movements in Tunisia and Egypt which overthrew entrenched dictatorships and opened a new era of struggle and insurrection in North Africa and the Middle East. I then discuss how the upheaval in Libya morphed into civil war and revolution at a time when other political insurrections in the region in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria also were encountering repressive state power and undergoing, throughout 2011 and beyond, painful state repression, often violent and extreme. In these studies, I focus on the construction of the Arab Awakening and Uprisings through the Al Jazeera English-language channel and website, and argue that Al Jazeera has emerged as a major voice of democratic uprisings throughout the Arab world and beyond, presenting media spectacles of the uprisings and state repression throughout the era. While I focus closely on the presentation of these events on Al Jazeera, I also have watched BBC, CNN, and other global and US networks during this time, analyzing how they have presented the major political events of 2011 from the North African Arab Uprisings to the Occupy movements. In addition, I have followed key print media and emergent scholarly studies on the transformative events of the 2011 popular uprisings, in part to see the different constructions of major media spectacles in different global cable news channels and print and internet media sources, and thus offer comparative analysis and critique of the construction of contemporary social events and history by multiple forms of global media. To contextualize the various media spectacles that I engage, I have therefore utilized a wide range of print media and internet sources, reading key books and scholarly articles on the topics under analysis, in order to present contexts to interpret and critique major media spectacles of the era. In Chapter 3, I turn to “War in Libya: Challenges of Liberal Humanitarian Interventions,” tracing a new kind of military intervention through following the consequences of the UN, Arab League, and NATO sanctioned military intervention in Libya. I trace “Phase One” and the establishment of the “No-fly Zone,” mainly led by US military forces, followed by analysis of “Phase Two,” in which “NATO Takes Command,” the subsequent “Stalemate,” and the slow, torturous unraveling of the Qaddafi regime that eventually signaled its “Endgame” with the death of Qaddafi and collapse of his regime in October 2011. Since the consequences of the fall of the Qaddafi regime are ongoing as I conclude these studies in early 2012,

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there may well be unintended consequences of the insurrection in Libya, yet events at this point make clear the dilemmas and challenges of Liberal Humanitarian War, a theme I will take up throughout this book. In Chapter 4, I interrogate “Spectacles of Terror,” situating my study in the context of how Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda used spectacles of terror to carry out a new kind of war against the United States and the West, the West’s response, and further Jihadist responses to the killing of Bin Laden and other Jihadist militants. The killing of Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011 was arguably one of the great media spectacles of the day, and I closely watch how the consequences of the event unfolded in the days and weeks following the attack on Bin Laden’s compound, subsequent tensions between the US and Pakistan, and terrorist attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere to avenge Bin Laden’s death. I also engage in this chapter how “Spectacles of Violence and State Repression in the Middle East” erupted in summer 2011 and how the capture of Bosnian-Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic points to another victory for the emerging model of liberal humanitarian war and justice. In Chapter 4, I chart and provide analyses as well of the Norway and UK spectacles of terror, illustrating “the dark side of the spectacle,” and how forms of domestic terrorism also threaten Western societies, such as the acts undertaken by the Norwegian terrorist Andreas Breivik and the UK riots of 2011. I conclude my studies of media spectacle in 2011 in Chapter 5 with reflections on its role in the contemporary era, and how it is increasingly important to grasp the logic and unfolding of media spectacle to understand the events of the day and the contemporary historical epoch. The conclusion engages challenges of theorizing the contemporary era as the major media spectacles of the day are unfolding and taking unpredictable twists and turns that can lead to multiple unanticipated consequences. Finally, I conclude the book with a look at the emergence of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and a global proliferation of Occupy movements. In sum, political movements throughout the world helped produce waves of global media spectacles of political struggle during the already fabled Year of the Insurrections of 2011. I argue that the dramatic media spectacles of insurrections during 2011 constitute important multiple eruptions within contemporary history that suggest certain unfolding historical trajectories that are likely to determine the course of the future and that may lead future historians to see 2011 as a year of unprecedented social upheaval and transformation, as 1968 and 1989 are now so regarded by many. However, I open Chapter 5 with a study of “Murdochgate,” as in July 2011 one of the great media scandals of the millennium unfolded as it was revealed that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire was charged with systematically engaging in telephone (and later computer) hacking of news sources ranging from the Royals to top British politicians, celebrities, and figures of the sports world, as well as ordinary people caught up in the

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tabloid sensations of the moment. Ironically, Rupert Murdoch, one of the tabloid newspaper and television magnates who had proliferated media spectacle for decades, was now the victim of a firestorm of revelations, scandals, parliamentary hearings, and police investigations that threatened to destroy one of the most powerful and controversial media empires of the contemporary era, one that had played a major role in propagating and proliferating media spectacle as a major form of journalism and politics. In these studies, I have thus engaged the construction, playing out, and effects of a series of media spectacles during 2011, using diverse broadcasting and print media to examine the production and dissemination of major media spectacles of the era. In discussing the media spectacle of the Arab Uprisings, I have centered on Al Jazeera, but also have drawn on BBC, CNN, RT (i.e. Russian television), and various US news networks available to engage the dramatic presentation of the spectacle, in daily broadcasting presentations, supplemented by various news and opinion media and scholarly texts to provide context, analysis, interpretation, and critique. In particular, I have read US and UK newspapers and journals on the Arab Uprisings, including daily readings of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and the Guardian, and other major print sources, as well as blogs and internet sources on the major spectacles of the day. I have drawn on these and other sources as I engaged the Arab Uprisings, Libyan War, contemporary forms of terrorism, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and its aftermath, and other spectacles of terror and political struggle that I analyze in the concluding chapter. I was thus able to gain multiple global perspectives on contemporary media spectacles, watching every day throughout the year Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and sometimes RT and other global news channels, as well as the increasingly US-focused news programming of the once major US TV networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. These broadcasting perspectives were supplemented by global print media sources, readily available from the internet, which also makes accessible the above-mentioned broadcasting networks. We are currently living in the Golden Age of Information, but need to become aware of how different broadcasting and print media construct different views of the world and versions of contemporary social reality, a task which I have undertaken in these studies. The studies collected here are an attempt to critically interrogate the contemporary moment as events unfold, and to provide a pedagogy of dramatic historical upheaval and transformation as it happens. The turbulent media spectacles of 2011 contain many teachable moments that enable us to understand better the dynamics of political conflict and upheaval, and the complex and shifting roles of the media and media spectacle in the present age. As with my other publications of the 2000s, these studies attempt to develop critical theories of the contemporary moment as it erupts and plays out in complex and multiple forms. One

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goal is to develop critical understandings of contemporary history and the important roles of the media in order to help promote critical media pedagogy and the construction of democratic media to promote progressive social change, a project I have been pursuing for some decades (Kellner 1995; Best and Kellner 2001; Kahn and Kellner 1995). With the emergence of the Arab Uprisings and Occupy movements of 2011, we may well be entering a stage of history in which oppositional individuals and groups use new media and social networking as instruments of democratic transformation in the struggle against forces of domination and oppression, creating new openings for other ways of life and a free, happier, and more just world. Los Angeles, January 23, 2012

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1 Barack Obama, the Power Elite, and Media Spectacle

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2008

The Bush-Cheney administration carried out an agenda serving the interests of big corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the right wing of the Republican Party during its eight years in office.1 Many major figures in the administration came out of the corporate sector, especially the oil and energy industries, and others came from the conservative wing of the Republican Party that served the military-industrial complex. The process of undoing social liberal and regulatory politics carried out by the Clinton administration began in the first days in office by the new Bush-Cheney administration. While their ambitious right-wing agenda was initially stalled, following the terror attacks of September 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Bush-Cheney administration was able to put through a rightist political agenda under the frame of the so-called USA Patriot Act and carried out military excursions into Afghanistan and Iraq that furthered the interests of the military-industrial complex and awarded billions in contracts to corporations to which the conservative regime was tied, including Dick Cheney’s Halliburton corporation.2 Eventually, the Bush-Cheney administration was successful in carrying out policies that directly aided the oil and energy industries, the militaryindustrial sector, the housing and financial sectors, and other corporations who had supported the Bush-Cheney Gang by passing legislation that deregulated these sectors and by providing copious public contracts to

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corporations like Halliburton. The media largely went along with the turn toward the right, and, especially following the 9/11 terror attacks, did not directly criticize the Bush-Cheney administration. Thus the Bush-Cheney administration was supported by institutions of the power elite and carried out political agendas in their interests. Power elite theory played a significant role in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s within certain sectors of the academic establishment, and among some individuals who would come to constitute the New Left. C. Wright Mills, for instance, in The Power Elite argued that Big Business, Big Government, Big Labor and a growing military-industrial complex were coming to dominate American society and politics (Mills 1956). Mills was also one of the first to see that emergent mass media were coming to be a powerful force that served the interests of dominant elites. In White Collar (1951), Mills stressed the crucial role of the mass media in shaping individual behavior and in inducing conformity to middle-class values. He argued that the media are increasingly shaping individual aspirations and behavior and are above all promoting values of “individual success.” He also believed that entertainment media were especially potent instruments of social control because “popular culture is not tagged as ‘propaganda’ but as entertainment; people are often exposed to it when most relaxed of mind and tired of body; and its characters offer easy targets of identification, easy answers to stereotyped personal problems” (Mills 1951, 336). Mills analyzed the banalization of politics in the media through which “the mass media plug for ruling political symbols and personalities” (1951, 338). Perceiving the parallel between marketing commodities and selling politicians, Mills analyzed tendencies toward the commodification of politics, and in The Power Elite he focused on the manipulative role of media in shaping public opinion and strengthening the power of the dominant elites. In an analysis that anticipated Habermas’ theory in The Structural Transformation in the Public Sphere (1989), Mills discusses the shift from a social order consisting of “communities, of publics,” in which individuals participated in political and social debate and action, to a “mass society” characterized by the “transformation of public into mass” (Mills 1955, 298ff). The impact of the mass media is crucial in this “great transformation” for it shifts “the ratio of givers of opinion to the receivers” in favor of small groups of elites, who control or have access to the mass media (ibid). Moreover, the mass media engage in one-way communication that does not allow feedback, thus obliterating another feature of a democratic public sphere. In addition, the media rarely encourage participation in public action. In these ways, they foster social passivity and the fragmentation of the public sphere into privatized consumers. The rise of media power in the succeeding decades followed the logic of Mills’ power elite arguments. Successful presidential candidates in the US had the backing of one of the two major Big Government parties, the

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Democrats and Republicans, and tended to carry out polices that would serve the interests of corporate elites, the military-industrial complex, the two major political parties, and Big Government. In retrospect, the Bush-Cheney era can be explained by the elite theories of C. Wright Mills in that during this era, Big Business, Big Government, and the militaryindustrial complex were aligned to carry out an agenda in the interests of these elites. The election of Barack Obama seemed to put in question classical power elite theory, although Obama’s challenges in office and the defeats received by Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2010 elections suggest that elite theory still has purchase in explaining American politics and should not be abandoned out of hand in favor of a new pluralist theory and notion of a postmodern politics. I will, however, argue that the phenomenon of media spectacle has become a central factor in contemporary American politics and society, and that this creates new political openings and a terrain of struggle visible during the Obama campaign, the Arab Uprisings, and the Occupy movements. In this chapter, my argument is that the presidency of the Bush-Cheney administration (2000–8) followed the logic of power elite theory, but that the victory in the 2008 presidential election by Barack Obama points to a new political logic governed by the rise of media spectacle and a pluralization of US politics in an age of new media and social networking in the Time of the Spectacle. I argue that in the contemporary era of media politics, image and media spectacle are playing an increasingly important role in presidential politics and other domains of society. With the growing tabloidization of corporate journalism, lines between news, information and entertainment have blurred, and politics has become a form of entertainment and spectacle. Candidates enlist celebrities in their election campaigns and are increasingly covered in the same way as celebrities, with tabloidized news obsessing about their private lives. In this context, presidential candidates themselves become celebrities and are packaged and sold like the products of the culture industry. In the following analysis, I will suggest some of the ways that the logic of the spectacle promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama and how he has become a master of the spectacle and global celebrity of the top rank. I will discuss how Obama became a super-celebrity in the presidential primaries and general election of 2008 and utilized media spectacle to help win the presidency. Finally, I will discuss how Obama and his administration came up against the forces of traditional power elites, including relatively new forces of right-wing political power, which weakened his presidency after the 2010 midterm elections (i.e. the Tea Party that may or may not be an ephemeral configuration of the moment). Throughout the chapter, I will provide diagnostic critique of what the Obama spectacle tells us about contemporary US politics and the role of media spectacle. This analysis begins in the next section, in which I discuss the power of media spectacle

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in contemporary US and increasingly global politics and the emerging role of political figures as celebrities.

Media Spectacle, Celebrity, and Contemporary US Politics “Going forward as president, the symbols and gestures—what people are seeing coming out of this office—are at least as important as the policies we put forward” Barack Obama

In the contemporary era, celebrities are mass idols, venerated and celebrated by the media. The media produces celebrities and so, naturally, the most popular figures promoted by the media industries become celebrities. Entertainment industry figures and sports stars have long been at the center of celebrity culture, employing public relations and image specialists to put out positive buzz and stories concerning their clients, but business tycoons and politicians have also become celebrities in recent years. Chris Rojek distinguishes between “ascribed celebrity,” which concerns lineage, such as belonging to the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, or the Bush or Kennedy families in the United States; “achieved celebrity,” which is won by outstanding success in fields like entertainment, sport, or talent in a particular field, compared to “attributed celebrity,” through which fame is achieved through media representations or spectacle, as in scandals or tabloid stories (2001, 17ff), with Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian being obvious examples of this category. Celebrity is dependent on both constant media proliferation and the implosion between entertainment, news, and information. The proliferation of media outlets has created an ever more intense and diffuse celebrity culture with specialized publications, internet sites, and social networking fanning the flames of celebrity culture and mainstream media further circulating and legitimating it. Celebrities have thus become the most popular figures in their field, and publics seem to have insatiable appetites for inside information and gossip about their idols, fueling a media in search of profit in a competitive market to provide increasing amounts of celebrity news, images and spectacle. Indeed, celebrity culture is such that there is a class of faux celebrities— think Paris Hilton—who are largely famous for being famous and being in the media, supported by a tabloid media that is becoming more prevalent in the era of the internet, new media, and social networking sites that circulate gossip and celebrity trivia. In this context, it is not surprising that politicians,

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especially political leaders frequently in the media spotlight, have become celebrities, as publics seek news, information, and gossip about their private and public lives, turning some politicians into media superstars and relegating politicians caught in scandal to tabloid hell and damnation. In addition, politics in the United States and elsewhere in global culture have become propelled in recent years by media spectacle. I argued in the Introduction that the mainstream corporate media today in the US and elsewhere increasingly process events, news, and information in the form of media spectacle, which in turn increases its importance in political campaigns and even governance. In the next section, I suggest some of the ways that the logic of the spectacle promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama and indicate how he has become a master of the spectacle and global celebrity of the first rank. I will discuss how he became a “supercelebrity” during the presidential primaries and general election of 2008, and how he utilized media spectacle to help win the presidency. Then, in following sections I will discuss how Obama has, in the first years of his presidency, deployed his status as global super-celebrity and utilized media spectacle to advance his agenda, while confronting the limits of spectacle politics and the enduring power of traditional elites.

The Democratic Party Primaries Spectacle “Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire; what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation; what led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause.    Hope is what led me here today—with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have courage to remake the world as it should be.” Barack Obama, January 3, 2008

Looking at the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, we see exhibited the triumph of the spectacle. In this case, the spectacle of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—the first serious African American candidate versus the first serious woman candidate—generated a compelling spectacle of race and gender as well as a campaign spectacle in the incredibly hard-fought and unpredictable primaries. As a media spectacle, the Democratic Party primary could be seen as a reality TV show. For the media and candidates alike, the Democratic primary was like reality TV series “Survivor” or “The

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Barack Obama (left) and Hillary Clinton (right) address supporters in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

Apprentice” (“You’re fired!”), with losing candidates knocked out week by week. With the two standing candidates Obama and Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, it was like “The Amazing Race,” “American Gladiator” and “American Idol” all rolled into one, with genuine suspense building over the outcome. The primary was also a celebrity spectacle because Hillary Clinton was one of the major celebrities in US culture, as well as a former First Lady and New York Senator, while Barack Obama, a community organizer, Illinois state legislator and then US Senator, was emerging as one of the major celebrity figures in US and even global politics.3 The spectacle of race and gender in a major US party primary was unprecedented, as presidential politics have previously largely been the prerogative of white males. As Jackson Katz (2009) argues, masculinity and presidential packaging of the candidate as the strongest leader, as a protective father and a true man, has been a major determinant of presidential elections in the media age. Having both a woman and an African American as candidates thus broke with the dominant code of the Great White Leader; and, as we shall see, Barack Obama came to challenge dominant conceptions of presidential masculinity as well as race in the campaign. For Obama, beginning his campaign for the presidency in October 2007, it was a steeply uphill battle, with an American Research Poll putting him 33 points behind Hillary Clinton with only three months to go until the Iowa caucus that kicked off the Democratic Party primary season.4 Yet from the first primary in Iowa, where in January, 2008, he won a startling victory, the Obama spectacle emerged as one of hope, of change, of color, and of youth. The spectacle on election night of a young politician of color surrounded by his beautiful wife and two beaming daughters evoked a spectacle of transformation into American politics that would characterize the campaign as a whole.

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In addition to his everyday campaign stump speeches that mobilized record crowds, on every primary election night Obama made a spirited speech, even after his unexpected loss to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, proclaiming: “‘Yes We Can’ was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot … and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land.” Obama’s primary campaign was calculated to use every primary to get out a message, even when he lost. On Super Tuesday, in one of the most watched events of the primary season’s first weeks, Obama gave a compelling victory speech, which became the most circulated speech on the internet that week. With that multi-state primary victory, Obama pulled slightly ahead in delegate count. Obama then won 11 primaries in a row, and made another striking speech after the Wisconsin primary in which he took over the airways for about an hour, offering a vision of the US coming together, mobilizing people for change, carrying out a progressive agenda, getting out of Iraq, and using the money spent there to rebuild the infrastructure, schools, health care system, and so on.5 Even when Obama lost primaries, he gave inspiring and impassioned speeches. There was also an impressive internet spectacle in support of Obama’s presidency. Obama raised an unprecedented amount of money on the internet, generated more than two million friends on Facebook and 866,887 friends on MySpace, and reportedly had a campaign listserv of over 10 million email addresses, enabling his campaign to mobilize youth and others through text-messaging and emails.6 Videos compiled on Obama’s official campaign YouTube site were accessed over 11.5 million times (Gulati 2010, p. 195), while the YouTube (UT) music video “Obama Girl,” featuring a young woman singing about why she supports Obama interspersed with images of his speeches, received well over 5 million hits and is one of the most popular in the site’s history.7 Indeed, grassroots campaigns for Obama illustrate the impact of YouTube and internet spectacle for participatory democracy. Among the enormous numbers of internet-distributed artifacts for the Obama campaign, Will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” music video manifests how grassrootsinitiated media artifacts can inspire and mobilize individuals to support Obama. This MTV-style UT music video breaks with conventional ways of producing music video, as Will.i.am assembled a variety of artists’ grassroots participation in its production. In his words: I wasn’t afraid to stand for “change” … it was pure inspiration … so I called my friends … and they called their friends … We made the song and video … Usually this process would take months … but we did it together in 48 hours … and instead of putting it in the hands of profit we put it in the hands of inspiration.8

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In addition to this video made by professional musicians, there emerged grassroots-based videos made by ordinary people who produced their own videos and narratives to support Obama, collected on a YouTube (UT) website.9 Traditionally underrepresented youth and people of color enthusiastically created UT-style self-made videos, containing their personal narratives and reasons why they support Obama for President, and used these videos as an innovative platform for grassroots political mobilization with which to inspire and consolidate potential Obama supporters online and off-line. Throughout major cities like Los Angeles, hundreds of Obama art posters and stickers appeared on stop signs, underpasses, buildings, and billboards, with Obama’s face and the word “HOPE” emblazoned across them. Even street artists began creating Obama graffiti and urban art in public places with Obama’s image competing with those of Hollywood stars, sports figures, and other celebrities as icons of the time (Linthkicum 2008). So in terms of stagecraft and spectacle, Obama’s daily stump speeches on the campaign trail, his post-victory and even post-defeat speeches in the Democratic primaries, and his grassroots internet and cultural support have shown that Obama is a master of the spectacle. As for Hillary Clinton, she simply was not as good as Obama in creating spectacles, although she became proficient as the primaries went along, and near the end of the presidential primaries, the new spectacle of “Hillary the Fighter” emerged as she relentlessly campaigned day and night and was just barely beaten by Obama. Refusing to give up, Clinton campaigned tirelessly and gave rousing speeches to her fired-up forces, so that in the two weeks before the Ohio and Texas primary, the Hillary the Fighter spectacle competed fiercely with the Obama spectacle and helped win her these primaries. Clinton had mobilized an army of highly motivated, largely female, supporters, aided by politicos associated with Bill Clinton and Democratic Party professional operatives. Hillary the Fighter was becoming quite a spectacle herself, going on the attack in the Texas debate, criticizing Obama on the stump and in ads, going on popular TV shows like Saturday Night Live (SNL) and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the two most popular comedy and news satire shows, to promote her policies and increase her “likeability.” During this time, Clinton was a fireball of energy, campaigning daily to impressive crowds, appearing on every imaginable TV show, and getting on the cover of TIME magazine on May 17, 2008 with a dramatic cover picture of “The Fighter.” With momentum going her way, Clinton won three party primaries in early March. At this time, the mainstream media started to become more critical of Obama after a satirical SNL skit spoofed how the media was hyping Obama relentlessly and promoting him as “The One.” Clinton

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referenced the SNL coverage and even made a complaint in a debate that the media was totally uncritical of her opponent, as Saturday Night Live had pointed out. Media pundits and Clinton accelerated their daily attacks on Obama, putting him on the defensive, and Obama appeared to be losing his momentum in the two weeks before the Texas and Ohio primaries, both of which Clinton won, making it a tight and exciting race. The Clinton forces mobilized a celebrity spectacle for the campaign, getting Jack Nicholson to make ads for her, and sending younger stars on the campaign trail in Ohio and Texas, enabling Clinton to achieve primary victories in these important states. After these big primary losses for Obama, The New York Times featured an article, “Lesson of Defeat: Obama Comes out Punching” on March 6, 2008, and a new theme— Obama the Fighter—emerged, supplementing Obama the Visionary, the Charismatic, the Redeemer, and JFK Reborn. Obviously, Obama had to become more aggressive and become a fighter in response to Hillary’s fierce attack-dog mode. As noted, usually the spectacle of masculinity is decisive in US presidential elections (Katz 2009). George W. Bush bought a Texas ranch so that he could wear cowboy boots and cut brush, images mocked by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11. In 2004, John Kerry went hunting and smeared rabbit blood on himself to project the spectacle of Kerry the Hunter, but the Bush-Cheney campaign played images of John Kerry windsurfing on a boat, an aristocratic sport, and used the images of him wind-surfing from one side of the boat to another to illustrate the “flip-flop” motif used against Kerry, with French classical music playing on the soundtrack, to highlight the Frenchified Kerry. Against Obama, Hillary had become increasingly masculine, positioning herself as the Fighter, the Commander-in-Chief, the aggressive campaigner, assuring white working class voters that “I’ll fight for you.” One of Hillary’s surrogates said only she had the “testicular fortitude” to do the job, while another praised her, saying that “She makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy” (Leibovich & Zernike 2008). In Pennsylvania, Clinton even played the gun card, recalling how her grandfather had taught her respect for guns and how to shoot them, leading Obama to joke that Hillary Clinton “thinks she’s Annie Oakley.” In March, as the campaign rhetoric heated up with each team trading insults, Clinton played the fear card with her ad proclaiming that “It’s 3 a.m.” suggesting that the American public needed an experienced Commander-in-Chief to deal with a crisis. In mid-March, Obama was subjected to especially nasty attacks concerning his Chicago associates, particularly the pastor of his church, Jeremiah Wright, whose inflammatory speeches were circulating on YouTube and through the media and the internet. The deluge of Republicans and mainstream media circulating the Wright speeches, combined with the reverend’s appearances on television

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making highly controversial speeches, led Obama to break with his pastor. However, Obama gave what many believed to be a brilliant speech on race on March 18 in Philadelphia, another spectacle that became a major cultural event both on the internet and in the mainstream media. TV network commentators were immediately comparing it to Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech and calling it the most important political speech on race since King’s. Pundits, including conservative ones, gushed praises of the speech that dominated TV news throughout the day and the internet and print media in the days following. Perhaps Obama’s low point came when he told a group of supporters at a fundraiser in Marin County, Calif., that he was having trouble getting white working class support in Pennsylvania because small-town residents were “bitter” and “clinging to guns and religion.” The Clinton and Republican response teams attacked Obama as an elitist, out of touch and contemptuous of guns and religion, but he continued to hang on to his lead in the delegate count and won primaries on May 5 in Indiana and North Carolina. Moving closer to the Democratic National Convention, Obama began picking up more and more “Super Delegates” and it was clear that Obama had eked out a close win in the Democratic Party primary after a close and momentous battle of the spectacle, certified when Hillary Clinton ended her campaign in June.

Media Spectacle in Election 2008 “Change is coming to America” Barack Obama

Hence, Barack Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination, setting himself to run against John McCain, the Republican Party candidate. Following Obama’s impressive performance on the stump in the Democratic Party primaries, coverage of both the party conventions and general election was dominated by the form of media spectacle. While the McCain camp engaged in petty anti-Obama ads and attacks in summer 2008, Obama went on a global tour that itself became a major media spectacle as he traveled from Afghanistan and Iraq to Europe. Obama gave a rousing speech in Berlin that attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators and a global TV audience. He was shown meeting with leaders in all of these countries, as if he were the presumptive President, thus establishing him as a global celebrity of the highest magnitude. Since Obama had become an extremely effective creator of political spectacle, McCain presumably had to produce good media spectacle himself. From the time Obama clinched the nomination, McCain largely

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attempted to create an anti-Obama spectacle through TV ads, planting antiObama stories in the press and circulating them through the internet, and eventually attacking Obama every day on the campaign trail. Underneath the spectacle on the broadcasting media, a Republican campaign circulated through the internet claiming that Obama was really a Muslim, anti-American like Rev. Wright, and even an Iranian agent.10 In addition to these underhanded sneak attacks, which paralleled the Swift Boat attacks made against John Kerry in 2004, the McCain campaign released TV ads equating Obama with such empty celebrities as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears; this led Paris Hilton to create an ad attacking “the wrinkly old white dude”—i.e. John McCain—and arguing why she’d be a better President, and her YouTube video received over one million hits in a single day.11 Quite obviously, the Republicans did not understand that Obama’s rising celebrity status was helping him become more popular, getting him more attention, support and, eventually, votes from a population that is generally attracted by celebrity status and culture. In another ad, McCain attacked Obama for policies that would lead to high energy prices and ridiculed Obama’s proposal to “inflate your tires,” as if this were the entirety of Obama’s energy program. Obama was able to counter that he had a much more sophisticated energy program and that John McCain had voted against many of the alternative energy sources that Obama supported. Desperate for attention and needing a little spectacle of his own, John McCain appeared with his wife, Cindy, at the Sturgis Biker Festival with the pop musician, Kid Rock. As the bikers roared their engines in approval, McCain engaged in blustering, if often incoherent, demagoguery, shouting that Washington was broken! Continuing in the demagogue mode, McCain spouted that while the country was in crisis, its Congress was on vacation, insisting he would make them come back to work during the summer. He received his loudest cheers and shouts of approval as he offered up his wealthy trophy wife, Cindy, to enter the beauty contest the next day, perhaps not knowing, as the TV images of past contests made clear, that this involved nudity and he was essentially offering his wife as a sex object before a drunken crowd. As the campaigns neared their party conventions, traditionally a great TV spectacle of the campaign, the presidential race seemed to be establishing once again the primacy of network television as the major site upon which election battles play out, although print media, internet and new media were also significant, as I have suggested. Following the great spectacle of the Democratic convention in late August 2008—with memorable speeches by Obama, Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and a moving appearance by an ailing Senator Ted Kennedy—McCain desperately needed a compelling spectacle and got it in spades when he announced and presented his vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, who generated one of the more astounding media spectacles in recent US political history.

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The Curious Sarah Palin Spectacle “Everybody knows politics is a contact sport” Barack Obama

Sarah Palin, the first-term Governor of Alaska and former small-town mayor, whom few knew much about when McCain selected her, was a genuinely surprising pick. It turned out, however, that Palin certainly provided good spectacle. She was a gun owner and NRA activist, and television networks aired footage all day, when she was announced as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, of her shooting guns. She was also a high school basketball star, so TV showed repeated footage of her playing basketball (although Obama could undoubtedly beat her one-on-one). Palin’s husband, Todd, was a snowmobile champion, providing even more good sports spectacle throughout the media barrage that was the Palins’ introduction to the American public. Moreover, Sarah Palin was a former beauty pageant winner, triumphing in local contests and coming in runner-up as Miss Alaska, with various images of her as a pin-up girl circulating through the media sphere as well. A mother of five children, including a newborn baby with Down syndrome, provided the media with a great number of picturesque family photos. After her initial speech at the Republican convention with McCain introducing her to the American

Sarah Palin and John McCain in Election 2008

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public, her family and the McCains went shopping, where she was shown as an enthusiastic shopper, marking her as a typical American. One might think the initial US corporate media presentation of Sarah Palin is all pretty ridiculous, but American elections are often won on image and spectacle, and obviously Palin provided good spectacle. Republicans initially hoped that she would draw in Hillary Clinton supporters and other female voters because she was herself a woman, but that did not happen for a number of reasons. Palin opposed abortion rights, was militantly anti-abortion rights, had a poor record on environmental protection, and believed the environmental crisis was not man-made. Furthermore, Palin supported drilling oil everywhere without environmental regulation, preached the teaching of creationism and religion in schools and taking offending books out of libraries. Palin was militantly anti-gay, so it was quite unlikely that any true Clinton supporters would vote for this rightwing ideologue. Then on Labor Day, September 1, a tabloid-besotted media revealed that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol was pregnant and unmarried, creating an all-day media sex scandal spectacle and leading to debates on whether a mother with all these problems should run for Vice-President and submit her family to the media scrutiny. More seriously, many political scandals involving Palin herself came out: she had fired state employees who would not do her bidding and had appointed unqualified high school friends and cronies to state jobs; she had supported corrupt politicians, lied about her record, and consistently taken positions to the right of Dick Cheney. This all made Sarah Palin suddenly a spectacle of scandal, as well as the object of adulation by the Christian and Republican Right. The Republicans were forced to postpone their convention because of another spectacle: Hurricane Gustav, which was initially projected to be twice as dangerous as Katrina but turned out to be relatively minor. Once the Republicans got their convention started, Sarah Palin gave an electrifying speech that mobilized the right-wing Republican base and a new star was born. For a couple of weeks after the Republican convention, Sarah Palin was the spectacle of the moment and the media buzzed around the clock about her past and her record, her qualifications or lack of them, and her effect on the election.

The Spectacle of Economic Crisis and Impending Collapse “Our leaders have thrown open the doors of Congress and the White House to an army of Washington lobbyists who have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.” Barack Obama

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After the “Stupid Season” of presidential party conventions and the orchestrating of party spectacle was over, on September 15, 2008 the collapse of the investment company Lehman Brothers helped trigger what appeared to be one of the greatest US and global financial crises in history.12 Suddenly, the election was caught up in the spectacle of the possible collapse of the US and global economy, and so economics took a front-and-center place in the campaign. In two wild weeks of campaigning, McCain first insisted that the “fundamentals” of the US economy were sound, and when everyone ridiculed him, he recognized the significance of the crisis and said that as President he would fire the head of the Security Exchange Commission, even though this official does not serve directly under the President and everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the television networks admonished McCain for trying to scapegoat someone whom experts knew was not responsible for the crisis. Zigzagging wildly, McCain thundered one day that he was against federal bailouts and when the Bush administration announced the biggest bailout in history that was allegedly necessary to save the whole economy, McCain flip-flopped into support of bailouts. By the end of the week, he resorted to blaming Obama for the crisis, since Obama was part of a corrupt Washington establishment. This baseless allegation overlooked that McCain’s top economic advisor, Phil Gramm had been instrumental in pushing deregulation of the economy through Congress. Further, top lobbyists were running McCain’s campaign, including his campaign manager, who was instrumental in lobbying for the failed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financial institutions that some in the McCain-Palin campaign were trying to blame for the economic meltdown and present as a Democrat Party debacle. Obama seemed to gain the initiative during the economic crisis as he made measured and intelligent statements about the economy, and so the Republicans desperately began a strategy of “The Big Lie,” endlessly distorting his tax proposals, accusing him of crony relations with disgraced federal officials whom he hardly knew, and making ridiculous claims about Obama’s responsibility for the economic mess. It was becoming apparent that the Republicans were pursuing the Karl Rove-George W. Bush strategy of simply lying about their opponents, and trying to create an alternative reality.13 For instance, from the beginning, Sarah Palin’s candidacy was arguably based on Big Lies, as McCain introduced her as the woman who had stopped the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska and was a champion of cutting “earmarks,” or pork barrel legislation to benefit special interests in one’s district. Palin repeated these claims day after day, but research revealed that she had supported the bridge’s construction from the onset of its plans, had hired a public relations firm to secure earmarks for her district and her state, and that Alaska had received more earmarks per capita than anywhere in the country.

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With the September 22, 2008 economic meltdown, however, when it looked like the US economy was in a freefall collapse and the Bush-Cheney administration proposed a multi-billion dollar bailout package, John McCain embarked on one of the truly incredible political spectacles in US history, trying to position himself as the savior of the economic system and then making an utter fool of himself as, day after day, he engaged in increasingly bizarre and erratic behavior. Just before the first presidential debate on September 26, McCain announced he was suspending his campaign to go to Washington to resolve the financial crisis and would stay there until it was stabilized, thereby threatening to miss the presidential debate. Over the weekend, McCain went to Washington, claiming he was bringing together Congressmen to fix the financial crisis while attacking Obama for staying on the campaign trail. McCain then called for an emergency meeting in the White House consisting of himself, Obama, Bush, and key Bush-Cheney administration economic leaders. Obama hesitated and then agreed to go to the meeting, and, as Suskind tells it, after spending months studying Wall Street and the financial system with his economic advisors, Obama was well prepared for the discussion and “could talk finance like a pro” (2011, 119ff). Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson later recalled that Obama delivered a thoughtful, well-prepared presentation, sketching the broad outlines of the problem and stressing the need for immediate action, while Suskind (2011, 119) claims that others at the meeting “noted the senator’s calm focus and even ‘presidential’ demeanor.” McCain, by contrast, did not respond to Obama’s presentation and when asked by Obama to share his views took out some note-cards and mumbled some platitudes, “reading clumsily from the single note-card he’d brought with him” (Suskind 2011, 120). Photos taken by the press and widely released of the participants in the cabinet room of the White House showed Obama appearing “the most presidential, followed by the oddly deferential Bush—who didn’t say very much and seemed perplexed about why the meeting had been convened—and McCain, in a distant third, who looked confused, as if he had stepped off at the wrong bus stop. Like several seminal moments that preceded—the Obama convention speech in 2004, the Iowa victory speech, the brilliant dissertation on race—this was an instant when the public refocused its gaze. The African American senator with little experience indisputably looked and acted like a president in time of crisis” (Suskind 2011, 120). The morning of the Congressional vote on the stimulus package, McCain and his surrogates claimed it was John McCain alone who had brought Democrats and Republicans together to resolve the financial crisis and continued their vicious attacks on Obama. When, hours later, it was revealed that the bailout package, pushed by the Bush-Cheney administration and supported by McCain, Obama, and both the Democratic and Republican Party House leaders, failed because two-thirds of the

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Republicans, who McCain was supposed to be leading, voted against it, McCain ended up with more than a little egg on his face. The stock market plunged in the biggest one-day drop in its history, and trying in the face of his buffoonish spectacle to keep the initiative, McCain said that this was not the time to engage in partisan behavior, but rather to pull the country together. Quickly, however, McCain blamed the failure of the bailout bill on Obama and the Democrats—surely a partisan claim! After a lot of negative publicity for his threats to postpone the first debate to deal instead with the financial crisis, McCain showed up for the debate, where he attacked Barack Obama in an extremely pugilistic debate performance. While McCain’s website declared him the winner before the debate even took place, subsequent polls showed that Obama got a bounce in the polls from the debate and his performances in response to the financial crisis, providing crucial momentum in winning the campaign. The Sarah Palin spectacle momentarily took focus off of McCain’s erratic efforts to take advantage of the worsening economic crisis and the unpopular trillion-dollar-plus bailout package that both Obama and McCain ended up supporting. Great anticipation was building up to the upcoming debate between Palin and the Democratic Party vice-presidential candidate, Senator Joe Biden. The lead-up to the debate featured daily sound bites of Sarah Palin’s interview with CBS’s Katie Couric, in which Palin was unable to mention one specific newspaper or journal that she read regularly, could not think of a Supreme Court decision she opposed beyond Roe vs. Wade, and generally could not complete a coherent sentence, let alone provide a clear answer. During the debate, she proved herself to be a good scripted performer as she acted out the predigested sound bites to each question, winked and talked folksy if she wanted to distract the audience, and generally smiled, winked, and delivered clichéd sound bites, rather than actually debating the questions; Biden, on the other hand, provided coherent answers to questions and offered criticism of John McCain, which Palin ignored. Palin’s conservative base, however, loved her down-home hockey-mom performance, and so Palin was unleashed as the attack dog on the campaign trail. McCain had become desperate, with polls indicating that votes were going Obama’s way in key states, and he decided to attack Obama’s personal character as a last-ditch way to try to win votes. After the New York Times published an article on Obama and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, Palin started saying daily that “Obama’s pallin’ around with terrorists,” and John McCain began personally attacking Obama, raising the question “Who is the real Barack Obama?” to which the audience replied, screaming, “Terrorist!” Throughout the second week of October, Palin and McCain continued to make the Ayers connection in their campaign rallies, media interviews and TV ads, personally attacking Obama, and at these rallies the frenzied

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Republican mob would scream things like “Kill him,” “Traitor” and “Bomb Obama!” When one confused woman in the Republican mob told McCain that she “didn’t trust Obama” because of things she’d been hearing about him, stammering “He’s an Arab,” it was clear that the Republicans’ lies and demagoguery had influenced their rabid right-wing base to believe that Obama was an Arab, a Muslim, a terrorist, and not an American. It was also clear that Palin and McCain had stirred up significant levels of mob fear, ignorance, and violence that were becoming extremely volatile and dangerous. Investigative reporters indicated that Obama had only a casual relation with Bill Ayers, whereas Palin and her husband were involved in an Alaskan secessionist party whose right-wing and anti-Semitic founder had a long history of outrageous anti-American ranting, racist ramblings and ultraright politics; Palin’s husband had belonged to that party and in 2008, Sarah Palin had addressed their party convention, wishing them “good luck.” Another investigative report linked Palin to a number of extreme right-wing groups and individuals who had promoted her career (McCain, too, it was later revealed, had been associated with an unsavory lot).14 But Palin’s week of infamy came to a proper conclusion when the Alaskan Supreme Court ruled on October 10 that a report into the “Troopergate” scandal could be released and the report itself pointed out that Palin had “abused her authority as governor” and violated Alaska’s ethics regulations. Thrown off her moralistic high horse, Palin nonetheless continued to be McCain’s attack dog and raise controversy on the campaign trail, even claiming that the Court had acknowledged that she had not abused her authority or violated ethical regulations, when clearly it had ruled otherwise. The Republicans were playing a double game, accusing Obama of having all sorts of extreme left-wing associations, while playing down their own extreme right-wing associations, which led David Remnick to comment: “The spectacle of McCain’s confusion [i.e. during the financial crisis], his courtship of right-wing evangelists, free-market absolutists, and other conservatives new to his world would have been pitiable had it not been so dangerous (2011, 546). It also was clear that Republicans were playing a game of politics by association to feed their media spectacles. The Bush-Cheney administration had associated Iraq with 9/11, al-Qaeda, and “weapons of mass destruction,” connections that were later proven false, but were used to sell the Iraq War to their Republican base, gullible Democrats, and the media. Republicans had long marketed their rightwing corporate class politics to voters by associating the Democrats with gay marriage, abortion, and secularism. Would the public and media wake up to the Republicans’ politics of lying and manipulation or would the GOP continue to get away with their decades of misrule and mendaciousness?

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The Joe the Plumber Spectacle “We want to spread it around to look after all people” Barack Obama

Economic news got worse by the day as the stock market continued to plunge and the global economy appeared to be collapsing. In this atmosphere of crisis, the McCain-Palin spectacle of distraction appeared increasingly appalling. With a backlash against Palin’s rabble-rousing and McCain’s negative campaigning, the Republican candidates toned down their attacks on “The One,” although their direct mailings and robo-calls continued to associate Obama with Bill Ayers and terrorism, and to raise doubts about his character. In the final presidential debate on October 15, McCain had a chance to bring up Obama’s associations to his face, which he did in a generally aggressive debate in which Obama coolly and calmly answered claims concerning his alleged radical associations and easily dismissed them. But the major theme of the debate, as pushed by McCain, and one that would become a touchstone of his campaign, was how Obama’s answer to “Joe the Plumber” on the campaign trail proved that Obama would raise taxes on small business if elected. In an Obama campaign event the previous weekend, the man who McCain referred to as Joe the Plumber told Obama that he had been a plumber for 15 years and was trying to buy the business he worked for—and since it cost over $250,000, he would be forced to pay higher taxes since Obama’s tax reform proposal would increase taxes on those making over $250,000 a year and lower the taxes of those making less. It turned out Joe was not even the man’s first name, and his real name was Samuel J. Wurzelbacher; that he was not a licensed plumber; that his income the previous year was around $40,000; and that he owed over $1,000 in unpaid back taxes.15 These paltry facts did not stop McCain and Palin, who continued to extol “Joe the Plumber” in every campaign stop. This became a major theme of their campaign: generating opposition to Obama, the tax-and-spend liberal who would raise your taxes, and building support for McCain and Palin, who took the side of Joe the Plumber, Ted the Carpenter, and a daily array of allegedly working-class people who opposed Obama, leaving out only Rosie the Riveter.16 The McCain-Palin “Joe the Plumber” tour narrative, however, was interrupted daily by the scandals and juicy news stories that tend to dominate news cycles in the era of media spectacle. It was revealed on ABC News on October 24 that the Republicans had spent more than $150,000 on the Palin family wardrobe and that Palin’s stylist was paid twice as much in early October as McCain’s major campaign consultant. In her first policy address—on the need for spending on special needs children—Palin

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denigrated research spent on studying fruit flies, a basic tool of genetic research which has helped produce understanding of autism, among many other genetic disorders. That same day, Palin’s campaigning was interrupted by the need for her and her husband Todd to do another deposition in the Troopergate scandal. All this led to Palin’s negative ratings continuing to rise, as did numbers that claimed she was a drag on the McCain campaign.17 That same week went badly for the rest of the McCain campaign. A young woman who worked for the McCain campaign made accusations that a big black man had raped her and carved a “B” for Barack on her face; these allegations led to a bevy of right-wing attacks on the Obama people, but the police quickly questioned her and by the next day the young woman admitted she had made it all up, a rather scandalous incident of race-baiting that the McCain campaign encouraged and did not disavow or apologize for. And to top the week of October 20 off, John McCain’s brother, Joe McCain, called a 911 number to report a traffic jam he was stuck in, and when the operator retorted that it was not proper to use the number for this purpose, Joe said, “Fuck you,” and hung up. As the two campaigns entered their last week of electioneering before the November 4 vote, Obama made speeches with his “closing arguments” to the American people, hoping to “seal the deal.” During that September, Obama had raised an unprecedented $150 million, much of it from small internet and personal donations, and was soaring in the polls, which showed him pulling ahead of McCain nationally and in the significant battleground states. As he entered the last week of the campaign, Obama presented the spectacle of a young, energetic, articulate candidate who had run what many considered an almost flawless campaign and attempted during the election’s final days to project images of hope, change, and bringing the country together to address its growing problems and divisions—exactly the message that Obama started off his campaign with. The McCain-Palin camp seemed to close with the same basic argument with which most Republican candidates end their campaign: the Democrats want to raise taxes and spread around the wealth, an accusation increasingly hyped by the right-wing base, and by McCain and Palin themselves, that Obama was really a “socialist.” McCain continued to raise questions about Obama’s experience and the risk that the country would be taking with such an untested President, while Obama retorted that the real risk was continuing with more of the last eight years of catastrophic economic policies and failed foreign policy. There were also signs of disarray and defeat in the Republican camp. McCain insiders were presenting Palin as a “diva” who had gone “rogue,” failing to reproduce the campaign lines that they wanted, suggesting that she was out for herself and positioning herself for a 2012 presidential race. One McCain operative even dismissed her as a “whack job.” Meanwhile, Palin complained about the McCain campaign giving her the $150,000

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worth of clothes that had become a media obsession, insisting she usually got her own clothes from thrift shops, and often ignored the McCain handlers who were trying to keep her from the press and script her speeches and comments. As the campaign came to a close, Obama tried to seal the deal with a multi-million dollar infomercial played on major networks during primetime just before the World Series game on October 29. In a Hollywood-like production, the Obama spectacle came together with “American stories” about hard times and struggles and how Obama would deal with these problems and help people; an acknowledgment of the seriousness of problems with the economy and what Obama would do to deal with the crisis; a reprise of his personal story, highlighting his biracial heritage and close relations to his white mother and grandparents; testimonies from a variety of individuals concerning Obama’s experience in community, state politics and at national level; and highlights from some of Obama’s greatest speeches. This event was followed by a live appearance with Bill Clinton in a midnight campaign rally in Florida, Obama’s first campaign event with the former President and husband of his primary campaign rival Hillary Clinton. Bill enthusiastically endorsed Obama, indicating that Obama was regularly calling him for advice concerning the economic crisis and praising Obama for reaching out for experts on the issue, suggesting that the Clintons and Obama had made up, at least for the present. Obama returned the compliments with praise of Clinton’s presidency and compared the good times experienced under Clinton and the Democrats to the messes of the past eight years under the Republican Bush-Cheney regime and policies which Clinton and Obama both claimed John McCain would basically continue. As the presidential campaign entered its final days, it was clear that contemporary US presidential campaigns were organized around the production of daily media spectacles that embodied narrative themes of the campaign. In a hard-fought Democratic Party primary, the Obama spectacle of youth, change, hope, and a new multicultural America narrowly bested the spectacle of Hillary the Fighter, with the prospect of the first President of color defeating the prospect of the first female President. This spectacle gripped the nation and the global media, and set up intense interest in the spectacle of young Barack Obama going up against war hero and veteran Senator John McCain in the general election. Obama continued to draw large and adoring crowds throughout his fall campaign, but also consistently tried to present the image of being cool, calm, competent, and presidential on the campaign trail, and during media interviews and the presidential debates. Unlike the McCain-Palin campaign, he avoided dramatic daily shifts and attention-grabbing stunts to try to present an image of a mature and intelligent leader who is able to rationally

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deal with crises and respond to attacks in a measured and cool manner, giving him the moniker “No drama, Obama.” The spectacle of masculinity also played out in the election in novel ways. Barack Obama represented a cool, hip, black urban masculinity, in tune with popular culture, breaking with the tough father-and-defender masculinity typical of most previous presidential candidates, especially Republicans (Katz 2009). Obama was a devotee of basketball but not working-class sports like bowling or hunting, and was highly sophisticated and multicultural. Hillary Clinton played the gender card against Obama unsuccessfully in the primary, claiming she was the true man and fighter, while in the general election both Sarah Palin and John McCain tried to unman Obama, presenting themselves as tougher, more masculine and better able to protect the country in a mean world. Palin constantly talked about hunting and sports, was a highly aggressive campaigner and mocked Obama relentlessly. McCain, in turn, represented a military macho masculinity, constantly playing up his military background and toughness in foreign affairs. But, perhaps for the first time, an electorate was not significantly swayed by the gender or race card, as we discovered on election night.

The 2008 Election Night Spectacle “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer….    It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.” Barack Obama, Election Night Speech, November 4, 2008

Election night is always a major political spectacle when the country, and parts of the world, watch the election results come in with maps flashing red and blue colors on the states, with the exciting swoosh of breaking news, followed by results and trends of the election, all in the inevitable countdown for a candidate getting the magic number of electoral votes to gain the presidency. All day long, the television networks provided exciting spectacles of record turnouts all over the country, with images of people patiently waiting in line to vote, the candidates making their last electoral stops and

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pitches and then voting, followed by the period of waiting for polls to close so that the networks could release vote tallies and determine the winner. The November 4, 2008 election night started slowly with Obama getting the predictably Democratic states in the Northeast and McCain getting predictably Republican Southern states. Excitement mounted when Obama was awarded the plum of Pennsylvania, which McCain and Palin had campaigned hard for, and when an hour or so later Obama was given Ohio, it was clear that he was on the way to victory. At 11.00 p.m., the networks opened the hour with the banner heading “Barack Obama Elected 44th President of the United States,” or just “Obama Elected President.” His sweep of the West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington, plus the bonus of Hawaii and the hard-fought southern state of Virginia, sealed it for Obama, who was on his way to a big win. But on the television networks, spectacle trumped analysis as McCain took the stage in Phoenix with his wife Cindy and Sarah and Todd Palin by his side to make an extremely gracious concession speech, laced with appeals to his followers to support Obama and the country in this time of trouble. Some of the Republican base in the Phoenix ballroom did not like this message and McCain had to repeatedly silence their booing and screaming. Meanwhile, in Grant Park in Chicago a massive crowd was assembling to hear President-Elect Obama’s speech and to greet him and his family. The site of the spectacle “The Whole World is Watching” during the Democratic convention in 1968, when the police tear-gassed anti-war spectators, and the site a year later of the Weather Underground abortive “Days of Rage” spectacle, this time Grant Park hosted a peaceful assembly of a couple of hundred thousand spectators, mostly young and of many colors, that had assembled to celebrate Obama’s historical victory.18 In the crowd, television networks showed close-ups of celebrities like Jessie Jackson, tears streaming down his face, a jubilant Spike Lee, a solemn and smiling Oprah Winfrey, and others who joined the young crowd to hear Obama’s victory speech. The park hushed into silence as McCain gave his concession speech and the audience nodded and applauded respectfully, suggesting that the country could come together. When Obama, his wife Michelle, and his two beautiful girls took stage, the crowd went wild and the eyes of the world were watching the spectacle of Barack Obama becoming president of the United States. Television networks showed the spectacle of people celebrating throughout the United States, from Times Square to Atlanta, and even throughout the world. There were special celebrations in countries like Kenya and Indonesia where Obama had relatives or had lived, and his connections to these countries were producing national shrines that would become tourist destinations. Obama had become a global spectacle and his stunning victory would make him a world celebrity superstar of global media and politics. In the

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following sections, I will carry out a diagnostic critique of what Obama’s victory tells us about contemporary politics and the role and limitations of spectacle politics.

Politics of the Spectacle in the Contemporary Era “We’ve got a story to tell that isn’t just against something but is for something.” Barack Obama, “Take Back America Conference,” June 14, 2006

In this study, I have focused on the dimension of US presidential campaigns as media spectacles and have described the spectacles of the 2008 presidential election, surely one of the most exciting and fascinating political spectacles in US history. While I have argued that presidential campaigns in the US and elsewhere are primarily orchestrated as media spectacles, I do not want to suggest that this is the most important aspect of determining who wins an election, or the master key to victory. Obviously, money plays a major part in presidential elections and often whoever raises the most money wins. In a media age, money allows candidates to produce their own spectacles in the form of TV ads, and candidates need to raise millions to orchestrate campaign events and produce an organization capable of winning the presidency. Obama raised an unprecedented amount of money, with record donations from small contributors and a record amount raised through the internet.19 People also vote because of political affiliations and ideology, their economic interests, and sometimes even because of issues and substance, no matter what the spectacle of the day has to offer. While there is no consensus on the reasons for Obama’s victory and no doubt there will be debate over this for years, I would suggest that certain resonant images and media spectacles contributed significantly to Obama’s victory. People obviously wanted change and hope, and Obama offered a spectacle of both since he was the first candidate of color and represented a generational change in leadership. The Obama campaign pushed daily the spectacle of the connection between John McCain and the Bush-Cheney administration in TV ads, daily rallies, debates, and other forums. This was complemented by TV news endlessly playing pictures of Bush and McCain embracing, and graphics showing that McCain had voted with the most unpopular and failed President in recent history 90 per cent of the time. The global collapse of the financial markets and crisis of the US and global economy produced one of the major media spectacles of the campaign and

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the McCain spectacle of erratic pronouncements and daily stunts to exploit the crisis obviously turned voters off; meanwhile, Obama remained cool and rational during this spectacle and time of danger, showing he was more presidential and better able to deal with crises. During this difficult period in US and global history, voters appeared to react against the politics of distraction, with the Republican spectacles of daily attacks on Obama backfiring and the negative spectacle of Republican crowds screaming “terrorist,” “traitor,” “kill him!” and the like, producing an extremely negative spectacle of a Republican mob, stirred up by McCain and Palin. All this seemed to help inspire rational voters to line up, for hours if necessary, to vote for Obama and a new brand of politics. Thus campaign spectacles can backfire. While the Sarah Palin spectacle alone did not destroy the Republican campaign, it certainly did not help recruit many independent voters, even if it made Palin a darling of the Republican extreme right and a media superstar (Remnick 2011, 555). I might note that in the last weeks of the election, Bill and Hillary Clinton invested their star and spectacle power into the Obama campaign. The midnight rally in Florida in the last days of the election provided a memorable spectacle, one that might have helped unify the Democratic Party and brought Clinton supporters into the Obama camp in swing states like Florida and Ohio, where the Clintons had campaigned heavily. During the last weeks of the presidential campaign, there was intense speculation concerning how the race factor would influence the outcome of the election and whether the so-called “Bradley effect” would factor in, referring to African American candidate Tom Bradley who ran for Governor of California in 1982 and appeared to be ahead in the polls, but narrowly lost the election. Commentators suggested that although white voters might tell pollsters that they would vote for popular African American candidates, racism kicked in while in the voting booth, and voters would allegedly mark their ballot for white candidates instead. Preliminary surveys indicated that there was no Bradley effect in the 2008 presidential election. While there was much discussion of whether the Bradley effect would negatively impact against Obama, who was leading in the polls going into the election, there was no evidence of white voters saying they would vote for Obama and then voting against him in the polls. These results put in question the applicability of the Bradley effect, and suggested that there was a post-racial dimension to the Obama phenomenon.20 There was also a generational dimension and probable dimension of media bias helping Obama to win the presidency. A PEW journalism report released about two weeks before the 2008 presidential election, which studied positive and negative representations of the two dominant parties’ presidential and vice-presidential candidates, has revealed that McCain had received strongly negative coverage with more than half of the stories about

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him casting the Republican in a negative light, while fewer than one-third of the stories about Obama were negative. Moreover, about one-third of the Obama stories were rated positive and one-third were scored neutral.21 About two in five of the stories about Palin were negative, whereas about one-third were positive and the rest neutral; Joe Biden was the invisible man of the group, receiving only 6 per cent of the coverage, with more negatives than Palin and almost as many as McCain. Commentators noted that this did not necessarily denote media bias, as conservatives incessantly claim, but rather reflect that many stories are devoted to polls so the leading candidate, in this case Obama, receives more positive representations from these stories. Analysts also noted that McCain’s negative stories were largely concerning his response to the dire financial crisis, for which Republican policies and neo-liberal market fundamentalism were strongly blamed.22 As Robert Draper noted in an article on “The Making (and Remaking) of McCain” (October 26, 2008),23 the McCain campaign had run five sequential narratives, all bolstered, I would add, with media spectacle: 1) The Heroic Fighter vs. the Quitter (think Iraq); 2) Country-First Deal Maker vs. Nonpartisan Pretender; 3) Leader vs. Celebrity (see my discussion above of McCain ads linking Obama with Paris Hilton and Hilton’s rebuttal); 4) Team of Mavericks (i.e. John and Sarah) vs. Old-Style Washington (i.e. Senators Obama and Biden); and 5) John McCain vs. John McCain (i.e. the honorable McCain who said he did not want to engage in guttersnipe politics vs. the last weeks of the campaign with the nasty attacks on Obama). The New York Times article seems to have left out McCain/ Palin’s last narrative, which pitted Joe the Plumber, who the Republicans invoked to oppose tax-and-spend liberals—the usual Republican line when they run out of ideas and attack strategies. As the election results came in and the results predictably followed major polls, it appeared that a long presidential campaign orchestrated by competing media spectacles and presidential narratives had already shaped people’s opinions and determined their voter behavior. It was a momentous election, one marked by stunning media spectacle, but both sides appeared to have firmed up during the economic crisis, which David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, said during election night was the turning point of the campaign, when people decided Obama would be the better President and better able to confront the serious problems that the country faced. Hence, to be a literate reader of US presidential campaigns, one needs to see how the opposing parties construct narratives, media spectacle, and spin to try to produce a positive image of their candidate to sell to the American public and critically decode how the media present political events and candidates. In presidential campaigns, there are daily photo opportunities and media events, themes and points of the day that candidates want to

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highlight, and narratives about the candidates vying to win the support of the public. Obama’s narrative from the beginning was bound up with the Obama spectacle, representing himself as a new kind of politician embodying change and bringing together people of different colors and ethnicities, ages, parts of the nation, and political views. Obama has effectively used media spectacle and new media to promote his candidacy and generally has been consistent in his major themes and story-lines, although the Republicans tried to subvert his story with allegations of close connections with radicals like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. An informed and intelligent public thus needs to learn to deconstruct the spectacle to see what are the real issues behind the election, what interests and ideology do the candidates represent, and what sort of spin, narrative, and media spectacles are being used to sell candidates. This chapter limited itself to describing the media spectacle dimension of the 2008 presidential campaign and Obama’s first 100 days in office. I do not want to claim that media spectacle alone is the key to or essence of presidential campaigns which also depend on traditional organizing, campaign literature, debate, always-proliferating new media, and getting out the vote, the so-called “ground game.” But I would argue that media spectacle is becoming an increasingly salient feature of presidential and other elections in the USA today and that the Obama spectacle has emerged as a defining moment of contemporary US culture and politics.

The Obama Presidency and its Challenges “What speeches can accomplish, they have delivered handsomely for Barack Obama. Now it will depend on his deeds.” David S. Broder, after Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Address24

Following Obama’s election, there was no questioning his popularity and unique celebrity status. Obama’s face appeared on the cover of major news magazines and his post-election vacation to Hawaii and return home to Chicago was covered by a paparazzi horde of journalists perhaps never before equaled in political circles. Pictures of Obama shirtless on the beach in Hawaii and walking hand-in-hand with his daughters in Chicago became iconic, the spectacle of the handsome man and father who had ascended to the pinnacle of political power. The pre-inaugural spectacle in January was memorable and perhaps unparalleled in recent US history. Following a precedent of Abraham Lincoln, Obama took a train ride to Washington, starting in Philadelphia where he made a speech and then picked up Vice-President Joe Biden and his family in Wilmington, Del., for a few more photo opportunities. Along

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the way, large crowds assembled in train stations to greet Obama and there were even cheering crowds along the track en route to the capital city. January 19, 2009 happened to be Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday and a national holiday, and that Monday fittingly became a day of memorials with a major concert at the Washington Mall featuring Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and other A-list musical performers entertaining the large crowds. A record one million or more people were already in the nation’s capital and the festive mood was palpable as the television networks covered the day’s festivities and the joyous crowd, which itself became a spectacle of celebration and happiness. The Obama inaugural spectacle was as well-planned and performed as the primary and presidential campaign. An unprecedented two million people braved the cold and the crowds to come to Washington for the transformative event of inaugurating Obama as President of the United States. Never before had the country seen such a massive number of happy, celebrating people from all walks of life and parts of the country take part in the traditional inaugural ceremony, an event marred only by the bumbling conservative Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who bungled the oath of office, throwing Obama off stride momentarily. The spectacle included the last four Presidents and their families, plus Dick Cheney in a wheelchair after allegedly throwing out his back from lifting boxes in his new home. While Obama’s traditionally short inaugural speech did not have the lofty and soaring rhetoric and crowd-pleasing chants of his most memorable discourses, its recognition of the severity of the crisis confronting the country, the need for fundamental change in politics and values from the Bush-Cheney administration, and determination to confront these problems, satisfied the crowds and most serious observers. Seeing the Bushes leave the White House by helicopter after the ceremony and Cheney being lifted from his wheelchair into his getaway car was an aesthetic delight and joyous spectacle for many members of the TV audience at home, as they watched the least popular President and Vice-President in US history leave town in disgrace, signaling that a new era had truly begun.25 Obama’s first 100 days were highly ambitious, starting by pushing through emergency measures to try to get the economy back on track, specifically a $787 billion stimulus—described as a “recovery and reinvestment”—plan, a controversial bank bailout package that constituted a government takeover of “toxic” bank assets, a housing recovery program, an expansion of the Federal Reserve, and a budget geared to stimulate the economy, rebuild the infrastructure, and create jobs. Obama made good on his middle-class tax cut and promised a radical overhaul of the health system, Congressional spending, and even military spending. Furthermore, President Obama transformed policy on stem cell research, women’s reproductive and labor rights, the environment, and national security through

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executive orders. To be sure, Obama’s hopes for bipartisan politics were dashed when Republicans voted unanimously against some of his economic programs and budget proposals, and the partisan division would intensify as the years went by, as I will describe later in the book (see Chapter 5). President Obama also launched a highly ambitious reversal of Bush-Cheney foreign policy and took multiple new foreign policy initiatives. He promised to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to bring to justice the prisoners there and elsewhere who had been held without trials; he also promised to put an end to illegal torture, rendition, and wiretapping policies. After wavering and declaring that CIA and other agency operatives who carried out torture policies during the Bush-Cheney era would not be prosecuted, Obama later opened the door to prosecute previous administration officials who set the policies and ordered their implementation, although there has so far been no follow-through. During his first 100 days, Obama’s world tours, in which he met with European, global and Latin America leaders, demonstrated that he had become a major global celebrity, suggesting how celebrity politics and spectacle have become normalized as an important, perhaps key, segment of global and regional politics. On his visits to England, France, and the G-20 Summit, Obama received a rock star reception from people in all the countries he visited, with people lining the streets for a glimpse of him, and Obama’s image dominated the media in the coverage of his meetings with foreign leaders. Obama was so popular globally that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” even though he had only been in office nine months (it appears that the people who awarded him this prize wanted to not-so-subtly induce Obama to earn the award). Yet summing up the first two years of Obama’s presidency, we can see the continued existence of powerful elites in US society and the limits of being able to govern on the basis of spectacle and celebrity. Although Obama and the Congress passed a health care reform bill, because of the powerful interests of the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical industries it was impossible to pass a universal health care bill of the sort enjoyed by European democracies, and there were many concessions to the powerful insurance and medical industries.26 Although there was some reform of the financial sector, powerful Wall Street and finance capital interests blocked more serious regulatory reform.27 And while Obama had wanted to close the Guantanamo prison in Cuba associated with torture and try those terrorist suspects incarcerated there in civilian courts, so far he has not been able to do this. Further, after the debacle for the Obama administration in the 2010 Congressional elections, which gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives and many state governments, spectacle and celebrity are unlikely to be powerful forces to advance his domestic agenda.

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For a diagnostic critique that engages media spectacle to ascertain what the major spectacles of the day tell us about contemporary society, my studies of the Obama phenomenon suggest that while power elite theory does not completely explain US politics in the contemporary era, it has not lost its cogency. On one hand, an individual like Barack Obama can master the art of media spectacle and come from outside of the political establishment to win the presidency, especially if he has the support of groups, like youth, and social movements, who will use new media to promote a candidate, raise money, and get out the vote. Once in power, however, any US President faces a power elite of entrenched political parties, corporate lobbying, powerful right-wing media, and power elite centers willing to invest money to block a President or unseat him. Hence, to grasp contemporary US politics, one should combine traditional power elite theories with newer postmodern theories of new sources of power and a potential pluralization of political power. It remains to be seen if Obama’s mastery of media spectacle and celebrity status can help him solve the overwhelming economic problems to reboot the US economy and make progress on difficult global issues, or if old Washington partisan politics and the overwhelming challenges the Obama administration faces on multiple fronts will undermine Obama’s popularity and efficiency as leader. Spectacle and celebrity are certainly important tools of governing in a media age, but it remains to be seen if Obama and his administration can effectively deal with the multiple crises of the contemporary moment. The following chapters discuss in part how Obama dealt with major political issues and media spectacles of 2011, beginning in the next chapter with the North African Arab Uprisings. This chapter will focus on how the Arab Uprisings provided spectacles of revolt that helped generate global upheavals and political transformations in the year 2011, and how politics globally has become constructed, presented, and disseminated as media spectacle. Following chapters will trace subsequent major media spectacles in 2011, and in the final chapter I will suggest what these spectacles tell us about the contemporary era. In conclusion, I will therefore return to discuss the role of the Obama spectacle, the Arab Uprisings, the death of Osama Bin Laden and ongoing spectacles of terror, global financial crises, and Occupy movements, which together have made 2011 one of the most significant years of contemporary history.

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2 The North African Arab Uprisings: From Tunisia and Egypt to Libya and Beyond

There are decades in which nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen Lenin

With the spring 2011 North African Arab Uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, we see that political insurgencies and hoped-for revolutions have been unfolding as media spectacles that circulate images and discourses of revolt, insurrection, freedom, and democracy through global media. These insurrections—which erupted in late January 2011 and have continued to shake the world and reconstitute the political landscape of North Africa and the Middle East during spring and through 2011 and into the foreseeable future—may be seen in retrospect as inaugurating a new epoch of history, in which political uprisings and insurrections radicalize entire regions of the world and drive out corrupt and entrenched dictatorships. To begin, however, I should open with some caveats and cautionary warnings. While Al Jazeera, CNN, and most US media networks at first repeatedly used the term “revolution” to describe the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, since we do not know if a thorough transformation of the these societies will take place or not, I’m using in this chapter the more modest term “North African Arab Uprisings” to describe the media

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spectacles and political insurrections of the Arab Spring which may yet be looked back upon as world-historical and transformative events.1 In the title of this book I use the term “insurrection” to describe the entire array of uprisings in 2011 from the North African Arab Uprisings through the Occupy movements, since we do not yet know if these events and movements are producing a new and liberated social order. Yet reflecting upon the dramatic uprisings in North Africa in the Arab Spring, it is, to be sure, “revolutionary” to overthrow military regimes and corrupt dictators who have been oppressing their people for decades. It is “revolutionary” to put aside a government and political system and to construct another freer and more democratic one. It is tremendous that self-organizing people can produce a popular upheaval from below that hopefully will fundamentally alter their political fate and future. These events are clearly astonishing examples of people’s power, of the masses becoming a force in history who throw off decades of oppression and fundamentally alter the forces of sovereignty in specific societies. But we do not yet know if the North African Uprisings will produce a revolution proper, as we do not know the form the military government in Egypt, for example, will take in the immediate future, what kind of constitution the Egyptians will produce, the quality and results of their promised elections, the amount of popular participation, and other goals that would constitute a fundamentally different social order, and thus a revolutionary break from the Mubarak era. Hence, it is premature to pronounce the 18 Days That Shook the World in Egypt a “revolution” at this time—nor can we predict the form that the insurrections will ultimately take in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and other Middle Eastern states which were challenged by their people in the Arab Spring that has blossomed into a Year of Insurrection, 2011. To be sure, if the Egyptians throw out the corrupt leaders and functionaries of the past three decades, this would be remarkable, but if the same people are governing in similar ways in Egypt the word “revolution” wanes in significance, so I am using the terms “uprising” and “insurrection.” In addition, I am advocating multicausal analysis, arguing that media spectacles such as presidential elections, wars, and political insurrections have multiple causes and are caught up in a complex matrix of events. For instance, there is not just one cause that generated the Bush-Cheney intervention into Iraq in 2003. While the official reason that the US went to war in Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” was obviously bogus, there were multiple hidden agendas which led the US to invade and occupy Iraq (Kellner 2005). These included control of Iraqi oil and establishing bases in the Middle East for future interventions; the tremendous amount of money made by war contractors often closely related to the Bush-Cheney Gang; and a wealth of geopolitical factors. Indeed, the Bush-Cheney Iraq intervention was organized as a media spectacle that would present US military power as dominant in the world

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today and would help establish new US military bases in the Middle East near the world’s largest oil supplies. A successful intervention into Iraq would also help with the re-election of the Bush-Cheney administration for a second term. Further, the Iraq (mis)adventure embodied the fantasies of George W. Bush and a cabal of neo-con ideologues who envisaged a New American Century and emergence of Western-style “democracies” throughout the region. And George W. Bush imagined that he was battling the forces of “evil,” and could succeed in destroying a force of evil that his father had failed to eliminate. Thus, while the official justification for seizing Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” was clearly a fake excuse, it would also be a mistake to see the Iraq invasion simply as a grab for oil, or any other single primary cause (Kellner 2005). Major events like the Bush-Cheney administration Iraq intervention and the North African Arab Uprisings are thus overdetermined, and have multiple causes. The dynamics in each specific country in the Arab insurrections are dissimilar, although there may be common goals, aspirations, and tactics of struggle. Hence, I do not want to argue that media spectacle is the primary cause of current events and world history today, but suggest that it is a form in which political insurrections and struggles are represented and circulated that can become causal factors in an overdetermined matrix of events. For instance, the Tunisian Uprising could have helped inspire an Egyptian Uprising which apparently helped inspire uprisings in Libya and throughout the Middle East. In these cases, you had masses of people who had long been oppressed suddenly rising up and demanding radical change and democratic freedoms. The North African Uprisings thus constituted a break and rupture with their previous totalitarian governments and, in turn, inspired insurrections and a cycle of struggles throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Media spectacle became the form of the uprisings which were immediately circulated via Al Jazeera and other television networks, new media like Facebook and YouTube, and various social networking groups, as well as print media. In each case, there were unprecedentedly large demonstrations in oppressive societies that had not allowed freedom of speech and assembly. In response to these insurrections, state authoritarian governments fought back against the demonstrators, often killing many who henceforth became martyrs. In turn, demonstrations often erupted at the martyrs’ funerals, and continued to intensify with radical demands for the dictators and their regimes to go and thus open up new freedoms and democratic possibilities. In many cases, participants in the struggles took their own videos, both of the insurrections and of state violence against the protestors, which were circulated via Twitter, BlackBerries, cell phone networks, and the internet, and in some cases through global cable TV networks which used YouTubes and videos taken by participants in the insurrection. The people were thus

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participating in the creation of the spectacles of Arab Awakening and Uprising, not only in that their bodies were part of the democratic masses, but they were documenting and articulating their own insurrection. Thus, individuals within the masses found their own voices and helped construct the spectacle in part through their own DIY (i.e. Do It Yourself) media artifacts sent to the internet, circulated throughout social networking, and in some cases disseminated through global television networks like Al Jazeera. Looked at globally and historically, I would suggest that the 2011 North African Arab Uprisings can be read as a set of interconnected spectacles with many parts, as were the anti-Communist uprisings in 1989 that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Soviet Empire, and then to the fall of the Soviet Union itself, world-historical events that provide an anticipatory parallel to the media spectacles in the Middle East. In the 1980s, demonstrations in Poland from the Solidarity Movement were visible in Hungary via television and other media which helped inspire demonstrations in that country, which in turn were visible in other Eastern bloc countries like East Germany (DDR) and Czechoslovakia. The powerful images of people uprising against the Communist regimes, demanding freedom and a new society, produced a chain of movements, insurrections, and overthrowing of Communist regimes, much like the Arab Uprisings, and producing the collapse of bureaucratic state communism. In this complex historical matrix, the then-dominant broadcasting medium of television circulated images and forms of struggle that were seen throughout the Soviet bloc countries, helping to produce multiple uprisings and the delegitimization of autocratic Communist regimes, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in eastern Europe, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989.2 These dramatic events of 1989 eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet regime in the USSR itself, driving some people to see 1989 as beginning a new epoch in history.3 Images of the spectacle of uprisings against repressive state Communist governments and social systems resonated with citizens of other oppressed countries in the Soviet bloc, and these resonant and viral images spread through the global broadcasting and news networks and inspired people in neighboring Soviet bloc countries, helping to motivate people to hit the streets and demonstrate for change themselves. Hence, throughout the Eastern bloc state Communist nations, there were uprisings and struggles, governments resigning, or being overthrown, and the democratic revolutions thus inspired a whole cycle of struggle in 1989—just as we are now seeing in the North African Arab Uprisings and Middle East. Although such events are complex and overdetermined, and media spectacle alone is but one factor in the complex matrix of history, yet it is certainly a significant one, even an increasingly important factor as media

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spectacles proliferate globally through new media and social networking. Indeed, broadcasting and new media have become ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, as they have become part of a new global media ecology.4 In the following sections, I will discuss the role of Al Jazeera, new media and social networking, and media spectacle in the Arab Awakening and Uprisings during the Arab Spring of 2011, but will also be concerned with providing contextual and multicausal analysis of these events, beginning with Tunisia and then turning to Egypt and Libya. While my argument is that media spectacle is the form in which the Arab Awakening and Uprisings have circulated throughout North Africa and the Middle East, media spectacle itself is not the cause of the cascading insurrections, and each country needs to be addressed in terms of their own history, society, culture, and political regimes, which I will do in the following sections, providing contextual and multicausal analysis of the Arab Uprisings. In this chapter, I discuss the events of the Arab Spring and the long hot Arab summer, and will discuss the later development of the Uprisings in fall and winter, and the tumult throughout the Middle East during this period, in Chapter 5.

Sparks in Tunisia “When people decide to live, destiny shall obey, and one day … the slavery chains must be broken” Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi.

The rapid cycle of North African Arab Uprisings began when a young 26-year-old Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who could not find work and was reduced to selling produce from a cart in the street, set himself on fire in front of the local governor’s office on December 17, 2010 in Sidi Bouzid, an impoverished agricultural town, helping spark Tunisian and then Egyptian and Libyan Uprisings. Bouazizi’s family and friends recount that he took these desperate measures because he had become unbearably angry after he had been repeatedly mistreated by police, who tried to get him to pay bribes or close down his cart.5 A YouTube of Bouazizi’s self-immolation was circulated by Internet activists and Al Jazeera and other cable channels reported on the incident.6 Bouazizi quickly became a martyr, and was honored in marches and demonstrations against the oppressive and hated Tunisian regime, the largest of which were in the capital city of Tunis. The protests escalated as Tunisian forces shot at protestors, leading to yet bigger demonstrations that were energized on January 24, 2011 when dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali who had been in power twenty-three years fled the country.7

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Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation was a spark that helped set off a revolution.

I might note that the man who set himself on fire was emulating Buddhist monks in Vietnam, whose widely broadcast and discussed self-immolations helped generate a worldwide anti-war movement in the Vietnam era. The global nature of spectacle was also highlighted in the 60 Minutes episode “The Spark” which interviewed Tunisian internet activists who helped mobilized the insurgency and who were connected to Egyptian internet activists who would use similar tactics in Egypt, suggesting the rise of a Youth International of Internet Activists.8 While there were claims that the Tunisian Uprising was the “first WikiLeaks revolution” because the oppressive features of the regime in Tunisia was documented by WikiLeaks, which presented notes of American diplomats discussing the corruption of the President Ben Ali and his family, it is also believed that people already knew that their regime was oppressive and corrupt.9 Further, Al Jazeera and other Arab networks covered the Tunisian Uprising and circulated protests and critiques of the Ben Ali regime. Hence, I am not arguing that media spectacle is the key causal force of the Tunisia Uprising, as, obviously, there were many factors that alienated the Tunisians which led them to take to the streets, including the autocratic and corrupt nature of the regime. Factors in Tunisia which led to the uprising included the economic situation, with declining jobs and job possibilities, rising food prices, and worker unrest, all of which contributed to the Tunisian upheaval that drove out Ben Ali, his family, and some of the regime’s corrupt associates. Ben Ali came into power as he ascended to the office of President on November 7, 1987, after attending physicians to the former President, Habib Bourguiba, declared that he was medically incapacitated and unable to fulfill the duties of the presidency. Ben Ali, previously Prime Minister, achieved power through a “soft coup d’état” and preserved Tunisia’s republican tradition, keeping power through winning two

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elections. The Ben Ali regime pursued neo-liberal economic policies, dismantling a heavily statist economy and winning praise from the IMF and World Bank. While the GNP grew in recent years, unemployment skyrocketed and educated youth were having trouble finding jobs.10 At the same time, Ben Ali’s family and regime became more and more blatantly corrupt, and Ben Ali became increasingly authoritarian, alienating vast sectors of the society. The Tunisian Uprising against the Ben Ali regime exhibited the rise of the masses against a totalitarian dictatorship in a popular struggle with no apparent leaders, no dominant parties, and no discernible hierarchy, with individuals from diverse classes, ages, religion, and ways of life fusing together into a collective mass whose power frightened the corrupt dictator Ben Ali to flee, after the military made it clear that they were not going to fire on the masses of protestors. Demonstrators included older people, professional men and women, students, workers, and the unemployed. No one predicted this momentous insurrection, and so far, to my knowledge, few have adequately described its genealogy and prehistory.11 Indeed, the Tunisian Uprising has multiple origins and forces who participated in the struggles from workers to students, intellectuals, and women. As Kevin Anderson notes: Although not widely reported at the time, the mass strikes of 2008 in Gafsa were one indicator of the underlying social tensions in Tunisia. This phosphate-mining region, long a center of labor unrest, has in recent decades been wracked by mass unemployment due to mechanization. In January 2008, the Gafsa phosphate miners rose up after a rare instance of taking on new hires at the mines showed that those hired were the beneficiaries of corruption and nepotism. The revolt lasted six months, after which several of its leaders were imprisoned. Gafsa strikers were not supported by the UGTT [General Union of Tunisian Works], then still tied closely to the state. The workers did gain the support of dissident bloggers and Facebook users, however, who launched a campaign on behalf of those imprisoned.12 Robin Morgan describes how in Tunisia’s relatively secular and progressive society, women had earlier gained rights of contraception, divorce, and relative equality within the society. In the Tunisian Uprising, women sought more democratic power and rose up against continued inequality. In Tunisia’s “Jasmine revolution,” a blogger, Lina Ben Mhenni, known to the world as “tunisian girl,” was one of the first to alert the world to the Tunisian Uprising and called for women to join in the demonstrations. Hence, in Robin Morgan’s words: “Women flocked to rallies—wearing

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veils, jeans, and miniskirts—young girls, grandmothers, female judges in their court robes. They ousted a despot and inspired a region.”13 In addition, as feminist scholar Nadia Marzouki noted: At all the major demonstrations leading to Ben Ali’s flight from the country, men and women marched side by side, holding hands and chanting together in the name of civil rights, not Islam. The national anthem, not ‘Allahu Akbar,’ was the dominant rallying cry, and the women were both veiled and unveiled. The tone of the protests was rather one of reappropriating patriotic language and symbols: Women and men lay in the streets to spell ‘freedom’ or ‘stop the murders’ with their bodies and worked together to tear down and burn the gigantic, Stalin-style portraits of Ben Ali on storefronts and street corners.14 Demonstrations intensified, and when the General Union of Tunisian Works (UGTT) broke away from the ruling apparatus, joined the demonstrators, were part of a blockade against the Interior Ministry, and supported a general strike, the military saw that the regime could not be defended, refused to fire on demonstrators, and supported Ben Ali’s ouster. Al Jazeera also reported over the weekend of January 8–9 that 2,000 members of the police, who had been on the frontline of repressing demonstrations, joined the protestors. While Ben Ali desperately announced that he would not run for another term on January 13, 2011 and pledged to improve the economy and allow freedom of the press, while also declaring a state of emergency, protesters responded with a massive demonstration, demanding that he resign and on January 14, he fled the country.15

Game Over in Tunisia for Ben Ali regime

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On Saturday January 15, it was announced that Ben Ali was seeking asylum in Saudi Arabia, that Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi declared temporary rule and promised elections for the fall, leading exultant Tunisians to explode with joy while people throughout the Middle East looked on with wonder. Tunisians were suspicious of the new caretaker government which was dominated by members of Ben Ali’s party, the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), and eventually all members of the party were eliminated from the new coalition government, which included Tunisian blogger Slim Amamou, aka Slim404, who had helped organize the Tunisian Uprising and was made minister of youth and sport in the post-revolutionary government. Underground music scenes and subcultures had also contributed to the uprising, including Skander Besbes, aka Skhder, described as a “luminary of Tunisia’s electro and dance scene, and in clubs and rave nights used the explosive sound system to present attacks on the government and prepare youth for the uprising.”16 Andy Morgan notes that electro music was relatively safe as a protest form in Tunisia because it was instrumental, and “metal and rock were partially protected by English lyrics which the police didn’t understand.” Yet, Morgan explains: … it took a rapper to galvanise Tunisia’s youth, whose frustration had been fuelled by years of government corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and general state-imposed joylessness. Until a few months ago, Hamada Ben Amor, aka El Général, was just a 21-year-old wannabe MC in a Stussy hoodie, leather jacket and baseball cap. He lived with his parents and elder brother in a modest flat in a drab seaside town south of Tunis called Sfax, where his mother runs a bookshop and his father works in the local hospital. El Général didn’t even register on the radar of Tunisian rap’s premier league which was dominated by artists such as Balti, Lak3y, Armada Bizera or Psyco M. It was a community riven by the usual jealous spats and dwarfed by the more prolific rap scenes of Morocco and France. Morgan recounts how on November 7, 2010, El Général “uploaded a piece of raw fury called ’Rais Le Bled’ (President, Your Country) on to Facebook. The lyrics contained a resounding political attack”: “My president, your country is dead/ People eat garbage/ Look at what is happening/ Misery everywhere/ Nowhere to sleep/ I’m speaking for the people who suffer/ Ground under feet.”

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Morgan describes how “within hours, the song had lit up the bleak and fearful horizon like an incendiary bomb. Before being banned, it was picked up by local TV station Tunivision and Al Jazeera. El Général’s MySpace was closed down, his mobile cut off. But it was too late. The shock waves were felt across the country and then throughout the Arab world. That was the power of protesting in Arabic, albeit a locally spiced dialect of Arabic. El Général’s bold invective broke frontiers and went viral from Casablanca to Cairo and beyond” (op. cit.). This example points to how there is an Arab public sphere that operates across diverse media and borders, in which music, poetry, art, and other cultural forms function to circulate forms of cultural resistance that came together in the Arab Uprising.17 While US media had very little coverage of the Tunisian Uprising, Al Jazeera closely covered the events, as it had the demonstrations in Iran in 2009 and would continue to cover and circulate the Arab Awakening and Uprisings. The synergy of global media television coverage, internet and social networking documenting and promoting the uprisings, the fusion of many artists and cultural critics with the movement, and the coming together of multiple organizations and social strata helped circulate the Tunisian Uprising to Egypt and then the Eyptian Uprising to the entire Middle East and beyond.

Insurrection in Egypt “Democracy is the solution” Alaa Al Aswany, On the State of Egypt.

Egypt has been one of the great historical civilizations and traditional major political and cultural influence in the Middle East, but had suffered

Demonstration in Tahrir Square

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for more than thirty years under the corrupt and dictatorial rule of Hosni Mubarak, who ascended to the presidency in 1981 after the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat.18 Egypt has been described by El-Madhi and Marfleet (2009) as a “laboratory of neo-liberalism” and a favorite of Western capitalist countries and interests. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat had introduced in the 1970s a policy of infitah (“opening” or “open door”) for Western investment and worked closely with the IMF, World Bank, and other neo-liberal institutions, and the Mubarak regime continued these neo-liberal polices. The result was growing divisions between the wealthy and the poor and dramatic increases of inequality and poverty.19 While Mubarak ostensibly introduced a system of “democratic” elections, they were farces, with Mubarak winning as much as 99.99 per cent of the vote in elections of 1987, 1993, 1999, and 2005. While Mubarak himself was old and sick, he and his cronies were pushing for his son Gamal to succeed him, setting up a family dynasty. The Mubarak regime was one of the most corrupt and repressive in the region and was increasingly hated by its people, and was thus rife for insurrection in the Tunisian mode.20 As for the Egyptian Uprising, there was a series of anticipatory events, circulated via the Middle Eastern and global media, which inspired the tumultuous and significant 2011 insurrection against the hated Mubarak regime. These events included a revolt of workers who demonstrated against Mubarak in the textile-producing city of El Mahalla el Kubra in 2008, where demonstrators stomped on Mubarak’s picture, police shot into the crowd, killing two, and the event and two murdered workers were made martyrs on YouTube and Facebook.21 As Joel Benin has argued, Egypt’s workers had been steadily organizing independent trade unions, outside of the state union movement dominated by the Mubarak government, had been successfully been making economic and political demands, and were an important part of the movement that overthrew Mubarak.22 While Mubarak had ruled Egypt with an iron hand since assuming power, there were many democratic forces mobilized against him from all sectors of society. In a series of short essays from 2005 up to the uprisings, Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany documented many critiques, protests, and emergence of forces of opposition in Egypt during the previous decade.23 Actors in these events included intellectuals, politicians, students, and many others throughout Egyptian society. Concerning the important role of women, Robin Morgan notes that despite decades of dictatorship, “a long-established feminist movement has survived there. Women had been key to the 1919 revolution against the British, but after independence were ignored by the ruling Wafd Party.”24 Documenting specific events that helped spark the uprising, Shahin and Juan Cole note that: In Egypt, the passionate video blog or “vlog” of Asmaa Mahfouz that called on Egyptians to turn out massively on January 25th in

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Tahrir Square went viral, playing a significant role in the success of that event. Mahfouz appealed to Egyptians to honor four young men who, following the example of Mohammed Bouazizi in an act which sparked the Tunisian uprisings), set themselves afire to protest the Mubarak regime. Although the secret police had already dismissed them as “psychopaths,” she insisted otherwise, demanding a country where people could live in dignity, not “like animals.” According to estimates, at least 20 per cent of the crowds that thronged Tahrir Square that first week were made up of women, who also turned out in large numbers for protests in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. Leil-Zahra Mortada’s celebrated Facebook album of women’s participation in the Egyptian revolution gives a sense of just how varied and powerful that turnout was.25 In terms of women active in the Egyptian Uprising, Amal Adbel Hady of the New Women Foundation noted that “all generations and social classes were represented.” While Hady noticed that much more media attention was focused on men rather than women, Morgan notes that on January 18, 2011, a woman “whom Egyptians now call ‘Leader of the revolution’… uploaded a short video to YouTube and Facebook in which she announced, ‘Whoever says women shouldn’t go to protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25.’ The video went viral. The planned one-day demonstration became a popular phenomenon.”26 Hence, the Egyptian Uprising can be read as a fusing of workers, students, women, and individuals from a diversity of popular movements.27 A PBS Frontline Report “Revolution in Cairo” (February 22, 2011) described how Ahmed Maher and a group of young students and professionals had for the past three years been organizing an April 6 Youth Movement, commemorating a 2008 labor demonstration and developing a website and Facebook page documenting the crimes of the Mubarak regime and organizing protests.28 After the murder by Mubarak thugs of Khaled Said, a young Egyptian who was beaten to death by police in June 2010, Google executive Wael Ghonim helped to establish a Facebook site “We are all Khaled Said” to commemorate the martyr. The Facebook page eventually had more than 1,500,000 followers and was used by activists to educate Egyptians and others about the horrors of the Mubarak regime and to developing the movement that was to carry out an insurrection against the Mubarak regime.29 As Linda Herrar describes it in “Egypt’s Revolution 2.0: The Facebook Factor,” the martyrdom of Khaled Said dramatized the evils of the Mubarak regime: The events leading to Khaled’s killing originated when he supposedly

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posted a video of two police officers allegedly dividing the spoils of a drug bust. This manner of citizen journalism has become commonplace and youth are getting more emboldened to expose the festering corruption of a police force that acts with impunity. On June 6, 2010, as Khaled Said was sitting in an internet café in Alexandria, two police officers entered and asked him for his ID. He refused to produce it and they proceeded to drag him away and allegedly sadistically beat him to his death as he pleaded for his life in the view of witnesses. The officers claimed that Khaled died of suffocation after swallowing a packet of drugs. His family released a photograph to an activist of the broken, bloodied, and disfigured face from Khaled’s corpse. This photo, and a portrait of the gentle soft skinned face of the living Khaled, went viral. The power of photographic evidence combined with eyewitness accounts and popular knowledge of police brutality left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was senselessly and brutally murdered by police officers, the very people who are supposed to act in the interest of public safety.30 Wael Ghonim introduces the concept of “Revolution 2.0” to describe how the internet was used to help organize the demonstrations that drove the Mubarak regime to collapse. Whereas “Revolution 1.0” had charismatic leaders, parties, and conventional and tested political strategies to serve as the levers of revolution, in Revolution 2.0 the insurrections were leaderless, non-hierarchical, networked, and improvisational, with multiple individuals, groups, and strategies used to bring critical masses of people to specific sites for particular actions. Ghonim (2012) describes how he and other Egyptian internet activists used the Khaled Said page to organize Silent Stand demonstrations to commemorate the murder by the Mubarak regime of Khaled Said, and how after the successful Tunisian Uprising, Ghonim and others became more militant, developing Facebook critiques of the Mubarak regime and helping to organize the January 25 demonstrations that led to the 18-day insurrection that toppled the Mubarak regime. There were therefore arguably multiple genealogies and anticipations of the Egypt Uprising. In addition to the mobilizations and events discussed above, movements against the Mubarak regime were energized by demonstrations in support of the second Palestinian intifada which began in September 2000 and by mobilization against the US-led intervention in Iraq in 2003.31 In addition, there had been heavy media coverage of Iran demonstrations and calls for regime change after an allegedly stolen election in 2009 and the Tunisian Uprising of 2011 on global TV channels like Al Jazeera, BCC, and CNN.32 Indeed, for years Al Jazeera has been promoting democracy in the Middle East, and has regularly produced critiques of corrupt regimes, presented demonstrations and calls for change, and debated Middle East

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politics.33 Commentators noted how Al Jazeera “has emerged as a fullfledged political actor because it reflects and articulates popular sentiment. It has become the new Nasser. The leader of the Arab world is a television network.”34 In addition to Al Jazeera, an oppositional internet culture, as noted, had been steadily developing in Tunisian and Egypt, including connections between youth in these countries, who also had external help from hacker groups abroad: “In Operation Egypt and Operation Tunisia, Anonymous and other groups coordinated to restore citizens’ access to websites blocked by the government. The efforts extended beyond the internet, with faxes used to communicate vital information as a means of last resort. (In class “lulzy” style. Cyberactivists also caused havoc by ordering enormous quantities of pizza delivered to Egyptian and Tunisian embassies.)”35 There were also in Egypt thirty years of a corrupt dictatorship, the Mubarak Thug Regime, which had totally alienated the people and made them ripe for revolt (as had the Soviet regime in the 1980s).36 Likewise, the economic situation was bad in Egypt, especially for educated young people who could not get good jobs. Yet it appears to be internet activists and young people who began the revolt in Egypt and continued to support it throughout the struggle. As was well publicized, Wael Ghonim, a former Google manager, admits that after the Tunisian Uprising and regime change, he and other young people used Facebook and Twitter to organize demonstrations in four different squares of Cairo, unleashing the massive protests and coining the phrase “Revolution 2.0.”37 Ghohim (2012) describes how he and other internet activists helped organize a January 25, 2011 demonstration titled “January 25: Revolution against Torture, Corruption, Unemployment and Injustice”, also billed as a “Day of Rage.”38 Thousands appeared at the demonstration which became focused on overthrowing the Mubarak regime and for the next days a growing movement centered in Tahrir Square which would lead to the end of Mubarak’s rule. I myself received an email from a young scholar, Bahaa Gamil Ghobrial, whom I met at a conference in the US in December, 2010, and he sent me the following email documenting the role of new media and social networking: The demonstration started on Jan 25th and the call for it was done mainly through Facebook. Because of the government’s heavy control over all the traditional media, the internet is the only available option for all opposition parties and movements. The youth who called for the first demonstration on Jan 25th belong to upper middle class in Egypt and most of them, if not all, have internet access. So, I agree with the argument that information technology and social networks, such as Facebook contributed greatly to the uprising—propelling it forward and enabling Egyptians to

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self-organize. Facebook is the second most visited website in Egypt (around 5 million Facebook users) and it is followed by YouTube (the third most visited website). Twitter is ranked 21 among the most visited websites in Egypt, but I believe that it will be soon in the top fifteen most visited websites after the uprising in Egypt. Kindly find attached two images regarding the increase of tweets after Jan 25th. Also, last Wednesday the new prime minister decided to unblock the internet after 5 days of shutting it down; so we started to use it to mobilize citizens and encourage them to participate in the demonstrations. As you might know, sometimes these demonstrations are not safe; so, as soon as we reach Tahrir Square, we take photos of the demonstration and upload them to our Facebook profiles to tell our friends that we are participating and encourage them to come over. In addition, we currently have two teams in Egypt, anti-Mubarak and pro-Mubarak; so, we are using new media tools, such as Facebook and YouTube, to show pro-Mubarak people what the regime did to protesters. Many of the pro-Mubarak people were convinced that Mubarak should step down after watching these videos. In the survey that I conducted for my thesis that was about the impact of new media on political communication in Egypt with a special focus on the Egyptian Presidential election in 2011 at http:// dar.aucegypt.edu:8080/jspui/handle/10526/738.39 There is no question that social networking and new media contributed to the Egyptian Uprising, but to the issue of whether the events can be interpreted as a “Twitter revolution,” or a revolution using Twitter, I would argue that Twitter, Facebook, new media, and social networking are only part of the story and am against technological determinism and exaggerating the causal force of new media, as I am hesitant at this point to use the term “revolution.” To be sure, Facebook pages commemorated martyrs who had been killed by police in the current and previous demonstrations and, according to my Egyptian colleague cited above, YouTube and Facebook communiqués concerning repression of Egyptians, all helped turn pro-Mubarak demonstrators into anti-Mubarak ones, or ones who realized his regime was finished. In addition, the global cable networks that broadcast “Revolution” live, as events were unfolding 24/7 on Al Jazeera and various Arab networks, as well as CNN and BBC, circulated images of insurrection and inspired people to participate and dream of another regime and society. The oftensaturation coverage on global TV networks, and especially Al Jazeera, made the struggle in Egypt a world-historical event of global interest, helping in turn to incite people to pour into the street to take part in the momentous upheaval, as live TV footage and interviews were circulated through global media. Al Jazeera, like other global cable/satellite channels,

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has an agenda-setting capacity where it chooses to highlight certain stories that are prominently featured in its daily news programs and on its website. During 2011, the Arab Uprisings were a main focus of the increasingly influential network. While there have not yet appeared scholarly investigations of the role of Al Jazeera and other television networks in inspiring and mobilizing the North African Arab Uprisings, it is highly likely that the images of demonstrations, uprisings, and the overthrow of regimes in Tunisia and then Egypt inspired protestors throughout the world. Indeed, Al Jazeera has been covering and circulating protests and critiques of the various Middle East regimes since its origins in the mid-1990s.40 Founded in Doha, Qatar, and funded by its liberal Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Al Jazeera has been from its beginnings relatively autonomous and free of state control. It has been Pan-Arabic, broadcasting reports from throughout the Middle East without representing any specific political regime or party. It was initially praised for its comprehensive and independent coverage, but was criticized for its often-oppositional stance toward particular autocratic Arab regimes.41 During the Bush-Cheney administration, Al Jazeera was vilified as “antiAmerican” for its coverage of the US Afghanistan and Iraq interventions and its broadcasting facilities were bombed in Afghanistan. It was widely attacked as the “Bin Laden network” because of its playing of videos of Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures during the post-9/11 period (see Kellner 2005). Yet in subsequent years, both its Arabic and English networks have been widely praised as providing first-rate reporting and a diversity of opinion. If the Gulf War was the “moment of CNN,” when its images from Iraq and the Gulf region were broadcast throughout the world, the North African Arab Uprisings were “the moment of Al Jazeera,”42 where hits to its web-television site received a record number of viewers, and Al Jazeera English was played on various PBS and other news channels and cable systems throughout the world, and was available on the internet, making it an indispensible source of news and information and a material force in promoting and encouraging the democratic uprisings through positive representations of the demonstrators and negative ones of the repressive regimes being demonstrated against.43 In fact, Hillary Clinton conceded during a Q&A session before the US Foreign Policy Priorities Committee on Information war that: “Al Jazeera has been the leader in that [it is] literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective.”44 Hence, perhaps television was as influential as the internet in inciting and intensifying the Egyptian Uprising spectacle, since the live events on TV were so dramatic and engrossing (although to some extent the distinction between television and internet collapses, since Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and other major global television networks are accessible on the internet). Television presents a “you-are-there” spectacle of history in the making, as major events are covered 24/7 by cable networks, and now the internet.

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Whenever there is a significant media spectacle, global media pour into the spot, whether it is New York after 9/11, Iraq during the 2003 Bush-Cheney Iraq War, the Gulf coast during and after Hurricane Katrina, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and in early 2011 Egypt after the uprisings (although with the eruption of the Libyan Uprising, discussed below, global media quickly refocused its attention on the new spectacle of the Libyan Uprising). The global media often take the positions of the opposition movements, or victims of extreme weather events or terrorist attacks, because they come to empathize with the people who they are covering. The spectacles are punctuated by “Breaking News,” and major events like the 9/11 terror attacks, the Gulf War, and now North African Arab Uprisings gain massive rapt audiences. The Big Stories are made compelling and involving, and the proliferating feeding of images, action scenes, opinions from the street, “expert analyses,” and, in the case under investigation, masses of people risking their lives for their country, present exciting live television at its best. Big Stories like the North African Arab Uprisings grip entire regions and become a major spectacle of their era. As the Egyptian Uprising unfolded, while there were people killed during the demonstrations, the army appeared neutral and people kept pouring into the streets and squares of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, getting increasingly radicalized and becoming the stars of a global media spectacle which was energizing oppositional consciousness throughout the Middle East. On the third day of the protests, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership told its members to support the demonstrations, as young members of the Brothers already had. The Brothers began providing security for the demonstrators and bringing in food and medical supplies.45 Not only were women very involved in participating in the Egyptian Uprising, but they were also instrumental “in much of the nitty-gritty organisation that turned Tahrir Square from a moment into a movement. Women were involved in arranging food deliveries, blankets, the stage and medical help.”46 Robin Morgan points out that: “Soon, unsung protest coordinator Amal Sharaf—a 36-year-old English teacher, single mother and member of the the organizers April 6 Youth Movement—was spending days and nights in the movement’s tiny office, smoking furiously and overseeing a crew of men. Google employee Wael Ghonim, who privately administered one of the Facebook pages that were the movement’s virtual headquarters, would later become an icon—but after he was arrested, young Nadine Wahab, an Egyptian American expert on new media advocacy, took over, strengthening the online presence.”47 In addition, youth cultures and artists were involved in the movement and massive protests. As in Tunisia, the rap music community became very involved, and Andy Morgan noted that: Karim Adel Eissa, aka A-Rush from Cairo rappers Arabian Knightz,

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stayed up late into the night of Thursday 27 January recording new lyrics for the tune “Rebel”, which he was determined to release on Facebook and MediaFire. “Egypt is rising up against the birds of darkness,” spat the lyrics. “It was a direct call for revolution,” Karim says. “Before, we’d only used metaphors to talk about the corrupt system. But once people were out on the streets, we were just like, ‘Screw it.’ If we’re going down, we’re going down.” He and his crew just about managed to upload the new version of the song before Karim was called away to help with the vigilante security detail who were down in the streets keeping his neighbourhood free of looters and government thugs.48 Further, Andy Morgan points out how a diversity of musicians, ranging from older popular artists to young performed daily for crowds and invigorated the participants with their music, some of which was composed for the uprising: After the uprising of 25 January, Cairo’s Tahrir Square resounded to the traditional Egyptian frame drum or daf, which pounded out trance-like beats over which the crowd laid slogans full of poetic power and joyful hilarity. As the Egyptian people rediscovered what it felt like to be a nation, united and indivisible, they reverted to the raw power of their most basic musical instincts to celebrate their mass release from fear—traditional drumming and chanting and patriotic songs from the glory days of yore when Egypt trounced the forces of imperialism in 1956 or took Israel by surprise in 1973.49 In the following days, ever greater numbers of people congregated in Tahrir Square, renamed “Liberation Square,” in Cairo and global media poured in to make the spectacle global. Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill’s HBO documentary In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution (2012) features a young Egyptian-American journalist, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who leads cameras into Tahrir and provides insightful accounts of those tense days. Kouddous introduces viewers to his family and friends and makes astute comments on the unfolding of the Egyptian insurrection. The documentary footage provides a powerful record of the momentous events, capturing history being made. On Day Nine, things turned nasty with Mubarak sympathizers and thugs going after demonstrators and the global media themselves. Organized thugs were bused in and attacked protestors with knives, machetes, and other weapons, a spectacle caught by Al Jazeera and other global TV networks and featured in the HBO documentary. Horse and camel riders also assaulted the protestors, some of whom were knocked off the horses and camels and beaten up. Foreign media personnel were threatened and

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hit by thugs in front of the camera which caught the episode; other global media workers were arrested and in some cases held blindfolded overnight, assuring that foreign media would continue to be critical of the Mubarak regime and be sympathetic to the demonstrators. There were pitched fights all day February 2 between protestors and Mubarak thugs shown live on Al Jazeera and captured by the HBO documentary; hundreds of Molotov cocktails were thrown; both groups picked rocks from the streets to throw at opponents; buildings were set on fire; some reporters were attacked and detained by Mubarak thugs, then released, making February 2 and 3 days of intense drama and spectacle, broadcast live over global media networks like CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera and blogged and documented on internet sites like Rasd in Egypt.50 Events continued to be intensely dramatic on Day Ten, as hundreds of thousands of anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square, which emerged as Ground Zero for the insurgency. Crowds also appeared at other sites throughout Egypt, with demonstrators calling for a “Day of Departure.” During the following days, the occupation of Tahrir Square continued to expand, demonstrations continued to unfold throughout the country, the army remained neutral, and the Mubarak regime began to make concessions. Mubarak appeared on television claiming he would not run for President again and then nominated chief of intelligence Omar Suleiman as Vice-President, with whom he would share power during the build-up to promised elections in September. Mubarak’s concessions were perceived as too little, too late, and the demonstrations continued unabated, calling for Mubarak to surrender the presidency. On Days 14 and 15 workers joined in with strikes throughout the country, and on Day 17, it was rumored that Mubarak would step down, with the military organizing a new government (a claim reiterated by CIA Chief Leon Panetta). Tremendous anticipation grew as it was announced that Mubarak was coming to speak on television. In his long rambling speech, however, he appeared not to yield and the crowds roared their disapproval. As commentators unparsed Mubarak’s ambiguous speech, it became apparent that he said he was transferring power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, who came on after Mubarak and told the crowd to go home. The people in Freedom Square, however, went wild, shouting “Leave, Leave, Leave!,” waving their shoes at the cameras, a gesture of utter contempt in the Arab world. The Western press described Mubarak’s stunt as a “Right Feint” and an Egyptian-American commentator on Al Jazeera summed it up: “We was Punked!” In fact, the arrogant Mubarak was obviously unaware of the depth of the hatred of his people and thought he could play verbal games with them, holding onto power. Mubarak’s speech prompted President Barack Obama to respond that: “The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of

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authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient,” and for the first time Obama made it clear to Egyptian officials that Mubarak must go. According to an anonymous American source, the Obama administration had been “trying to walk a fine line between retaining support for Mubarak while trying to infuse common sense into the equation. By the end of the day, it was clear the situation was no longer tenable.”51 On February 12, Mubarak left Cairo for his resort home in Egypt, and reports said that the protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square had spilled out into surrounding streets following Friday Prayers. Protesters were now also massed outside Egypt’s state television headquarters and the presidential palace in the Heliopolis district of the Egyptian capital and, significantly, the army turned their cannons on their tanks away from the people. Then Vice-President Suleiman came on Egyptian state television to say that Mubarak had dissolved his government and handed over power to the military and Egypt—and perhaps much of the rest of the Arab world— shouted and demonstrated in jubilation. As the Associated Press reported on February 12, 2011: President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned his post and turned over all power to the military on Friday, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world. The streets of Cairo exploded in shouts of “God is Great” moments after Mr Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders (http://news. yahoo.com/s/ap/20110211/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt).52 Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill’s HBO documentary In Tahrir Square provides vibrant footage of the demonstrators in the Square organizing their protests and then exploding with joy. Of course, the struggle for democracy and freedom was only starting in Tunisia and Egypt, and long, tumultuous, and unpredictable struggles lay ahead for these bellwethers of the Arab Uprising which were beginning the transition to democracy after decades of dictatorship. Yet we do know that demonstrations intensified right after the success of the Egyptian Uprising in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and, most significantly, Libya. The global media had circulated images of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt which drove out dictators who had ruled with an iron fist for 23 and 32 years, and then gave up power when they saw that great masses of their own people were against them, while creating tremendous excitement throughout the Arab world and the global public sphere. The spectacle of the Arab Uprisings broadcast live on Al Jazeera and other global networks had inspired publics throughout North Africa

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and the Middle East to challenge their societies, to voice their grievances, to militate for radical social transformation, and to demonstrate against corrupt regimes. With Libya and the Qaddafi regime, however, the Arab Uprising confronted an individual and a system that did not surrender to popular demands, but that used instruments of repression developed over a 42-year period to fight back.

The Qaddafi Spectacle “Freedom of expression is the right of every natural person, even if a person chooses to behave irrationality to express his or her insanity.” Qaddafi, The Green Book

At about the time Mubarak fled Cairo, people in Libya rose up against their dictator Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, who had ruthlessly ruled the country for over 40 years after having seized power in 1969 in a military coup. Like Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi was perfectly typecast as a Hollywoodesque stereotype of the Arab Villain. Once the Arab Bogeyman of the Middle East during the 1980s when he supported terrorist groups throughout the world and funded Libyan state terrorism himself, in the 1990s, Qaddafi renounced terrorism, closed down his weapons of mass destruction programs, and re-established diplomatic ties with the West. But his regime was increasingly corrupt and brutal and, as the uprisings against his regime intensified, Qaddafi was perceived as oppressive and heinous by vast numbers of people in Libya and throughout the Middle East and beyond.53

Qaddafi under Siege

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The late Fred Halliday has written that the Libyan “revolution” of 1969 is “more accurately a coup d’etat by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and some of his associates and relatives.” Qaddafi referred to his system as al-Jamahiriya (the state of the masses) “with its doctrine spelled out in the colonel’s two-volume Green Book (1976 and 1980)—a collection of platitudes that helped attract to Libya a similar breed of leftist and ‘third-worldist’ radicals as that which was seduced by Mao Zedong’s ‘red’ predecessor a decade earlier. The mutation in the state’s official titles reflects its leaders’ evolving grandiosity: from the ‘Libyan Arab Republic’ of 1969 to the eulogistic ‘Socialist People’s Libyan Arab al-Jamahiriyah’ of March 1977, further qualified as ‘Great’ in April 1986.” 54 Qaddafi thus offered a “third way” between communism and capitalism and combined in his ideology socialism with nationalism and religion, in particular Islam.55 During the 1970s, Qaddafi was close to a variety of revolutionary movements in the Middle East and had especially close connections with terrorist groups, which he was accused of financing. In the 1980s, Qaddafi supported Libyan state terrorist attacks, such as the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco which US soldiers frequented, leading the Reagan administration to launch a missile attack aimed at Qaddafi himself, allegedly killing an adopted daughter. Many thought that Qaddafi sought revenge for this attack by bombing a Pan American airlines jet flying over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. A Libyan intelligence operative was arrested and accused of the attack and imprisoned until the UK negotiated his release in 2009.56 After these episodes, the Qaddafi regime chose to negotiate normalized relations with the West, paying billions to the Lockerbie families, pledging to shut down his “weapons of mass destruction” programs, and helping the West to fight al-Qaeda, a particular enemy of Qaddafi himself. Halliday notes that Qaddafi’s ambition was to establish leadership over first the Arab world and then Africa, but that his meddling in foreign affairs was largely disastrous.57 Internally, both Halliday and Kawczynski argue that the Qaddafi regime is based on extreme repression, imprisoning and frequently killing its critics, and sending assassination teams to kill Libyan dissidents abroad. The system, based on arbitrary decisions by the Qaddafi inner circle, is erratic and brutal, and despite its great oil wealth, Qaddafi has done little to help his people. Indeed, the corruption, nepotism, and theft of state funds is so great that Halliday calls the regime a “kleptocracy.” Hence, while there was initially little evidence of Facebook, or young internet users, organizing the Libya Uprising, there is evidence of widespread disgust with the Qaddafi family, the iron-fisted dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi, and the corruption and nepotism of the sons. In a story concerning WikiLeaks’ information on the Libyan regime, Scott Shane reports in the New York Times that “WikiLeaks Cables Detail Qaddafi Family’s Exploits”: As the Qaddafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power

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in Libya, cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called “Qadhafi Incorporated,” using the State Department’s preference from the multiple spellings for Libya’s troubled first family. The glimpses of the clan’s antics in recent years that have reached Libyans despite Col. Qaddafi’s tight control of the media have added to the public anger now boiling over. And the tensions between siblings could emerge as a factor in the chaos in the oil-rich African country. Though the Qaddafi children are described as jockeying for position as their father ages—three sons fought to profit from a new Coca-Cola franchise—they have been well taken care of, cables say. “All of the Qaddafi children and favorites are supposed to have income streams from the National Oil Company and oil service subsidiaries,” one cable from 2006 says.58 Given the nepotism and corruption of the Qaddafi family, the demonstrators wanted regime change and the entire family out of power. According to Nicolas Pelham, the protests against the Qaddafi regime began in Benghazi on February 15 “when fourteen black-robed lawyers demanded the release of Fathi Turbil, a fellow lawyer hauled in for questioning by Abdullah Sanussi, Qaddafi’s intelligence chief and brother-in-law. But as the crowds grew, the authorities responded first with rubber bullets, then live ones, and later anti-aircraft guns pointed directly at the crowds. Protesters responded in kind. Those who had initially defied snipers picked up stones and then Molotov cocktails. Within three days they were loading looted bulldozers with dynamite used for fishing to blow holes in government armories.”59 Fathi Turbil was lawyer for families whose relatives had been killed in an uprising in Abu Salim prison in June 1996 after they were murdered following a demonstration for better prison conditions.60 When the government finally began telling families of the deceased prisoners that their loved ones had been killed in a prison riot, families set up mourning tents and posted obituaries; others filed a lawsuit to gain information about relatives who had disappeared in the prison and began holding protests every Saturday in front of the Benghazi courthouse. Although some of the protesters were arrested and told to cease their activities, the lawsuit went forward until the Qaddafi regime arrested their lawyer, Fathi Turbil. Following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans in Benghazi planned a protest on February 17 to demand the release of the lawyer, which led to police shooting at the crowd and further protests, giving rise to a February 17th Movement which soon took over control of Benghazi. The event was captured by amateur video which showed police shooting at demonstrators and was circulated over the internet and by Al Jazeera and other cable networks. Over the weekend of February 19–20, there were

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widespread uprisings throughout Libya, and reports that the opposition controlled the eastern part of the country centered in Benghazi, the borderline region with Egypt, other sites in Libya, and sectors of Tripoli, the capital and center of the Qaddafi regime. Benghazi soon emerged as the epicenter of the rebel opposition as large crowds battled loyalist Qaddafi forces, some regime troops joined the rebels, opening up arms depots, and lightly armed rebel troops drove the Qaddafi forces out of the city. Long alienated from the Qaddafi regime, natives from the region belonged to a tribe historically in tension with Qaddafi’s tribal clan in the middle of the country, which he favored economically and politically during his Reign of Terror, along with tribes and groups based in Tripoli. Presenting the first face of the Qaddafi regime since the uprising began, Col. Qaddafi’s son, Saif al Islam gave a long rambling talk on television that was broadcast live by Al Jazeera the weekend of February 19–20, warning of bloodshed and civil war if the uprising continued. Insisting over and over that “Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt,” Saif made it clear that the Qaddafi regime was not going away without a serious fight. Threatening to kill rebels, Qaddafi’s son warned that a civil war would kill thousands, a claim that turned out not to be an idle threat. As the anti-Qaddafi movement intensified the next week, major Libyan diplomats, generals, cabinet members, and other politicians went over to the opposition, as did key Libyan tribes, many long-time opponents of Qaddafi. But the regime struck back hard, sending in troops to attack the rebels, allegedly deploying airplanes and artillery, as well as using foreign mercenaries to brutalize the oppositional forces. Qaddafi himself came on television on February 21, giving a long rambling speech, blaming the protests on foreign elements, lying media “dogs” and hallucinogenic drugs, making it clear that he was not planning to leave.61 Qaddafi had ruled for over four decades and had long become a media spectacle himself, the producer, director and star of his highly bizarre political spectacle, Qaddafi of Libya. For years, Qaddafi was shown dressed in flowing native Libyan robes and sleeping in tents in the desert (and even in New York during a trip to the UN he set up a tent inside the Libyan embassy grounds). While there was a comedic side to Qaddafi’s fashion statements, dyed black hair, enigmatic smile, and gnomic utterances, there was also a brutal side, making him an ideal stereotype of the Arab villain in the Western media. Once the Libyan Insurrection began, the Western and Arab media could not get enough of the Qaddafi spectacle, endlessly repeating images of his every sighting and utterance, including live broadcasts by Al Jazeera of rambling speeches that would go on for two or three hours. Hence, as Qaddafi mobilized his forces to crush the rebellion, he used media spectacle to call attention to himself, as he gave interviews to Western media in which he denied that a revolt against his regime was taking place,

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claiming that the protestors were al-Qaeda forces and young people given drugs, and warning the West and his fellow Libyans that if he left, al-Qaeda and terrorist forces would take over the country. By early March, it appeared that Libya was falling into chaos, as rebels continued to take over towns and regions throughout the country, but with Qaddafi continuing to control the capital Tripoli and mounting counter-offensives against his opposition. The UN and Arab League denounced Qaddafi’s murder of protestors, the US and many European countries froze his family’s billions of dollars in investments in the West, the International Criminal Court instigated a crimes against humanity tribunal against Qaddafi, his family, and associates, and there were debates in NATO and the US media concerning whether military intervention was necessary.62 Juan Cole argued that the divisions and struggles pointed to a revolutionary situation in Libya, involving dual sovereignty and the development of two distinct camps with authority in the same country, and it certainly appeared that the country was cascading into Civil War.63 Indeed, while power in Tunisia and Egypt reverted to the same institutions and many of the same personnel who had ruled and oppressed the country, in Libya few had any idea who would rule after the Qaddafi regime and what institutions would be in play, thus providing openings for a radical alternative to the previous repressive state—or for chaotic turmoil. On March 2 Qaddafi gave another rambling speech and vowed “to fight to the Last Man” as conflict intensified throughout the country.64 Qaddafi was shown orating to a rapturous room full of his supporters, and he left the building to drive off alone in his golf-cart, an image of the Great Leader completely in control. Shortly thereafter, a battle erupted between the Libyan insurgents in the region of al-Brega, an important oil producing center, and the rag-tag group of rebels appeared to beat off Qaddafi’s forces.65 As more global media outlets gained access to the territory of the insurgents, video footage and interviews suggested that the opposition was largely untrained in military fighting, had equipment that they barely knew how to use that was taken from Libyan arms depots, and yet were ready to fight to the death for their country.66 Over 180,000 refugees, mostly Egyptian and other foreign workers, trekked to the borders of Tunisia and Egypt, and European countries were sending ships and planes to repatriate the refugees. On March 3, Barack Obama said that the United States would join these efforts and provide humanitarian aid to the Libyan people. Obama also stated that all military options were “on the table,” and forcefully asserted that Qaddafi had lost his legitimacy and should leave the country, sending a message to the rebels that they were supported by Western powers and to Qaddafi regime insiders that their days were numbered.

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As the revolt entered its eighteenth day, the amount of time that Mubarak remained in power after the Egyptian Uprising, it was clear that Qaddafi had maintained power in the capital city of Tripoli, as his troops shot at supposed opponents of his regime as Libyans left mosques after their Friday prayers. There were also reports that opponents of the regime, including young men who had been photographed in opposition demonstrations, were being arrested, and road blocks were put up throughout Tripoli, suggesting that Qaddafi was using a Reign of Terror to control the capital.67 The Qaddafi regime counter-attacked against rebel forces and its use of air power to assault the opposition intensified calls in the Middle East and the West for a “no-fly zone.” US, British, and various European powers brought ships to the Libyan and Tunisian border for humanitarian aid, while NATO discussed the no-fly zone and military action. The US put in place AWACS surveillance planes to track Qaddafi’s forces and to prepare for possible Western military intervention, a story that will be told in Chapter 3.

Tumult in the Arab World “You rose up, oh Egypt. And after patience and the night came victory.    Egypt, you rose up, and your son succeeded and he waved your flag high.” Popular Egyptian song by Adel-Halim Hafez

Throughout the Middle East during the Arab Spring of 2011, after the Friday prayers demonstrations erupted in such places as Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and other countries in the region during what was becoming a weekly ritual.68 In Egypt, on February 6, after former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik resigned following boisterous demonstrations that called for his removal because of his closeness to Mubarak, Shafik was replaced by the popular former transportation minister Essam Sharaf who had quit his cabinet position in 2006 and had joined the demonstrators to oust Mubarak. When he went to Tahrir Square on March 4 to celebrate the change, he was hoisted upon demonstrators’ shoulders and received a tumultuous greeting, broadcast live on Al Jazeera. There were reports that Egypt was undertaking a thoroughgoing “de-Mubaraking” of Egypt’s public spaces, replacing all signs and names of spaces citing Mubarak with alternatives, such as replacing the Mubarak subway station sign with “Marrtyrs [sic] of the January 25, Revolution.” Criminal investigations were being undertaken against Mubarak and other of his ministers, including the once-powerful and feared Interior Minister,

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Habib el-Adly. Yet critics claimed that arbitrary arrest and torture were continuing, and that government officials were burning documents which would indicate their complicity in Mubarak era crimes.69 Moving against the former state security apparatus, demonstrators in Alexandria burned down the hated state police headquarters, while a group in Cairo stormed the state security office and found officials burning documents. Some documents were taken by protestors out of the site, which contained information documenting the extent to which the Mubarak regime spied on and kept files on ordinary citizens, according to one of the demonstrators interviewed by Al Jazeera (March 5, 2011). On March 7, there were reports on Al Jazeera that eight floors of underground cells were found in the Cairo state security headquarters where opponents of the regime had been held and tortured. The Dark Side of the Egyptian Uprising was evident in Egypt on March 8 when groups of reactionary men confronted brave women in their demonstration on International Women’s Day and told them to return to their houses. Egypt had long been plagued with a patriarchal society where women were sexually harassed on a daily basis and considered inferior,70 and it appeared that the struggle between women and men would be a protracted one. On the same night, fights broke out between Christian Coptics protesting the burning of a church and Muslim men who clashed with them, leaving more than 11 dead.71 The next day, there were pictures on Al Jazeera and other networks of Mubarak thugs attacking peaceful demonstrators in Cairo with knives, machetes, and whips, a horrific aftermath of Mubarak’s Thug Regime, which still lived on in brutal men who had assimilated its aggressive and violent tendencies, and would continue to harass protestors in the months to come. Tunisia, by contrast, was making swifter progress toward regime change and democratic rule. On March 7, the Associated Press released a report, indicating that Tunisia both named a new government and was the first country in the region to close down its much-hated secret police unit and State Security Department.72 Shortly thereafter, it was announced that former dictator Ben Ali’s party had been dissolved, although interviews with Tunisian citizens that day on Al Jazeera indicated that many people had seen no real changes in their lives. Graham Usher argues in “That Other Tunisia,” however, that after the initial uprising that drove Ben Ali and his family out of the country and began the tumult of Arab Uprisings, there was a second grass-roots movement in Tunisia that laid siege from January 14 when Ben Ali fled into March, assembling in Tunis’s Casbah Square and elsewhere in the country “to protest any and all attempts by the ancient regime to steal back the revolution. Having refused to open fire on demonstrators in the first revolution, Tunisia’s 30,000-strong army kept to its constitutional role in the second: it guarded

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public spaces, but allowed the struggle to play out between serial interim governments and what became known as the Casbah coalition.”73 Usher argues that continued demonstrations and clashes with interim governments forced the resignation of Ben Ali-appointed governors in the provinces, the suspension of his political RCD party, the disbanding of the state security apparatus and dissolution of the hated secret police, and the legalization of parties previously banned. The struggles culminated, in Usher’s view, with the interim government bowing to the democratic forces’ key demand for elections to a Constituent Assembly that would be empowered to write a new constitution and prepare parliamentary elections. Usher acknowledges emerging divisions within the Tunisian democratic forces and serious problems that they face in moving forward, including economic disparities and lack of jobs, but sees significant advances since the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime. Hence, Egypt and Tunisia appeared to be moving forward slowly but surely, with unpredictable consequences through the summer and into the fall.74 Yet after eighteen days of the Libya Uprising against Qaddafi and his family and cronies, a stalemate appeared to have been reached in Libya, with rebel forces controlling the East and Qaddafi’s forces controlling much of the West. In Egypt and Tunisia, by contrast, the people were attempting to come to terms with the oppression and crimes of their authoritarian states, and were beginning the slow and often tumultuous process of rebuilding their societies. Questions emerged concerning whether the Egyptian people would have genuine input into the building of democracy and whether new institutions and forms of power could be built. Impressively, the people of Egypt and Tunisia had both overthrown corrupt dictators and non-violent demonstrations had expressed their will for change and yearnings for democracy, freedom, social justice, and dignity. As Slavoj Zizek argued, the Egyptian (and arguably Tunisian) revolutions had been secular, with demonstrators combining calls for democracy and freedom with demands for social justice.75 The uprisings exemplified the “People Power” movements of the 1960s, as well as the model of the “multitude” seizing power developed by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. As Hardt and Negri argued in a widely circulated article on the Arab Uprisings: One challenge facing observers of the uprisings spreading across North Africa and the Middle East is to read them as not so many repetitions of the past but as original experiments that open new political possibilities, relevant well beyond the region, for freedom and democracy. Indeed, our hope is that through this cycle of struggles the Arab world becomes for the next decade what Latin America was for the last— that is, a laboratory of political experimentation between powerful social movements and progressive governments from Argentina to Venezuela, and from Brazil to Bolivia.76

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Hardt and Negri do not mention here the role of charismatic Latin American leaders with political parties who galvanized social movements to win state power in democratic elections. In his documentary South of the Border (2010), Oliver Stone focuses on several presidents in Latin America who have led movements to produce left and center-left regimes. While Stone arguably exaggerates the role of the charismatic Latin American leaders that he interviews in his film, and downplays the role of social movements, it is likely that the Latin American left had evolved a progressive agenda with a combination of charismatic leaders and progressive political parties aligned with social movements. The insurrections have been described by Hardt and Negri and their followers in terms of revolutionary desires articulated in non-hierarchical rhizomatic networks without central authority or leadership. Zizek (2011), by contrast, calls for strong political movements with a specific program and goals, claiming that the self-organization of the protest movements “is clearly not enough to impose a reorganisation of social life. To do that, one needs a strong body able to reach quick decisions and to implement them with all necessary harshness.”77 The question thus emerges from the Egyptian and Tunisian insurrections whether movements and masses without charismatic leaders and progressive parties can construct a genuinely democratic society, without producing oppressive institutions and violence. Their challenge is also to generate political leaders and groups who nurture democratic institutions and social relations without developing oppressive modes of power and reverting to the old mode of authoritarian government and repression.78 In mediating between Hardt and Negri, who describe the political insurrections of 2011 in terms of networks of revolutionary desire and political experiment, and Zizek, who calls for strong political organization and revolutionary political strategy, we might reflect on the use of Herbert Marcuse’s concept of revolutionary subjectivity and revolution in the contemporary moment. Like Deleuze and Guattari, and Hardt and Negri, Marcuse points to the role of revolutionary desire and the body in motivating political insurrection, but equally insists on the cultivation of critical subjectivity and critical theory to intelligently merge theory with practice. In addition, Marcuse theorizes the destructive instincts, described in Freud’s concept of Thanatos, which threaten that an unleashed subjectivity engaged in passionate political insurrection can generate violence and destruction, a danger which a critical political subjectivity needs to be constantly vigilant toward and to channel destructive instincts into liberating actions and goals. In addition, Marcuse’s concept of revolution as a totality of upheaval is relevant to the insurrections of 2011, with revolution conceptualized as a rupture with and overthrow of the previous social order that develops new forms of economy, politics, culture, and social relations, involving a decisive break with the previous regime and construction of an entirely

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different emancipated society with non-oppressive social relations and a new economy, polity, social institutions, culture, and subjectivities. Marcuse’s concept of revolution is useful in the insurrections of the contemporary era as it provides normative visions of a goal of total social transformation aiming at social justice and emancipation.79 In any case, powerful new images of Arabs and their political awakening and uprisings were circulating through the global media, subverting notions that the Arab people were passive, or an irrational mass periodically exploding in rages of anger with no positive effects. It did indeed appear that the Libyan opposition were developing new forms of self-government and people’s power. In the liberated eastern parts of the country, rebels were self-organizing alternative institutions: the anti-Qaddafi forces had organized a Transitional National Council (TNC) supported by selfgoverning city councils, were organizing militias and military forces, running hospitals, producing information for their people, including papers and an internet TV station, and in one unforgettable image, an eight-yearold boy was shown directing traffic in Benghazi; interviewed, he explained that he was doing his duty for the revolution.80 As the Libyan Uprising passed Day 18, the climax of the Egyptian Uprising, it appeared that Libya would have to pass through a more violent and unpredictable path on its quest for democracy, freedom, and social justice. The apparent impasse between Qaddafi’s forces that controlled the capital Tripoli and most of the west of the country confronting the oppositional rebels who controlled Benghazi and most of the east of the country raised the specter of a long and bloody civil war. In Libya, on the weekend of March 5–6, Qaddafi’s forces continued to round up suspected members of the opposition and his troops attacked rebels in sites like Zawiyah that they held in the west and besieged other towns under rebel control. The rebels solidly held Benghazi and appeared to control strategic towns of Zawiyah and Ras Lanuf, but appeared stalled on the attempt to take Qaddafi’s home town of Sirte, on the road to Tripoli. It looked like the two sides were locked in a back-and-forth struggle that was evolving into civil war. Summarizing the apparent deadlock, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim write in an article titled: “In Libya, Both Sides Gird for Long War as Civilian Toll Mounts”: Nineteen days after it began with spirited demonstrations in the eastern city of Benghazi, the Libyan Uprising has veered sharply from the pattern of relatively quick and nonviolent upheavals that ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Instead, the rebellion here has become mired in a drawn-out ground campaign between two relatively unprofessional and loosely organized forces—the Libyan Army and the rebels—that is exacting high civilian casualties and appears likely to drag on for some time.

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That bloody standoff was evident on Saturday in Zawiyah, the northwestern city seized by rebels a week ago, where the government’s attacks raised puzzling questions about its strategy. For the second day in a row its forces punched into the city, then pulled back to maintain a siege from the perimeter. Hours later, they advanced and retreated again.81 On March 7, Al Jazeera used the segment logo “Libya fighting resembles civil war,” and by March 8, CNN was using graphics for their reports denoting “Libyan Civil War Carnage,” and “Libya Conflict Now Civil War.” But since the two Libyan sides were not organized into professional armies facing each other in traditional combat situations, perhaps the notion of “civil war” is not completely appropriate. War in Libya, as previously in Iraq and Afghanistan, was not a conventional war with clearly delineated sides, goals, strategies, tactics, armies, and battles. Qaddafi had employed unknown scores of mercenaries, and was reportedly carrying out a Reign of Terror where he was arresting supposed opponents of his regime and torturing them for information, and as a mode of political control.82 However, some of his troops defected to the rebels, who seemed to be getting military training on the run as the two sides confronted each other, often at night and with conflicting claims concerning who was controlling what town. Qaddafi’s spokespeople were notoriously mendacious and the rebels had to largely rely on foreign media correspondents to get their message across, and eventually some of their claims were also discovered to be unreliable. The war was fought as well on economic and political fronts, as various countries followed the US in freezing Qaddafi’s assets. France recognized the rebel forces as a legitimate government, and the Qaddafi forces promised a surprise would be revealed concerning French President Sarkozy which they claimed would bring down his regime.83 At a NATO summit conference, the countries could not agree, however, what political or military action to take, and the US government was also split.84 On March 9, Al Jazeera began using the logo “Chaos Across Nation as Battles Rage On,” as rumors flew concerning what forces controlled which areas, and questions were raised concerning whether Qaddafi was or was not negotiating a deal with the rebels. In the West, there were conflicting reports concerning Qaddafi envoys sent to talk to NATO and EU forces, as well as on-going debates over whether there would be a no-fly zone over Libya and who would enforce and establish it. Yet on March 10, it was clear that the momentum was shifting to the Qaddafi forces as his military machine hit rebels in the oil town of Ras Lanuf with bombing from above and a ship landing and attacking from the sea, combined with bombardments of rebel positions by artillery, mortar, tanks, and other weapons. Al Jazeera and other global cable networks

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displayed video of an oil refinery burning, of rebel forces coming under heavy bombardment by multiple weapons systems, and eventually of rebels fleeing the city in panic. Qaddafi’s bullying son Saif came on television crowing over the military advances of the regime, mocking the British, the Americans, NATO, and the UN, and warning rebels in the liberated eastern zone of Libya that: “We’re coming!” Stories started circulating on Al Jazeera of a massacre in Zawiyah, a town to the west of Tripoli that had been a stronghold of the rebels and that had been fiercely under attack for a week by Qaddafi’s forces. Anderson Cooper’s CNN report featured British ITV reporter Bill Neely who had harrowing footage of Zawiyah looking like a ghost town with bombed-out tanks, buildings, and public spaces; there were also pictures of rebel troops getting shot, stacks of bodies, and reports that those rebels who had not been killed were arrested or in hiding.85 Events in Zawiyah attested to the asymmetrical forces confronting each other in Libya and the brutality of the Qaddafi regime, also showing that rebels could not hold a town in the face of sustained military assault, at this point in the struggle. As the global television networks broadcast daily pictures of clashes between the rebels and Qaddafi forces with resultant pictures of dead bodies, wounded rebel fighters being taken to hospitals, funerals for dead comrades, and the horrors of war, the Dark Side of Insurrection and Middle East politics was confronting a global public. While uprisings against entrenched dictators and struggles for democracy and freedom are thrilling and may open the way to freer and better societies, the carnage in Libya augurs fearful possibilities of a protracted cycle of violence and retribution which has long plagued the Middle East and the rest of the world. Yahya Kamalipour, for instance, describes how he was “simultaneously worried, mesmerized and hopeful” by the events in the Middle East.86 Specters of continuous fighting and instability, the rise of repressive Islamicist regimes out of the chaos, of the emergence of new dictatorships of various sorts, and of threats to a global economy based on oil, made the North African Arab Uprisings unsettling and worrisome, as well as exciting and hopeful that a new era of democracy and freedom could come to the Middle East. Yet the endless pictures from Libya of young men aimlessly firing guns in the air and shooting wildly to celebrate produced an insidious message that Men With Guns would be the ideal for men in the region. Militarist hard masculinism was running amok, as well as impulses for freedom and democracy.87 There were repeated images of young Libyan men aimlessly shooting off their guns again and again, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” whether in battle, celebrating the day’s victories, or even in retreat. Video from Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and other global networks captured the frenzy of Young Men With Guns, and reported that in early days of their gunfests, many of their injuries were from their own guns which they often fired into the air, hitting their own comrades.

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By March 10, there were reports on Al Jazeera that the anti-Qaddafi forces were running out of ammunition, in part because the rebels had wildly fired their guns over and over to express their rage and attempts at masculinity. A March 10 report on Russian television (RT) reported how the young Libyan men who had stolen their weapons from Qaddafi’s armories had secured classic Russian Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. The report indicated that these guns “have become ultimate symbols of masculinity” in Libya; indeed, I would add that they were the basis of a hard and violent masculinity that was leading inexperienced young men to their brutalization and, in some cases, death.88 It was becoming increasingly clear that violence begets violence and that armed conflict between asymmetrical forces brings bloodshed and horror to countries. The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt had brought down tyrants in a relatively peaceful and non-violent fashion. Yet Libya was drowning in bloodshed, and Qaddafi was brutalizing his people with a Reign of Terror, frightening to behold and contemplate. The spectacle of untrained rebels wildly shooting off their guns and then fleeing was dispiriting, and suggested that violent uprisings would produce escalating bloodshed and suffering, and might fail, or succeed, in both cases potentially brutalizing and traumatizing the participants. The lessons of the US and allied invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq suggested that democracy could not come from above, through Western military intervention, as the West had tried to do, but must emerge from below, from the people themselves through the nurturing of a democratic public sphere and the cultivation of civil society and democratic institutions. In Libya, it was appearing that democratic revolution could not come through the barrel of a gun alone, and that the cult of the gun would only produce death, challenging the Libyans to gain diplomatic support and consider a multiplicity of ways to oust the Qaddafi regime—which might include Western military force. On Friday, March 11 it was clear that the Qaddafi forces had secured the oil refinery town of Zawiyah, close to Tripoli on its west, and were routing rebels forces from Ras Lanuf. Saif Qaddafi appeared on television in a triumphant mode threatening to slaughter the Benghazi revolutionaries who had dared to rebel against the Qaddafi regime and demand freedom. NATO officials were squabbling among themselves and unable to decide if NATO would enforce a no-fly zone, or stay out of the fray. Then, suddenly, the world was shocked to experience live and horrifying news from Japan that generated a media spectacle that would—at least for a time—displace the spectacle of the Libyan Uprising and Qaddafi’s Reign of Terror, and would indeed become one of the most fearsome and far-reaching media spectacles of all time.89 Next, I wish to situate the Libyan insurrection within the context of how the Arab Uprisings that exploded throughout North Africa and the Middle East in spring 2011 encountered forces of counter-revolution.

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The Arab Uprisings and Counter-revolution “As an avid observer of the global events, especially of the Middle East, I am simultaneously worried, mesmerized and hopeful. Worried, because the domino effect of the uprisings and the savage military response of the self-aggrandized dictators, such as Moammar Gadhafi, could potentially result in unprecedented exodus, killings, displacement, civil war and monumental crisis in the Middle East. Mesmerized, because citizens of so many countries have, for the first time, in a spontaneous fashion begun shouting their feelings about their unelected and suffocating regimes. Hopeful, because the Middle Eastern youths, awakened by the free flow of information via the internet and social networks, are demanding for the long overdue political change which could result in democracy, peace, freedom and prosperity.” Yahya Kamalipour

Back in Libya, as the eyes of the world turned in horror to engage the spectacle, on March 11, of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Catastrophe, intensified by the Fukushima Nuclear Debacle Spectacle, Qaddafi’s forces relentlessly attacked rebel forces from air, sea, and land, driving them to give up control of the important oil facilities and town of al Brega. Over the weekend of March 12–13, Qaddafi forces attacked al Brega and various small towns held by rebels in the east of the country. On Saturday, Al Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed in what the Doha channel described as an ambush outside Benghazi, with its director noting that Al Jazeera had been the subject of sustained verbal attacks by the Qaddafi regime.90 While the Arab League had passed a resolution to support a “no-fly zone” on the weekend of March 11–12 and while the UN was planning to meet on the resolution, Qaddafi positioned his troops to assault Benghazi, and it was not clear that the West would be able to intervene, leading to speculation concerning “Does it matter if Gaddafi wins?” and “Will Gaddafi reverse the tide of the Arab Spring?.”91 On March 14, 2011, the New York Times reported that the Qaddafi regime “cranked up military and psychological pressure against the rebels on two fronts, offering an amnesty to those who surrendered their weapons while bombing a strategic linchpin in the east and surrounding a rebel-held town in the west.” The Qaddafi regime warplanes struck against Ajdabiya, on the doorstep of “the opposition capital, Benghazi, and within grasp of a highway crucial to recapturing the eastern border and encircling the rebels with heavy armor and artillery.”92 On the same day, reports appeared indicating that “Saudi Troops

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Figure 1

Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest,” a “move Bahraini opposition groups denounced in a statement as an “‘occupation’.”93 For days, there had been increasingly large and militant protests in Bahrain against the ruling monarchy which had elicited shooting and the arrest of protesters by the regime. Shiites were demanding more rights in this Sunni emirate, while students, workers, and others were also demonstrating against the autocratic government. On March 14, the King of Bahrain declared a state of emergency and there were rumors that a Saudi soldier had been shot, inaugurating a tense situation that would go on for months.94 In Yemen too, demonstrations against the long-time rule of President Ali Adbullah Saleh were intensifying, and even Saudi Arabia had witnessed protests in recent days, while emirates and monarchies like Oman, Kuwait, and Jordan were granting new democratic powers to their assemblies and state councils, although demonstrations and a protest movement would also continue to develop in these countries. Saudi Arabia attempted to buy off its discontented masses, spending billions to provide Saudi citizens with substantial cash payoffs.95 Al Jazeera had been faithfully covering all the Arab Uprisings from Tunisia and Egypt to every demonstration for democracy and social transformation and anti-oppressive government in North Africa and the Middle

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East, inspiring Arabs throughout the region to take to the streets and demand democratic change. It was as if the countries in North Africa and the Middle East were achieving a Great Awakening, although it was not yet clear what forms it would take, as powerful and reactionary states in the region fought the uprisings to preserve the repressive existing regimes. There were reports on March 14 that Qaddafi had captured the crucial oil port of al Brega, although conflicting accounts were ambiguous, leading Al Jazeera to speculate that there may still be rebels holding parts of the city. Within a couple of days, however, it was clear Port Brega had been captured by Qaddafi forces and, like Zawiyah, sections of the city had been destroyed in the fighting. In any case, Qaddafi’s forces were on the road to Benghazi, and desperate rebel leaders called on Western powers to attack the Qaddafi regime, pleading with Western leaders to establish a “no-fly zone” and directly attack Qaddafi’s headquarters and military machine, and even to assassinate him.96 But a National Security Council meeting at the UN failed to pass a “no-fly zone,” and although Hillary Clinton met with rebel leaders, no communiqués were offered after the meeting. However, the next day, it was reported that Clinton had promised rebels some of the Libyan funds that had been frozen from US Libyan accounts, and in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, Clinton said that the Obama administration did not share the view that Qaddafi had won the war, suggesting that the US and its allies were planning to take action against him. On March 14–15, as the eyes of the world focused on the unfolding multiple catastrophes in Japan, Qaddafi’s forces began a sustained assault on the town of Ajdabiya, “seeking to rout a ragtag army of insurgents and would-be revolutionaries holding the last defensive line before the rebel capital of Benghazi.”97 By March 16, it appeared that Ajdabiya was largely under government control, although Al Jazeera reported that rebels still held part of the center of the town and were fighting on the outskirts, on the road leading to Benghazi, about one hundred kilometers away. Veteran New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid reported “Qaddafi Forces Seize Another Rebel Town,” describing the bombardment of Ajdabiya and hundreds of townspeople fleeing with rebel forces from Qaddafi’s onslaught. This would be Shadid’s last report before he himself went missing, along with three other New York Times reporters and staff (who were found and released by Qaddafi forces about a week later).98 Nic Robertson of CNN reported on March 15 that he and other journalists had travelled 500 kilometers with Libyan troops and their handlers to see evidence of the victories of Qaddafi’s forces in the east on the way to Benghazi. Robertson reported that Qaddafi had a disciplined army with tanks, helicopters, gunships, planes, and an arsenal of weapons, indicating that the rebels were seriously outmanned and outgunned, facing certain defeat. Qaddafi’s loud-mouthed son Siaf al Islam bragged that Qaddafi troops would be in Benghazi within 48 hours, and also claimed he had the documents

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to prove that Libya had financed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s previous presidental campaign and that Libya was disappointed in their supposed friend, who had led the way to get NATO and the UN to run a “no-fly zone” in Libya, so far unsuccessfully. The French foreign minister Alain Juppé was indeed militating for a “no-fly zone” and military intervention into Libya, but few countries, at first, seemed willing to take up the burden.99 On March 15, Bahraini government troops attacked a group of demonstrators who had occupied the central Pearl Monument traffic roundabout, which they had occupied since February to protest discrimination against the majority Shiite Muslims and to demand more democracy and freedom. Government troops and police shot at the demonstrators with rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, and armed forces beating and arresting protestors, ousting them from the Pearl roundabout and destroying their camp. Al Jazeera had footage of the brutality of the Bahraini forces, and with CNN and other global news networks carried reports that Bahraini troops had blocked access roads to hospitals and even entered a hospital to arrest demonstrators and rough up doctors, showing a heavy-handed approach.100 The next day the Bahraini government tore down the monument in the Pearl traffic roundabout that had become a symbol of the democracy movement, while demonstrations continued in Bahrain and Yemen. Hillary Clinton called for restraint and non-violence in Bahrain, but obviously Saudi Arabia had other plans for the region, sending in cadres of heavily armed troops, evidently choosing to use force rather than moderation to deal with demonstrations. Iran denounced the Saudi intervention, setting up the possibility that there would be increased Sunni and Shiite divisions in the region, with Iran encouraging and supporting Shiite uprisings and Saudi Arabia intending to maintain order and Sunni supremacy. Reports circulated on global news media on March 17 that four major Bahraini opposition leaders had been arrested overnight, and that at least six were killed in fighting in Bahrain, setting up conditions for potentially explosive confrontations. The Obama administration criticized the use of excessive force, and Al Jazeera reported that the Philippines had barred the employment of new workers in Bahrain. In the following weeks, protests continued and the country remained tense. On March 18, attacks on demonstrators in Yemen resulted in at least forty-five deaths, as the Saleh government brutally suppressed the opposition movement around Sana University, and blamed the killing on local residents fed up with demonstrations and unrest. Tensions would accelerate as the protest movement grew in following weeks, a development I shall discuss later in Chapter 5. Indeed, even Syria was beginning to see demonstrations against its dictatorial regime (that I take up later in these studies), so the movements for democracy and freedom were continuing to develop throughout the Middle East, with uncertain results.

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Hence, for a diagnostic critique, the Arab Spring of 2011 represents the beginning of a world-historical uprising of the Arab people against a series of authoritarian, dictatorial, and corrupt regimes that emerged from a long period of colonialism in the second half of the twentieth century. Anti-colonialist revolts in the post-World War II Arab world took the form of military coups, nationalist uprisings and struggles, or their combination, which in North Africa and throughout the Middle East resulted in authoritarian regimes that had become family dictatorships, corrupted by nepotism, cronyism, kleptocracy, and repressive state regimes deploying prison, torture, and murder to preserve absolute state power. While the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt during the 2011 Arab Spring displayed relatively non-violent protest movements that drove dictators to flee the country, not surprisingly violent state responses and repression took place in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and other countries. Finally, the Arab Uprisings were global, circulating via broadcasting, new media and social networking, and word of mouth, as similar tactics of struggle were used in proximate countries during the Arab Spring, media spectacles that inaugurated an era with similar popular revolts and uprisings throughout the world. 2011 is therefore emerging as a year of insurrections and revolution confronted with, in some dramatic cases, like the Libya insurrection, counter-revolution and suppression of the oppositional movements. The next chapter will center on the War in Libya, and Chapters 4 and 5 will come back to key developments in the Arab Awakening and insurrections of 2011.

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3 War in Libya: Challenges of LiberalHumanitarian Interventions

In Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, and even Saudi Arabia, uprisings for democracy, and in some cases regime change, had emerged in March 2011 that were, however, suppressed by state power. In Libya, the Qaddafi regime seemed to be gaining momentum for an incursion into Benghazi which could unfold in a battle between Qaddafi forces and the 700,000 citizens in Benghazi, which many feared would lead to a massacre. Suddenly, however, a bombshell was dropped around 5.00 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2011, that the UN Security Council had passed a resolution for a no-fly zone, and “all necessary measures” to defend civilians. This was the first time that the UN Security Council had passed such a broad mandate to protect civilians against government repression. The mandate, named Resolution 1973, in effect authorized attacks on Libyan aircraft and on their ground forces, which were moving to invade Benghazi. In retrospect, Libya would now be a laboratory for a new kind of liberal-humanitarian military intervention and would exhibit its paradoxes and challenges.

Phase One: No-Fly Zone The Middle East was still highly volatile as reports continued of demonstrations throughout the region on March 17. Earlier in the day, Al Jazeera had shown Qaddafi on Libyan television vowing that he was going to crush all infidels, traitors, and al-Qaeda terrorists in Benghazi, and would go

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house-to-house and into closets to find and destroy his enemies. Qaddafi’s son Saif was giving television interviews indicating that the regime’s military forces would employ a different strategy in Benghazi, encircling the city with troops and allowing the people to leave. Unable to stop gloating, Qaddafi Jr. blustered: “In 48 hours everything will be over,” and that it was too late to impose a no-fly zone. As the UN deliberated, people in Benghazi went to their central square to await the results, and Al Jazeera broadcast live the people of the city screaming defiance at Qaddafi when he appeared on television to threaten them, and then exploding with joy when the UN resolution was passed. The Global Village was watching live history being made on television, and the people of Benghazi were participating in the spectacle, playing music, dancing, singing, setting off firecrackers, shooting off guns, driving their cars and honking horns, as if they had won the World Cup or Superbowl, celebrating into the night. Qaddafi had earlier warned that Libya would mount terrorist attacks across the Mediterranean for years to come if foreign powers took up arms against him. Yet Italy immediately publicly volunteered their airfields for the NATO operations against Qaddafi, who had been a close friend of Italy’s controversial and beleaguered president Silvio Berlusconi. France said that military operations should proceed against Qaddafi in hours and not days, although US diplomats cautioned that Arab countries needed to play an important role in the operations. The Arab League indeed quickly endorsed a no-fly zone against Libya, which had opened the way for the UN resolution. In retrospect, for the first two weeks, the rebels and opposition forces in the Libyan Uprising seemed to have had the upper hand. Benghazi and other eastern towns were immediately taken over by the rebels after the February 17 Uprising (see Chapter 2). The anti-Qaddafi forces swiftly mobilized and took over various towns in the west, and then successfully marched across the east, taking back key oil towns of Port Brega, Ajdabiya, and Ras Lanuf. During this period, many of Qaddafi’s ministers, military officials, and representatives abroad went over to the rebel side, an International Criminal Court investigation was launched against Qaddafi, Libyan funds were frozen abroad, and Barack Obama and other Western officials argued that Qaddafi was no longer a legitimate authority and should leave, producing a global media spectacle of collapsing dictatorships. After the rebel forces had been in the ascendant and were driving toward Tripoli, Libya’s capital and a Qaddafi stronghold, the Qaddafi regime forces fought back, and one by one took back the newly liberated towns in the east, often reducing sections of the cities to rubble, driving inhabitants to leave, and mercilessly slaughtering rebels. The Qaddafi military forces, which included many mercenaries hired especially to kill rebels and to terrorize populations who had supported the rebels, had driven in the past

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two weeks to Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya of over 700,000 and the center of the opposition forces. Fears mounted that Qaddafi loyalists would enter Benghazi and create a spectacle of counter-revolution in which thousands would be slaughtered. With the UN resolution and the introduction of high-tech NATO forces, the Libyan Uprising entered a new, uncertain period, and it was in no way clear how it would turn out. Qaddafi immediately called for a ceasefire and negotiations, but his request was denied by allied forces. Both UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that words were not enough and that, as Clinton put it, the allies would “have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear,” adding that Qaddafi must move his forces away from the east of the country, where they had been threatening a final and bloody assault on the rebels’ stronghold in Benghazi.1 Reports continued that Qaddafi forces were still bombarding the city of Misurata, 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, and the BBC claimed that the assault was continuing, even after Qaddafi proposed a ceasefire and said he was halting military actions. Al Jazeera had been reporting that Ajdabiya had been under non-stop attack by Qaddafi forces, which suggested that the rebels had not been completely driven out of the city, which is only 90 miles from Benghazi. Hence, Libya was now in a situation of intense political struggle for control of the country, and there was no telling how events would shake out. On March 18, Barack Obama made a nine-minute speech asserting that Qaddafi must cease attacks on the eastern city of Benghazi and withdraw his forces from the towns of Ajdabiya, Misurata, and Zawiyah. Obama added: “Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.” Yet Obama also stated: “I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing: the United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya, and we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya. In the coming weeks, we will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.” Although Brian Williams (mis)reported on NBC Nightly News that Obama had stated that the US was going to lead military action against Libya, in fact the Obama administration was trying to make clear that the UN resolution had the support of multilateral forces and that the US had not agreed to lead a sustained military campaign against Libya (although they would take the lead in the first phase of the operation).2 Early reports on March 19 indicated that France was flying over Libya, making sure that there were no Qaddafi planes seeking to attack the opposition. But there

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were also Al Jazeera reports that Qaddafi forces had advanced within 30 kilometers of Benghazi, and then that his loyalist forces had entered the city and were fighting there, while Al Jazeera and the BBC circulated reports that coalition forces were bombing Libyan government tanks in the area.3 Al Jazeera correspondents reported that fighting in Benghazi was fierce, suggesting that rumors were materializing indicating that Qaddafi forces were already in the city and were waiting to come out to attack its residents and that his forces, which had been seen on the city limits, were attacking Benghazi.4 In one bizarre episode, apparently the rebels shot down one of their own planes which was videoed crashing to earth. Sadly, one of the heroes of the revolution, Mohammad Nabbous, described as the face of citizen journalism and founder of a satellite television channel reporting on events in Benghazi, had been shot and killed by a sniper, leading to speculation that he had been targeted and assassinated by Qaddafi forces who had the previous week killed an Al Jazeera correspondent.5 Throughout the day of March 19, Al Jazeera depicted how segments of Benghazi had been subject to attacks from a variety of weapons, and showed seriously damaged areas of the city, wounded and dead bodies, and many inhabitants fleeing from the city. But there were also reports that coalition planes had destroyed Qaddafi forces’ tanks, and that rebels had successfully defended the city against the assault by Qaddafi’s military in sections of the city, making it clear again that Qaddafi forces had not followed a ceasefire as they had promised the day before and would continue to promise. New York Times reporters wrote that: “Benghazi residents interviewed by telephone reported a relentless artillery barrage before government tanks entered the city from the west on Saturday morning. There was heavy fighting in the city center, and pro-Qaddafi snipers could be seen on the building that the rebel council used as a foreign ministry, not far from the courthouse that is the council’s headquarters.”6 Al Jazeera labeled the new military situation “War Over Libya,” while both CNN and NBC labeled the events “Target: Libya.” CNN reported at 15.53 EDT on March 19 that the US had launched Cruise missile attacks on Libya, and shortly afterwards there was a press conference where Vice-Admiral William Gortney announced to reporters in Washington that the campaign was named Operation Odyssey Dawn, and that 110 Tornado Cruise missiles had been shot at twenty Libyan air defense and military command and control centers, from US ships stationed in the Mediterranean. Gortney explained that this was the first phase of the operation that the US would lead in “preparing the battlefield,” so that other coalition nations could participate under less dangerous conditions. Shortly thereafter, Obama came to the podium where he was on a diplomatic trip to Brazil and stressed the limited nature of US involvement, stating: “I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it…. I want the American people to know that the

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use of force is not our first choice, and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we can’t stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.” Reports soon after indicated that after the first stage, either NATO, or France and the UK, would head up military operations. In the Libyan capital Tripoli, Al Jazeera showed masses of voluntary “human shields” around Qaddafi’s headquarters, and his supporters danced, sang, and chanted in his support, but that night when explosions began ringing out in Tripoli and the sky was illuminated by anti-aircraft fire, Qaddafi’s supporters were suddenly not to be seen. Qaddafi called the attackers “crusaders” and labeled the air assaults an “imperialist war,” calling for all “peace-loving countries” in, especially, Africa and the Middle East to come to his aid. However, the highly unpopular Qaddafi had alienated his regime from most of the countries in the region and few in the Middle East defended him. A Libyan spokesperson claimed that there was damage to hospitals and public institutions and civilians killed by the bombing, but there was no proof, and Al Jazeera reported that anti-Qaddafi rebels were claiming that Qaddafi might well bomb some of his own people to blame the killing on the “crusaders.” The next day, Libyan television played repeated scenes, broadcast by Al Jazeera, of dead Libyan bodies and a funeral at a ceremony for alleged civilian victims of the bombing, but reporters on the scene could not locate immediate members of the families of the alleged victims. Further, those who claimed they were relatives gave contradictory and conflicting accounts of the deaths, suggesting they this was a propaganda event. In information/media wars, dead bodies are used by both sides to dramatize the evils of the other side and there were claims that the Qaddafi regime was showing bodies of its forces killed in the struggle as civilians, to make the point that the rebel/NATO alliance against the government was killing civilians. Throughout the Middle East at this time, forces struggling against oppressive state regimes were using dead bodies as evidence of government repression and inhumanity, hence pictures of the dead were exploited by all sides to advance their respective political agendas. In Washington, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the NBC News show “Meet the Press” that Libyan government air defenses had been “taken out,” that there was no sign of Libyan aircraft, and that Qaddafi “hasn’t had aircraft or helicopters flying the last couple days. So effectively that no-fly zone has been put in place.” Colonel Qaddafi came on Libyan television and repeated his denunciation of the attacks, and claimed that he had opened military depots to arm his supporters, but Al Jazeera commentators doubted he would do this because they might use the arms against him. Qaddafi also vowed to attack civilian and military targets in the Mediterranean, signaling that an unpredictable and perhaps highly destructive war was underway. Ever the devotee of

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spectacle, Qaddafi gleefully poised before the clicking global media cameras next to a sculpture of a giant golden hand crushing a small US jet. On Sunday March 21, the global television networks had their Media War Machines in full gear, with wall-to-wall coverage of the war in Libya. CNN changed its logo from “Target Libya” to “Libya War,” while NBC stuck with its “Target Libya,” and BBC used the neutral “Libya Conflict.” Al Jazeera employed its “Battle for Libya” graphic and Russian television (RT) used the rubric “Libya Under Fire,” while my hometown Los Angeles Times sported a giant bold headline “ATTACK ON LIBYA”. Qaddafi called countries attacking Libya “terrorists” and the “New Nazis,” forgetting that he had long supported terrorist groups and became a terrorist himself in the 1980s, while his totalitarian regime was as close to Nazism as any country in the world. Russia called for a halt to “indiscriminate” killings and the Arab League leader Amr Moussa called the overnight campaign “excessive.”7 There were announcements early in the day that US, Danish, French, and British military forces were undertaking a second round of attacks and a dramatic moment arose when CNN military correspondent Nic Robertson was being interviewed in Tripoli and there was suddenly an explosion and the sound of anti-aircraft fusillades being shot in response. Robertson and other foreign journalists had been taken to the Bab Azizia Qaddafi compound, where buildings had been destroyed in what appeared to be a recent attack. Libyan Government watchers gave Robertson pieces of what appeared to be a recently fired US Cruise missile, which led to days of speculation concerning whether the coalition was specifically targeting Qaddafi. At the day’s Pentagon briefing, Admiral Gortner said: “At this particular point I can guarantee he is not on the targeting list,” but added that if Qaddafi was in a military command and control center, he would be subject to bombing. Later, the Pentagon claimed that the Tripoli compound targeted in the bombing was a command and control center, although there was no visible evidence of military communication or other military material at the site to which foreign reporters were taken, although military commentators claimed that some of Qaddafi’s command and control centers were buried underground in the compound. And in the UK, there seemed to be a division over whether Qaddafi was or was not a target between the military who insisted that Qaddafi was not on the target list and Tory politicians saying that he was a legitimate target.8 CNN was in full war mode, spending all day Sunday March 20 on the minutiae of the war. CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence’s eyes glowed as he detailed the specific US weapons and forces involved in the attacks, and Wolf Blitzer and CNN military advisor, General Mark Kimmitt, who had served in the Bush-Cheney administration in the Defense and State Departments, made sure that they would clearly convey the Pentagon’s line on the events. Blitzer’s teacher, Johns Hopkins University Professor Fouad

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Ajami, who never experienced a US military intervention against an Arab nation that he did not love, described the Libyan action as the latest example of the US coming to rescue a Muslim nation. Ajami rapturously rattled off the salvational events for Arabs in US intervention in Kuwait in 1991, Bosnia in 1995, Kosovo in 1998, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, and now Libya in 2011. Ajami orated that the American Destiny and Mission was to come to the aid of Arabs, who apparently could not take care of themselves. When asked about Arab League objections to the “excessive” bombing of the first day’s campaign, Ajami huffed that the US should pay no attention to Arab opinion, attacking the “hypocrisy” in the Arab world. CNN’s Benghazi correspondent Arwa Damon had from the beginning faithfully and passionately conveyed the Libyan oppositional forces’ messages of the day and increasingly their pleas for Western intervention. Damon herself was almost in tears over the plight of the Benghazi rebels, as the Qaddafi forces closed in on the town, and with tearful eyes recounted how the rebels were desperate for help from the West and would be massacred without it, making no secret that she was sympathizing with the rebels. Just before the UN resolution passed, Damon emphasized in report after report how Qaddafi had threatened to come into Benghazi and go house-to-house and into their closets to pull his enemies out and kill them. Once Qaddafi forces entered the city just after the UN resolution was passed, Damon recounted over and over how Qaddafi forces were shooting indiscriminately at people, bombarding buildings, and laughing as they killed people, suggesting that the Qaddafi regime was determined to take over Benghazi and slaughter the rebels. There was the usual partisan bickering with right-wing enemies of the Obama administration, like Republican House leader John Boehner calling on the Obama White House to clarify war aims and the mission, and the Sunday talk shows were full of pundits bloviating for and against the war. Right-wing critics of the Obama administration also filled op-ed columns and blogs with attacks on Obama and his latest war, while usually anti-war liberals and CNN, which loves all US wars, were putting on commentators defending the intervention (it’s a dirty little secret that CNN and other global TV networks like wars in which the US participates because it increases viewers and potential revenues). Critics of the NATO Libya intervention would become increasingly vocal and diverse as the days went on, raising the question of why did the Obama administration go into an unpredictable and potentially costly war? The fear of a media spectacle of people being slaughtered in Benghazi and the east of Libya may have pushed the Obama administration to support UN-sanctioned military action. Nicholas D. Kristof reports: A senior White House official says that the humanitarian argument was decisive for President Obama: “The president was chilled by what

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would happen to the people of Benghazi and Tobruk. There were critical national security and national interest reasons to do this, but what compelled the president to act so quickly was the immediate prospect of mass atrocities against the people of Benghazi and the east. He was well aware of the risks of military action, but he also feared the costs of inaction.”9 The Obama administration also wanted to develop multilateral coalitions and humanitarian interventions to replace the Bush doctrine that assumed the US had the greatest military power in the world and that it should be used to promote American interests, proclaiming that the US could use military force whenever and wherever it was deemed appropriate. The US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, showed that while the US could use its military to force regime change, it could not control the political dynamics of a country. Indeed, the imperial dreams of Bush-Cheney administration militarists who believed that US military superiority would create the basis for a new American Empire and hegemony collapsed on the failed interventions in Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders escaped, and Iraq, where the country disintegrated into chaos during the US intervention (see Kellner 2005). The Bush doctrine was therefore appearing flawed and obsolete, and in a new era, perhaps a more pragmatic and less doctrinaire approach to foreign policy and use of the US military could be developed. The doctrine of humanitarian intervention was provided with an ideological basis with the formulation of a doctrine “responsibility to protect” (commonly known as R2P) which received official recognition at a 2005 UN world summit. The doctrine holds that the international community has a “responsibility to protect” populations from gross violations of human rights.10 Many members of the Obama administration supported R2P, including Samantha Power, a senior aide at Obama’s National Security Council, who had for years been a leading voice calling for armed intervention into humanitarian crisis situations. Author of a highly acclaimed book A Problem from Hell. America and the Age of Genocide (2007), Power provides a detailed historical argument for humanitarian intervention in the face of massacre and genocide. Citing a long history of US neglect of genocide and crimes against humanity, Power argues that US military and political forces should be appropriately used to save human lives and prevent massacres of innocents. Obama’s UN ambassador Susan Rice also fits this paradigm of humanitarian intervention, as does Hillary Clinton and her head of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who had previously co-authored a neo-Wilsonian tract attacking Bush-Cheney administration foreign policy and advocating a liberal humanitarian and internationalist foreign policy that advances US democratic values.11 From the right, conservatives and other opponents were calling Obama

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“weak,” “vacillating,” and other insulting terms, and claimed to be appalled that Obama would commit US military forces to serve under a command structure like NATO. In fact, Obama was decisively switching US foreign policy from Bush-Cheney-era unilaterialism to Obama-era multilateralism. Moreover, as commentators with a memory recalled, the US military had served in coalitions during the Clinton administration in the Bosnia and Kosovo operations, so it was not unknown or unthinkable that US troops could be part of a NATO command structure.12 Indeed, in the days to come Obama would attempt to clarify his foreign policy and military doctrine, combining pragmatism and idealism, and distinguishing it from the Bush-Cheney administration and other hyperinterventionist US administrations. If CNN were pure US state and military propaganda during wartime, Al Jazeera provided genuinely balanced reporting, showing footage of both Qaddafi and Libyan officials articulating their position that the attacks were criminal and killing civilians, and those of Obama and other Western politicians and the military, providing arguments for the intervention. Al Jazeera provided on-site accounts of the military situation, including in towns like Ajdabiya and Misurata in which there were no Western media correspondents. Their commentators presented differing interpretations and perspectives on the events, and Al Jazeera emerged as one of the most reliable sources of information on the war in Libya in the global media. Russian television (RT), by contrast, presented non-stop anti-American propaganda and attacks on “Libya Under Fire,” their logo, which subtly suggested that Libya was being bombarded and set ablaze by the Western imperialists, as if Qaddafi had not destroyed parts of a whole series of Libyan towns in the past two weeks including Zawiyah in the west and Ras Lanuf, Ajdabiya, Misurata and other previously rebel-held cities in the east. It was indeed as if Qaddafi had to destroy these Libyan cities before he could liberate them, a perverse logic that guided much of the US Vietnam intervention. One of the dominant images in the global media of the weekend’s military activity was of destroyed tanks of Qaddafi’s forces in the desert outside of Benghazi, and on March 21, Arwa Danon of CNN reported that eight coalition missiles had destroyed at least seventy tanks in the desert thirty miles from Benghazi. Dawon assumed these were the same forces who had terrorized Benghazi the day before and who had fired indiscriminately at civilians and destroyed buildings, but it was not clear who they were or who had actually destroyed the Qaddafi forces. Early reports suggested that the French were the first to fire on Qaddafi forces, but NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said it was US Harrier jets which had taken down the anti-Qaddafi forces littering the highway for miles. In any case, the highway of destroyed Qaddafi force vehicles became a favorite site

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for reporters and for Benghazi citizens, rejoicing over their new allies, and was shown on major global TV channels.13 For the third straight day, there were allied missile attacks on Tripoli followed by bursts of anti-aircraft fire, and CNN spent much of their time with Nic Robertson reporting on these attacks; Robertson also replied to a slander from a Fox News reporter in Tripoli who claimed that Robertson and other journalists had served as human shields in visiting the bombed Qaddafi compound the day before, preventing allied attacks on the site; Robertson retorted that he expected lies and slander from the Libyan government, but not from fellow journalists. The rebels advanced on Ajdabiya, about fifty kilometers north of Benghazi, but found Qaddafi loyalists holding parts of the city. There were also reports that in Misurata Qaddafi forces continued to bombard the city and kill civilians; a witness called Anderson Cooper who used CNN to report on bodies overflowing in the hospital, Qaddafi troops killing civilians indiscriminately, including women and children, and ranting against Qaddafi. Cooper had repeatedly broadcast calls from doctors or witnesses in the cities that Qaddafi forces were bombarding and allegedly killing civilians, which may well have been opposition figures disseminating anti-Qaddafi propaganda. In addition, video footage had emerged from cities to which Qaddafi forces had laid siege which apparently showed evidence of destroyed urban areas and hospitals full of casualties. Hence, it appeared that Qaddafi’s forces were on a rampage and would probably have slaughtered the people of Benghazi had not the UN “no-fly zone” resolution been passed with allied forces accordingly intervening. Confusion reigned, however, over the US mission, goals for the intervention, its legality, and who would take over military command once the first phase was over. US generals claimed that their own mission was to protect civilians, whereas many US politicians were calling for the end of Qaddafi’s Rule of Terror, and thus regime change. Obama came out and made a distinction between US policy, in which he and Clinton had stated that Qaddafi had to go, while affirming that the US military mission under the UN Security Council Resolution 1978 was limited to protecting civilians. While it had been announced that NATO would take over the military command after phase 1 dominated by the United States, France said that this would not work as Arab nations did not want to participate under a NATO command. Confusion and chaos reigned, in fact, throughout the Middle East. Demonstrations had intensified the previous week in Yemen and troops fired on demonstrators, killing more than forty-five supposed opponents of the regime. President Saleh blamed it on local residents tired of demonstrations, and then on March 20 fired his whole cabinet, which he blamed for the unrest. Diplomats began resigning and/or calling for Saleh’s resignation, as did a top Yemenese general and several other military and

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political leaders. Rumors spread through the region, reported on Al Jazeera, that a “bloodless coup” would take place in Yemen without violence, and that negotiations were afoot to ease Saleh out. This dream appeared to be squashed, however, as the Yemenese Defense Minister came on in strong support of Saleh, and said that action against the government would not be tolerated, setting up the possibility for civil war in the deeply divided country. In the days that followed, pro- and anti-Saleh demonstrations unfolded in Yemen, and demonstrations broke out in Syria in the southern city of Daraa, demanding increased political freedoms. Syria had been under emergency law since the 1963 Baath Party coup which banned all opposition. Since then, Syria had been governed by Hasef-al Assad and his son Bashar, and the people were restive with the repressive one-family rule. Early protests were put down by security forces, killing demonstrators and leading to bigger demonstrations and more state security attacks on protestors. A crackdown on a protest centered at the Omari mosque on March 23 led to at least fifteen people dead, and anger over this atrocity was intensifying protests throughout the country, leading the Assad government to claim that they were eliminating the Emergency Laws that had been used to repress opponents and demonstrations for decades, and would meet the opposition’s “legitimate demands.” As the fourth day of fighting unfolded in Libya after the NATO invention on March 22, there had been several attacks on Tripoli, including at least two on the Qaddafi compound and one at the port outside the city. Libyan TV kept playing pictures of dead bodies, claiming that they were civilian victims of allied bombing, accompanied by pictures of crowds demonstrating in support of Qaddafi. Reporters in Tripoli claimed that they could find no evidence of civilian casualties and had seen no big demonstrations for Qaddafi after the bombing started; many correspondents also claimed that people in the street in Tripoli began coming up to them and saying that they were against the Qaddafi regime and supported the rebels; other news sources reported demonstrations against Qaddafi in various cities in Libya, and reported messages from Libyan exiles that they opposed Qaddafi, suggesting that there were significant anti-Qaddafi forces throughout the country.14 On March 22, according to the United States military, an F-15E Strike Eagle warplane crashed in Libya due to equipment malfunction, but the crew safely ejected, and one pilot was retrieved by a US rescue helicopter; the other pilot was found by anti-Qaddafi Libyans who took him to Benghazi and returned him to US military forces; however, Al Jazeera later reported that six Libyan civilians had been injured during heavy fire in the rescue of the first crewman.15 For some days anti-Qaddafi rebels had been trying to take back the town of Ajdabiya, but the Qaddafi forces were lodged in the center of

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the city with tanks and heavy weapons and the rebels could not dislodge them. After some NATO strikes on Qaddafi loyalist positions, however, there were reports on March 26 that the Qaddafi forces had abandoned the city, and rebel militants streamed toward the town that had been under Qaddafi’s control for two weeks, threatening Benghazi. As the NATO coalition attacks continued on Qaddafi’s forces throughout the country and on his stronghold and other sites in Tripoli, there was still confusion concerning who would take over control of the mission after the US relinquished control at the end of the first phase. The US commanders were claiming that the no-fly zone was successfully implemented and that coalition forces dominated the air, and thus that the first phase was nearing its end. On March 24, there was a meeting among NATO countries to discuss NATO taking over command of the Libyan operations after the first US-controlled phase. CNN reported late in the evening that NATO was prepared to take over command, and then reported difficulties in securing the agreement. The next day, however, word came out that NATO agreed that: “it would take over not only command and control of the no-fly zone, but also the much riskier campaign to protect civilians through aggressive coalition air strikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s troops on the ground, the officials said. Details of the second part of the operation will be worked out in a formal military planning document in time for a meeting of coalition foreign ministers in London on Tuesday, the officials said.”16 President Obama came on the radio and announced that the American mission was “clear and focused,” and that while the American role would be limited, so far: “We’re succeeding in our mission.” During the weekend of March 26–27, Libyan rebels marched westward, seizing key oil towns of Brega, a major oil export terminal, and Ras Lanuf with major oil refineries. With the aid of UN-backed NATO air strikes against Qaddafi’s forces, rebels were thus able to take back key cities that they had seized and then lost. Obviously, the balance was tipping in the favor of the rebels through the help of the UN-coalition airpower and battlefield control, a factor that Qaddafi’s officials complained about, claiming that this advantage for the anti-Qaddafi forces was unfair! Al Jazeera reported on regions of the country and Tripoli where Qaddafi was still popular, accounts confirmed by journalists in Libya.17 The rebel advance continued on Sunday as the Qaddafi-opposition took control of the town of Bin Jawad, and claimed that they planned to push on towards Qaddafi’s stronghold of Sirte, where his clan was located and opposition to the rebels could be expected to be fierce. On Monday March 28, Al Jazeera showed evidence that some Qaddafi forces had abandoned equipment and military outfits when they fled from the eastern cities that the rebels had just taken, suggesting that some of Qaddafi’s military forces were disintegrating. However, there were also

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reports that fresh Qaddafi forces were seen heading to Sirte, suggesting that he might attempt to stem the rebel advance in his home town.18 Meanwhile, Barack Obama prepared himself for a speech which he was scheduled to give on Monday night. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates had appeared on TV talk shows on Sunday, and stressed the humanitarian aims of the mission in the UN resolution and the multilaterial nature of the operation. Moreover, Gates admitted that there were no “vital US interests” involved in the intervention, and Gates and Clinton had trouble answering the extent to which the mission also involved taking out Qaddafi and whether or not regime change was the endgame. President Obama gave a speech at 7.30 EDT at the National Defense War University in Washington, rather than the Oval Office where Presidents usually announce US involvement in a war. It was clear from Obama’s speech that he did not intend to involve the US in war and a protracted military operation in Libya, but rather saw the US role as a limited part of a multinational coalition. In a carefully calibrated and at times eloquent speech, Obama laid out the differences from the Bush doctrine which argued that the US could go to war and use its military whenever it deemed appropriate to do so. Obama, by contrast, argued that US participation in military action against Qaddafi was sanctioned by the Arab League, the UN, and NATO, which would assume military command. Obama also differentiated the Libya intervention from the Bush-Cheney Iraq intervention that involved hundreds of thousands of US troops, thousands of dead Iraqis and Americans, and more than a trillion-dollar cost in a venture that had taken eight years. Obama gave a clear and striking account of what his administration had so far done, which involved telling Qaddafi he must go, putting Libya under embargo, seizing $300 billion in Libyan financial assets, and helping organize coalitions and resolutions which denounced Qaddafi’s assaults on his own people. Then, using the first person, Obama noted that he next ordered military action against the Qaddafi regime just before they were about to begin the slaughter of 700,000-plus people in Benghazi within days of his all-out assaults on rebel troops and civilians. Obama argued that it was necessary to intervene and protect the people of Benghazi to prevent them from being slaughtered. There were also “strategic interests” involving preventing the destabilization of Egypt and Tunisia, if refugees clogged their borders and cities. In addition, taking no action would send, Obama insisted, a message that dictators could not with impunity use force against their own people. Further, letting Libyan protestors get slaughtered by Qaddafi regime loyalists would also discourage people in North Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere struggling for their freedoms. Commentators attempted to extract an “Obama Doctrine” from his thirty-minute speech, but, in fact, Obama is a pragmatist whose decisions

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are made according to concrete situations. Hence, rather than articulating a “doctrine,” he was justifying military intervention in a specific case, while making arguments for US intervention in terms of “our values and interests,” which, for Obama, involved promoting democracy and freedom, as well as preventing, when appropriate, the slaughter of civilians by their government. In response to criticisms, Obama would continue to clarify his position which Republicans were eager to contest. At a conference of the coalition countries in London on March 29, members of the NATO, UN, and Arab League alliance planned further action against Qaddafi forces. The group chose a “Contact Group on Libya,” that would serve as a forum for debate and plan future actions against Libya. There were, however, differences among the delegates whether to arm the rebels or not, and what to do about Qaddafi. Turkey and Italy favored diplomatic moves to call a ceasefire and negotiate to get Qaddafi out of the country; other members wanted Qaddafi to be tried for war crimes, a case that the International Criminal Court was preparing. Debates in the US were unfolding about the costs of the war, which so far was said to be around $450 million with future costs projected as about $40 million a month, but critics felt this was unrealistic and that real costs could be much higher.19 Skeptics from both parties were worried that the US was going to get stuck in a third unpopular war in Arab countries and wondered how long this involvement would be and how would it be terminated. Meanwhile, Qaddafi forces counter-attacked against the Libyan rebels after their advance to Sirte had stalled. The previous week the rebels had a 72-hour run in which they had taken five cities and moved to the edge of Sirte. But coming under heavy bombardment by Qaddafi forces the rebels began to flee, and the flight was a disaster in which they lost much of the ground won back the previous week. Footage from Al Jazeera, CNN, and the BBC showed rebels coming under fire in Bin Jawed, a town east of Sirte, and then fleeing down the highway. The retreat became a rout as TV images portrayed cars full of rebel forces four or five abreast and racing through the desert in retreat. By the time the retreat was over, the rebels had lost the important oil towns of Ras Lanuf and Port Brega, sending civilians from these towns fleeing to the east. The people living in these towns had thought that they were free of Qaddafi, but suddenly faced the imminent return of Qaddafi forces. CNN described the rout as a “Striking Reversal” and “hasty and panicked retreat,” while rebel forces were characterized by Al Jazeera as “a ragtag civilian militia,” outgunned by Qaddafi forces and bickering among themselves with no unified command, leading one journalist to conclude: “With no formal leadership and no coordinated tactics, the rebels are not a unified fighting force but a collection of enthusiastic but untrained men with guns.”20

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Fighting had also gone badly for rebel forces in Misurata in the west, Libya’s third biggest city. Taken over by rebels in the first flush of the Libya Uprising, it had been fiercely contested by Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi forces for over a month. After three weeks of fighting on March 23, the Qaddafi regime took members of the international press to visit the city, about fifty kilometers from Tripoli, and correspondents saw a city in which there had been much fighting, and evidence that rebels continued to fight in the city. Indeed, CNN and Al Jazeera received frequent phone calls from rebels and doctors in Misurata who reported on the assault of the city by Qaddafi forces, including bombardments by artillery, tanks going through the streets and shooting rebels and civilians alike, and snipers shooting at rebels from building tops. Doctors reported that hospitals were filled to overflowing, that Qaddafi forces had bombed a hospital, and that they were running low on medical supplies. Footage of battles that could not be confirmed was shown daily on Al Jazeera and CNN, showing fighting between rebels and Qaddafi forces, and parts of the city destroyed and abandoned. There were also allegations that Qaddafi’s forces arrested men and women suspected of being in the opposition, and claims that women were raped by Qaddafi supporters. Al Jazeera presented a segment on rape as a weapon of war on March 27, interviewing rebels who found dead Qaddafi forces with viagra and condoms, and cited women who claimed that they had been raped by Qaddafi’s militias. Global media the same day were intensely focused on a spectacle of a Libyan woman, Eman al-Obeidy, who burst into the hotel full of Western journalists, claiming that she had been raped by Qaddafi’s militia. Al Jazeera, CNN, and other media caught live the dramatic scene of a woman telling of how she had been arrested at checkpoints manned by Qaddafi’s militia outside of Tripoli, was held for two days, and was repeatedly raped by members of Qaddafi’s militia. Qaddafi security agents and members of the hotel staff apprehended her, leading to clashes between journalists and Qaddafi’s stooges, in which the woman was brutally taken away. Qaddafi’s spokesmen first accused her of being a prostitute and drunk, but when reports circulated that she was studying law and had come from a good family in Benghazi, the Qaddafi thugs said that she had been released, but no one had seen her. On March 29, Al Jazeera reported that the unidentified militia members she accused of rape had filed a civil case against her, claiming she had slandered them; the same day Libyan state television presented a negative segment on her showing her screaming at women who probably worked for state security.21 On March 30, Al Jazeera depicted the ragtag rebel forces continuing a hasty retreat from coastal towns they captured days earlier, as forces loyal to Qaddafi bombarded them with rockets and mortars. After having been driven out of the town of Bin Jawwad on Tuesday, the rebels continued their flight through the strategically important oil hubs of Ras Lanuf and

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Brega en route to Ajdabiya, where they vowed to take a stand. Reports were received from families who had fled from Qaddafi forces coming into town and returning to their houses after the rebels had retaken the town to find that Qaddafi forces had ruined their houses. A family returning to its home in Ras Lanuf found that: …it was not the home they had left behind. “They destroyed everything,” Bashir el-Maghreby, 25, said on Monday as his shoes crunched over broken glass inside his father’s two-story house. The furniture was gone, the refrigerator door ripped from its hinges, a basket of eggplants still inside. The rooms smelled of feces. Although he knew government troops had occupied the town, “we didn’t think it would be this bad.”22 Most of the rebels had retreated 130 miles from Ras Lanuf and many had back-pedaled over 200 miles back to Benghazi since confronting Qaddafi’s forces. Al Jazeera revealed on March 30 that Qaddafi forces were using new tactics, putting its troops in small groups driving civilian autos and trucks similar to those used by the rebels, so that coalition air forces could not easily eliminate them as they had done previously. CNN showed groups of rebel fighters sitting around and looking dejected, and Al Jazeera broadcast their pleas for weapons. CNN’s report on March 31 also claimed that there were “stunningly few” well-trained soldiers, perhaps less than a thousand, and that the rebel forces were “out-gunned, out-manned and out-trained.” Veteran reporter Jon Lee Anderson on CNN confirmed this report, but insisted that he had not see any al-Qaeda forces among the rebels.23 The same day, CNN broadcast a Reuters report that Obama had signed previously a document which allowed CIA forces to work with the rebels; the White House, in clarifying the report, said that the US had not yet decided to arm the rebels, so the fierce debate continued on whether and how to arm the rebels. The Qaddafi regime was apparently dealt a severe blow, however, when it was announced that Foreign Minister and long-time Qaddafi confidant Moussa Koussa had defected. Al Jazeera had reported earlier in the week that Koussa had taken a “private” trip in Tunisia, and on March 30, BBC announced that British intelligence had told them that Koussa had flown in a military airplane and landed in a non-commercial airport in the UK, had told British authorities he did not want to represent the Qaddafi regime any more, and presumably could aid the coalition with inside intelligence, as Koussa was former intelligence chief for Qaddafi and presumably knew embarrassing state secrets, what military capacities and plans the Qaddafi clique had at their disposal, and where key military installations were located.24 On the other hand, there were many who believed Koussa was

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involved in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, still a contentious issue in the US and UK because the British allowed the Libyan agent who was accused of the crime to return to Libya. Rumors circulated that the suspected Libyan agent had been released to help British Petroleum (BP) get a lucrative oil deal (yes, that BP!).25 Yet this could be the first important sign of Qaddafi’s inner circle crumbling. According to Borzou Daragahi: “As word of Koussa’s departure spread late Wednesday the normally chatty Libyan officials lounging nightly in the lobby of the Tripoli hotel where international journalists stay were nowhere to be found” (ibid). There were other reports of dejection among Qaddafi forces in Tripoli. The capital and Qaddafi’s stronghold had been bombed for all eleven days of the NATO operation and there were reportedly shortages of food and fuel. Meanwhile, the scheduled transfer of military command from the US to NATO was taking place, a topic to be explored in the next section.

Phase Two: NATO Takes Command Control of the Libyan intervention was scheduled to devolve from the US to NATO, and on March 31, the Guardian daily blog announced that: “NATO is officially in command of all air operations over Libya, having taken over from the US. The alliance took charge at 6am GMT this morning. The operation, codenamed Unified Protector includes enforcement of the no-fly zone, maintaining the arms embargo on Libya, and the protection of civilians.”26 The same day, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified to Congress, and when asked if US involvement would inevitably mean American “boots on the ground” in Libya, he responded: “Not as long as I am in this job.” Commentators, however, noted that Gates was scheduled to retire later in 2011. On April 1, rumors swirled about possible roads to settlement of the Libyan conflict. Al Jazeera reported that Saif al Islam had sent a diplomat to London to discuss the Libya crisis, and there were rumors of multiple defections of top Qaddafi regime figures, which might indicate further crumbling of the Tripoli government. Representatives of the anti-Qaddafi rebels proclaimed that they would accept a ceasefire if government forces would pull out of cities they were besieging and allow peaceful protests. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the rebels’ Transitional National Council, declared that: “We are seeking immediate withdrawal of Qaddafi forces around and inside cities, to give Libyan people the freedom to choose.” Yet other rebel spokespeople told Al Jazeera that there could only be a ceasefire if Qaddafi were to surrender power and leave the country. On the ground, the rebels presented themselves to Al Jazeera as

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better-organized and ready to go on the offensive, moving up what was now called the “Highway of War” to take on Qaddafi forces in the key oil city port of Brega, which had gone back and forth from control by the two opposing sides over the last weeks. All day, leaders of the rebel army tried to make a good impression on the media, insisting that professional military leaders were organizing the forces. But after shooting some rounds and moving up the road, the rebel forces scattered and ran or drove away as soon as Qaddafi troops fired mortars on them. Further, CNN and Al Jazeera reported on one rebel soldier shooting a mortar the wrong direction into a village and another rebel soldier shooting himself. In a rebel army morale-booster and photo opportunity that may have backfired, Qaddafi’s former Interior Minister and confidant, and now General Abdul Fattah Younis, drove up to the front lines, causing great excitement among the rebel forces who shouted “Allahu Akbar” and wildly fired their guns in the air. But while rebel military spokesmen said that only trained and disciplined troops would be allowed on the front line, a group of young men with guns appeared and despite being told to return home, they apparently joined the forces moving forward up the road toward Port Brega.27 Highlighting the difficulty of distinguishing between Qaddafi and antiQaddafi forces, as both were driving in light vehicles and trucks with guns and other weapons, a NATO air strike intended for Qaddafi forces apparently killed a group of anti-Qaddafi fighters in a battle along the front line outside Port Brega. On April 3, Al Jazeera reported that Libyan rebels acknowledged that their soldiers may have been responsible in part for the mistaken bombing of their troops by the NATO plane. A rebel spokesperson admitted that the rebels were reportedly shooting rifles in the air in celebration, and the NATO aircraft took the shots as an attack, thus bombing the group shooting at them, killing thirteen rebels and injuring seven, and destroying rebel vehicles as well. On April 2, CNN played disturbing footage of the siege of Misurata by anti-Qaddafi forces, which showed many destroyed buildings, bodies in the street, young men shooting at each other, and Qaddafi snipers trying to pick off rebels. Doctors reported from hospitals that some of their facilities were destroyed in the fighting and their remaining hospitals were overflowing with wounded patients. Misurata had been under siege for weeks, and NATO troops had attacked some of Qaddafi’s air facilities and troops there, as well as regime barracks near the port, enabling Turkey to send a barge to evacuate for medical care civilians wounded in the fighting. Bypassing Tripoli, their ship sailed straight to Misurata, accompanied by Turkish planes and military ships and took 250 severely wounded persons, including multiple amputees, older men, and young children out of the country. A Reuters posting reported that a doctor interviewed in Misurata claimed there were at least 160 dead in his hospital, and probably hundreds more dead or wounded since the siege began.

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The New York Times revealed that Saif al Qaddafi had floated a diplomatic initiative through a representative who travelled to the UK, suggesting that Muammar Qaddafi could step down from power and cede command to Saif himself, although no one on either side thought this had much of a chance.28 In fact, Qaddafi forces continuing fighting in their siege of Misurata, while a struggle erupted for control of Brega, as the rebels moved up the highway with NATO air strikes paving the way, and with trained rebel soldiers joining the pick-up volunteers. The fight in Brega, however, again appeared stalemated, and ABC News asserted that stalemate could well describe the situation as a whole, a term also used by Australian TV, BBC, and articles appeared in the press making the same point.29 Both sides, in fact, looked like they were hunkering down for the long haul. A Qaddafi envoy sent to Turkey, Greece, and Malta proposed a ceasefire, quickly rejected by the rebels and NATO. The Italian foreign minister recognized the anti-Qaddafi forces as the legitimate Libyan government, and British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said that “Qaddafi must go,” suggesting a diplomatic offensive against the Qaddafi regime. Hague also announced that the UK was giving the rebels telecommunications equipment, and the head of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) told the Guardian that the British air forces were planning to continue operations in Libya for at least six more months, and offered more planes to the NATO forces as American flights were scheduled to pull back.30 There were also Al Jazeera reports of CIA and Egyptian special forces training rebels and of arms passing through the Egyptian border to the rebels. April 4 continued diplomatic efforts by the Qaddafi government, including a proposal for a ceasefire and peace talks leading to a referendum, in which Libya could choose its own government, with the provision that Qaddafi remain in charge, a proposal that the rebels rejected out of hand. CNN ran a segment “Family Feud,” suggesting that the Qaddafi family was severely divided and that one side might betray the other. While there were daily reports on CNN concerning anti-Qaddafi rebels’ better training, new equipment, and more disciplined forces, skirmishes around Port Brega were still stalemated, see-sawing back and forth.

Liberal UN Humanitarian Intervention and Qaddafi’s Obama Imaginary For some days, the Libyan war had played second lead on Al Jazeera, BBC, and other global channels as a civil war brewed in the Ivory Coast between former President Laurent Gbagbo’s forces and those of the newly elected President Alassane Ouattara. Although the UN recognized Ouattara as the legitimate winner of a November 28, 2010 election, Gbagbo called the election illegitimate, refused to step down, and fierce fighting erupted

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between supporters of the two political rivals, causing more than a million people to flee and generating allegations of massacres by both sides. On April 4, UN and French military forces attacked Gbagbo’s arms depots and presidential residence, on the mandate that they had the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) civilians discussed above. Under intense pressure from heavy bombardment shown live on Al Jazeera, Gbagbo’s top generals offered to surrender their weapons and commentators claimed that Gbagbo’s exit was just a matter of time. It appeared that a new paradigm of UN liberal humanitarianism was being forged in which the UN (and NATO) would send forces to countries facing civil war, or having suffered atrocities, whereby the UN and their coalition forces would intervene militarily against the side that the UN deemed were guilty of massacres of their own people under the R2P mandate to protect civilians. It would be increasingly interesting to see how this paradigm of humanitarian war would play out, who would be for and against the paradigm, and what the results would be. In the Libya case, if the assumption is that no Libyan is safe as long as Qaddafi is in power, then regime change is a logical imperative of humanitarian intervention. Thus the R2P UN mandate and UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that mandated NATO and UN forces in Libya should do “whatever is necessary” to protect civilians presents legitimation for NATO military intervention and regime change. In NATO countries, there were indeed fierce debates over whether the NATO/UN Libya war was adhering to the UN resolution to protect citizens, or whether the true goal was regime change and getting rid of Qaddafi. Yet there was no indication how this would take place or what the results would be. From the left, Richard Falk argued that while Qaddafi had lost his legitimacy to rule from his many violations of human rights and international law, the NATO intervention itself was of dubious legality and morality. While Falk argued that the Libyan Uprising had created a genuinely revolutionary situation, it was neither clear what the aims and constituencies were of the rebel forces nor of the actual agendas of the NATO forces.31 And from the right, George Will argued in an article “The haze of humanitarian imperialism,” that Obama’s Libya policy had fallen prey to “mission meander.” Will noted that it was not clear what the goals or strategy of the US involvement in the NATO coalition were, or what US interests were involved.32 While the pundits debated the NATO Libya intervention, there was much discussion of a curious letter, dated April 5, 2011 in Tripoli, from Qaddafi to Obama which called on Obama to end an “unjust war.” Addressing the letter to “Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama [sic],” Qaddafi told the US president that: “You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action,” and “I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that.” Further, Qaddafi

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assured Obama that “you will always remain our son whatever happens,” and sent Obama his best wishes for a successful presidential campaign, writing: “We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne [sic].”33 On the Al Jazeera and CNN coverage of the letter, after presentation of Qaddafi’s strange personal comments to Obama, there were cuts to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who replied deadpan: “I don’t think there is any mystery about what is expected from Mr Qaddafi at this time,” followed by criticism of Qaddafi’s attacks against his own people, clearly showing what side Obama and the US were on.

NATO and the Fog of War When rebels were once again routed in their attempt to take Port Brega on April 5, rebel General Younis complained that NATO “has let us down,” and called for more NATO strikes against Qaddafi forces. NATO officials responded, and commentators on CNN and Al Jazeera noted that NATO was having more trouble distinguishing between Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi forces, and that Qaddafi loyalists were operating in civilian areas where innocents were held as “human shields.” The next day, NATO increased its air attacks, but once again, Al Jazeera featured rebel leaders complaining that NATO was letting them down, asserting that lack of NATO intervention was allowing the people of Misurata to be slaughtered, and in a fit of pique, General Younis whined that NATO was becoming a “burden.” NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero immediately responded that protecting civilians in Misurata from Qaddafi force attacks was a top NATO priority. NATO chief of allied operations Marc van Uhm defended the organization’s efforts, saying that the NATO forces were continuing to be extremely active, and explained that it was difficult to distinguish Qaddafi from antiQaddafi forces since the Qaddafi forces had thrown away their uniforms and were dressed and armed in similar ways to NATO, who were also using tanks similar to the Qaddafi forces. Further, Qaddafi forces in Misurata were using human shields to protect their forces from attack, van Uhm explained, and NATO was trying to avoid civilian causalities, and was thus cautious in its approach to bombing targets. The rebel General Younis retorted that he wanted less caution and more strikes from NATO, and on April 7, Al Jazeera began the day by reporting that rebels claimed that at least thirteen rebel fighters were killed by NATO strikes near Port Brega. Anti-Qaddafi fighters asserted that the attack involved a number of NATO bombing runs, and that several rebel tanks were destroyed as well as scores of rebels killed. One anti-Qaddafi fighter, Salem Mislat, said: “We were standing by our tanks and NATO fired two

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rockets at us. NATO are liars. They are siding with Qaddafi.” NATO had no immediate comment, but said they were investigating the affair. It was the second friendly-fire episode in five days, following rebels claims that thirteen of their fighters had been killed by another misdirected NATO air strike in the same area. Soon after, Al Jazeera reported that a rebel spokeswoman asserted that the attack came from forces loyal to Qaddafi. Rebel forces claimed as well that anti-Qaddafi forces had come under fire from government loyalists at Ajdabiya’s western gate and rapidly retreated. Next, there were pictures of insurgents and civilians alike jumping into their cars and trucks, and stampeding out of Ajdabiya toward Benghazi on rumors that Qaddafi loyalist forces were outside the town and were moving to seize it, creating a spectacle of utter chaos. The rest of the day, reports from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, and other networks were highly confusing. Russian television (RT) opened the day by claiming forty to fifty rebels were killed by NATO forces and that a major oil field was on fire in the southeast of Libya, with rebel and Qaddafi forces accusing each other of setting the fire. RT and Al Jazeera both showed groups of anti-Qaddafi forces vehemently denouncing NATO with chants “Down with NATO!” General Younis was quoted blaming NATO and speculating that the attack “could not be a mistake,” implying that the attacks on anti-Qaddafi forces were intended, fueling anti-NATO paranoia among rebel forces. Yet General Younis was himself a target of anger among some sympathetic to the rebel forces at his news conference that day. Younis had been Qaddafi’s Interior Minister and someone from the audience shouted that he had ordered Libyan troops to fire on demonstrators before he resigned and joined the rebels. As the man screaming at Younis was dragged from the room, the General claimed he was innocent, and had ordered police not to shoot at civilians, though not everyone on the rebel side believed him and some were suspicious about his past and motivations for joining the rebel anti-Qaddafi forces. Reflecting confusion on the battlefield and between the various forces fighting, CNN claimed that three rebels were killed in an accidental NATO attack, Al Jazeera’s estimate went from thirteen to five, and NBC settled on four. The next day, NATO assumed responsibility for killing the rebels, but claimed that the tanks destroyed looked just like those of Qaddafi forces, and that the rebels had not told them that they were taking a tank caravan on the road to Brega. Perhaps soured by all the rebel verbal assaults on NATO, Rear Admiral Russ Harding, the British officer who was deputy commander of NATO’s Libya operation, refused to apologize to the rebels, stating: “It would appear that two of our strikes yesterday may have resulted in [rebel] deaths,” but added: “I am not apologizing. The situation on the ground was and remains extremely fluid and until yesterday we did not have information that [rebel] forces are using tanks.”

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Apparently, the rebels had started the day with newly trained troops and a convoy of tanks planning to move toward Brega to attempt to reclaim the port city. It appeared, however, that Qaddafi forces fired on them and they fled back to Ajdabiya, panicking civilians who fled the town with many rebel troops moving back down the road to Benghazi, some of which were bombed by NATO. On April 7, in a Congressional hearing the major US NATO representative, General Carter Ham agreed with Senator John McCain that the Libya war was presently a “stalemate.” General Ham also testified that it was unlikely rebel forces could push Qaddafi out themselves. When asked if he thought that the opposition could “fight their way” to Tripoli and replace the Libyan dictator, Ham replied: “Sir, I would assess that as a low likelihood.” Al Jazeera reported on Turkish efforts to forge a peace plan, but it was not clear that either the Qaddafi or anti-Qaddafi forces could find any common ground to forge a peace settlement. Ironically, on the same day, the US media were dominated by the failures of the Democratic and Republican parties to agree on a budget for the fiscal year, which would produce a government shutdown. US media featured stories all day concerning dire implications of a government shutdown and featured big clocks in a side-box frame, ticking away to less than 24 Hours to Shutdown, producing spectacles of meltdown in the US to reflect the meltdowns in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and Japan, where a triple tragedy after the March 18 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe was intensified by dangers of meltdown in the Fukushima nuclear plant getting worse. On April 8, CNN kept focusing on the extremely detrimental effects of a shutdown of the US economy in terms of economic recovery, pay for military families, shutting down of all government offices ranging from the Washington Monument to national parks and offices that give passports and that process tax returns and refunds. The tapestry of the CNN Government Shutdown spectacle mixed interviews with aggrieved citizens who recounted how the shutdown would negatively impact them to Congressmen who inevitably blamed the other side for the inability to rationally negotiate a budget. Of course, there were those anti-government so-called Tea Party extremists who genuinely hated the government and wanted it shut down and torn apart. Yet CNN’s demonstration of all the great things that the US government does for the people, which would create hardships for large numbers of people if shut down, marginalized anti-government extremists, presenting them as the ideological crackpots that they are. Meanwhile, after the Friday day of prayers in Benghazi and elsewhere in the Eastern zone of Libya, masses of men went into city squares, in some cases mourning their dead comrades killed by NATO “friendly fire,” and shouted for hours “Allahu Akbar!,” fired off rifles, and chanted “Where

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is NATO!” and anti-Qaddafi slogans. Both CNN and Al Jazeera focused on growing anti-NATO anger of the Libyan rebels against NATO. The networks played over and over NATO’s Rear Admiral Russ Harding and his refusal to provide an apology to the rebels, followed by anti-NATO sound bites and demonstrations by the rebels. General Younis once again led the anti-NATO charge, proclaiming: “NATO is moving very slowly, allowing Qaddafi forces to advance…. NATO has become our problem.” Under the rubric “We expected more from NATO,” CNN correspondent Rez Sayah interviewed angry rebel forces against the backdrop of the anti-NATO demonstrations. Hence, during the first week of the NATO command of coalition forces operating under UN Resolution 1973, the anti-Qaddafi rebels were not able to advance unless they got strong NATO support and NATO was coming under increased criticism by the rebels, who insisted daily that NATO was not doing enough to help them and was making bombing mistakes that were hindering the rebels. Thus it appeared that the war in Libya was falling into a stalemate and it was not clear how or what could change the situation.

Stalemate: The Battle for Libya, Month 3 Over the weekend of April 9–10, both CNN and Al Jazeera had segments on the slow, chaotic, gradual retreat of the rebels from the outskirts of Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown, back to the eastern side of Ajdabiya, the last major town west of Benghazi, a town now mostly deserted and with many buildings destroyed by fighting over the past weeks. Al Jazeera reported on April 9 that forces loyal to Qaddafi had entered Ajdabiya, forcing rebel troops, who their spokesmen claimed had reorganized for a march on Brega, to retreat again. Libyan and global TV networks showed Qaddafi making his first television appearance for five days as he visited a school in Tripoli. Wearing his trademark brown robes and dark glasses, smiling and waving at the adoring children, Qaddafi seemed to be enjoying his global attention and did not look like he was a man ready to surrender or leave the country. On April 10, Libyan rebels said that NATO air strikes on Sunday helped them drive Qaddafi’s forces out of Ajdabiya. Over the weekend of April 9–10 there had been a see-saw battle over Ajdabiya, the third largest city in Libya, making it clear that the rebels could not hold ground on their own without NATO support, and it appeared that NATO was temporarily again in the rebels’ good graces as they cheered on destruction of Qaddafi’s forces in the town. NATO spokesman Colonel Hamid Hassy said that the air strikes destroyed eleven tanks near Ajdabiya and another fourteen near Misurata, the only city rebels still held in the western half of Libya.

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Misurata was now, in fact, getting humanitarian supplies from its port and heavy NATO air attacks on Qaddafi forces. The big story of the weekend, however, was that an African Union delegation consisting of five national presidents was in Tripoli with a peace plan, a story that dominated the weekend’s news. Qaddafi was shown smiling in his flowing, golden robe in pictures with presidents of the African Union, including the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and presidents of Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, and Mauritania, plus Uganda’s foreign minister, who were pictured meeting with Qaddafi in front of his tent at his Bab al-Aziziya residence in Tripoli. After the meeting, Qaddafi hopped into a car and drove to greet adoring followers and the media, making it appear he was having the time of his life with his starring role in the media spectacle of Libya At War. Al Jazeera, CNN, and other news sources said that Qaddafi accepted the African Union peace plan which included a ceasefire, humanitarian aid to cities suffering from the war, recognizing the human rights of African workers (many of whom had been badly treated by both sides), and negotiations for a new system of democracy in Libya. Rebels immediately rejected the proposal, however, since it would give Qaddafi a major role in Libya’s future. While NATO forces were in a stalemate with Qaddafi’s forces in Libya, UN and French forces were successful in a humanitarian intervention in the Ivory Coast. After French and UN forces attacked arms depots and the presidential residence of former President Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to yield the office to his successor, for some days Gbagbo hunkered down in his bunker with close supporters, as forces loyal to elected President Alassane Ouattara bombarded the bunker. Gbagbo forces remained active in the capital city of Abidjan, and the country continued to be lacerated by an ongoing bloody civil war, with civilians suffering increasingly. Yet, on April 11, following an attack on Gbagbo’s residence in Abidjan by French forces, troops loyal to Ouattara went in and seized Gbagbo, according to UN, French, and Ivorian officials. The next day, Al Jazeera presented footage of an “oddly meek” Gbagbo taking off his dirty army fatigues and putting on a clean, colorful shirt, prior to going on television and telling his followers that “it’s all over,” and to lay down their guns. The rest of the day Al Jazeera presented Ouattara’s plea to return to normalcy and assurances that Gbagbo was being treated with dignity and would be given full legal rights in a judicial process. Yet interviews with his representative in the UK showed a continuing belligerence, and commentators were not sure that Gbagbo’s forces would peacefully lay down their arms, creating the specter that once more Men With Guns would wreak havoc in the Ivory Coast. Meanwhile back in Libya, Al Jazeera’s coverage focused on the African Union’s meeting with the anti-Qaddafi forces in Benghazi. A large crowd

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of over 2,000 gathered outside of the Tibesty Hotel, the meeting place for African Union presidents bringing in their peace plan to the oppositional forces’ Transitional National Council. The crowd erupted with antiQaddafi chants and tirades to the media in the build-up to the meeting. While previously, it was Libyan men shooting off their guns and antiQaddafi slogans to the media representing the rebels, this time the Benghazi anti-Qaddafi forces situated women in the front line of the demonstration. The women shouted anti-Qaddafi slogans, with one woman interviewed by Al Jazeera yelling that Qaddafi was a liar, and was forced to scream over the boisterous crowd. An anti-Qaddafi male interviewed stated that “we have no interest in compromise, in dialogue, in anything but Qaddafi leaving,” suggesting that it would be difficult to put forth a democratic solution to the Libyan stalemate. The crowd roared with cheers when it was announced after the meeting between the African Union delegation and Libyan opposition political council that Qaddafi’s acceptance of a ceasefire and the African Union road map to peace was rejected. In a frightening scene, a mob approached the African Union delegates as they emerged from the building to leave, screaming and shoving them, and shooting off guns in the background which visibly startled the delegates. An open mike caught the leader of the anti-Qaddafi Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, saying “liars, liars,” in regard to the African Union delegation, noting that only the Mauritanians supported them. In Britain, Moussa Koussa, former Libyan interior minister and Qaddafi confidant who had apparently sought exile in Britain, made his first public statement to the BBC in an undisclosed location. Koussa worried about the drift into civil war and that Libya might become a failed state that would nourish terrorism, a sentiment expressed the same day by NATO leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and often made by commentators on CNN. The next day, the British newspaper the Guardian revealed that Koussa was leaving Britain to attend an international conference on the future of Libya in the Qatari capital of Doha. This evoked strong protests from relatives of the Lockerbie bombing in which Koussa had allegedly been involved, but the British foreign office said that Koussa is “a free individual, who can travel to and from the UK as he wishes.”34 The day’s fighting on April 11 focused on continued Qaddafi loyalist attacks on rebels in Misurata, with doctors telling Al Jazeera that seven people were killed in the attacks, including a three-year-old girl. UNICEF had just released a report, featured on Al Jazeera, indicating that at least twenty children, mostly under the age of ten, have been killed in the besieged city of Misurata in the past month, and that many more have been injured by gunfire or shrapnel from mortars and tank shells. The report also indicated that children and families lack access to sanitation and safe drinking water. The UNICEF report helped focus attention on the plight of

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people in Misurata, getting global media attention, as well as the attention of NATO. On April 12, Al Jazeera reported that Italian and British diplomats reiterated that the rebels were right to demand that Qaddafi must go—a position also taken that day and broadcast on Al Jazeera by Hillary Clinton. Further, British and French foreign ministers complained that NATO was not being aggressive enough in attacking Libyan army forces battling rebels for control of Misurata, also chiding some of the coalition partners for not doing enough, revealing splits in the NATO coalition. NATO Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm, NATO’s Dutch chief of allied operations, responded by saying: “I think with the assets we have, we are doing a great job.” As if to prove the argument, the next day NATO claimed it had destroyed twelve pro-Qaddafi government tanks around the besieged city of Misurata, presenting videos of the destroyed tanks and diagrams of their positioning. As the rebels’ only foothold in western Libya, it represented a strategic prize for both sides in the conflict—and a major irritant to Qaddafi’s forces, who had been assaulting the city for weeks without being able to take control of it. Reports from the city continued to be desperate, with hopes that humanitarian aid from the port would help the civilians deal with medical and food shortages. On April 13, Al Jazeera focused on a meeting in Qatar holding the first session of the international Libya “contact group” to explore ways ahead in the face of the military impasse between the Qaddafi regime and the rebels. The meeting included members of the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, African, Arab, and NATO diplomats, and was co-chaired by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague. The delegates debated setting up a temporary financial mechanism to channel cash to the Benghazi-based opposition and various forms of humanitarian aid. Upon conclusion of the meeting, William Hague released a summary statement asserting: ●●

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Muammar Qaddafi “and his regime” have lost all legitimacy and must leave power, asserting that Qaddafi’s regime is “weakening as his followers [have] left him”. The contact group has agreed to a “temporary financial mechanism” to assist the rebels with “short-term financial requirements and structural needs”. If the [Qaddafi] regime continues to attack “areas of civilian population”, “all necessary action” to enforce the relevant UN Security Council resolution will be taken. The contact group called for an immediate ceasefire against civilians and for the regime to pull back from Libyan cities they have entered. The contact group will monitor “extremist elements” to try to stop them exerting influence in Libya.35

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Stalemates often proliferate talking, and attention was focused on April 14 upon a Cairo meeting on Libya that included the UN SecretaryGeneral, the Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, the African Union commission chairman, Jean Ping, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton. Al Jazeera posted live feeds from the meeting, with participants calling for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and a politicaldiplomatic solution to the war in Libya. At the end of the conference, peace and unity were the most-heard slogans. At a NATO meeting the same day in Berlin, serious splits were evident from the beginning of the meeting, with France and Britain calling on allies to provide more military aid to the alliance, and NATO military representatives concretized their demands, asking for more low-flying attack aircraft. There were also disagreements at the meeting concerning whether the Libyan opposition should be armed, whether the goal should be regime change, and whether or not to increase military action on behalf of the opposition forces. Germany and Turkey were calling for a political solution to the Libyan conflict, and most other members wanted to continue the military option, but there was no agreement on how to proceed. Henceforth, commentators on both Al Jazeera and BBC noted how there was a stalemate in NATO itself, as well as on the military front. After the Berlin NATO meeting, there were press conferences trying to evoke unity, with Al Jazeera presenting Hillary Clinton attacking the “massacres in Misarata” by Qaddafi-forces, and stating that NATO members are “sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the Qaddafi regime in Libya,” adding: “We must also intensify our political, diplomatic, and economic mission to pressure and isolate Qaddafi and bring about his departure.” Clinton’s comments after the Berlin meeting indicated that at least some of the key NATO countries were going for regime change and ousting Qaddafi, although this was not an official part of the mission. On April 14, Al Jazeera announced that Qatar was arming the rebels and giving them sophisticated missiles. Wolf Blitzer of CNN interviewed the Emir of Qatar who admitted his country was supplying weapons with training to the rebels, but he wasn’t sure that they had yet been delivered; the Emir’s main message seemed to be that the various countries seeking a solution should get the anti-Qaddafi forces to accept a ceasefire so that humanitarian aid could be delivered. Just the day before, the news dominating CNN and American media was that US airplanes had been participating in attack missions since ceding command to NATO, although the Pentagon insisted these were mostly “defensive” in nature. Yet it was clear that the antiQaddafi opposition forces were getting increasingly more arms from NATO and other sources, although so far there was no evidence of increased rebel military power, or skill on the battlefield, nor had there been any rebel initiatives so far during the week when Al Jazeera showed anti-Qaddafi

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rebels watching the diplomatic maneuvers on television and expressing skepticism. On April 14, the major military news was that heavy fighting continued in Misurata with humanitarian relief ships turned away from the port because the fighting was so fierce. Al Jazeera reported that rebel forces there have warned of an impending “massacre” by Qaddafi loyalist troops if NATO did not intensify its attacks on pro-Qaddafi forces in and around Misurata, which had been besieged for weeks. Throughout the day, Al Jazeera reported on the heavy Libyan government attacks against the coastal city, killing at least twenty-three people, a rebel spokesman said. More graphic, however, were pictures shown on Al Jazeera and other networks of seriously wounded children, bodies rotting in the street and lined up in morgues, and doctors operating on wounded civilians, and then narrating the extent of the serious injuries and deaths that they had dealt with in the last weeks. Al Jazeera also reported on multiple explosions in Tripoli, and Libyan minders took international reporters to a site at the University where windows of a cafeteria had been blown out, allegedly the result of NATO bombing of a radar installation close to the University, which the minders tried to prevent the journalists from seeing. The bizarre spectacle of the day involved Qaddafi driving through Tripoli just after the missile attacks, standing up in the open roof car and maniacally waving at startled pedestrians and then to an adoring crowd organized for the spectacle, with Qaddafi pumping his arms up and down, and with the crowd cheering him on wildly. The bombardment of Misurata continued to be a major story on April 15 and Al Jazeera produced exclusive footage of Qaddafi-loyalist tanks in the city, heavy street fighting, and many more deaths. In addition, Al Jazeera and other media outlets like CNN, BBC, and the New York Times reported that Qaddafi was using ground-to-ground rockets and cluster bombs against his people, a deadly munition that has been banned in many parts of the world and that is used primarily against civilians. Late in the day, Al Jazeera had a Human Rights Watch representative display what were claimed to be parts of a cluster bomb, a report verified by other media sources as well.36 The NATO meeting ended in Berlin with disagreements between the NATO countries evident, and Al Jazeera portrayed a NATO commander after the conference claiming that the NATO military had requested smaller, precision-bombing airplanes and that this request would be met. A visiting Russian delegate warned that NATO was exceeding its UN mandate and cautioned against use of excessive force. While NATO appeared split, President Obama signed on to an op-ed written by Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France published by The Times of London, the International

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Herald Tribune, and Le Figaro, vowing to keep up the pressure on Qaddafi and pledging to maintain NATO military pressure on his forces. Repeating that the military action against the Qaddafi regime was sanctioned by the UN Security Council, NATO, and the Arab League, the leaders of the NATO troika pointed to vicious and continuing attacks by Qaddafi on his own people, asserting: Our duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.37 This statement articulates the key points of a liberal humanitarian military intervention, such as the NATO insertion into the Libyan civil war after the February Uprising. The intervention required a UN mandate, affiliated itself with the International Criminal Court to pursue a law-breaker whose regime acts outside the bounds of international law, supported forces struggling against a dictatorship and global criminal, and would not recognize the legitimacy of a stated criminal like Qaddafi to return to power. In a precise fashion, the declaration thus articulated the grounds for the NATO intervention against Libya. The NATO summit had concluded with a call for more precision aircraft to use against Qaddafi’s forces, and the next day it was also reported that NATO was running short on precision-bombing munitions, highlighting the stalemate, toll on NATO as well as the Qaddafi forces, and lack of a unified front among NATO or the broader UN coalition against Qaddafi, with no evident military or political solutions. Over the weekend of April 16–17, Russian television (RT) led off with a segment “Allied Disarray,” with pundits projecting a prolonged conflict and “deadly stalemate.” Wolf Blitzer’s Saturday “Situation Room” summed up stories of the week with the rubric “Medieval Siege in Libya,” describing the Qaddafi forces’ bombardment of Misurata with rockets, cluster bombs, tanks, and snipers. A segment on “Rebels Go to the Next Level,” showed new equipment, discipline, and organization within the rebel forces, and depicted them moving in a coherent fashion up the highway to Brega. Yet, once again, as soon as the rebels were fired on by the Qaddafi forces, they turned in retreat, although in a more orderly fashion; the report zeroed in

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on rebel fighters seriously wounded from Qaddafi forces’ munitions, and being rushed to a hospital in Ajdabiya, itself full of wounded fighters and civilians. Al Jazeera heavily focused all weekend on the siege of Misurata, bringing on witnesses and a representative of Human Rights Watch who insisted that the Qaddafi forces were using cluster bombs against people of the city. Qaddafi’s spokesman Mussa Ibrahim vehemently denied the charges that the government was using this munition, vilified throughout the world, saying it would be reckless and dangerous to be accused of using such munitions, admitting their heinous nature. A segment with a member of the “Cluster Munitions Coalition” showed horrifying pictures of victims of previous wars through cluster bombs in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and elsewhere, their bodies torn by the destructive munitions which explode and send splinters of shrapnel in all directions.38 Al Jazeera presented new footage of an industrial area on fire in Misurata, and rebel forces claimed that Qaddafi was bombing industrial areas and facilities that produce food, while also trying to control the port, to keep supplies from coming in to the rebels. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton accompanied rebels on a mission from the desert region between Ajdabiya and Brega that had changed hands countless times during the past weeks, and gave voice to their frustration in not being able to move forward against Qaddafi’s forces unless they had better coordinated NATO support and more and better weapons. Like CNN’s Arwa Damon, Turton was becoming an effective spokesperson for the rebels’ agenda, as well as a brave and articulate war correspondent for Al Jazeera. On April 17, Al Jazeera reported that rebel  fighters  were digging in to hold the town of Ajdabiya, but Qaddafi forces were said to be pounding the eastern town with rockets and mortar attacks, as battles raged on for control of the country’s coast. The  report tells how rebels had earlier advanced from Ajdabiya towards the oil port town of Brega, but were outflanked by Qaddafi’s troops, who repulsed the attack, while sending the main body of their forces to attack from Ajdabiya from its southern entrance. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from just outside Ajdabiya, said a sandstorm had prevented NATO aircraft from targeting government forces, stating: “Once you have weather conditions like this, it means that the Qaddafi forces are able to move on the highways, able to move very quickly. They are able to set up their artillery barrages more precisely, getting their spotters forward. This means they are much more effective in these conditions, because they do not have to worry about any air strikes from above. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from rebel-held city of Benghazi, added that control of Ajdabiya remains a strategic goal for pro-Qaddafi forces. “If they take the town, they are able to prepare for an assault on Benghazi,” she said. Later reports by Mike Hanna stated that Qaddafi forces were able to move to the eastern gate of Ajdabiya and were bombarding the city.

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On Saturday, when rebel forces had reached the outskirts of Brega, the rebel military leader, General Younes, told Al Arabiya television that rebel fighters were already in Brega and expected to conclude their capture of the city by Sunday. But on Sunday, the anti-Qaddafi forces retreated from Brega and returned to Ajdabiya, and Al Jazeera showed many civilians who had returned to the city the previous week fleeing again as reports came in of Qaddafi forces threatening the city. Late Sunday night, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reported that rebel fighters had fought off an attack by government troops in Ajdabiya on Sunday, but noted that NATO forces were not able to fly support missions because of the heavy sandstorm. By the end of the day, it appeared that Qaddafi government forces had taken over the city after a hard day’s fighting. The siege of Misurata continued to be a major story as the bombardment by pro-Qaddafi forces intensified and deaths and injuries multiplied. There were estimates that over 1,000 people had died and over 3,000 had been wounded.39 Indeed, the prospect of a massacre in Misurata by Qaddafi forces put pressure on NATO and the coalition to prevent the worst, and on April 18 there were reports that the EU and NATO were ready to send ground troops to carry out the UN initiative to protect civilians, and the UK announced it was ready to provide troops if they were needed. There was also a UN humanitarian mission in Libya, and Al Jazeera interviewed members of the mission who called for an immediate ceasefire and access to Misurata and other parts of Libya where there was humanitarian need. Al Jazeera’s main story for the day on April 19 was once again the siege of Misurata. Two journalists had arrived with the relief ship from Malta which arrived in Misurata and then took to Benghazi hundreds of emigrant workers who had been stranded for weeks in Misurata, as well as some wounded Libyans. Journalists Craig Pendleton and Jonah Hull had exclusive video of the fighting in Misurata, with footage showing rebels engaged in street-by-street guerilla warfare with Qaddafi troops.40 They also showed pictures of pieces of Grad rockets that had been used to bombard the city by Qaddafi forces. Like cluster bombs, these munitions were used to terrorize civilian neighborhoods and were extremely dangerous. The journalists also had pictures of long bread lines, scores of people waiting for fuel, and interviews with residents saying that they have been largely without food, water, electricity, and the basics of life.41 In addition, Al Jazeera had exclusive pictures of the relief ship provided by the International Organisation for Migration, and portrayed severely wounded children and young men who had been attacked by Qaddafi forces’ munitions.42 There were as well interviews with African migrant workers who had been camped for weeks waiting for ships to take them to their countries. While the media had focused intensely on refugees from Libya at the start of the war, as groups flowed over the Egyptian and Tunisian borders,

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the migrant workers stranded at Misurata, estimated to be as many as 4,000, were the Forgotten Ones, living in squalid makeshift camps in daily fear of attack by the Qaddafi forces, and scorned by rebel “Free Libya” forces who were suspicious of them, since Qaddafi was employing African mercenary forces. In the west, rebels seemed to have gained control of Ajdabiya which had yo-yoed from government to rebel forces several times over the last weeks. The skies were clear over the east of Libya, and Qaddafi forces dug in and fortified themselves, knowing if they ventured out they would be vulnerable to NATO air strikes. On April 19, there was much discussion on BBC and Al Jazeera of EU countries suggesting that NATO forces needed “boots on the ground” to protect civilians in Misurata and other places, and reports that Britain and France were sending more forces. Later in the day, Al Jazeera recounted that Britain was sending groups of military experts that would help antiQaddafi forces with problems of communication and logistics, and they would not be a “boots on the ground” military force. On April 20, Al Jazeera reported that France and Italy were joining Britain in sending military officers to Libya to help advise rebels on technical, logistical and organisational issues. Once again, both the military and political situations seemed to be in a stalemate. The rebels had not been able to advance and seemed to some observers more disorganized than ever,43 while the stalemate in Misurata between Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi forces had been going on for weeks. The UN and humanitarian groups were insisting on opening Libya to bring in medical and humanitarian aid, and to assess the Libyan people’s suffering and needs after weeks of punishing war, with civilians caught in the middle. NATO was learning once again the limits of air power, and measures to help organize the rebel forces did not seem promising.

The Arab Uprisings and Counter-revolution (continued) Meanwhile, throughout the Middle East the Arab Uprising was intensifying in scope and depth, as thousands demonstrated almost every day in Syria and Yemen, calling for the end of long-entrenched dictatorial regimes. Al Jazeera seemed to show the same spectacles every day of demonstrations, the firing at and killing of demonstrators by state forces, funerals for the dead martyrs of democracy, and another wave of demonstrations. In Syria, President Bashar Assad promised to lift the hated emergency laws which had been in place for decades, but the demonstrations continued unabated. In Yemen, the increasingly hated President Saleh tried to rally his forces and

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make concessions, but the anti-Saleh demonstrations grew. When on April 15 Saleh proclaimed that the Yemen demonstrators were violating codes of Islam by mixing male and female protestors, the next day women, veiled and not, protested vociferously throughout the country. What Al Jazeera called “The Arab Awakening” was pitting masses of individuals seeking freedom, democracy, a measure of human dignity, and other ends against feudal forces of monarchy, repressive armies and secret police, tribal traditions and ruling families and cliques, often extremely corrupt. While it was not certain what the demonstrators wanted, it was clear that they were rejecting centuries of abjection and hopelessness, and decades of suffering and oppression under hated regimes. Masses in the Arab Awakening were united in strongly opposing the repressive regimes in the area that had long oppressed their peoples, but were divided on what they expected out of the Arab Uprisings, and were not clear on what could be done in each specific country. Every day fresh video was sent from Syria, Yemen, or any country having demonstrations and revolts against established powers which was immediately sent to YouTube, circulated through Twitter and other forms of the internet, and in many cases broadcast by Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, or other global networks. Of course, Al Jazeera had its own videographers in the fray, and BBC and CNN were able to both get professional journalists to document the Arab Uprisings and also use video from the participants in the Insurrections. Yet all cable news networks often had to say was: “We cannot verify the authenticity of this video, and do not know for certain where and when it was shot, but it was said to document xyz….” Perhaps some of the videos and phone calls to the networks were concocted by propaganda experts, wanting to provide a specific message or spin, but so far there have been remarkably few exposés of faked video. Such new media/social networking activism was necessary to get reports from Syria, Iran, or countries that have state media and censorship bureaus which control news and information. On Al Jazeera, a media activist explained in an interview on April 22—the day in which Syria had its biggest demonstration so far, with scores of demonstrators killed44—that Syrian media systematically lie. Hence, to get out the truth of what is going on, the people on the ground must get their reports onto the internet, or send cell phone messages and images to comrades who will then circulate them locally and globally. Much of the video shown on Al Jazeera during the Arab Uprising was taken by participants or observers who were part of the pro-democracy movements, and who risked their lives producing alternative media. Hence, attempts by repressive states to control their media further encouraged participants in the demonstrations to take and send pictures and videos to YouTube, Twitter, Al Jazeera, or another source where spectacles of passionate demonstrations, violent responses by the state, and images of

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injured demonstrators could be shown. Night after night, spectacles of the Arab Uprising were broadcast throughout the Middle East and the entire world, with the message that masses of people were protesting against their oppressive regimes, making protest part of politics of the contemporary moment, and inspiring others throughout the world to organize to express their grievances, and to demonstrate for change. Further, not only was the democratic revolution televised in the Middle East, but it was also disseminated through the internet and other new media like video cell phones. Al Jazeera was at the center of documentation and dissemination of protests from Tunisia to Cairo and Libya and other Middle East and African nations with its correspondents and camera crews part of the crowd and part of the action. Other networks like BBC and CNN also had teams in the field and in some cases were giving live accounts of the uprisings, usually sympathetic to the protestors and presenting critically state forces brutalizing, jailing, torturing, and killing protestors. But it was Al Jazeera which had emerged as the voice of democratic revolution that had constantly expressed the aspirations and depicted the struggles of the Arab Uprisings and had criticized the dictators and oppressive regimes which the people were overthrowing for years. The danger of documenting the Arab Uprisings was dramatized poignantly on April 20 with reports that photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Tim Hetherington was killed in the Libyan city of Misurata, along with photojournalist Chris Hondros. While documenting the streetfighting in Misurata, in which two other international photojournalists were injured and at least fifteen civilians were killed, a group of foreign journalists was reportedly hit by a rocket fired by pro-Qaddafi forces. Throughout the day, homages were paid to Hetherington, director of the Academy Awardnominated Restrepo (2010). Jon Williams, the BBC’s world news editor, who grew up in the same coastal town as Hetherington, described him as a photographer “in the finest tradition of war reporting.” Williams went on: “What this shows is the importance of being there to document all of this—and, so far, the media has focused on Misurata in a way that has forced the international community to respond. That’s what Tim and others were doing in Misurata.”45 Media coverage of the murderous Qaddafi regime and the spectacle of war thus helped validate the NATO intervention. Indeed, throughout the day, there were reports on fighting in Misurata, the photojournalists and civilian deaths, the brutal siege of the city by Qaddafi forces, and the need for humanitarian and military aid. Al Jazeera announced that along with promised military advisors from France and Britain, Italy had also promised to send military advisors, and Hillary Clinton announced that the US was sending $25 million for the anti-Qaddafi forces. There was also increasing talk of stalemate and frustration of how to move more effectively against the Qaddafi regime.46

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Libyan Rebels Gain Momentum It was increasingly clear indeed that regime change was the goal of both the Libyan rebels and many in the NATO alliance, but it was unclear how this could be achieved, or what other solutions there were to the political and military stalemate in Libya.47 It was, however, clear that terrible atrocities were being committed in Libya. On April 21, Sue Turton reported on Al Jazeera that rebels in Benghazi were saying that in the cities attacked by the Qaddafi forces, “hundreds, maybe thousands of women had been raped.” Turton also showed video of a Benghazi mob hanging and beheading an African male believed to be a Qaddafi mercenary in the early days of the uprising. Further, Al Jazeera ran a report on how prominent individuals who represented the Qaddafi government had fled to Tripoli and had their property confiscated by rebels, who also detained people believed to be sympathetic to Qaddafi.48 Footage on Al Jazeera, CNN, and BBC continued to document the miseries of the siege of Misurata, and UN officials in Tripoli and elsewhere were calling for a ceasefire and access to the city and other areas which required humanitarian aid. As the Misurata siege reached its two-month mark on April 22, there were estimates that over 2,000 people had been killed in the city with 3,000 arrested. On that day, Al Jazeera reported rebels had taken over a square in downtown Misurata with an eight-story building in which insurance had been sold and which Qaddafi forces used to position snipers to kill rebels or civilians. Rebels thus appeared to be on the offensive in Misurata, and there was footage on Al Jazeera of a government deputy minister who told reporters that Qaddafi government forces were withdrawing from the city and leaving it to the tribes to sort out the political situation. If true, this would be a major victory for the rebels. But the big news of the day for US and global media reports on Libya as well was the unannounced arrival of Arizona Senator John McCain, who had been the Republican candidate in the 2008 election and who had been roundly defeated by Barack Obama. CNN, NBC, and other networks eagerly followed around McCain, who gushed that the rebels were his “heroes” when an Al Jazeera reporter asked him what he thought of the rebel anti-Qaddafi forces. In an interview with NBC, McCain said that the US should recognize the Benghazi Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of Libya to enable them to more easily get financial support and resources, and should also arm the rebels. Al Jazeera interviews also got McCain to make strong statements concerning the need to recognize and arm the rebels, providing a rare instance of a major US politician who goes to a foreign country with which the US is at war and criticizes the policies of a sitting president (there has been a tradition of bi-partisan support for US military policy when a politician is visiting a

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country with which the US is at war, thus giving McCain’s visit a partisan flavor). There was also a surreal feel to McCain’s visit. As he walked with a number of anti-Qaddafi rebels through the streets of Benghazi, including General Younis, at first people seemed to not recognize him, but suddenly a crowd was organized appearing with US and Free Libya flags. Yet Al Jazeera showed the crowd chanting “Obama! Obama!,” probably not knowing that McCain was his opponent in the 2008 election. In an effort to make small talk with the Libyan rebels, McCain wore a Navy baseball camp and said he was a military man as well as a politician. When pressed, he said he was in the Navy and was a pilot, but, he explained: “I was a bad one…. [pause] I was shot down,” evoking nervous laughter from the Free Libyan partisans who probably didn’t see the intended humor. McCain had been from the beginning pushing for the US to arm the rebels, and had criticized the Obama administration’s decision to cede control of the military campaign to NATO, while also arguing for a more vigorous role for the US in the NATO air strikes. During his one-day trip, McCain asserted that NATO should bomb the Libyan TV network and take out Libyan command and control, showing that he really wished he could play general and be in control of the operation. Yet Al Jazeera also showed footage of a McCain visit to Libya in 2009 with a US Congressional delegation, in which he gushed that US and Libyan relations had taken a “remarkable and positive turn,” and described his talk with Qaddafi as an “interesting talk with an interesting man,” raising questions about his political astuteness and insight. In response to questioning, McCain claimed that the current situation was reaching a “stalemate” that could “open the door to radical Islamic fundamentalism,” supporting McCain’s argument that the US and NATO should arm the rebels to avoid the region becoming a failed state and al-Qaeda breeding ground. The same day, the top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, told reporters in Baghdad he believed that the Libyan conflict was “moving towards a stalemate”, while saying that NATO has thus far destroyed up to 40 per cent of Muammar Qaddafi’s ground forces. Yet perhaps the rebel forces were gaining momentum, after it was announced that the Qaddafi government was withdrawing troops from Misurata. There were reports that the NATO bombing had disrupted Qaddafi regime communications, and that Qaddafi loyalists were becoming dispirited.49 Moreover, Al Jazeera had periodically reported that cities in the western area like Zlitan, which had been liberated by the rebels and then became battlegrounds between pro- and anti-Qaddafi forces, were now firmly in control of rebel troops. This area in western Libya, made up of mainly mountain regions and small towns inhabited by the Berber tribe, was usually outside of the purview of the global media. On April 22,

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however, Al Jazeera broadcast reports of rebels in the west taking over a border post with Tunisia, and driving Qaddafi forces out of the border area; the Qaddafi government first denied the claim, then as pictures came in of anti-Qaddafi rebels posing with their rifles and Free Libya flag on the Tunisian border, it appeared that the rebels had won another small victory. An article came out the next day in a Los Angeles Times report by Borzou Daragahi, “How Libya’s far west was won by mountain rebels,” which describes how in the western mountain areas that stretch about 100 miles from the Tunisian border toward the Tripoli capital, local tribes had seized control of key areas at the beginning of the anti-Qaddafi uprising, and held control of the area by repulsing attacks by Qaddafi forces.50 A rebel in the area explained to Daragahi that while the people in the west had not had formal military training, they were natural “fighters,” who were able to fight off Qaddafi’s forces and hold control of their area; the article did not note, however, that NATO air strikes had aided them in their endeavor, as Al Jazeera and NATO communiques had noted air strikes in the area. Further, when Zlitan had been under siege by Qaddafi forces,

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Al Jazeera had described their plight from rebels in the city calling in, or from European journalists who were there covering the story. There was, however, little video footage from the area played on the global networks until Al Jazeera got a crew and Anita McNaught in by late April. As a political sidelight, one of the western rebels told Daragahi that while they had been talking to anti-Qaddafi forces in Benghazi, they were not under their authority, pointing to another reason not to recognize the Benghazi Transitional National Council until it had broader membership. During the weekend of April 23–24, Al Jazeera reported that rebels were securing control of Misurata, taking command of the University area and a vegetable market that had been under control by Qaddafi forces. Yet the report indicated that there were still loyalist government forces holed up in the city, taking refuge in a former hospital, closed for reconstruction, and now a site of combat with many casualties. Al Jazeera broadcast accounts of many civilians fleeing the violence in Misurata, and reported that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had chartered a ship on Sunday to evacuate hundreds of civilians and migrant workers from the city, which had disembarked from the rebel stronghold, Benghazi. Further, NATO claimed that an armed Predator drone from the US destroyed a Qaddafi-government multiple rocket launcher on Saturday in the Misurata area that was being used against civilians. There were accounts as well of NATO attacks on Tripoli throughout the weekend, and in eastern Libya, which was largely controlled by the rebels, Al Jazeera reported that other NATO raids smashed more than two dozen sedans and pickup vehicles belonging to Qaddafi government forces about halfway between Ajdabiya and the strategic oil town of Brega. On the western front, Al Jazeera broadcast reports that there were new Qaddafi forces’ offensives near the remote mountain towns of Zlitan, Yafran, and Nalut, which the rebels had held since the anti-government uprising began in February. Hence, there appeared to be fighting throughout the country with the rebel forces seeming to be on the move again. The major story on April 25 was a NATO attack on Qaddafi’s Tripoli compound, destroying a reception hall, office and library. Qaddafi government spokesmen Moussa Ibrahim claimed there were three civilian casualties and many wounded, and presented the attack as an attempted assassination against Qaddafi, insisting, however, that he was not hit and was in good spirits. As the day went on, NATO claimed that there were military command and control forces in the bombed compound, but pictures from CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera crews who were taken to the compound saw no evidence of any military center, although commentators indicated that Qaddafi had some C&C centers deep underground. In another segment, Al Jazeera reported that continued shelling was taking place in Misurata, with bloody pictures of victims in the hospital and the mortuary, while a government

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spokesman claimed that the Qaddafi regime had withdrawn its troops; the official spokesman also said that the Qaddafi regime welcomed Russian calls for a ceasefire. Another episode on Al Jazeera portrayed rebels controlling the border crossing with Tunisia, as witnesses described how pro-Qaddafi forces had been bombarding western towns. Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught reported from the western mountain area around Nalut and had video of rebels holding off Qaddafi troops. McNaught recounted how Qaddafi loyalists had been bombarding the town with rockets and mortars, but the local mountain residents had fought back. Reporting from an area close to the Tunisian border, McNaught claimed that around 30,000 Libyan citizens had fled the western mountain region for the Tunisian border, so that many of the towns in the area were nearly deserted, although fighters remained.51 Another Al Jazeera report indicated how rebels in the east were strongly against a solution that would divide the country in two, affirming that Libya was one unified country with its historical capital in Tripoli. On April 26, the major story was the bombing of Qaddafi’s compound and whether this was an assassination attempt and an upping of the NATO goals of protecting civilians to regime change. NATO insisted that it was targeting command and control targets, and that if Qaddafi was in one of these centers he would suffer accordingly, but denied they had an assassination plan. NATO released videos of precise bombing they had done over the weekend, and Al Jazeera presented live a press conference between Italy’s President Berlusconi and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with Italy promising to add planes to the NATO arsenal and urging nations not to purchase or sell oil products to Libya. Al Jazeera dedicated much of its “War in Libya” footage on April 26 to portraying the aftermath of the long battle for Misurata. Footage of Tripoli Street in Misurata caught the center of the battle for control of the central city, and Al Jazeera’s cameras explored the eight-story building that had been the nest for pro-Qaddafi snipers, the destroyed vegetable market and Technical University offices that had been sites of tough fighting, and the destruction of civilian houses, stores, and other buildings. But much footage was devoted to the incredible suffering of the city of Misurata, with a boy inconsolable after the death of his mother. Another story centered on a family whose house came under bombardment by Qaddafi forces and their attempt to escape in the family car which was also bombed, killing the family. There were hospital scenes where doctors recounted treatment of rebel and pro-Qaddafi fighters, as well as many civilians. Al Jazeera’s Nick Tosvig reported on the shortage of essential goods in Misurata, ending with stating that only through the port of the city, which has been under bombardment by NATO forces, can the people hope to receive supplies. James Simmons’ Al Jazeera report described how pro-Qaddafi fighters ringed the center of Misurata and continued to bombard civilian areas

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and the port with rocket and mortar attacks. As he concluded, Simmons narrated the extent of the destruction as the camera panned over ruins of the city, noting that the rebels “really felt that NATO should have done more to protect them.” Ending his report as he walked down Tripoli Street, Simmons emotionally concluded by asking: “And now the question is whether NATO will fully back the rebels in their attempt to liberate the city?” Hence, once again a foreign news correspondent was serving as a force to pressure NATO to intervene more decisively. Al Jazeera also played that day a long interview with John McCain who indicated that he believed that only with expanded US intervention can Qaddafi be removed from power and that currently the situation is in “stalemate.” Although McCain said that he was strongly against putting “US boots on the ground,” the interview implied that only with a full US armed intervention would the Libyan people be safe and free—another advocacy for expanded Western intervention. On April 27, Al Jazeera reported that Qaddafi forces continued to bombard the Misurata harbor with powerful GRAD missiles, and disclosed that Libyan officials had travelled to Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chavez to discuss ways of resolving the conflict. Al Jazeera also reported that Qaddafi’s daughter Aisha called for dialogue in an interview in the New York Times, and that a UN team had arrived in Tripoli to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against all sides in the conflict. Al Jazeera had another segment on how the war in Libya had negatively impacted on education, with detailed interviews with students in the rebelheld areas wishing to go back to school, and the top administrator in Benghazi saying it was impossible to reopen schools because many teachers were either fighting, or their whereabouts were unknown. In addition, Al Jazeera repeatedly played a segment narrated by Sue Turton on Qaddafi forces’ attacks on Eastern Libyan oil facilities in areas largely controlled by the rebels, sending out the message in the spectacle of oil installations burning that only with the removal of Qaddafi could the West expect to have more stable oil supplies and lower gas prices. Indeed, the dramatic rising of the price of oil and gas at the pump during the Libyan intervention was threatening Western economies which were dependent on oil, and only slowly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis and global economic meltdown. On CNN, the big news was that Obama was changing his national security team, bringing CIA chief Leon Panetta to head the Pentagon, replacing Robert Gates, who was a reluctant recruit to the humanitarian intervention against Libya decided upon by the Obama administration. Following his “team of rivals” philosophy that brought in his major opponent in the Democratic Party primaries, Hillary Clinton, to be Secretary of State, Obama brought in controversial general David Petraeus to head the CIA, on the grounds that Petraeus had been involved in much

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intelligence work in his roles as head of, first, the Iraq “surge” that allegedly stabilized the country, and, then, a similar surge policy in Afghanistan, which was not yet deemed a success. Bringing a military strategy-oriented General to head the CIA signaled that the Obama administration was likely contemplating increased roles for CIA covert military activities in the various fields of battle against global terrorism. Indeed, commentators indicated that Obama’s move signaled a further blurring of lines between the military and intelligence agencies, in which the former need and often receive top intelligence to carry out military actions, while intelligence agents are becoming more active in military interventions.52 Another NATO mishap took place on April 27, which was only revealed the next day, with the report that NATO had again mistakenly bombed anti-Qaddafi rebels, killing thirteen and wounding five in the muchpunished city of Misurata. The rebels initially were reluctant to expose the accident as they desired more frequent NATO attacks on the Qaddafi forces which still surrounded Misurata and continued to shell it. Curiously, Al Jazeera only briefly reported the third major known “friendly fire” instance as an AP news report, and focused instead on the plight of refugees in an evacuation ship moving from Misurata to Benghazi. In a piece of poignant anti-Qaddafi reporting, Andrew Simmons began his Al Jazeera report by talking of the shelling of the dock in Misurata, a “lifeline that Qaddafi wants to cut off,” which, if his forces could do so, would be “awful” for the people of Misurata. Noting that the evacuation ship he was on barely got away because of Qaddafi-force shelling, Simmons explored the ship’s makeshift hospital and emergency care center with the spectacle of seriously injured individuals, some said to be civilians, who were victims of the “utterly indiscriminate shelling.” A young man on the ship says, “Sure it’s a war crime,” when discussing the Qaddafi regime’s actions which caused these injuries, a point Simmons reiterated near the end of the segment in response to a question by the Al Jazeera anchor. As he concluded his report, Simmons talked of the “utterly dire” straits of people in Misurata and the “horror” (emphasized vocally) of the Qaddafi regime attacks. Building up to the message he had been conveying throughout the week, Simmons intoned that “many more NATO actions are needed,” both military and humanitarian to protect the people of Misurata from the horrors of the Qaddafi regime. While on April 28, Western media were gushing throughout the day about the impending “royal” wedding in the UK between Prince William and “commoner” Kate Middleton, Al Jazeera continued to recount the bombarding of Misurata and horrific conditions in the city. There was also an Al Jazeera report of Qaddafi loyalists retaking a border crossing with Tunisia that the rebels had seized earlier in the week. Yet Anita McNaught had a report on Al Jazeera from the western mountain area which claimed that rebel forces from many towns were assembling together for the first

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time as a fighting force. They were reportedly massing together to take back control of the border crossing which constituted an important lifeline of supplies for the rebels, and enabled families in the region to escape from Libya across the border to Tunisia. The Tunisian government complained on April 29 that Qaddafi’s forces had crossed the border to attack the rebels and were firing munitions into their territory, a violation of their sovereignty. Anita McNaught reported on Al Jazeera that residents of the town of Dehiba, just over the Tunisian-Libyan border, talked of an “unprecedented” incursion of Libyan government troops chasing anti-Qaddafi rebels into Tunisia, and that Qaddafi forces had also fired mortars into a Tunisian city, shooting indiscriminately at townspeople. The Tunisian government called in the Libyan ambassador to complain, and the question arose whether Tunisia would be pulled into the civil war. McNaught reported that all day there were fights over the TunisianLibyan Wazin border crossing, with the rebels claiming by the end of the day that they had retaken it. Al Jazeera also reported that Qaddafi forces continued to bombard the people of Misurata and threatened to attack any ship pulling into the city with relief supplies. NATO claimed to have attacked and removed Qaddafi regime forces, which were attempting to lay mines in the harbor outside of Misurata, and vowed to take action on anyone that attacked ships or the harbor. Al Jazeera also reported that there was fierce fighting in Misurata over control of the airport that Qaddafi forces occupied and used to bombard the city. The next day, Al Jazeera highlighted the story that NATO forces were heavily bombing Tripoli, while Qaddafi made a rambling speech that offered a ceasefire and begged the rebel youth to put down their arms and return to his regime where they could “receive money,” in effect offering them a bribe to stop fighting. The oppositional Transitional National Council and NATO quickly rejected Qaddafi’s offer, citing his hypocrisy and continuing to attack rebel forces throughout the country. Over the weekend of April 30–May 1, Al Jazeera broadcast reports of three loud explosions in Tripoli and then put on Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, who claimed that Qaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab was killed in a bomb attack, along with three of Qaddafi’s grandchildren. The spokesman reported that Qaddafi and his wife were present, but safe from the attack and, after the usual litany of attacks on NATO as crusaders, criminals, and assassins, claimed that the attack was an attempt to assassinate Qaddafi. Playing up this claim, Libyan government forces took Western reporters to a residential neighborhood where the killing allegedly took place. While NATO denied that they had intended the attack as an attempt to assassinate Qaddafi, the event raised questions about the endgame of the NATO intervention and whether in fact regime change and the end of

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Qaddafi’s rule was indeed the goal of the intervention. Later in the night after the attack on what was said to be a Qaddafi residency, Tripoli mobs attacked and burned the (empty) British embassy, and Britain threw the Libyan ambassador out of London. Tripoli mobs also attacked the US embassy (at the time manned by Turkish diplomats), the Italian embassy, and a UN mission, ransacking these sites and eliciting strong diplomatic protests. On May 1, Misurata continued to be bombarded, representatives of the NATO coalition defended the bombing of Qaddafi’s compound, and the usual Sunday debates on US TV talk shows took place concerning the NATO Libya invasion. After reports on these issues throughout the day, early in the morning of May 2 GMT, Al Jazeera reported that American special forces had killed Osama Bin Laden and the spectacle of the life and death of this mythological figure of global terror dominated the media for the rest of the night and into the next days (see Chapter 4). Although during this coverage Al Jazeera ran a crawler on the bottom of the page that “Libya says it regrets attacks on UN and foreign embassies in Tripoli,” the war in Libya was off the top news stories for the time being as the all-consuming spectacle of the death of Osama Bin Laden monopolized the news, a global media spectacle that I engage in the next chapter.

The Taking of Misurata, the Criminalization of Qaddafi, and Humanitarian Crises in Libya From May 2 into the following days, the killing of Osama Bin Laden dominated the global media, pushing aside the Libyan war. Concerning the death of Bin Laden, Libyan rebels interviewed on Al Jazeera stated that they were pleased with the demise of Bin Laden, and were amused that Qaddafi had claimed that the rebels against his regime were agents of al-Qaeda. On Al Jazeera, Tony Birtley reported that fighting was raging throughout Libya in early May, with continued shelling of Misurata by Qaddafi forces, NATO attacks on Qaddafi loyalists in Misurata, on the western town of Zintin, and on a region south of Ajdabiya. Birtley noted that the situation cannot go on, that there needs to be an “endgame,” and speculated that perhaps negotiations are going on for Qaddafi to leave the country. Birtley also claimed that the UN is extremely concerned about the situation in Misurata, and “at the moment, it’s anyone’s idea about what is happening and where this is leading to.” On May 3, Al Jazeera’s “The Libyan War” segment focused on the burial of Saif al Arab, Qaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren, who had been killed by NATO bombs, followed by attacks by pro-Qaddafi mobs on the French, British, U.S. and Italian embassies, and the UN mission in Tripoli. A trailer on Al Jazeera noted that “Libya says it regrets attacks on UN and foreign embassies in Tripoli,” but did not explore the story.

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The following day, May 4, Al Jazeera framed as the big story the announcement by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor MorenoOcampo alleging that individuals in the Qaddafi regime were guilty of crimes against humanity and should be tried in court as soon as possible. Initial charges included claims that 500–700 Libyans were killed by government forces during February alone; that terrorizing and killing civilians was state policy; and that Libyan government forces tried to cover up the crimes. A UK Channel 4 report put on YouTube on May 4 told the heartbreaking story of how a Misurata humanitarian ship, Red Star 1, had been prevented from landing at shore because of attacks by Qaddafi forces. The ship had been sent to pick up wounded rebel fighters to take back to a hospital in Benghazi, and after four days in the harbor the Red Star 1 finally docked in Misurata. Yet the ship was again shelled by pro-Qaddafi troops, forcing it to take off without all of the seriously wounded casualties of the Libyan war who were to be taken to hospitals in Benghazi. Poignant footage showed intensive care medics unable to provide treatment in the Misurata hospital for all its intensive care patients, and the chaotic assemblage of over 1,000 migrant workers seeking to escape under attack by rockets from Qaddafi forces. The report showed Qaddafi forces bombarding the harbor area where hordes of migrant workers and Libyans desperate to flee Misurata were waiting at the port to leave Tripoli and were suffering rocket attacks; a Misurata doctor explained in the Channel 4 report that the migrant workers seeking to escape, wounded people needing care in Benghazi, and Libyan families fleeing the violence in Misurata have been subjected to rocket attacks by Qaddafi forces for days. On May 5, Al Jazeera and the BBC showed the Red Star 1 docking in Benghazi, bringing its passengers to safety, but indicated that Misurata remains under attack and that it may be difficult to bring another relief ship to the city as long as Qaddafi forces are able to bombard the harbor, setting up another challenge for NATO. The global cable news networks also showed NATO representatives meeting in Rome, agreeing to give the rebels humanitarian aid. The US announced that it would try to get to the rebels some of the frozen funds, allegedly in Qaddafi’s name, which a Libyan official denounced as “high sea piracy.” Rebel leaders interviewed by Al Jazeera said that they had asked for two to three billion dollars, but admitted they would settle for less, and commentators wondered how much of the money would be spent on military weapons. Over the weekend of May 7–8, as US media continued to gloat about the killing of Bin Laden with hardly a whisper about events in Libya, Al Jazeera reported on Qaddafi forces bombing oil depots in Misurata, depriving citizens of that much-beleaguered city of necessary fuel supplies. According to a May 8 Al Jazeera report, Qaddafi forces had flown three helicopters with Red Cross insignias to bomb the oil depot, which appeared

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in pictures broadcast to be on fire. There was also an Al Jazeera report over the weekend of a refugee ship that had broken up at sea after disembarking, in which many former workers fleeing Libya died at sea. In a related report, Al Jazeera presented a Guardian story that another refugee rescue ship had been afloat for sixteen days in late March with dozens of African migrants left to die in the Mediterranean after a number of European and NATO military units apparently ignored their cries for help, leading the UN to urge vigilance and humanitarian responses to the many people desperately trying to flee Libya, including by boat.53 Al Jazeera reported on May 9 on a meeting in the United Arab Emirates, where for the first time delegates from the western and southern regions of Libya, including tribal figures, met to discuss Libya’s future and declared their support for the Transitional National Council, the Benghazi-based opposition government, putting in place more pieces of a national government to replace Qaddafi. Yet an Al Jazeera report from Ajdabiya in the eastern part of Libya indicated frustrations among the rebels that they could not go further and were stuck in place, without any military progress in weeks.54 Al Jazeera indicated later in the day that explosions were heard over Tripoli, and the next day NATO confirmed that it had bombed military command and control centers, Libyan state television facilities, and Qaddafi’s compound, denying, however that Qaddafi himself was targeted. Al Jazeera also stated that the UN made an urgent request for a ceasefire, since there were shortages of food, fuel, and medicine, again pointing to stalemate in the Libyan war and humanitarian crises. With the help of NATO bombing, rebels were able to take significant control of Misurata on May 10, with a few Qaddafi loyalists holed up in the airport and then a military base outside the airport. Al Jazeera, CNN, and BBC released NATO photos of their recent bombing of targets in Tripoli, Misurata, and the west of Libya, indicating serious damage to Qaddafi regime facilities. Qaddafi media minders took global network reporters to sites of a hospital said to be damaged in the bombing, but NATO continued to insist that it was only hitting military and command and control facilities and had not targeted civilians or Qaddafi. CNN broadcast a report by Nick Pleitken of an allegedly anti-Qaddafi group in Tripoli, accompanied by video of men with ski-caps over their heads and distorted voices saying that they were part of a network attacking Qaddafi forces within the capital; video showed rebels demonstrating, defacing pictures of Qaddafi, and exchanging gun-fire with Qaddafi police forces allegedly in Tripoli, although CNN noted that the video could not be confirmed.55 CNN also replayed a broadcast of Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court saying that the Qaddafi regime was accused of war crimes, followed the next day with Ocampo asserting that Qaddafi had until the end of May to agree to his exile, or an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court would be issued.

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On May 11, Al Jazeera reported that Ban Ki-moon, the UN SecretaryGeneral, had called for an “immediate, verifiable ceasefire” in Libya, and urged government forces to stop attacking civilians. Ban called for unimpeded access for humanitarian workers trying to deliver aid to those affected by the fighting. “First and foremost there should be an end to the fighting in Misurata and elsewhere. Then we will be able to provide humanitarian assistance and in parallel we can continue our political dialogue,” Ban said. Al Jazeera reported the next day, however, that rebel forces did not trust Qaddafi and would not agree to a ceasefire; interviews with rebel leaders indicated that they opposed a solution that would allow Qaddafi to leave the country with family and wealth intact, wanting him instead to stand trial for crimes against humanity and the Libyan people. BBC opened its early morning show on May 11 with a long report on the effectiveness of NATO bombing in Libya, and its correspondent concluded that the operation was a “bright shining mess.” Host Katty Kay pushed him to agree that the Libyan operation was a “stalemate,” and he assented to Kay and agreed that there “had been no breakthrough.” NATO spokesperson Carmen Romero, however, insisted that NATO was making progress with 6,000 air missions during the six weeks that NATO was in command which had made progress and saved many Libyan lives. Later NATO official Anders Fogh Rasmussen defended on BBC more vigorously the NATO intervention, insisting that it had seriously degraded the Qaddafi regime’s command and control, had taken out much of their military hardware, and made it possible for Libyans to control significant segments of the country. Hence, he concluded that NATO had made “substantial progress” on many fronts in the Libya war, that “time was up for the regime,” and that “the regime has no future,” a point he repeated twice more in response to questions concerning stalemate, or the effectiveness and will of NATO. Al Jazeera provided mostly upbeat reporting on May 11 with footage on how the rebels controlled most of Misurata, and had a segment on how US Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) was drafting legislation that would authorize transfer of funds to the “Free Libya” forces. Al Jazeera’s coverage of rebel advances in Misurata, however, focused on a badly wounded man and woman in the hospital who begged for more NATO assistance and humanitarian aid, and an interview with a rebel military leader indicating that without more NATO assistance the anti-Qaddafi forces did not have a chance, concluding “God have mercy on us if NATO abandons us.” Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birkley indicated that “cracks within the NATO alliance” over the scope of the air attacks, costs of the mission, and conflicting goals could lead some NATO countries to leave the coalition; he rounded out the Al Jazeera plea to NATO to maintain their commitment with emotional words to the effect that it would be “terrible” and “unthinkable” if NATO abandoned the rebels after stirring their hopes and advancing their goals.

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BBC had a segment on Libyan rebels making their own DIY primitive weapons in a tool shop, with interview commentary sending out the message to NATO that the anti-Qaddafi forces needed more and better weapons. Late in the day, there were reports on another round of NATO strikes in Tripoli, and on May 12 Al Jazeera led with reports that Qaddafi forces were claiming that the bombs had hit the North Korean embassy and killed three people. Yet, when the Qaddafi government handlers took BBC and other reporters to the sites of the bombings, BBC showed craters in Qaddafi’s compound and other bombing sites downtown that showed what appeared to be underground bunkers and destroyed communication equipment; these reports seemed to confirm NATO’s claim that day that their targets were military command and control centers in Tripoli, one of which the Qaddafi government apparently put beside a children’s park. BBC reported that the British government had received a head of the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) in London and had pledged more support, while CNN reported representatives of the Free Libya transitional government were coming to Washington the next day, and people in the Obama administration wanted to make sure that the rebel movement in Libya would not be hijacked by extremist forces. In the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, CNN had resumed its “War on Terror” footing, devoting much of its coverage to dangers of Muslim extremism and terrorism after the death of Bin Laden (see Chapter 4). On May 15, the Libyan TNC leader met with Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser, and the U. apparently decided to not yet formally recognize the TNC as the representative of the Libyan people, but they recognized them as a legitimate representative, and promised more aid. CNN discussed during the week the fact that the sixty-day period was soon approaching in which the Obama administration had to report to Congress on US participation in the NATO operation and to decide if the US was going to extend the mission, an issue that would probably be highly politicized as the 2012 election year loomed ahead. While there was little movement on the military front during the week of May 9–16, and little coverage on Libya in the global or US media because of the continued focus on the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and Washington’s difficult relations with Pakistan, NATO continued to bomb Tripoli and elsewhere in the country. A May 12 raid on Tripoli set off rumors that Qaddafi was wounded and in hiding, but the next day the Libyan government released a one-minute audio tape over state television in which Qaddafi insisted that he was well and could not be killed because he lived on in the hearts of the Libyan people. On the same day, Libyan television announced a May 13 NATO bombing on the port town of Brega in the eastern part of the country, controlled by Qaddafi forces, which the rebels had temporarily occupied some weeks before. The Libyans claimed that the attack had killed eleven Immans, who had led prayer sessions on

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television the previous night and had been killed in the night in the guest room; for the next days, the Libyans showed the dead bodies of the raid, staged a funeral, and seemed to believe that they had won a great propaganda victory against NATO.56 During the previous weeks, there were rumors that the ICC would accuse members of the Qaddafi regime of crimes against humanity and on May 16 Al Jazeera played live the presentation of Chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who announced that he had called for arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief and close crony Abdullah Senussi. Moreno-Ocampo argued that the three men formed an inner circle who carried out the Libyan leader’s orders to crush peaceful protests by ordering attacks with live ammunition and heavy weapons. Explaining his targets for investigation, Moreno-Ocampo claimed that Qaddafi’s “second eldest son Saif al-Islam is a de facto prime minister and Abdullah Senussi is his right-hand man, the executioner. [My] office documented how the three held meetings to plan and direct the operations.” The prosecutor claimed that he had “direct evidence” of the three men committing the crimes, and explained how a panel of three ICC judges will now decide whether to grant the arrest warrants, after which MorenoOcampo said it was primarily up to Libyans themselves to enforce them. Summing up his case, Moreno-Ocampo said: The evidence shows that Muammar Qaddafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers. The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing, as I speak today, in the areas under Qaddafi control. Qaddafi’s forces prepare lists with names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear. In a press conference afterwards, Moreno-Ocampo explained that his documentation of crimes against humanity would be submitted to a threejudge ICC panel and, in response to questions, indicated that it might take weeks for the judges to make their decision and they might directly put out arrest warrants for the accused members of the Qaddafi regime, reject the case against them, or call for more evidence. Al Jazeera reported that only hours after the ICC chief had made his accusations against the Qaddafi family, NATO forces heavily bombed Tripoli. Qaddafi officials claimed that a building close to the Qaddafi compound hit by the NATO bombing held files of all the corruption evidence concerning officials in the Benghazi Provisional National Council who had abandoned the Qaddafi regime, but NATO spokesmen described the target as Libyan secret police compounds in Tripoli.57

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Libya Month Four Reports that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and being held in New York police custody for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid, followed by the story that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a love child with a housekeeper who had lived with his family over twenty years, created media spectacles that knocked Libya off US television for some days. As I indicated in the Introduction, broadcasting news is organized around media spectacle, and sex scandals involving powerful and famous people continue to dominate news for day after day, as did the Strauss-Kahn and Schwarzenegger scandals for the next weeks. As the Libyan war entered its fourth month on May 17, Al Jazeera presented an in-depth look at the western Iraq mountain areas who had felt abandoned during the first months of the war, struggling to defend their cities and land against pro-Qaddafi forces. But with eventual help of NATO bombing, rebel forces were able to take over western Iraq to key border crossings with Tunisia, although they still faced threats by pro-Qaddafi forces. A sentimental segment showed orphan Libyan children playing and “hoping for a better future.” After summing up the anti-Qaddafi forces control of the east, the western mountain region, and Misurata, correspondent Mike Hanna described the war as a whole as a “patchwork war,” with Qaddafi forces holding parts of the country and anti-Qaddafi rebels holding adjacent parts and most of the east. On May 18, Al Jazeera reported continuing NATO attacks on Tripoli, which had intensified the previous week with Qaddafi forces claiming that NATO was bombing civilian targets and NATO claiming that they were bombing military and command and control centers. The UN was calling for a three-day ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid, but there appeared to be no immediate responses by either the Qaddafi or anti-Qaddafi forces, as Al Jazeera reported on pro-Qaddafi attacks on the rebel-held western mountain region. Al Jazeera also ran a report on Misurata and the way anti-Qaddafi forces were organizing the battered city, under siege for months with hundreds of deaths and copious destruction of the city. The report portrayed people in breadlines waiting for daily bread rations, and a “meals on wheels” program to bring food to sick, aged, or wounded people. A rebel fighter had returned to fix up his metal shop that had been partially bombed and the segment featured a rebel leader who had been a member of the city’s national soccer team and had been coaching the current team when he joined the rebels. Emerging as a local leader of the anti-Qaddafi fighters, he recounted how the uprising had summoned new challenges, and concluded by insisting that “we won’t give up until we are finished with Qaddafi and his family.” Al Jazeera also reported the release of four western journalists held by Libya, and warnings by prosecutors of the International Criminal Court to Libyan

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officials that they will be prosecuted if they attempt to cover up crimes by forces loyal to Qaddafi. While three of the four journalists made it to the West, it was learned that one of the journalists, Anton Hammerl, an awardwinning, British-based photographer, was killed during an incident in early April in which three other journalists were captured, and Hammerl was shot by pro-Qaddafi troops. On May 19, Al Jazeera reported that Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary-General and head of the NATO military alliance, claimed that military and political pressure  have weakened Muammar Qaddafi’s hold on power in Libya and will eventually topple him. Rasmussen held a news conference in the Slovak capital, Bratislava and stated: “We have significantly degraded Qaddafi’s war machine. And now we see results, the opposition has gained ground. I am confident that [the] combination of strong military pressure and increased political pressure and support for the opposition will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime.” On May 20, Al Jazeera announced that NATO claimed that eight Libyan ships in three ports had been destroyed, undermining its naval activity, and BBC and other networks showed videos of the bombing, released by British military authorities. On the weekend of May 21–22, Al Jazeera played a segment “Tunisia beefs up border security,” reporting how Tunisia had strengthened its border patrol after pro-Qaddafi forces chased rebel troops into Tunisia. Correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid narrated footage from the Tunisian border of pro-Qaddafi forces shooting mortars and rockets at the rebel forces who controlled the border. An interview with a rebel fighter indicated that pro-Qaddafi forces were still found in towns in the region and continued to challenge rebel forces’ control of the border region. US media were almost silent over the weekend of May 22–23 on Libya, reporting mainly on one of the worst series of tornadoes ever to hit the United States in a frightening Weather Spectacle of Horror in which entire neighborhoods and even towns had killer tornados wreak devastation on the areas hit, making small-town America look like Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. In the UK, the British Guardian published a series of articles debating the Libya intervention’s costs, the small role of Arab partners, fissures in the NATO alliance, and arguments about its effectiveness and strategy, with one Admiral claiming that the NATO intervention was based on false premises and should be rethought.58 Al Jazeera reported over the weekend that Britain and France were planning to send new attack helicopters which would presumably ratchet up the NATO firepower. There were also reports that both France and Britain were worried about the duration of the intervention and escalating costs and desired a quick ending. A BBC report on May 23 claimed to be the first on-site report on a two-month training program for new rebel fighters, and late in the day BBC reported that allied NATO forces had carried out the biggest strike of the war on Tripoli.

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The next day the usual ritual following attacks on Tripoli occurred with Al Jazeera and BBC going to sites of the NATO strikes, seeing destruction, and then entering a hospital to see casualties and hear a Libyan government official’s tirade about the civilian causalities of the NATO attacks, with NATO officials then claiming that the attacks were on proper military targets. Both sides were aware that media wars are information wars and both sides struggled to find pictures of the military activities of the day that would either show NATO as effective and centering on military targets, contrasted to the Libyans coming up with pictures to demonstrate the barbarism of NATO attacks. Indeed, dead bodies were used as propaganda evidence of the barbarity of the other side throughout the war. From the beginning, anti-Qaddafi forces took the global media into hospitals to take pictures of the horrors that Qaddafi’s troop had imposed upon Libyan rebels. In what appeared a daily ritual, Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, and other global cable channels would be taken into hospitals in Misurata, Brega, Benghazi, or wherever there was heavy fighting to demonstrate the horrors that the Qaddafi regime was wreaking on rebel fighters, civilian women, children, and older men. Doctors were privileged voices of authority confirming inflicted horrors on the body, used to condemn the Qaddafi regime. If there was no possibility of getting video testimony, Al Jazeera, CNN, and other global networks provided audio witness reporters by doctors or others of the horrors being inflicted on Libyans by the Qaddafi forces, raising the question of the trustworthiness of audio sources. As indicated, the Qaddafi forces would do the same thing after NATO bombing of Tripoli. Anti-Qaddafi rebels warned that the Libyan government would use bodies injured or killed in other circumstances as (false) evidence of civilian casualties of NATO bombing; indeed, anti-Qaddafi rebels even warned Qaddafi might well kill civilians in order to provide evidence of NATO bombing killing civilians. Suspicion of Qaddafi regime propaganda tricks were so extreme that on May 25 there was a news story claiming that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told a late-night talk show that coalition forces believed that the claim that Qaddafi’s youngest son Saif Arab Qaddafi and three grandchildren were killed in a NATO strike on April 30 was “propaganda” and that Saif Arab had left Libya and was in another country.59 Once again on May 24, BBC and Al Jazeera reported on heavy NATO strikes in Tripoli, while CNN chased tornados in a 24-hour-a-day weather spectacle, and again the next day foreign reporters were taken to Tripoli hospitals to see the casualties. US President Barack Obama was visiting the UK, and after the meeting of the respective foreign policy teams of the two “special” allies, Al Jazeera reported that the US was providing munitions and other material support to NATO, as well as surveillance, refueling planes, and other technical and military assistance, points confirmed by Al

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Jazeera on March 26. Speaking at a joint press conference in London that day, Obama and Cameron promised no “let-up” in the NATO military campaign in Libya, and reiterated calls for Qaddafi to step down. On May 26, Al Jazeera reported that the Libyan government was prepared to offer concessions to the international community to end the fighting. The UK’s Independent newspaper published extracts of a letter from Libya’s prime minster to a number of governments, proposing an immediate ceasefire and unconditional talks with the opposition. This was the first time that the continuance of Qaddafi in power was not made a precondition of talks, but Qaddafi’s spokesman told foreign reporters that Qaddafi should stay on as a figurehead. There were also reports that Libya had asked Spain to mediate in the war. Yet the commitment of Obama and Cameron the day before in calling upon Qaddafi to step down and the anti-Qaddafi rebels’ insistence that there could be no negotiations without Qaddafi and his family surrendering power, the gesture was doomed to failure, continuing the stalemate. As evidence of increased pressure on the Qaddafi regime, on May 27 global media noted that for the fourth day in a row, NATO forces had heavily bombed Tripoli, aiming at military targets in and near Qaddafi’s compound. The Guardian reported that Qaddafi was becoming extremely paranoid, sleeping in a different place every night where he surmised NATO would not bomb, like hospitals.60 At the G8 summit in France that day, global cable news channels reported that Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron and other G8 members signed on to a document indicating that Qaddafi had no legitimacy and must leave; there were also comments indicating that the group welcomed “the work of the International Criminal Court in investigating crimes in Libya and note the chief prosecutor’s request on 16 May for three arrest warrants.” Al Jazeera featured press conference clips with Sarkozy intently listening to Obama and nodding his head in agreement as Obama reiterated “Qaddafi must go … we are united … to finish the job.” The clip was followed by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev affirming that there was a G8 consensus that Qaddafi had lost all legitimacy and had to surrender power, thus losing the Qaddafi regime the support of one of its longtime allies. For the fifth night in a row, Al Jazeera reported that NATO forces had heavily bombed Tripoli on May 28, then recounted that NATO carried out a rare daytime bombing of Qaddafi’s compound early in the morning. Since there appeared to be few interesting war stories that day, Al Jazeera circulated rumors that the Libyan foreign minister had met with British diplomats to discuss ways to get a ceasefire and end the war, a rumor that Britain quickly denied. Al Jazeera also broadcast a segment on May 29, “Heavy Fighting West of Misurata,” that showed rebels exchanging fire with Qaddafi forces with hints of NATO jets flying high above the fighting, but there were,

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according to correspondent Tony Birkley, “no sign yet of the promised attack helicopters.” Birkley and a rebel fighter interviewed made it clear that attack helicopters would make all the difference in the fight between Qaddafi regime forces and the rebels, and the visual sequence seemed to illustrate this argument. Birkley’s report also suggested that help is on the way by noting that six armed foreigners seen with the rebels could be “boots on the ground” who could help coordinate attacks on the Qaddafi forces and advances by the rebel forces.61 The report implied that rebel fighters cannot advance against the Qaddafi forces without NATO aid, and made a plea for the “promised French and British attack helicopters,” without which the rebel fighters have but a “thin line of defense” against the Qaddafi forces. The NATO attack helicopters, Birkley insists, “would make a big difference of whether the battle is won or lost,” thus in effect making an argument and plea for more NATO aid and firepower. On May 30, global news sources reported that eight of Qaddafi’s generals and over 100 soldiers had defected and gone to Italy; throughout the day, Al Jazeera played images of a press conference in Rome with the defected military leaders telling their colleagues in Qaddafi’s army to defect and that “the day of glory is near at hand” when Qaddafi will rule no more. The officers claimed that they had defected in protest at Qaddafi’s violence against his own people, citing killings of civilians and violence against women. One of the officers accused pro-Qaddafi forces of genocide, and another claimed that Qaddafi’s campaign against the rebels was rapidly weakening. While the Doha network also focused on the visit to Qaddafi by South Africa President Jacob Zuma, who was attempting to mediate a ceasefire and begin discussions for peace, this meeting—the first time Qaddafi had been seen in public since May 11—was presented as Qaddafi’s “last chance” to negotiate a departure. Predictably, the next day rebels announced that they would not negotiate with Qaddafi and Zuma announced that Qaddafi had no intention of giving up power and leaving. Al Jazeera also continued a series of interviews with former Qaddafi soldiers who had been captured by the rebels and told how their leaders told them to take anything they wanted from houses in the regions which Qaddafi forces occupied and “to rape the women”—stories also circulated by CNN via interviews with captured Qaddafi forces. One of the soldiers captured told Al Jazeera that Qaddafi troops were given amphetamines to keep them up for 72 hours running and Viagra to drive them to rape local women. On May 31, Al Jazeera presented Italy’s foreign minister declaring that the Qaddafi regime was “finished”, some hours after NATO forces reportedly resumed attacks on targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. In clips from a press conference, Al Jazeera presented the Italian stating that for Qaddafi “it’s over. He has to leave power, he has to leave the country.”

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The same day, BBC had an episode quite similar to frequent Al Jazeera segments the past week that portrayed rebel anti-Qaddafi fighters moving from Misurata and confronting Qaddafi forces in Zlitan, a town near the front line held by Qaddafi’s forces that is home to the 32nd brigade, loyal to Qaddafi’s son Khamis. The BBC footage portrayed anti-Qaddafi fighters moving with trucks and rockets toward Zlitan, and then retreating when Qaddafi forces fired at them. Al Jazeera had similar images of antiand pro-Qaddafi forces shooting at each other in the region without any movement one way or another. And like Al Jazeera a few days earlier, the BBC correspondent interviewed a rebel fighter who made a pitch for Apache attack helicopters that would be used to advantage against Qaddafi forces and “allow us to advance,” as the fighter put it. On June 1, Al Jazeera announced that hours after NATO aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, alliance ambassadors meeting in Brussels decided to renew the mission for another ninety days, in effect telling the Libyan military and Qaddafi supporters that they were going to be pounded for some months. Since the UK and France had announced that they were introducing Apache attack helicopters, fervently desired by the antiQaddafi fighters and global TV networks, and that the UK was to deploy heavy bunker-busting bombs, it was clear that NATO was ratcheting up the pressure on Qaddafi to leave. Later in the day, however, Al Jazeera focused on a bombing outside a hotel in Benghazi where foreign residents lived, showing pictures of two parts of a car on fire destroyed by an explosive device. A representative of the rebel National Transitional Council in Benghazi told Al Jazeera that the explosion outside Tibesti hotel was believed to have been caused by a hand grenade thrown in a “desperate attempt” by Qaddafi’s loyalists to sow terror. There were also reports that Shokri Ghanem, the country’s oil minister, had defected, making him the second highest official to defect; his defection was confirmed the next day when the Libyan government announced it would be sending another representative to the meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna on June 8. On June 2, a slow news day, Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birkley had a detailed report on “Missing in Misurata,” interviewing an old lady whose two children were taken out of Misurata by Qaddafi forces. Presenting another demonization of the Qaddafi regime, the report detailed how Qaddafi forces had kidnapped individuals from occupied towns where there were significant rebel forces, taking them to Tripoli where they were allegedly tortured. An anti-Qaddafi activist told Birkley that he had seen on Libyan television individuals taken from Misurata and shown on Libyan television, where they had exhibited signs of torture.62 On June 3, Al Jazeera’s James Bays presented a report behind the front line, titled “Opposition moves closer to Tripoli,” depicting anti-Qaddafi fighters who had pushed Libyan government troops from Shakshuk, a key

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town and center of electricity production in the west of the country. Bays reports that rebels had driven anti-Qaddafi forces from the area, turned back on electricity for western towns, and were around 105 miles from Tripoli. Pictures showed quarters from which anti-Qaddafi forces obviously fled in haste, suggesting disintegration of Qaddafi loyalist forces. In the Misurata area, Al Jazeera reported that rebel fighters have now pushed halfway to the town of Zlitan, on the way to Tripoli, after taking control of Zintan, thus suggesting that another group of rebel forces were advancing toward Tripoli. In addition, global media networks reported that NATO had bombed Tripoli ten times, one of the heaviest bombardments yet of the capital city. On June 4, Al Jazeera reported that NATO has for the first time used attack helicopters in Libya, with French and British ‘copters striking military vehicles, equipment and forces backing the Qaddafi regime in the oil port of Brega. NATO confirmed that: “Attack helicopters under NATO command were used for the first time on 4 June 2011 in military operations over Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector,” with Liam Fox, the British defence secretary, asserting that: “This was the first operational mission flown by British Army Apaches at sea. The additional capabilities now being employed by NATO further reinforces the UK’s enduring commitment and NATO’s determination to … ensure that the people of Libya are free to determine their own future.” Al Jazeera correspondent Shashank Joshi, an Associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence, stated that these statements indicated that it was now clear that NATO was aiming at regime change and that the attack helicopters gave the anti-Qaddafi forces powerful new weapons. Over the weekend of June 4–5, there was discussion of whether the introduction of attack helicopters were a “game changer,” as NATO claimed, in that they made possible more precision attacks on Qaddafi forces, but were also more vulnerable to anti-aircraft ground attacks.

Spectacles in Yemen, Debating the Libyan Intervention Most global media focus, however, was on continuing atrocities in Syria and the startling news that Yemeni President Saleh and his closest allies had been hit by a rocket while praying in a mosque in a presidential compound and that Saleh was seriously wounded. While the Yemeni President promised a TV interview on Saturday June 4, he gave instead a shaky radio statement, raising questions about his health. Saturday night it was leaked out that Saleh had left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and had ceded power to his Vice-President. Al Jazeera intensely covered the story, showing footage of the wreckage of the presidential palace where Saleh had been attacked, and it reported on

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every detail of his medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. By Sunday, it appeared Saleh’s wounds were significant, and speculation raged concerning whether he would return to Yemen. Al Jazeera showed ecstatic scenes of Yemeni people celebrating Saleh’s departure, but people on the street and commentators were cautious concerning the immediate future of Yemen, with one Al Jazeera commentator suggesting that Saudi Arabia, which had transported Saleh and members of his family and cabinet from Yemen and had brokered a ceasefire in Yemen, would play a key role in negotiating a peace deal in Yemen, perhaps with Saleh agreeing to resign. A Saudi official, however, told Al Jazeera that the people of Yemen alone would constitute their political future, signaling that Yemen’s future was highly indeterminate. Meanwhile in Washington, debate was simmering concerning the US role in the NATO intervention in Libya. The sixty-day limit in which the President, following the War Powers Act, has to request further support for a military intervention had passed, and the previous week the Republican Congress passed a resolution requiring the Obama administration to clarify its war goals in Libya, the time-line, and extent of the US commitment. Congress then defeated a resolution for the US to withdraw from the NATO coalition, an anti-war resolution which had received support from the left and right. On the military front, Al Jazeera reported on June 6 that there were more heavy NATO strikes overnight on Tripoli. In an exclusive Al Jazeera report, James Bays presented in western Libya an elite force that was supposedly being trained to fight in Tripoli; interviews with the recruits, said to be from Tripoli themselves, spoke with mask-covered faces and heavily Americanaccented English, raising the question, Who are these dudes? Continuing to promote a rebel march on Tripoli, Al Jazeera also reported throughout the day that rebels had seized the Qaddafi-loyalist occupied city of Yafran, about 100 kilometers up the road to Tripoli and an important supply junction. The Al Jazeera anchor noted that it was not clear whether NATO helicopter attacks had led Qaddafi’s troops to flee, but they had evidently quickly left the city, as images of their abandoned and disheveled quarters revealed. BBC exposed on June 6 a major propaganda ploy by the Qaddafi regime, whose press handlers had taken reporters to a hospital where they exhibited an injured young girl, said to be a victim of NATO bombing. BBC footage caught a government official coaching the girl’s “uncle” into making the right political statements (i.e. “this bombing shows how NATO is hurting civilians”), and put on camera a note from a doctor indicating that the girl had been injured in a car accident; reporters later confronted the man claiming to be the girl’s uncle who was revealed to be a Libyan government worker.63 On June 7, Al Jazeera reported that several huge explosions had been heard from near Qaddafi’s residential compound in central Tripoli, the

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Libyan capital. As news reports came in from global media throughout the day, NATO talked of its most concerted strikes yet on Tripoli, which were carried out by low-flying aircraft throughout the day. Al Jazeera reported that Libya claimed that in sixty NATO airstrikes thirty-one civilians were killed and Libyan officials condemned the attacks as “barbaric”; Al Jazeera noted that these figures could not be confirmed. One observer on Al Jazeera reported that during the all-day bombing raids, loud “thumps” were heard, leading observers to speculate that NATO was using bunker-buster bombs for the first time. BBC noted that UK military officials claimed to hit Libyan military command and control centers and the Libyan secret police headquarters. Al Jazeera centered its coverage on attacks on Qaddafi’s residential and military compound, Bab al-Aziziya, where global media were taken and images were broadcast of destroyed buildings, smoke, and the smoldering remains of piles of rubble to which the compound seems to have been reduced. In one approach shot to the compound, Al Jazeera showed a Libyan driving in a car approaching the bombed-out site flashing a surreptitious V-sign, indicating that even in the center of Tripoli there are anti-Qaddafi forces. Al Jazeera and other cable channels broadcast clips from Libyan television in which, during a call-in to the station, Qaddafi reacted with fury to the attack, ranting in a nine-minute audio clip: “We will not surrender: we only have one choice to the end. Death, victory, it does not matter, we are not surrendering.” Making it clear that he had no intention of giving up or leaving, Qaddafi insisted: “We welcome death,” he said. “Martyrdom is a million times better.” These clips were followed by images broadcast on global media from a press conference held by Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was visiting Washington. Both Obama and Merkel argued that it was time for Qaddafi to leave, with Obama asserting: “What you’re seeing across the country is an inexorable trend of the regime forces being pushed back, being incapacitated.” Al Jazeera reported on June 8 that scores of Qaddafi loyalist troops had advanced on the rebel-held western city of Misurata, shelling it from three sides, in attacks that have reportedly killed at least twelve rebels, showing that Qaddafi forces were not yet ready to surrender. The same day foreign media were taken to the desert to a luxurious tented encampment and nature preserve southeast of Tripoli where Qaddafi was alleged to like to visit and meet with foreign leaders. The heavy NATO bombing of the Qaddafi compound and of Qaddafi’s desert retreat suggested that NATO might be attempting to assassinate Qaddafi; New York Times reporter John Burns, in fact, said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that he had heard reports from insiders at the Pentagon claiming that the heavy bombing of Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli might have been a response to intelligence that Qaddafi was at the compound, and thus an attempt to assassinate him.

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Qaddafi Indicted for War Crimes, Gates Scolds NATO, and the Rebels Advance There were also widespread reports on June 8 on global media that the International Criminal Court was investigating indicting Qaddafi on using rape as a political weapon. Al Jazeera showed ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo at a press conference at the UN in New York stating that there were strong indications that hundreds of women had been raped in the Libyan government repression of the popular uprising, and that Qaddafi had ordered rape as “a form of punishment.” MorenoOcampo also stated that there was evidence that the government had been handing out doses of Viagra to soldiers to encourage sexual attacks. The ICC prosecutor asserted that he had concluded that rape was used as a political weapon by the Qaddafi regime, and while “we had doubts at the beginning, now we are more convinced. Apparently, [Qaddafi] decided to punish, using rape.” Al Jazeera had a segment on June 8 that featured exclusive pictures which were claimed to be taken by a young Libyan soldier before he died in battle. The images provide brutal images of Qaddafi’s forces moving into Benghazi with a command audible on the tape to “show no mercy, kill them all.” Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley noted how these videos could be used in war crimes tribunals demonstrating the brutality of Qaddafi regime troops, and also called attention to the presence of Qaddafi’s son Khamis in the videos apparently taken near Benghazi;64 if there is evidence of war crimes in the area where the videos were taken, Birkley claimed that this could implicate the Qaddafi family. At a NATO meeting on June 9, Al Jazeera and the BBC reported that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a behind-closed-doors discussion, urged Germany and Poland, who had chosen not to be involved in the air campaign, to contribute more to the mission and urged Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands to step up their participation in the military campaign, which some took as signs of impatience in the NATO alliance. At a meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG), which had been entrusted with the planning for a democratic Libya after Muammar Gaddafi in Abu Dhabi, Al Jazeera reported that donors at the ICG meeting pledged more than $1.3  billion to help support the National Transitional Council (NTC), the main body representing the Libyan rebels fighting against Qaddafi, although they had asked for $3 billion. There were clips throughout the day of Hillary Clinton stating at a press conference that “Qaddafi’s days are numbered. We are working with our international partners through the UN to plan for the inevitable: a post-Qaddafi Libya.” Clinton also said talks were under way with people close to the Libyan leader and that there was “the potential” for a transition of power in Libya, suggesting that there were members

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of Qaddafi’s inner circle ready to get rid of him, or help him leave the country. “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN that night opened with “Breaking News” alleging that Qaddafi himself was a NATO target. The previous evening John Burns of the New York Times, interviewed in Tripoli, had mentioned rumors from the Pentagon that the heavy strikes on Qaddafi’s compound and his favorite countryside park area were signs that NATO was targeting Qaddafi. CNN commentator Fran Townsend confirmed that she had received the same off-record comment from a top Pentagon official, leading Cooper to conclude that NATO was now targeting Qaddafi, a rumor circulating for weeks, and wondering if this was a change in the NATO mission. General Wesley Clarke in a telephone call to the network, however, dampened the speculation, saying that the UN and NATO mandate to protect civilians empowered NATO to go after military command and control centers, including the top commander (i.e. Qaddafi). There had been reports that large numbers of Qaddafi loyalist troops had been attacking Misurata from three sides of the long-besieged city, and on June 10 Al Jazeera reported that heavy bombardment had killed thirty-one people, according to a doctor at Hikma Hospital. The doctor said Qaddafi’s forces used tanks, artillery, and incendiary rockets in the bombardment of Al Dafniya, outside of Misurata. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birkley reported from a field hospital full of wounded rebels who wondered: “Where was NATO? The helicopters? The bombs?” The main story of the day, however, on all the global news channels, presented Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in his final policy speech before he was to step down, sharply criticizing NATO nations for what he said were shortages of military spending and political will, warning of “a dim if not dismal future” and “irrelevance” for the alliance unless more member nations contributed weapons, money, and personnel. Gates warned that the United States, for decades the leader and chief financier of the NATO alliance, was exhausted by a decade of war and its own mounting budget deficits and simply might not see NATO as worth supporting any longer. “The blunt reality,” Mr Gates said, “is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the US Congress—and in the American body politic writ large—to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.” Gates pointed out less than half of the twenty-eight NATO countries are participating in the Libyan conflict, and that less than a third are involved in military action, despite the mission to protect civilians. Moreover, he was angry that many member nations were running out of the munitions which the US would have to supply. Another big story of the day concerned Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s first blunt assessment that Qaddafi must leave Libya, indicating

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that he had recently told the Libyan leader: “We said we will help you leave for where ever you would like.” Erdogan sharply concluded that: “Qaddafi has no way out but to leave Libya, through the guarantees given to him, it seems,” adding that: “We ourselves have offered him this guarantee, via the representatives we’ve sent. We told him we would help him to be sent wherever he wanted to be sent. We would discuss the issue with our allies, according to the response we receive.” However, Erdogan added that Turkey had received no response from Gaddafi regarding the deal. “I have contacted him six or seven times. I sent our special representatives, but we always faced stalling tactics. They tell us they want a ceasefire, we tell them to take a step, but the next day you find out that some places were bombed.” Over the weekend of June 11–12, Al Jazeera reported that Qaddafi loyalists were attacking rebels in three different sites, continuing to assault Misurata and surrounding cities. Al Jazeera’s Art Blakely reported on heavy fighting, secondly, in the mountain area of Zlitan, with a third report describing fighting taking place in Zawiyah, a city on the highway to Tripoli and between Misurata and the capital. Al Jazeera had Tony Birkley commenting on heavy casualties in a field hospital outside of Misurata near where troops had been fighting; another report recounted a six-week occupation by Qaddafi forces of a hospital in a small town near Misurata and the brutalities inflicted on the medical community by the Qaddafi loyalists. In the most dramatic Al Jazeera footage of the weekend, Al Jazeera’s James Bays and his team came under fire while reporting during intense battles in the town of Rieina, as Bays ducked and ran as Qaddafi forces shot at the rebel forces whom he was accompanying, creating a spectacle of the dangers of war reporting. During the early days of the week of June 13, Al Jazeera focused on the military fighting taking place in the west and other parts of Libya, with forces loyal to Qaddafi shelling rebel positions in the western mountains and on the road outside of Misurata, but with opposition fighters edging closer to the capital on three fronts. James Bay reported on “slow but steady advances” of rebel forces in the west on the road to Tripoli; Bay reported that while Qaddafi forces had been heavily shelling rebel troops, they stood their ground and fought back. Footage showed that these rebels were getting better trained and armed, with new weapons coming across from Tunisia, including rocket-propelled grenades, artillery rockets, sniper rifles, and other arms. Tony Birkley reported on rebels moving up the road from Misurata to Zlitan, en route to Tripoli; this rebel group found leaflets which had blown down to them, evidently intended for Qaddafi’s forces. The graphics showed pictures of Apache helicopters dropping leaflets warning Qaddafi forces that they must give up their arms or die. Birkley explained how the rebels stopped their advance when they came upon these leaflets, thinking it was a NATO warning not to move up the road. Yet

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some rebels continued to complain to Al Jazeera that they needed NATO help to protect the town of Zlitan, occupied by Qaddafi forces who were allegedly destroying the town. During the next ten weeks, the rebels made slow progress in surrounding Tripoli and eventually mounting an attack on the capital that led to the quick collapse of the Qaddafi regime, a story I will recount in the concluding section of this chapter which discusses how the NATO Libyan intervention unfolded during the summer and fall of 2011 and how the dramatic collapse and overthrow of the Qaddafi regime was portrayed by global media.

The NATO Libyan Intervention and the Dilemmas of Liberal-Humanitarian War Throughout the summer, global media closely followed the intense battle between Qaddafi loyalists and anti-Qaddafi rebel forces, and debates within the NATO countries that had undertaken the intervention. While UN Resolution 1973 mandated that UN and NATO forces could intervene militarily to protect Libyan civilians, it was clear that the NATO intervention was an important arm of the anti-Qaddafi forces supporting their project of regime change aimed at the overthrow of the Qaddafi government and that the NATO intervention was raising questions of legality, and putting on display the dilemmas of liberal humanitarian wars. In the US, as Barack Obama went to Puerto Rico for a political visit on June 14, 2011, Congress was insisting that the Obama administration needed to clarify their Libyan war intentions to receive funding after the initial ninety-day period when, according to the War Powers Act,65 a president needs to get Congressional approval to continue the mission. House leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent the Obama administration an official letter asking to clarify the administration’s policy on Libya, the goals, how long it would last, the costs, and to formally request Congress to approve the Libyan mission. A battle also loomed over continued funding that would no doubt be shadowed by partisan concerns as the election season loomed ahead. On June 15, the battle in the US Congress intensified with ten Congressmen demanding that Obama answer their questions concerning the Libya intervention in order to induce him to comply with the War Powers Resolution that requires Congressional approval of US military interventions after ninety days. The White House answered, releasing a legal document later in the day, claiming that the Libya incursion was not a military action that stood under the jurisdiction of the War Powers Resolution because: “We’re not engaged in sustained fighting. There’s been no exchange of fire with

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hostile forces. We don’t have troops on the ground. We don’t risk casualties to those troops.” CNN presented on June 15 the pro- and anti-Libya intervention arguments in Congress, with critics of Obama’s Libya policy accusing the President of “evasion” of the War Powers Resolution in his response. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) said that he was “very disappointed” in Obama, and wanted the President to seek Congressional approval for the mission. Al Jazeera, in turn, presented a segment indicating that the US was deeply involved in the NATO military mission, with its surveillance and refueling operations accounting for 75 per cent of the total air strikes, and with the US itself carrying out thirty to forty missions per day, constituting 25 per cent of the total NATO strikes and 10 per cent of the actual bombing. The Al Jazeera commentator said that Congress controls the purse strings and could cut off funding for the war, but they probably would not. Indeed, a commentator on Russian television (RT) noted that while the US had already spent over $775 million on the operation and was projected to have to spend over $1.2 billion by September, this money came out of the Pentagon and CIA special operations funds, and was not accountable to Congress. On the battlefront on June 15, Al Jazeera reported that rebels had made gains in the west, taking two small villages that Qaddafi forces had controlled. Rebels from Misurata, however, attempting to move on the neighboring Qaddafi forces-held town of Zlitan, claimed that they needed NATO help to liberate the town and feared that the town would be destroyed if NATO did not soon come to their aid. Another Al Jazeera story, “Conflict Splits Families,” interviewed individuals in Nalut, near the Tunisian border, and in a refugee camp in Tunisia, who said how their families were split all over the country, making it difficult to get information concerning their loved ones. Some told stories of how families had pro-Qaddafi relatives in Libya, and others how they had lost touch with close family members involved in the fighting. The episode dramatized the human costs of the Libyan conflict, and the need for the fighting to be resolved. On June 16, Al Jazeera reported that NATO had once again pounded the area near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s compound, rattling windows in the heart of the capital, Tripoli. In a report, “Rebel forces push Qaddafi back,” Tony Birkley showed equipment used by Qaddafi forces destroyed by rebels and abandoned in retreat, but then depicted Qaddafi loyalists shelling rebels, suggesting that the Qaddafi forces had not yet been fully routed from the area. James Bay reported from western Libya that rebel troops had taken the town of Kikla, with the aid of NATO strikes that seemed to be active in the area again. Bay noted that the rebels were moving up the road to Tripoli and pictured and described cars full of people leaving Tripoli for the mountains, saying that there was little fuel left in Tripoli and

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conditions in the city were tense, driving families to leave the city and to seek refuge in the country and mountains. CNN played a segment on “Rape as a political weapon,” with graphic but censored images of men raping a woman with a broomstick, who were said to be Qaddafi forces.66 Yet in US media on June 16, the main domestic Libya story was the squabbling between the President and Congress over the War Powers Resolution. Speaker Boehner mocked the Obama response that the US was not engaged in “hostilities” as a poor excuse and there were few to defend Obama’s semantic weaseling. Indeed, the Obama administration’s hesitancy to respond further to the War Powers Resolution suggests that, like all modern Presidents, Obama appeared ready to increase presidential power at the expense of Congress by ignoring the War Powers Resolution that gives the Congress the power to approve military interventions after ninety days. As candidate, Obama had promised to respect and follow the restraints of the War Powers Resolution, but President Obama appeared ready to further augment the powers of the presidency.67 Over the weekend of June 18–19, there was fierce fighting between rebels and Qaddafi forces in the town of Nalut near the Tunisian border and sporadic military activity elsewhere. NATO leaders admitted that earlier in the week they had accidentally hit rebel troops, the fourth example of “friendly fire,”68 and on June 19 there were Libyan government claims that NATO had hit a residential area in eastern Tripoli, destroying parts of a civilian neighborhood and killing at least four, including two children. The Qaddafi regime took the global media to the site, where some residential buildings had been destroyed, and to a hospital to see victims of the bombings, including children. A NATO spokesman attributed the accident to a “mechanical malfunctioning” and apologized, claiming it was the first documented and confirmed result of civilian casualties from their bombing campaign. Al Jazeera reported on June 20 that the Libyan government claimed nineteen more civilians had been killed in a NATO air strike on the home of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s top officials, a day after NATO admitted killing civilians in a separate attack. The next two days, Al Jazeera and other foreign media reported from Surman, seventy kilometers west of Tripoli, the site of what Libyan government officials said was a NATO air strike on the home of Khouildi Hamidi, a leading member of Libya’s twelve-person Revolutionary Command Council, led by Qaddafi, which took place on Monday morning. Reporters were taken to a hospital in nearby Sabrata where they were shown nine bodies, including those of two children, plus some body parts, which the officials said were all from people killed in the attack. NATO insisted that Hamidi’s house was a military command and control center, but for the next two days, Libyan officials trumpeted the two attacks on apparently civilian residences and killing of civilians as

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evidence of NATO barbarism. In both cases, Libyan officials took reporters to a hospital where they displayed dead or seriously wounded bodies and to funerals where Libyans loudly grieved over the loss of their loved ones and chanted slogans against NATO. During the week of June 20–26, first, the Italian Prime Minister called for a humanitarian ceasefire, but Britain and France quickly vetoed the initiative, claiming that maximum pressure must be kept on the Qaddafi regime. BBC reported in the UK that major military figures were claiming that the UK was running out of munitions and resources and could not keep up the initiative much past September, leading to a stern rebuttal from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who insisted he will be doing the talking and the military will be doing the fighting. In the US throughout the week, there were skirmishes between Congress and the Obama presidency, after Obama refused to comply with the War Powers Resolution which required Congressional approval after ninety days, a deadline that had just passed. As noted, the Obama administration had given the flimsy excuse that the US wasn’t really involved in “hostilities” and did not have troops on the ground, but that excuse was seen as weak on both the right and the left. The House dealt a symbolic blow to President Obama on June 24 by resoundingly rejecting a bill to authorize United States military operations in Libya. But the chamber also defeated a measure that would have limited financing to support those efforts, sending a mixed message on Libya and seeming to assure the status quo. Al Jazeera, the BBC, and other networks reported throughout the week of June 20–26 that Qaddafi forces continued to launch sporadic rocket attacks on Misurata and portrayed rebels in the west taking ground against Qaddafi forces with pictures on June 23 of the explosion of what was apparently a munitions depot for Qaddafi forces in the west of the country, which apparently NATO had bombed. Throughout the following days, there were continuing Qaddafi forces rocket attacks on Misurata, and once again, people from the town used the global TV networks to call for increased NATO intervention to protect the people of the city who had been under siege by Qaddafi forces for months. BBC reported on June 24 that rebel activists had described to them an anti-Qaddafi network developing in Tripoli, presenting interviews with antiQaddafi Tripoli activists, confirming a story earlier circulated by Al Jazeera. On June 27, the major Libya story on all global and many domestic US networks was that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued an arrest warrant for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his military intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, accusing them of crimes against humanity during the Libyan Uprising and Qaddafi regime repression of the rebels. The court said that it was the responsibility of the Libyan people to arrest the alleged perpetrators, and there was much discussion of whether this would prove yet another obstacle to Qaddafi negotiating stepping down from power and

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ending the civil war which had divided the country into two. Al Jazeera presented people in Benghazi joyfully celebrating the pronouncement, but it was not clear how this would resolve the problem. An Al Jazeera story on June 27 presented anti-Qaddafi forces claiming that documents were found in Misurata confirming that the Qaddafi government had ordered war crimes against the Libyan people, although, obviously, these documents would have to be inspected in relevant courts. On June 28, US and global networks reported that the US Senate passed a resolution approving US participation in the Libyan intervention for another twelve months, but forbidding US ground troops, thus appearing to resolve for the moment the battle between the President and Congress concerning continued US participation in the Libya intervention. As the NATO campaign passed the 100-day mark, Al Jazeera reported on June 29 that anti-Qaddafi rebels in the Nafusa Mountain region had routed a group of 100 or so Qaddafi loyalists and seized control of a military base that served as a weapons depot in the area. While this appeared to be a great psychological victory for the rebels, most of the munitions captured seemed to be crates of outdated and aging ammunition and weapons parts, and some weapons left behind by the Qaddafi loyalists who had fled. The action, however, marked another step for rebels in the mountain area to move closer to Tripoli, a goal that now seemed in their range. The same day Al Jazeera reported that France had been providing weapons to the anti-Qaddafi rebels, a claim that France confirmed the next day. Al Jazeera cited Jean Ping, the African Union Commissioner, on France’s admission that it sent arms to Libyan rebels who stated: “What worries us is not who is giving what, but simply that weapons are being distributed by all parties and to all parties. We already have proof that these weapons are in the hands of al-Qaeda, of traffickers.” France retorted that giving the rebels arms to defend themselves was in line with the UN resolution, although this claim was disputed by the Russians and others. On July 1, Al Jazeera portrayed a large gathering of pro-Qaddafi supporters in Green Square in Tripoli, where the crowd listened to a broadcast of a speech in which Qaddafi threatened NATO that it would bring war to the “homes, offices, families,” of Europe, unless NATO stopped air strikes against his regime. The same day Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam appeared on Russian television (RT) to say that it was a “joke” that he was accused of war crimes by the ICC since he was neither in the Libyan government nor military, and claimed that he had no official role in the fights with the rebels (surely, an exaggeration). Saif also said in the interview that NATO countries were bargaining with the Qaddafi family to leave, suggesting that the war crimes charges would be dropped if the family left the country, but indicated that the Qaddafi family had no plans to leave. On July 4, BBC had a report, repeating stories circulated on Al Jazeera, that rebels in the west of Libya were waiting for an uprising in Tripoli

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before advancing any further; in effect, indicating that the rebel forces were not yet able to defeat Qaddafi’s forces in a face-to-face assault on Tripoli, but were waiting for anti-Qaddafi rebels in Tripoli to begin an uprising against his regime. While footage showed an apparently disciplined rebel army marching and training, the BBC’s John Simpson interviews portrayed the usual rebel combination of bravado and demands that NATO play a more significant military role in attacking Qaddafi’s forces. Over the weekend of July 10–11, Al Jazeera indicated that Qaddafi’s son Saif claimed that government forces are in dialogue with the French, not the rebels, to effect a political settlement, and for the first time a French official, the Defense Minister, said that France was open to a political solution, interpreted as a sign that NATO forces were beginning to doubt whether Qaddafi could be overthrown in the immediate future.69 Al Jazeera relayed another rant by Qaddafi, threatening Europe with “hundreds of suicide bombers” as retaliation for the NATO strikes against his regime. Al Jazeera also reported, however, on rebel advances in the west and anti-Qaddafi activism in Tripoli. Al Jazeera portrayed anti-Qaddafi forces in Tripoli sending up balloons with anti-government messages and interviewed an activist who had put the protests on YouTube, and highlighted growing problems of everyday life in Tripoli, with gas supplies running low, money drying up in banks, many people not getting paid their salaries, and general fatigue with the war. On July 11, CBS News had a rare segment from on the ground in Libya as Mark Phillips reported from the city of Qawalish, in the western mountain areas, recounting how the rebels had taken the city over the previous week from pro-Qaddafi forces and how it was on the road to Tripoli, fifty miles away. Phillips provided the sort of pro-rebel puff piece that Al Jazeera and BBC produced on a daily basis, with the mantra that NATO must do more to help them. Yet evidently neither Phillips nor the once-fabled CBS newsroom had read a piece in the New York Times the previous day by C. J. Chivers which reported how the rebels had looted and burned the city of Qawalish after occupying it, raising disturbing questions about the forces that NATO was supporting.70 CNN showed a segment on July 14 with reporter Ben Wiedeman in a car with rebel fighters in the western mountains near Qawalish, which they had just seized, coming under attack and then being forced to flee with rebel troops and residents as artillery rounds went off close to their car; Al Jazeera’s James Bay was also caught in a fire-fight in the area as pro-Qaddafi fighters fought the rebels for control of small towns in the mountains. As the endgame to the Qaddafi regime approached, global media correspondents were risking their lives as the fighting intensified, and they presented live footage and commentary on the action in one of the best-documented wars in history.

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However, the big news of the week was that NATO forces and their allies were meeting in Istanbul with the “Libya Contact Group” to determine support for the next stage of the war. Anita McNaught of Al Jazeera passionately signaled the anti-Qaddafi forces’ plea for recognition and money on the eve of the meeting. And although Al Jazeera reported splits in the NATO alliance, thirty countries agreed to recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC), including the US, which had previously been reluctant to officially recognize the rebel forces. This recognition enabled some of the allies to release frozen Libyan money to the rebels and, amidst report of impending rebel bankruptcy, some of the Libyan allies immediately gave financial support to the anti-Qaddafi forces. Qaddafi responded with verbal radio assaults on NATO for “killing angels” as Libyan television broadcast images of dead children and exhorted citizens to march to the western mountains and Benghazi to take up arms against the “traitors.” Qaddafi’s screeds were increasingly hysterical and aggressive; upon hearing that a large number of countries, including the US, had recognized the rebel forces as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, Qaddafi increased his verbal attacks on the NATO “dogs” and beseeched his loyalists to attack the “rats” and “traitors” all over the country who had turned against him and his regime. On the BBC Newsweek on July 16, BBC featured a report “Lion’s Brigade” telling the story of a group of rebels from Tripoli training to fight in the city once the liberation begins. The piece highlighted that most of the young fighters, like other rebels in the west, had not been trained in military arts, but were eager to fight. Their bravado was tested, however, as they were sent out to encounter pro-Qaddafi troops near their Nafusa Mountain camp, and at the first encounter with military attack, fled in disarray, losing possession of the small town they had taken; the BBC reporter indicated, however, that they won back the town the next morning. The rebels got a big boost on July 16 when the United States formally recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of the Libyan people, opening the way for the unfreezing of seized Libyan funds for the cash-strapped rebel forces. Over the weekend of July 16–17, Al Jazeera reported on the sporadic battles in the western Nafusa Mountains on the road to Tripoli, and efforts of the rebels in the east to begin advancing on the crucial oil port town of Brega, which they had once held. While the eastern-based rebels had been more or less dormant for the past weeks, Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught’s interviews with rebel soldiers indicated that they were eager to fight to prove that they had organized a viable military force in the east. For the next two weeks, there were sporadic rebel advances toward Brega from eastern rebel troops and advances and retreats in fights between western rebel troops and Qaddafi loyalists, with the rebels seeming to gain some ground in the east, retaking at least parts of Brega and advancing slightly in the west on the road to Tripoli.

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Yet on July 29, 2011 the anti-Qaddafi forces received a tremendous shock when opposition leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil called a press conference, carried live on Al Jazeera, and announced the murder of high-ranking rebel General Abdel Fattah Younes. Jalil, the leader of the National Transitional Council, claimed that General Younes was killed after being summoned to the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi to appear before a judicial inquiry. Jalil asserted that rebel security had arrested the head of the group behind the killing but had not found the dead men’s bodies. While Jalil implied that a pro-Qaddafi gang who had infiltrated the rebels had killed the general and two associates, the details were sketchy, there were many unanswered questions, and Jalil quickly left the press conference after his bombshell announcement without taking any questions. General Younes had been extremely close to Qaddafi and his regime since the 1969 revolution when oppositional army forces seized power and Younes assumed high military ranks and had been serving as Interior Minister when the 2011 uprising began. Younes quickly joined the rebels, saying that the Qaddafi he knew was not the man who was killing his own people who were demonstrating for change. Although Younes had enemies and detractors among the rebel military, he had risen to a position as top rebel military commander. Yet it appeared that people continued to be suspicious of him because of his previous close ties with Qaddafi, and apparently Younes had been called from his position in the Brega area to return to Benghazi for questioning by a military tribunal concerning his loyalty. It appeared that he had been killed en route in the desert, but the results were not really known for days to come, giving rise to speculation concerning disunity in the rebel government. Al Jazeera commentators found it strange that Younes apparently had no security forces when assassinated, as usually he was surrounded by a group protecting him. Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birtley presented the general’s killing as a “murder mystery” and a blow to rebel hopes for unity. An Al Jazeera report on Younes’ background indicated that he had brought 8,000 troops with him when he deserted the Qaddafi regime and was a member of an important tribal family in the Benghazi area. Soon afterward, Al Jazeera circulated reports that Younes and two companions had their bodies burned in the desert, noting that there were rumors and suspicions that they had been murdered, although it wasn’t certain who the murderers were. Jalil had implied that it was “Qaddafi men,” but Al Jazeera interviewed a man on the street who claimed that it was al-Qaeda extremist elements who were part of the rebel force that had hated Younes and killed him, an interpretation echoed by pro-Qaddafi spokesman in Tripoli later in the day. There were reports of gunfire in Benghazi, presumably from Younes’ supporters who were outraged over his killing, raising a question whether his murder would increase fragmentation among the rebel forces. As the

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afternoon went on, Al Jazeera reported that Younes had been missing for three days and that suspicions were growing that he had been killed by some faction of the anti-Qaddafi rebels. On July 30, Al Jazeera reported claims that rebel leaders had acknowledged that a group of their own soldiers had killed their top military commander, and would give evidence of his treason shortly—although as of Summer 2012, this evidence has not yet appeared and the circumstances of his killing remain in doubt. As military activity at first seemed stalled and frozen during the Ramadan holidays, the rebels began multiple offenses during the first week in August, making their first progress in months. By the weekend of August 13–14, Al Jazeera reported that Libyan rebels had taken control of much of Zawiya, about thirty miles west of Tripoli, and, if held, the rebels could block a major supply line to Qaddafi’s forces in Tripoli. Al Jazeera footage showed rebels waving flags and firing celebratory shots, but fighters interviewed admitted they only controlled 70 per cent of the city and that Qaddafi loyalist snipers were shooting at rebels and impeding their movement. Rebels also claimed to Al Jazeera on August 15 that they controlled the oil refineries in Zawiya and had cut off the pipes with the major supplies of gas and oil going into Tripoli. The Doha channel also noted that rebel leaders claimed that their fighters had seized the city of Gharyan in the Nafusa Mountain region, which straddles another major supply route into Tripoli, helping to isolate the capital. In addition, Al Jazeera reported that rebels claimed to have taken over and consolidated their hold on Brega, a key oil refinery city in the east of the country over which they had been fighting for months. For the first time, there were reports that the Qaddafi regime had fired a Soviet-era Scud missile at the rebels, a wildly inaccurate but powerful missile that apparently landed in the desert nearby Brega, and a sign to some that the Qaddafi regime was becoming increasingly desperate. Yet Al Jazeera also cited another authority, Richard Weitz, who claimed that use of the missile shows Qaddafi’s “determination to fight.” On August 17, Al Jazeera and BBC showed segments marking the beginning of the sixth month of military hostilities in the Libyan Uprising and NATO intervention. Milestones and decisive phases marked in the report included: February 17: Protest erupts; February 22: Provisional authority of National Transition Council (TNC) forms in Benghazi; March 19: US forces bomb Qaddafi loyalists to protect rebels; April 23: NATO takes over command, leading Qaddafi forces siege of Misurata breaking; July: Rebel advances begin again [after a long stalemate].

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Al Jazeera interviewed Mark Almond, who noted that initially the Europeans who pushed the NATO intervention were overly optimistic, thinking that with a light bombing campaign the Qaddafi regime would collapse, an event that had not yet happened after six months of fighting. Almond also noted intense rivalries growing within the rebel forces and splits between the rebels in the east, south, and west, making national unity difficult, and leading the Al Jazeera commentator to conclude the report by noting that the divisions may create “trouble in creating a unitary government” after Qaddafi. BBC marked the beginning of Month Six of the Libyan intervention by playing excerpts from a radio broadcasting from Qaddafi over the weekend telling his supporters to arm themselves and to fight for Libya “inch by inch  … The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield.” Indeed, by the weekend of August 20–21, Tripoli faced rebel onslaughts from the south, east, and west as rebel commanders claimed that their forces had made significant advances in the past week and were ready for the final assault on Tripoli. Al Jazeera presented detailed reports on rebels taking Zawiyah, giving anti-Qaddafi forces control of the commercial center in Misurata along the central coast, the western mountains along the Tunisian border, with Zawiyah a beachhead along the western coast, and control of the eastern portion of Libya from Brega to Benghazi to the Egyptian border. Throughout August 21, Al Jazeera presented live accounts of rebel reports of what they claimed was the final uprising, beginning in Tripoli with descriptions of explosions, guns going off, and fighting in the city. Anti-Qaddafi rebel supporters called in Al Jazeera to describe what rebel commanders were calling “zero hour,” signifying the beginning of the end for the Qaddafi regime. Interestingly, that day Russian television (RT) insisted that what soon became clear was a massive invasion of Tripoli by the rebels was Libyan government officials clearing out “armed gangs” of rebels. RT Libyan regime propagandist Lizzie Phelan, reporting that day from Tripoli, claimed that “small groups of insurgents” were running amok in Tripoli who had “no popular support,” spouting obviously ludicrous Qaddafi regime lies. An increasingly hysterical RT reporter, Mahed Nazemnoya, holed up in a hotel in Tripoli, first described “sporadic fighting” and “psychological warfare” of rebels giving false reports of their forces entering and occupying Tripoli, and then claimed that what was being reported as an intense NATO bombing campaign was fake “sound bomb explosions” to terrorize the Libyans. Soon, however, Nazemnoya was shrieking that NATO was targeting the international press and his hotel, adding that NATO was invading Tripoli in an “imperialist war” that would create a “bloodbath,” aiming to “steal money from the Libyan people.” This coverage presented RT as a laughable propaganda ministry for the Qaddafi regime, reflecting the old Cold War alliance of Russia with Libya.

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CNN finally figured out that something big was afoot in Libya by 4.00 EDT on August 21, after Al Jazeera and BBC had shown footage of rebel troops invading Tripoli, taking over vast areas of the city, and being welcomed by cheering crowds. CNN noted a Reuters report that thousands of rebels were entering Tripoli from the west, that there were uprisings and fierce fighting throughout the city, and that rebels were taking over significant areas of the city. Most of the CNN report, however, focused on their correspondent Matthew Chance, trapped in the Rixos Hotel in a Qaddaficontrolled area of Tripoli, reporting by Skype of fighting going on around the hotel, electricity being cut off, and a group of frightened correspondents abandoned by their Libyan government handlers who had fled. Chance reported that Qaddafi gunmen remained in the lobby, threatening them and trapping them in the hotel. Live footage showed Chance nervously looking around the hotel from the second floor, fearing assault by Qaddafi gunmen who would hold the group hostage for some days until the victorious antiQaddafi forces liberated them some days later. The global networks had played earlier in the day the last live broadcast by Qaddafi’s spokesman Mousef Ibrahim in the Rixos Hotel, who excoriated “eleven hours of NATO terror,” in which 1,312 were allegedly killed and 5,000 injured, and ranted on against NATO, but he was soon also to flee the hotel. There were reports that two of Qaddafi’s sons, Mohammed and Saif al-Islam, had been captured by rebels, but by August 22 it was claimed that Mohammed had been “hijacked” by rebels, and the next day Saif showed up gloating and taunting the rebels and international reporters in the Rixos Hotel. CNN’s Sara Sidner reported live from Zawifi earlier on August 21, confirming that rebels were in full control of the capital and were sending troops to Tripoli to join in the final liberation struggle. Sidner was able to join one of the rebel forces moving into the center of Tripoli, and became one of three women correspondents who accompanied rebels into Green Square the next day, the former site of massive pro-Qaddafi rallies which the rebels took over and renamed “Martyr’s Square.” Alex Crawford of Sky News was the first to enter the square and produce ecstatic pictures of the Libyan people celebrating what they hoped would be the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, followed by Zeina Khodr of Al Jazeera reaching the square just before 2 a.m. local time, with Sidner arriving shortly afterwards. Sidner soon pulled back to the outskirts of the city when the mood of celebration in the square turned tense, with rumors that pro-Qaddafi forces were mobilizing to attack the square, and the celebrants left soon afterwards. The battle for Tripoli became a major media spectacle on August 22, first with confused stories of intense clashes in the city, especially around Qaddafi’s compound, and with speculation about Qaddafi’s whereabouts and conflicting claims concerning how much of the city the rebels controlled. NATO indicated that it had flown twenty-two bombing

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missions into Tripoli on August 21 and 7,549 sorties since March. Global networks presented Obama’s long and cerebral discourse on the history of the NATO intervention and the US role and its apparent success, while David Cameron presented a rather bellicose account of NATO’s intervention and demanded that Qaddafi immediately surrender, as if he were going to follow Cameron’s demand. On August 23, a media spectacle played out that would be a defining moment of the collapse of the Qaddafi regime as the rebels first fiercely fought for and then entered in triumph Qaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound, the symbolic center of his regime. Al Jazeera presented live rebel fighters fiercely battling Qaddafi’s troops and after some hours penetrating into his compound, after Brother Leader’s troops apparently abandoned their uniforms and fled, perhaps through underground tunnels. Al Jazeera showed rebels racing into the compound, entering the various buildings and sites of Qaddafi’s power, burning down his fabled tent where he received foreign dignitaries, pulling down the gold statue of Libyan hands crushing an American plane before which Qaddafi loved to make his rambling speeches, pulling off Qaddafi’s head from the sculpture and hitting it with their shoes, a strong Arab insult. As the day went on, Al Jazeera, CNN, and BBC showed dozens of rebel fighters on foot and in pickup trucks moving into the Bab al-Aziziya compound, accompanied by citizens from the neighborhood who came to see and ultimately to loot the compound. The now-triumphant “rebels” took scores of guns and weapons, hot-wired Qaddafi cars and gleefully drove around his famous golf cart, as well as taking out for a ride a giant tank. The now-triumphant anti-Qaddafi forces opened the way for Libyans from all walks of life, mostly men, to pour in and seize what valuables or souvenirs they could take from Qaddafi’s one-time citadel of power, including the gaudy plastic hat with military insignia that Qaddafi often wore for public occasions. Capping their symbolic victory, rebels put up their black, green, and red Libyan flag which replaced Qaddafi’s green revolution flag flying over the compound. CNN’s Sara Sidner, who had arrived in Martyr’s Square for the victory celebration, was among those intrepid reporters who penetrated into Qaddafi’s former compound with the rebels who were shooting off guns in victory celebrations, forcing her and her crew to duck for cover as errant ammo flew through the area. It was truly history-in-the-making spectacle as Sidner talked to triumphant rebels who showed off the guns and ammo they had appropriated from Qaddafi’s compound, explained what they had seen in the site that had been the center of Qaddafi’s power, and flashed the V-sign punctuated with the now-proverbial “Allahu Akbar!” As the day became night, crowds gathered in Martyr’s Square and Benghazi to celebrate the victory over the Qaddafi regime, although Qaddafi and his family appeared to escape and there was still sporadic

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fighting in parts of Tripoli. On August 24, Al Jazeera reported that the antiQaddafi forces controlled most of Tripoli and much of the country, with rumors swirling about Qaddafi’s whereabouts. High rewards were offered for Qaddafi’s capture, and TNC officials met with many foreign leaders who recognized them, offered to unfreeze funds, and to support the new Libyan regime with the country’s reconstruction. On the weekend of August 27–28, it was clear that the anti-Qaddafi forces had won the war, and that the TNC was the official government, busy with getting the country functioning again and establishing law and order while going after remaining Qaddafi-regime loyalists. Qaddafi had so far eluded capture and one day there were rumors that six sedans perhaps carrying his family had fled to Niger, while the next day one of his spokespeople said that he was willing to negotiate with the TNC, all red herrings that would continue to circulate concerning Qaddafi’s whereabouts for weeks. By September, Al Jazeera was using the term “the Libyan Revolution” to describe the situation in the country, and unlike Tunisia and Egypt, it appeared that there would be a decisive turnover in the governing authorities and personnel as different factions within the anti-Qaddafi forces jockeyed for power. As the month proceeded, the TNC sent high officials to Tripoli where the new Libyan government greeted heads of state of the UK, France, and Turkey, received growing recognition as the legitimate government in Libya, and began to release funds which could enable the new Libyan transitional government to function. Soon, electricity, water, food, and money were being distributed throughout the country, and the Libyans found themselves in a revolutionary situation where the reconstruction of the country and future government stood before them as challenges to produce a post-Qaddafi future. To be sure, there continued to be armed combat against the pro-Qaddafi rebels who resisted the victorious Libyan revolution into October, and Qaddafi himself and his sons remained at large, while many in his family and former regime fled to Niger or other countries in the region. For over a month Qaddafi loyalists fought to preserve the desert enclave of Bani Walid, and for weeks in October there were fierce battles for control of Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. On October 20, it was clear why resistance there had been so fierce with rumors flying that Qaddafi and many of his inner circle had been captured. By midday PST, Al Jazeera was posting pictures of a bloodied Qaddafi in TNC hands, with stories circulating that he had been captured hiding in a drainpipe after his convoy fleeing Sirte had been bombed. The story of Qaddafi’s capture and eventual death became a major media spectacle, and throughout the day video was released to Al Jazeera and other global media, or posted on YouTube, of video footage and pictures of a dazed and bloodied Qaddafi falling into the hands of

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Qaddafi bloodied

victorious revolutionaries, followed by a video of what appeared to be a dead Qaddafi. As the day went on, more and more video was released that showed Qaddafi in an increasingly bloodied condition followed by images of his apparently dead body. Later in the day, the TNC and major NATO leaders officially announced Qaddafi’s death. Al Jazeera reported that, according to Libyan officials, NATO had targeted a fleet of cars fleeing Sirte and destroyed some of the vehicles, with Qaddafi emerging from one of the cars alive, and then hiding in a drainpipe in the desert, where revolutionary forces found him, roughed him up while others took video and shot it up to the internet—another example of history being constructed live by its participants. The TNC said that Qaddafi had been killed in crossfire between the antiQaddafi forces and his loyalists, and that he had died in a vehicle taking him to a hospital in Misurata. However, the large amount of increasingly bloody video footage of Qaddafi released, played incessantly through the day and night on global cable networks, raised suspicions that Qaddafi was shot and killed by some of the young men who had captured him.71 There was some outcry concerning the circumstances of Qaddafi’s death, and the next day the TNC promised an investigation into how he had died. Global cable networks, however, focused on showing joyous Libyans celebrating the demise of Qaddafi’s regime and presenting discussions of the end of the Qaddafi era and what stood ahead for Libya. At least one of Qaddafi’s sons, Mutassim, and many major figures in his regime had been gathered around him for Qaddafi’s last stand in Sirte, and were captured or killed, leading to TNC declarations that the Libyan revolutionary war was over and the Qaddafi regime was finished. Images circulated throughout the global media of rebels in Sirte tearing down Qaddafi posters and flags, and posting the new Libyan flag as a final symbol of the end of the Qaddafi regime. And Saif al-Islam was captured on November 19, 2011 with a group of aides in the south of Libya attempting

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to flee the country, ending threats that any members of the inner Qaddafi circle could rally opposition against the victorious TNC forces. For NATO, the intervention had been a successful one and participants in the operation jockeyed for economic influence and diplomatic positioning with the new regime. Yet while the NATO Libyan intervention had ultimately been successful in overthrowing the Qaddafi regime, it was expensive and not as smooth and flawless as claimed. An article by C. J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, “In Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll,”72 indicated that an in-depth study by the New York Times indicated that a wide variety of air strikes hit civilian or Libyan rebel targets, killing from forty to seventy civilians and many rebels in friendlyfire accidents. The NATO intervention had highlighted the dilemmas of liberal humanitarian war and revealed serious conflicts over military doctrine and strategy between NATO allies and within countries like the US. It was likely that there would be more liberal humanitarian interventions by the UN, NATO, and other powers in the years to come, but there was not yet consensus or an elaborated doctrine to legitimate such ventures which would probably be taken up on a case-by-case base in the future. I will end my narrative of the spectacle of the Libyan Uprising and revolutionary civil war at this point, and will turn in the next chapter to tell the story of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the consequences of his death at the hands of a US commando unit, and further developments concerning media spectacle and terrorism during the Year of Media Spectacle as Insurrection, 2011.

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4 Spectacles of Terror

On the evening of May 1, US network television channels interrupted their Sunday evening prime time programming around 10.45 EDT with a BREAKING NEWS announcement. CBS flashed a text crawling along the bottom of the screen announcing that: “President Barack Obama will address the nation shortly.” Obviously, this was something big and immediately network news talking heads came on to inform the world that Obama would shortly formally announce that Osama Bin Laden, the US’s #1 Public Enemy and one of the organizers of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, had been killed by US special forces. Obama delayed his appearance for about forty-five minutes as network news correspondents speculated what the President was going to announce, while familiar footage of Bin Laden played across the screens. During this time, there were a record number of Twitter posts with an average of 3,400 per second from 10.45 until 12.30 a.m.1 Suddenly, the television networks cut to Obama strolling down alone on the red carpet leading to the White House East Wing podium, where he delivered his speech. Obama opened by dramatically announcing: “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.” Obama then recounted the facts of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and noted that for ten years the country has attempted to capture and bring to justice Osama Bin Laden. Recalling how Bin Laden and al-Qaeda had taken credit for the 9/11 attacks, Obama noted that the country had been united since then in its drive to find Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. Noting that Bin Laden had been able to escape all efforts to find him, Obama remarked: shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of

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our war against al-Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to Bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located Bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body. Obama had thus made the capture of Osama Bin Laden a major target of his covert intelligence operations and claimed this as a victory for his presidency (I put “I” and “my” in boldface in the quotations from his speech above to illustrate his emphasis on owning the operation). Obama went on to emphasize that the US was never at war with Islam, and made a distinction between al-Qaeda terrorists and genuine Muslims, suggesting to the Muslim world that they need to choose between their religion and terrorists like Bin Laden who had hijacked it. Obama went on to thank Pakistan for cooperation in finding the elusive Bin Laden, and especially to the US intelligence operatives who had spent nearly a decade searching for Bin Laden and finally located and killed him in a highly sensitive and successful operation. Recalling the tragedy of the victims of September 11, Obama called for unity of the country in the face of terrorism and indicated that the struggle against terrorism would go on, concluding: The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place. Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. For hours throughout the night and into the days that followed, the US network news operations and global cable news channels like CNN, BBC, and Al

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Osama Bin Laden watching himself on TV and Obama announcing death of Bin Laden on TV

Jazeera covered the death of Bin Laden, constructing a major media spectacle of the era. Details of the operation were discussed endlessly, the impact of al-Qaeda and Bin Laden were dissected, continuing threats of Islamist terrorism, and the manifold other implications of his death, were analyzed and hashed over in minute detail, in broadcast media, in newspapers, and of course on the internet. Questions would be raised concerning the details of the intelligence search and Bin Laden’s killing, concerning the legality of the operation, the US relationships with Pakistan upon whose soil the event had occurred place, and even whether the killing of Bin Laden actually took place (Pakistanis interviewed in the region were initially skeptical and continued to be weeks after the event and copious global media coverage). In the following analysis, I will argue that Osama Bin Laden had become the major symbol and spectacle of terror and a mythological figure who haunted the West and inspired extremist Muslims to take up his call for Jihad. Accordingly, I will dissect the Osama Bin Laden spectacle, discussing how in death Bin Laden continued to be an icon of the millennium, but also argue how the Osama/al-Qaeda spectacle had been surpassed by the spectacle of the Arab Awakening, even though Bin Laden’s killing again made the spectre of al-Qaeda and Terror War a significant part of global political media spectacle. Hence, I will discuss how the al-Qaeda spectacle of terror returned later in 2011 to haunt global media and to generate unpredictable and frightening consequences. In addition, I engage further spectacles of terror in 2011 such as the Breivik terrorist rampage bombing and killing in Norway and the UK riots.

The Osama Bin Laden Spectacle Osama Bin Laden had been a major spectacle of the millennium since the 9/11 terror attacks. The hijacked airplane attacks of September 11, 2001

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on the Twin Towers in New York and on the Pentagon in Washington were the major news events of the new millennium.2 The spectacle of the burning and falling World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York and the damaged wing of the Pentagon, with a fourth airplane missing and initially claimed to be aimed at some major Washington building, perhaps the White House or Congress, had taken over media attention for days, and the world participated in a global spectacle of terror. September 11 would evolve into the spectacle of Terror War that continues to this day, although arguably Bin Laden’s death, in conjunction with the Arab Uprisings of spring 2011, will mark a certain turning point in the trajectory of terror and war in the contemporary moment, as I will discuss throughout the following studies. Within hours of the September 11, 2001 attacks, terrorism experts were identifying Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terror network as orchestrators of the 9/11 attacks, and soon after Bush-Cheney administration figures were making the same claim. Eventually, Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda would assume responsibility for the September 11 terror attacks, and soon Osama became an icon of terror, as video footage circulated with him holding rifles in the desert, walking out of mountain caves, or delivering verbal audio attacks on Zionists, Americans, and infidels. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda became the figureheads of Islamic terrorism, hijacking Islam and using it to legitimate “Jihad,” or Holy War, against infidels, or those who stood in the way of establishing societies dominated by Islamic law and then an Islamic caliphate, that would span the Muslim world.3 Bin Laden and al-Qaeda promoted terrorism as the proper form of Jihad, driven toward striking fear in the Western world, undermining its democracies, and creating conditions for the triumph of Bin Laden’s form of political Islam. Moderate Muslims quickly distanced themselves from Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam and, in particular, distanced themselves from the terrorist project which involved suicide bombers and killers, whose deeds killed men and women, children, and Muslims and Christians indiscriminately. The Bush-Cheney administration fell right into Bin Laden’s Jihad scenario as they declared war on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders were allegedly living. In October 2003, the US and some allies invaded Afghanistan and the Taliban regime, which had no proper army, quickly collapsed and the US began a military intervention with NATO allies that continues to this day and that has been fraught with failure, frustration, and controversy (Kellner 2003b; 2005). With the help of the Bush-Cheney administration, Bin Laden thus attained his initial goal of terrorizing the West. The Bush-Cheney Gang, with the complicity of US and global media, terrorized the public with fears of al-Qaeda or other radical Islamic terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda reciprocated with bloody bombings in Bali, targeting Western tourists, and terror attacks in London, Madrid, and other sites throughout the world.

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The Bush-Cheney administration and the Western media constructed Osama Bin Laden as an icon of terror and evil. George W. Bush called Osama “the Evil One,” equating him with Satan, and identified al-Qaeda in the public mind of the West as the incarnation of evil and a major threat to freedom, prosperity, and democracy. In turn, Osama and fellow Jihadist ideologues claimed that the US and its Western allies were launching a crusade against Muslims and that believers must fight the infidel crusaders. Bush himself once described his administration’s war on terror as a “crusade,” until more linguistically informed advisors convinced him of its historical implications and how the term was playing into the hands of Bin Laden and Islamic radicals (Kellner 2003b). Hence, a Manichean Terror War unfolded with the Bush-Cheney administration and its ideological allies declaring they were fighting a war of Good against Evil, dividing the complex contemporary world into two categories, or, as Bush insisted, “you are either with us, or against us.” Al-Qaeda had a similarly dualist and Manichean vision, claiming that true Muslims were “Good,” while infidels were “Evil.” Consequently, both Osama and al-Qaeda and the Bush-Cheney Gang divided individuals into those who took their side in “Jihad”/“the war on terror,” and labeled those who did not subscribe to extremist positions of either side as “traitors” or “infidels.” Both sides projected evil into an Other against whom violence was justified, and both justified its own violent actions in terms of the evil it was fighting. Using fear through media hysteria concerning every terrorist threat and activity to mobilize the general public, and deploying the tactic of marginalizing and attacking those who opposed the Bush-Cheney administration rightist and militarist policies, the Bush-Cheney Gang were able to push through an extreme right-wing agenda, including the so-called USA Patriot Act which gave them frightening war powers.4 This seizure of state power was followed by reckless pursuit of a destructive and costly war against Iraq, using a false argument that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that could get into al-Qaeda hands, marginalizing their opponents again as “soft on terror.” Likewise, Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and its allies similarly declared that members of the Muslim world either supported Jihad against the Western infidels and their lackey rulers in the Middle East, or were complicit with the infidels and were thus bad Muslims. Accordingly, Osama Bin Laden became the symbol of Jihad, who was seen in the West as the icon of evil and terrorism, and among segments of the Muslim world was perceived as a champion of Islam against Western infidels and crusaders. Among his followers, Bin Laden was the “Sheik,” who supported and funded radical Jihad; he became a global media spectacle as the extremist leader of al-Qaeda, and a mysterious and elusive figure of a Jihadist movement grounded in creating spectacles of terror to empower its followers and to frighten and undermine the empire of the

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infidels. For the Bush-Cheney administration, Osama Bin Laden became the world’s Most Wanted criminal with a $25 million bounty on his head, whom George W. Bush bragged that he wanted “dead or alive.” Although Bin Laden and his inner circle were targeted in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan after the Taliban regime crumbled in December 2001, astonishingly, he got away, as the stunningly incompetent Bush-Cheney regime chose to pay locals to capture Osama and his clique, rather than send US or Western Special Forces into the area to destroy the leadership of both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Some claim that the Bush-Cheney administration took their eye off the ball, as they were already planning an invasion of Iraq, an intervention which would mushroom into a similarly chaotic situation. Critics argued that the Bush-Cheney administration simply were not as focused on catching Bin Laden and his Jihadist associates—who, prior to 9/11, they appeared to not take seriously—as they were on undertaking wars, like on Iraq, that would secure lucrative oil sources and contracts for their allies in the military-industrial complex.5 Equally astonishing as Bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora was his managing to elude detection and capture for almost ten years after the 9/11 attacks. The Bush-Cheney administration continued to unsuccessfully pursue Bin Laden, and Barack Obama made Bin Laden’s capture and killing a major promise of his 2008 presidential campaign, a goal which he seems to have achieved. When in May 2011, Bin Laden was discovered by US intelligence to be dwelling in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to the Pakistani military academy and other military camps, intelligence experts were dumbfounded as to how Bin Laden could live in plain sight of an area dominated by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishments. On May 1, after Obama’s speech about the death of Bin Laden, footage of the deceased al-Qaeda leader played for hours, and then days to follow. US and global media featured segments on the life and times of Bin Laden, and as information into details of his capture and killing was leaked out, the significance of Bin Laden’s death and its aftermath were discussed, hour after hour. On the news of Bin Laden’s death, celebrations erupted in Washington at the White House where for hours young people and some older people assembled, covered with American flags and shouting over and over “USA! USA!…”. In New York, first in Times Square and then downtown at the Ground Zero of the 9/11 events, a more somber but increasingly large crowd emerged, singing the National Anthem, “God Bless America,” and occasionally breaking into chants of joy. As the night went on, footage of Bin Laden juxtaposed with Obama’s speech and young people celebrating at the White House and Ground Zero was the occasion of triumphalist discourse proclaiming the end of an epoch, and affirming a great triumph for Obama and the United States. Obama’s speech had concluded with the argument that: “America can do whatever

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we set our mind to,” an argument expanded the next day to proclaim that: “Today we are reminded that as a nation there’s nothing we can’t do when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans.” Here Obama deploys American exceptionalism discourse, a discourse that he had previously played down. Claims that this was a great day for the United States and a great victory for Barack Obama following his speech took extremely hyberbolic form. On NBC, Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) noted that Obama had genuinely achieved a “Mission Accomplished” moment, recalling Bush’s premature victory spectacle in Iraq (Kellner 2005), and that Obama had achieved what neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton could achieve. Gushing that this was “one of the greatest events in the past 100 years,” Ackerman qualified the death of Bin Laden by noting that only “the head of the worm had been cut off,” and that the US needed to “double down” to further destroy al-Qaeda and global terror networks. Even staunch Republicans like Peter King (R-NY) praised Obama for making the decision to take Osama Bin Laden down, and as the night went on, there was speculation concerning whether the killing of Bin Laden on his watch would guarantee Obama’s re-election. Yet, US network anchors like Brian Williams on NBC and George Stephanopoulos on ABC warned of dangers of retaliation, and the State Department announced that there were enhanced dangers for US citizens abroad, while the government warned citizens to be vigilant against the possibility of US attacks, and extra police were sent to patrol major cities like New York, Washington, and Los Angeles. Global television networks apparently first got the news of Bin Laden’s death from US networks or the internet, but Pakistan GEO TV got footage of the compound burning where Bin Laden had been living. Al Jazeera began playing this footage on the night after Bin Laden’s death as backdrop to discussions with terrorism experts on the means and significance of the killing of Bin Laden, and also provided interviews with residents of Abbottabad, and discussed the event with correspondents and experts from the region who analyzed reactions and implications of the event in different countries throughout the night and into the following day. Indeed, by midnight EST, Al Jazeera was focusing all its attention on the Bin Laden spectacle with giant graphics on the screen periodically announcing “BIN LADEN KILLED.” On the top right, there were initially graphics “US THANKFUL TO PAKISTAN’S COOPERATION,” binding the US and Pakistan together as responsible for Bin Laden’s death—although from the start, there was speculation concerning how the Pakistan military and government missed the presence of Bin Laden in an area dominated by the Pakistan military, whether Bin Laden had supporters and help from Pakistan, and how the event could strain US and Pakistan relations.

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Commentators on Al Jazeera noted that the embarrassment to the US was over, ending a decade when they could not catch Bin Laden, their number one enemy and the man who had claimed responsibility for the greatest attack on US soil in history. Many interviewed on Al Jazeera marveled that Bin Laden had lived in a city less than 100 kilometers from Pakistan’s capital and close to Pakistan’s major military academy, wondering whether Pakistan was complicit in Bin Laden’s escape from detection, or was grossly incompetent. As the night went on, Al Jazeera featured its local correspondents in Pakistan who gave details from inhabitants of Abbottabad of hearing low-flying helicopters buzzing over them, and then big explosions, apparently leading to a fire in the compound. There were claims that the luxury compound was built especially for Bin Laden who, according to interviewees, had lived there for about five years, raising the question again whether he had protection from the Pakistan military or intelligence services. Details from Al Jazeera correspondents trekked out indicating that there were several people killed with Bin Laden, that he had resisted arrest, and that a wife and children were taken alive (later Pakistani intelligence claimed that Bin Laden was living with three wives, all of which were in the compound and taken into Pakistani custody). Speculation had begun early in the night concerning the fate of Osama Bin Laden’s body, and the White House leaked information to US network correspondents that Bin Laden had been buried at sea, following Muslim burial prescriptions, to avoid producing a shrine where followers would come to worship. Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation was interviewed on Al Jazeera concerning the detailed intelligence that had come in concerning Bin Laden’s whereabouts, explaining that US analysts would translate promising information into “actionable intelligence.” Pushed by the Al Jazeera anchor to comment on possible retaliation and revenge by al-Qaeda or its followers, Jenkins speculated that al-Qaeda or Islamicist terrorist groups would probably attempt to respond in a spectacular manner to prove that their organization was still a potent force, and to recruit new members. Al Jazeera commentators noted that the Arab Awakening had taken away support and focus on al-Qaeda, and claimed that there was a conspicuous absence of Islamicist discourse in the Arab Uprisings of 2011, whose participants had chosen the discourse of nationalism and democracy rather than religion in constructing its rhetoric. If, however, these uprisings failed, some commentators suggested that perhaps Arabs might then turn again to Islamic extremism. Al Jazeera pursued global reaction to Bin Laden’s death, portraying live a speech by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was delighted that Bin Laden was found in Pakistan, as many had accused Afghanistan of harboring and protecting the al-Qaeda capo. Leaders throughout the world expressed satisfaction that Bin Laden had been caught. And there was

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immediately speculation concerning the operational details of capturing and killing Bin Laden, and the consequences of his death—issues that would no doubt dominate global media for weeks to come. In the US, around midnight EST, the major television networks ABC, CBS, and NBC returned to their prime-time programming, while Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC continued through the night discussing Bin Laden’s death and its significance and consequences. Google Earth maps were deployed to show exactly where the compound lay where Bin Laden was found and killed, and there was much speculation about both the circumstances and the political consequences of the Bin Laden killing. On US cable channels, there were the usual attempts of partisans to exploit the event to promote their ideological agendas. On MSNBC, Ed Schulz presented the killing of Bin Laden as a great triumph for America and Barack Obama, using the event to bash Republicans who had repeatedly claimed that Obama was soft on terror, indecisive, and a weak leader. On Fox News, Karl Rove, one of George W. Bush’s close advisors, claimed that it was the “enhanced interrogation” methods of the Bush-Cheney administration which provided the key information which led to capturing Bin Laden, a point that would be fiercely debated in the days to come, as ideologues of the hard right would try to revive the argument that torture is a necessary tool in the “War on Terror,” a position that Barack Obama had distanced himself from. On Fox News, Sean Hannity tried to get Lawrence Wilkinson, Colin Powell’s assistant in the State Department during the Bush-Cheney era, to admit that “enhanced interrogation” procedures (i.e. torture) played the key role in gaining the intelligence that led to Bin Laden’s detection and demise. Wilkinson retorted, however, that there were many intelligence sources, and no one knew yet how decisive information was gained and developed. The next day, CIA chief Leon Panetta was asked the question of whether “enhanced interrogation” was the key to catching Bin Laden, which the entire right wing in the US was pushing in order to legitimate torture as a key element in the “War on Terror,” but Panetta ducked the question and said that there were multiple sources of information. Hence, just as the life of Bin Laden was used to promote certain political agendas, so too was his death an occasion for partisans to promote their own political positions. On May 2, the day after the killing of Bin Laden, my local Los Angeles Times featured a giant headline “US KILLS BIN LADEN,” the largest I have ever seen the Times display, and had pages of articles on the story, certainly the biggest story of the millennium since the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2008 election of Barack Obama, arguably the three great US, and to some extent global, spectacles of the era. Throughout the day of May 2, the US news cable networks continued to follow every twist and turn of the stories concerning how the US intelligence services detected Bin Laden’s hiding place, how the Navy Seals

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invaded the compound and killed Bin Laden, how he was buried at sea, and how the world was receiving the event. Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan held a news conference where he extolled Obama’s decision to send the Seals into Bin Laden’s compound to capture him dead or alive as one of “the gutsiest decisions a president has ever made,” explaining that the options were to drop bombs on the compound without being able to extract Bin Laden’s body or to confirm for certain his death, contrasted to continuing to monitor the compound without doing anything. Even conservative commentators throughout the day repeated that Obama’s decision was “gutsy” and correct. Brennen claimed in his press conference, based on early reports from the Seal commando team and Obama administration, that Osama Bin Laden had used a woman, perhaps his wife, as a “human shield,” and went down fighting, a rifle in his hands. The next day, in a press conference, however, Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney said that further debriefing of the Seals indicated that Bin Laden was unarmed, that his wife had not been used as a human shield, but had tried to rush the Seals standing in front of Bin Laden’s body, and was shot in the leg, but not killed. On May 2, Al Jazeera framed the killing of Bin Laden as elimination of “the world’s most wanted criminal,” and established Bin Laden and al-Qaeda as global criminals and not just enemies of the US with graphs of previous al-Qaeda terror attacks, including Bali in 2002 that took 202 lives; Madrid in 2004, killing 194; and London in 2005, killing 52 people. Another Al Jazeera graph claimed that the US spent over $1.3 trillion to catch Bin Laden, while if one factors in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the costs would dramatically surpass that number.6 Correspondents on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera were on the scene in Abbottabad where Bin Laden had been killed, and there were endless discussions of what happened during the forty-minute mission that killed Bin Laden, of what people in the area knew about the occupants of the compound, and of who and how many people lived in the house. There were endless media dissections of what pictures of objects left in the house revealed about Bin Laden, and of why the Pakistan military didn’t know that Bin Laden was in the compound—or whether they knew, and were supporting and protecting him. While on May 2, there were debates about the disposal of Bin Laden’s body and whether burial at sea followed prescribed Muslim rituals, or was even warranted, on May 3 the topic of the day was whether the picture of the dead Osama Bin Laden should be released. Conspiracy theories and doubts whether Bin Laden was really killed began to circulate on the internet and be discussed on global cable networks, leading to frenzied demands that Bin Laden’s death photos be released. President Obama, and key figures in his inner circle, decisively argued against release of the photos that could be used for propaganda against the US and might lead to reprisals. Interviews with groups of young Pakistani men on Al Jazeera,

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who gathered in droves around the compound where Bin Laden allegedly lived and was killed, almost unanimously claimed that they neither believed that Bin Laden lived in the area, nor that he was dead.7 Videos of the compound were released and there continued to be minute scrutiny of every object, including blood stains throughout the house. A Pakistani soldier who was among the first to occupy the house took pictures of other dead individuals, who were presumably the brothers who rented the compound, including the courier who had been identified some months earlier. These pictures were circulated across Al Jazeera and other global media, although Anderson Cooper on CNN chose not to broadcast the gory pictures. There were also pictures of parts of the US helicopter which had mechanical problems and was blown up during the operation so that enemy forces could not make use of the high-tech aircraft, which was later described as a late-model stealth helicopter. There were also conflicting accounts of whether the US mission had deployed two, three or four helicopters, and different estimates of the number of US Special Forces engaged in the operation from the 20s up to the 40s, as different sources circulated information. Commentators on cable continued to praise Obama for his decisive call to undertake the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, which was now the site of global media frenzy, as the world’s media representatives descended on the quiet Pakistani town where the killing of Bin Laden had taken place. Diligent reporters tracked down every townsperson who would do a television interview concerning what they knew about the occupants of the compound, while the Obama administration and Pakistanis released knowledge of Bin Laden’s compound and its contents. US intelligence analysts were excited by the “treasure trove” of computers, hard drives, and back-up sticks that were found in the house, while CNN commentators focused on a claim that a 500 Euro bill was sewn inside Bin Laden’s clothes along with two telephone numbers, leading Wolf Blitzer on CNN to speculate that Osama had planned his getaway and was ready to flee (the day before, the gullible Blitzer had bought into the initial story and repeated over and over that Osama had used a woman as a human shield, revealing what a coward he was, illustrating Blitzer’s tendency to take as fact any rumor circulated by US intelligence and military sources). Newspapers continued to devote page after page and special sections to the Bin Laden spectacle, with the Tuesday, May 3 New York Times headlining its edition in giant caps “BEHIND THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN”, while the May 3 Los Angeles Times featured a large headline “OBAMA’S GAMBLE,” with a smaller subheading: “Targeting Bin Laden with a missile strike wasn’t enough. The president needed proof he was dead—and a bolder plan.” Op-eds in the Los Angeles Times included conservative Max Boot claiming that there was nothing new about Bin Laden, putting him in a long succession of Middle Eastern terrorists. Yet the always anti-Obama Boot claimed that Bin Laden had actually achieved

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little, a claim that would be hard to defend in the case of the trillions spent to build up the US military and intelligence services after the 9/11 attacks and the trillions spend on wars allegedly to defend the country and western world against al-Qaeda and other terrorists. The Pakistani President wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining that their country was and remains a stalwart supporter in the “War on Terror,”8 and Pakistani officials expressed embarrassment that Bin Laden could have lived undetected so close to their military establishment. Afghanistan and Indian officials stepped up criticism of Pakistan, claiming it was not diligently pursuing terrorists and had been indeed protecting Bin Laden.

The Death of Bin Laden, Terror War, and the Arab Uprisings In the following days, media stories continued to leak details of the commando raid killing of Bin Laden, debates over the legality of the operation, and continued threats by al-Qaeda. Al Jazeera featured on May 4 the embarrassment of the Pakistani military in allowing the world’s number one terrorist to live for years so close to their military installations. Bin Laden’s compound remained a tourist curiosity for locals and a site of great interest for media hordes who continued to descend on the quiet town. Anyone who had anything to say about the occupants of the compound found themselves on global television, although a CNN report on May 4 indicated that most of the young Pakistani men hanging around the compound still did not believe that Bin Laden had lived there, nor that he was killed in the compound, pointing to Middle East skepticism concerning claims by US governments. On May 5, US media focused on President Obama’s visit to Ground Zero and meetings with New York firemen whose comrades had died trying to save lives, and with family members who had died on September 11. Obama was accompanied by Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York during the 9/11 attacks, who people believed acted heroically during the event, although it was not enough to win the Republican presidential primary elections in 2008, as many believed he was not really a Republican (images of Giuliani in drag and kissing Donald Trump did not help his image with the conservative Republican base). George W. Bush was invited to the ceremonies, but declined to come. On the US media, US intelligence operatives who were analyzing the troves of data found in Bin Laden’s compound stories claimed that they had discovered documents which discussed rail attacks in the US on the upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Such selective

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“information” played a card often used by the Bush-Cheney administration, which released data of an alleged upcoming terrorist plot, to rally support to their “War on Terror.” In this case, as questions concerning the legality of the attack and murder of Bin Laden began to intensify, a warning about an upcoming terrorist attack dramatized the evil of the al-Qaeda icon and dampened questions concerning the legality of the killing of Bin Laden on Pakistani territory, and whether it would have been better to have taken him alive, both for the purposes of legality and justice, and gaining any information he might have. More details came out day by day concerning the killing of Bin Laden, and CNN, Al Jazeera, and other networks continued to pursue the story with great intensity. On May 5, CNN reported on release of a more detailed report on Bin Laden’s killing which indicated that there was no “fire fight,” as was originally claimed, but rather a single exchange of gunfire by the Bin Laden associate who lived in the guest house and was the first to be shot; he was believed to be the courier who had allegedly drawn CIA interest to the compound. Then, according to an account on CNN’s Anderson Cooper show, the commando team went up the stairs, encountered a son of Bin Laden who allegedly rushed at the commandos and was shot; and, finally, the team proceeded to the third floor where they encountered Bin Laden, shot and missed, and then shot him twice, apparently killing him. Afterwards, in the CNN/US government story, the commando team assembled as much potential information from the compound as they could carry, taking all computers, hard drives, flash drives, papers, medical prescriptions, and other relevant data, while leaving the women, children, and dead bodies in the compound, calling the Pakistanis, who would be in charge of debriefing this group and who would eventually leak out different versions of the commando raid and killing of Bin Laden. Al Jazeera relayed a story on May 5 from Pakistani intelligence who had custody of three of Bin Laden’s wives, and claimed that one of his wives had said that she and Bin Laden had been living in the compound for five years, without travelling anywhere, raising questions concerning how they could go unnoticed for so long. CNN also indicated on May 5 that the code word for the Bin Laden killing had been renamed from “Operation Geronimo,” which Native Americans found objectionable, to “Operation Neptune Spear,” which hopefully the Greek sea god Neptune would not complain about. There was as well a CNN report, based on a Washington Post story, that the CIA had been maintaining a house in the area for months to monitor comings and goings from Bin Laden’s compound, followed by reports on May 6 that CNN focused on which alleged that Bin Laden had been playing an active role in planning, organizing, and supporting global terrorist attacks over the last decade in which he was apparently hiding in Pakistan. The Death of Bin Laden remained the main focus on CNN and other US cable news operations for days to come. CNN began May 6 with

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reprising reports apparently gleaned from the Bin Laden compound that al-Qaeda was planning terror attacks on US rail transportation facilities on September 11, the anniversary of the terror spectacle that had made Bin Laden a global superstar of terror. Assuming the role of promoting terror and fear had been the signature of CNN and Fox News in particular after 9/11 and for years following. Once again, after the death of Bin Laden, CNN and Fox detailed alleged planned attacks that would, according to information found in the Bin Laden compound, take place in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other US cities. CNN and Fox News thus emerge from my diagnostic critique as conduits for US propaganda in the so-called “War on Terror.” Both had since 9/11 publicized and dramatized every warning concerning possible terrorist attacks, thus creating fear and hysteria and providing a solid base for whatever actions the US government wanted to take. Although Fox News is a mouthpiece for the Republican right and CNN attempts to be middle-of-the-road moderate, both equally promoted hysterical fear of al-Qaeda or Islamic radical terrorist attacks, and both thus were crucial instruments in the US government’s “War on Terror” and building up of a colossal “national security” apparatus since 9/11.9 CNN and Fox also dramatized the web-message sent by al-Qaeda that acknowledged Bin Laden’s death and said that his blood would be avenged with American blood, and that American joy would turn to sorrow. Al Jazeera led as well with this story, but focused on small groups of antiAmerican demonstrators in Pakistan shouting anti-US and pro-Osama slogans; makers of a large, prominently displayed banner “GO America GO” probably did not know that its connotation in the US was rooting for the team to charge ahead and chalk up some more victories—which Team America did, as there were reports throughout the day on US and global cable networks of US drone strikes in Yemen that were reportedly aimed at the head of al-Qaeda Yemen, an American-born radical Anwar al-Awlaki. Al Jazeera featured segments on May 6 showing Pakistani generals defending themselves against criticisms that they were either complicit with Bin Laden or incompetent in allowing him to live and function so close to their own military enclaves. The Doha network presented Pakistani generals who were threatening to redefine their relation with the US for the violations of their national sovereignty and humiliation over the snatching of Bin Laden from under their noses. But Al Jazeera also featured an interview with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), head of the US Arms Services Committee, who said that the US was rethinking their $2 billion-plus yearly foreign aid packages to Pakistan, and would probably cut back on aid that went to the Pakistani military. Most of the Al Jazeera coverage, however, focused on the Arab Awakening. Every Friday, since the beginning of the Arab Uprising in February, 2011, after formal Muslim prayers, there have been massive

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demonstrations against the government by individuals in, first, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, leading to the overthrow of dictators in the first two uprisings and a civil war in Libya, apparently won by the anti-Qaddafi forces (see Chapter 3). Soon after, during the Arab Spring, uprisings emerged in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and other countries, still ongoing as I write in Summer 2012. Al Jazeera was the voice of these uprisings, presenting daily reports from countries where their crews were allowed to enter, and using YouTube videos, telephone interviews, and discussions with individuals connected to the various movements where they were not able to go to cover events live, as in Syria. The Al Jazeera English website collected these reports and added articles by scholars and activists from the entire world. Many commentators believed that the North African and Middle East Arab Uprisings had dealt a lethal blow to al-Qaeda, subverting its narrative and politics of hate and violence with the politics of democracy, freedom, human rights, and dignity.10 Starting off with non-violent protests, opposition forces in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and other states were fired on by the state; the murdered protestors were then proclaimed martyrs as pro-democracy groups demonstrated at their funerals, carried banners memorializing the murdered martyrs in protest marches, and set up in some cases websites to commemorate them. When demonstrations reached a critical mass, as in Tunisia and Egypt, the dictators abdicated, and in the Tunisian case fled, while the anti-Qaddafi uprisings had split Libya in two, leading to a civil war that would go on into the fall of 2011 until Qaddafi was killed, as I discussed in the last chapter. As I now write in 2012, sustained demonstrations in Yemen and Syria continue to challenge the repressive regimes in these states with demonstrators continuing to demand freedom and democracy despite intense state repression (see the updated discussion in Chapter 5). In this context, al-Qaeda calls to take guns and explosives and kill Americans must fall deaf on the ears of the pro-democracy movements in the Arab Uprisings who are focused on their local oppressors and struggling for their own liberation. The enemies of the Arab Uprisings are Mubarak, Qaddafi, Salah, Bashar al-Assad, the Bahraini monarchy, and their thug regimes and not Americans, who supported the movement to get rid of Mubarak and were part of a coalition fighting to overthrow Qaddafi. Militants in the Arab Awakening, as Al Jazeera calls it, insist that they have nothing to do with al-Qaeda and are often contemptuous of these violent Jihadi terrorists. The movements of the Arab Awakening are grass-roots, inclusive, open, and democratic, uniting young and old, religious and secular, men and women. Al-Qaeda, by contrast, is centralized, exclusive, secret, patriarchal, and violent. It is governed by a reprehensible ideology that merges political Islam with indiscriminate murder, and Jihad with terrorism. Such an interpretation of Islam is abhorrent to genuine Muslims, secularists,

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and members of other religions, and can only appeal to excessively angry and violent men and some women. The anger of the Arab Uprisings is, by contrast, directed against specific individuals and regimes which are seen as systems of oppression that need to be overthrown by a mass movement of the people. For over a decade, Al Jazeera has supported all democratic movements within the Arab world and has presented al-Qaeda terrorism negatively, showing and discussing its indiscriminate attacks of terror throughout the Arab and Muslim world, making al-Qaeda the shame of the region. Al Jazeera thus emerges as the voice and conscience of the Arab Uprising, while CNN, Fox News, and other US networks have become, especially since the killing of Bin Laden, propaganda vehicles for American counterintelligence and military actions. Just as these US TV news networks served as propaganda vehicles for the Bush-Cheney administration after 9/11 and into the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, so too were they again entering the war/ propaganda mode, promoting American military and intelligence operations, continuing to generate fear and hatred of al-Qaeda and terrorism, and acting as propaganda services for the Obama administration.11 Hence, on May 5 CNN spent half of the day following President Obama in meeting 9/11 firefighters, and with families of the 9/11 victims who had died at Ground Zero. On May 6 CNN highlighted Obama addressing troops at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and meeting in private with the Plan 6 commandos who had carried out the raid and killing of Bin Laden. CNN was again the “military network,” profiling the Navy Seals and their commander, Admiral McRaven, who had been involved in the killing of Bin Laden and whose job was supposedly top secret. Segments dealt with struggles of families with troops in Afghanistan and interviews with troops who had served in Afghanistan, who stated on camera that the killing of Bin Laden gave meaning to their actions and to the deaths of their comrades. The weekend of May 7–8, Fox News was beginning to revert to its antiObama mode, taking its usual verbal potshots at him, but other networks were continuing the positive coverage that had ruled since the killing of Bin Laden and continued to gush torrents of praise for Obama’s “gutsy” decision. Exceptions were an interview on Piers Morgan’s CNN show with Michael Moore, who thought that the execution of Bin Laden was un-American and that it would have been preferable to see Bin Laden face the rule of law and prove that Americans were different from al-Qaeda beasts. Also, Russian television (RT), which advertizes itself in promotion blurbs as “Anti-American!”, dissected the changes in the Obama administration’s accounts of what actually happened in the Bin Laden killing, first described as a “fire fight” where Bin Laden went down shooting, and then finally as an assault on the compound where only the guard in the guardhouse actually exchanged fire with the commandos. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), running again as candidate for the Republican party nomination

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as a libertarian, joked on RT that all of the inconsistencies in the Obama administration’s account of Bin Laden’s death made it easy to construct conspiracy theories. Indeed, RT interviewed people from around the world who claimed that Bin Laden had been dead for years, that Bin Laden was an American agent and was still alive, and many other off-the-wall speculations, demonstrating how surreal the media spectacle around Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the “War on Terror” had become in the global arena. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda had constituted a media spectacle which legitimated the US “War on Terror” while the spectacle of US forces attacking Muslim countries legitimated al-Qaeda and Jihadist discourses, thus linking the two sides via media spectacle. With the death of Bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s future was uncertain, but Fox News and CNN, a right-wing blogosphere, and myriad media voices hysterized by fear of terrorism kept al-Qaeda alive and the “War on Terror” a hot-button issue. On May 7, Al Jazeera, CNN, and other global media networks focused on the Pentagon’s release of five videos of Bin Laden speaking, but without audio, which they chose to exclude. One of the videos showed an old, frail, grey-bearded Bin Laden looking at videos of himself with black hair (allegedly dyed), interpreted as demonstrating Bin Laden’s vanity and selfconscious construction of his media image. Peter Bergen, author of The Osama Bin Laden I Know. An Oral History of al-Qaeda’s Leader, and CNN terrorism consultant, recounted that Bin Laden had once said that media message and images are 90 per cent of the operation.12 Indeed, Bin Laden and al-Qaeda had become masters of the spectacle of terror, gaining global media attention to their every action and message. Al-Qaeda was a global television and internet operation, and the question now was how could the al-Qaeda spectacle continue without Bin Laden as the leader to which its members vowed obedience and loyalty, and who was allegedly its mastermind and figurehead, and certainly its major spokesperson? Egyptian terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri was Bin Laden’s heir apparent and, according to Peter Bergen, was declared the leader after Bin Laden according to al-Qaeda’s “constitution.” Fox and CNN speculated endlessly about al-Zawahiri, the 59-year-old former physician who was Bin Laden’s closest associate still at large. Fox and CNN articulated the message, perhaps constructed in part by anti-terrorism propagandists, that al-Zawahiri was arrogant, irascible, without charisma, alienated from other key terrorist leaders, and would not be an effective media presence or leader for al-Qaeda. Pundits speculated throughout the weekend on splits in al-Qaeda between Libyan, Algerian, Egyptian, and Saudi factions within the leadership core of al-Qaeda, and how it is now likely to fragment permanently—and yet continued to pose threats. CNN replayed a 2006 documentary “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden,” based on Peter Bergen’s book, which detailed the steps by which a shy teenager, one of fifty sons of one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia, became the world’s

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most notorious terrorist. The steps showed Osama Bin Laden becoming involved in the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, returning to Saudi Arabia, forming a group in 1988 to overcome infighting between different militant groups engaged on the margins of the war against the Soviet army in Afghanistan, and leading a ragtag Jihadist army to a disastrous battle near Jalalabad, Afghanistan that killed over 300 of its militants, which temporarily created a bad reputation for Bin Laden among Jihadists as a poor military tactician. The documentary recounted how Bin Laden formed al-Qaeda, along with al-Zawahiri, and recounted their 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, followed by an attack on the USS Cole docking in Yemen in 2000, and culminating in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. CNN’s replay of the documentary firmly created a message that al-Qaeda was a mortal enemy of the US and must be exterminated at all costs. On the weekend of May 7–8, debates continued about what the five Bin Laden videos released by the Pentagon reveal about Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Fox News touted the intelligence coup of material from the Bin Laden compound in extravagant terms: “DOD Evidence from Raid Biggest Data Collection Ever,” and other networks also quoted Obama administration officials claiming that the material seized from Bin Laden’s compound was one of the greatest intelligence treasure-house ever seized, and certainly one of the best information sources ever accumulated on al-Qaeda. To the US media, the five videos picturing a very grey-bearded and gaunt Bin Laden sitting on the floor with a blanket over his body and watching one video of himself and pieces from US news reports over and over demonstrated that Bin Laden was old, vain (dying his hair and beard black for his media appearances), and rather pathetic, although someone interested in current events and perhaps involved in operational details of al-Qaeda attacks. A former US Bush-Cheney administration security employee, Helen Mary Leveret, claimed on Al Jazeera, however, that while Western and especially American audiences might read the videos as evidence that Bin Laden was old, weak, vain, and pathetic, Muslim audiences might see the images of old greybeard Bin Laden as humble, dedicated to the cause, working hard to promote it, and thus an icon and model for Jihadists. Ms Leveret also made the good point that the Obama administration faced the challenge of addressing at once two audiences, the domestic audience in the United States and broader global audiences, especially in the Muslim world. On a 60 Minutes interview with Barack Obama, the US President indeed shifted his discourse from American audiences who exulted in the death of Bin Laden, to wider issues of global security and the need to work productively with Pakistan and other Muslim countries in the fight against Islamic extremism and terrorism. For the first time I recall, Obama’s face was twitching throughout the highly serious and long interview, disclosing the gravity of the issue and how his presidency now rested to some extent on

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how the “War on Terrorism” played out on a vast global canvas stretching from Afghanistan throughout the Middle East, and encompassing the United States, NATO, and other countries, which had also been targets of al-Qaeda terrorism. The Pakistan ambassador Husain Haqqani, appearing on ABC’s This Week, tried his best to assure the world that Pakistan was fully committed to fighting terrorism, but also that many in Pakistan saw the Bin Laden raid as a violation of its sovereignty, concluding: “America has a selling job to do in Pakistan.” On the Fox News network, both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld appeared to claim that it was their administration’s use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” methods that had been the keys to nabbing Bin Laden, with Cheney worrying that the Obama administration’s decision not to use torture as a method of interrogation deprived the US of “a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available.”13 In weeks to come, there continued to be stories providing information, often recycled, concerning Bin Laden’s death, developments within al-Qaeda, possible terrorist threats to the US, and terrorist activities in Pakistan and elsewhere. For instance, on May 14, both CNN and Al Jazeera reported on accusations of Pakistani generals that US Imans and others in Florida were sending money to support the Pakistan Taliban, which would emerge on TV networks in the following days as a major radical force.14 On May 14, major global networks reported on the Pakistan Taliban claiming credit for twin suicide bombings that killed at least eighty Pakistani government paramilitary recruits in northwest Pakistan. The recruits had just finished a six-month training program and were boarding vans and buses outside of the training center for a ten-day leave when two suicide bombers attacked in succession; soon after, the Pakistan Taliban called the killings retaliation for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, an action intended to increase tensions between the US and Pakistan. The global networks reported on May 16 of an assassination of a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan by two men on motorcyles who intercepted his vehicle as he left home and shot him to death, with the Pakistani Taliban claiming credit for this killing as well. On May 18, Al Jazeera reported a Taliban attack on a police station in Pakistan, and had a long segment with footage interviewing members of the Pakistan Taliban who claimed that they would carry out a series of revenge killings to avenge the killing of Osama Bin Laden, including Pakistan government officials, the CIA, and Americans. Videos showed a group of men with guns and motorcycles, with the main spokesperson, who warned of a new round of revenge killings shown, brandishing his guns and pointing to guns and ammunition taken from the Pakistan military. Meanwhile, CNN was continuing to focus on Bin Laden, with a May 17 episode on “Bin Laden in the Loop,” which recycled information gathered from Bin Laden’s compound that indicated he was in touch with

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Yemen, Saudi, and other al-Qaeda groups. There was also a report that al-Qaeda had a new interim leader, Egyptian Saif al Edel, who an Al Jazeera commentator claimed was part of a group which had earlier attempted to assassinate now-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and who was highly respected in al-Qaeda circles. Tensions between Pakistan and the US continued to simmer, with reports of a border clash on May 17 between NATO and Pakistan forces. On May 18, CNN broadcast a segment “What Pakistan knew about Bin Laden,” featuring an interview with Congressman Peter King (R-NY), who had held highly controversial hearings on threats from Muslim terrorist groups in the US and planned to hold hearings the following week on the killing of Bin Laden. The Pentagon, however, was sending out a different message as CNN presented a press conference with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General Mike Mullen, with Gates saying that there was no direct evidence of Pakistan military support of Bin Laden, and Mullen urging people within the government and military to “stop talking,” claiming loose lips of current and former military officials concerning US covert actions was compromising US counter-intelligence and covert actions. Al Jazeera featured a May 18 segment on the Federation of American Scientists who had released a report claiming that Pakistan is rapidly developing its nuclear arms program, planning to extend its number of nuclear weapons from around 100 nuclear bombs at present to 200 in 2021, during a period when the UK, the US, Russia, and other countries were allegedly cutting their numbers of nuclear warheads. In addition that day, al-Qaeda released an audio speech that Bin Laden purportedly recorded and global cable news played excerpts from the twelve-minute speech. Bin Laden opened by acknowledging the Arab Uprising, orating in his tweedy soft voice: “The sun of the revolution has risen from the Maghreb [western region of North Africa]. The light of the revolution came from Tunisia. It has given the nation tranquility and made the faces of the people happy.” Bin Laden congratulated the Muslim nation for “this great historic event,” perhaps unaware that young secular Arabs and women had been a major force of the uprising. Believing that “the winds of change will envelope the entire Muslim world,” Bin Laden concluded with advice “To those free rebels in all the countries—retain the initiative and be careful of dialogue. No meeting midway between the people of truth and those of deviation.”

Obama, Israel, and Avenging Bin Laden Bin Laden’s strictures against democratic dialogue and compromise fell on many deaf ears in the countries in North Africa and the Middle East struggling for democratic rights and freedom through dialogue and compromise,

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and there was little commentary on Bin Laden’s outmoded and sinister message. Indeed, the major focus on May 29 was on the upcoming speech on the Middle East by Barack Obama, which was billed as “Cairo 2,” referring to his 2009 speech at Cairo University where Obama raised a clarion call for democracy and human rights in the region. After the intensity of the Arab Spring, Obama’s sweeping and professorial speech to the State Department on May 20 was coolly received in the region, with the exception of Israel which bluntly rejected Obama’s proposal to ignite peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians working toward a two-state solution. Under pressure from key allies to clarify his positions on the complex issues in the Middle East and North Africa in the midst of an Arab Uprising, Obama began by referring to the democratic struggles in the region: “For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change take place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square; town by town; country by country; the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith.” Engaging the change sweeping through the region, Obama acknowledged that the US too was changing its policies “in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security. Already, we have done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we have removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al-Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader—Osama Bin Laden.” Eliciting ways that sparks of change initiated popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Obama connected these struggles with the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution, and with Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement in the US. Positioning the US and the Arab Uprisings against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, Obama insisted that “Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate—an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy—not what he could build.” Acknowledging that “Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents,” Obama claimed that even before Bin Laden’s death, al-Qaeda was losing momentum and relevance, “as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found Bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s agenda had come

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to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.” Obama then noted that the US would continue to pursue its interests in the region, but would also respond to people’s hopes for freer and democratic societies. Renouncing violent responses by oppressive regimes to the democratic uprisings in the region, and singling out Qaddafi and Libya as regimes that had used overwhelming force against its own people, Obama also called upon Syria to renounce force in dealing with demands for change and to Bahrain not to respond to reform with brute force. Obama promised new US aid to nations that embrace democracy, condemned attacks on peaceful demonstrators, and also made a strong pitch for an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative based on permanent and secure borders for two states. Saying that “strategies of repression and diversion won’t work any more” as “shouts of human dignity” are heard from Yemen and Syria to Libya, Obama declared that the agenda of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda has been pushed aside by a popular quest for democracy, individual rights, and human dignity, declaring: “Through the moral force of non-violence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.” Pitching his remarks toward the younger generation, Obama noted how the struggles of the Arab Awakening had used new technologies and “social networks [which] allow young people to connect and organize like never before. A new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.” Al Jazeera, CNN, and BBC played excerpts from the speech and commentators, especially from Middle Eastern countries, had tepid reactions to Obama’s talk, while acknowledging it was a bold move to suggest that Israel and Palestine use the 1967 borders as a starting place to negotiate a two-state solution. Israel, however, immediately fired back with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the 1967 borders are “indefensible,” and in the US members of the Israel lobby and the Republican party, angling for Jewish votes, savaged Obama’s speech as endangering Israel. The next day, global cable news network focus was on the meeting between Obama and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu. After they held a three-hour private talk they appeared together in a press conference in the Oval Office. Sitting next to each other, Netanyahu relentlessly hectored Obama, repeating the previous day’s rejection of starting with 1967 as “indefensible” and against “facts on the ground.” Lecturing Obama, Netanyahu summarized all the ways that Israel rejected his proposal, at one time looking at Obama fiercely with steely eyes and with Obama giving him a steely look back. As Netanyahu continued lecturing Obama, the US President crunched down in his seat like a student getting bullied by a nasty teacher, dug his hand into his chin and grimly looked intently at his Israeli

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antagonist. At one point, Netanyahu exploded “that’s just not going to happen!,” repeating the phrase twice more, making it clear that the US had no negotiating partner with Israel, and that it was highly unlikely that the US would be able to barter peace deals with the Israelis as Presidents Carter and Clinton had tried to do. Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on May 20 glossed over the intensity of the differences between Israel and the US, although in Israel major newspapers led with the story “CONFRONTATION” and reportedly Israelis were upset about the bullying and rigidity that Netanyahu put on display.15 Republicans continued to try to exploit the rupture between the US and Israel, blaming Obama, with CNN displaying a graphic under its coverage reading “GOP contends that Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.” But Blizter’s major focus once again was Bin Laden and terrorism, reporting on an attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a convoy of vehicles that supposedly had US embassy personnel, killing a bystander and wounding two Americans; the Pakistan Taliban claimed that the attack was yet another act of revenge for Bin Laden’s killing. Blitzer had a long segment on Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and what the evidence taken from his compound revealed about future al-Qaeda attacks, recycling information already reported several times, including emphasis on how there were al-Qaeda plans to attack US energy production sites like oil and natural gas centers. The segment concluded with Blitzer’s guest Republican House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers noting that the documents found in the Abbottabad compound indicate that Bin Laden’s command to his followers was to “attack America first.” On the same show, Blitzer showed Obama speaking to a group of CIA operatives, declaring “we’re going to finish the job… We’re going to defeat al-Qaeda,” signaling that Terror War was not over. In what were almost daily reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan on Bin Laden revenge killings, the global cable news networks all reported on a bomb attack on a NATO fuel tanker, followed by an explosion that killed at least sixteen Pakistanis, who were trying to extract oil illegally from the truck. In a separate attack, sixteen oil tankers were damaged when a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a town near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Both attacks were claimed by the Pakistan Taliban, who again said that they were avenging the killing of Bin Laden. Over the weekend of May 21–22, the Netanyahu-Obama spat dominated talk shows and weekend news, and Obama made a speech on Sunday to the rabidly pro-Israel lobby group APAC, while Netanyahu prepared for a speech to Congress on Monday, at the invitation of the Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner. Both Obama and Netanyahu got positive receptions as they sold their particular versions of how to attain peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, with both strongly affirming the

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US-Israeli bonds. Netanyahu’s speech to the US House of Representatives was broadcast live on CNN on May 23, and he received a tumultuous reception from the strongly pro-Israel US Congress. Al Jazeera, however, showed that Netanyahu’s speech, tiff with Obama, and rigid and aggressive constraints on an Israel-Palestine peace process was not received well throughout the world, providing Hamas with an occasion to insist that it was impossible to negotiate with Netanyahu and that the Palestinians should forget about the peace process and proceed with a UN declaration in September to establish Palestinian statehood. Much of the rest of the week of May 23, CNN focused almost exclusively on the consequences of the terrible tornadoes that had ripped through the Midwest and continued wreaking havoc throughout the week, killing scores and producing billions of dollars of damage. While CNN presented hour after hour of Scenes from the Devastation, with Joplin, Missouri and towns throughout the hurricane region looking like Japan after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, I did not see any discussions on US cable networks of extreme weather and climate change, a topic that seemed taboo on American media. Thus for some time Spectacles of Horror in Tornado Alley replaced CNN’s focus on Bin Laden and Spectacles of Terror, a refocus undertaken as well by much of the other US corporate news media. BBC, by contrast, was dominated by Obama’s visit to the UK, the reception of the Obamas by the British Royals, Obama’s speech in Westminster Abbey, and a dinner that the Obamas organized for the King and Queen at the US Ambassador’s residence on May 26, possibly a way to get back at the Royals for not inviting the US President to the Royal Wedding that had been the global spectacle of the day some weeks earlier. In the context of the media spectacle around the Obamas’ every move and utterance in the UK, it was clear that the Royals had appropriately judged that the Obamas would trump the Royal Wedding spectacle, or at least distract attention from the utterly obsolete and ridiculous institution of Monarchy that Royal Weddings attempt to shore up. There were meetings between Obama and his foreign policy team and Tory leader David Cameron, with Cameron appearing to agree with Obama on how to begin talks on the Israel-Palestine situation, and with Cameron pushing Obama to provide more military hardware and support to the effort to overthrow the Qaddafi regime in Libya, and Obama wanting Cameron to keep British NATO forces in Afghanistan until the US itself began pulling out of the ten-year quagmire that continued to generate more Jihadists and enemies of the US and the West. The hard political bargaining was softened by spectacles of Obama and Cameron playing ping-pong and flipping burgers served to US and British Afghanistan troops, as if a burger from the boss would compensate for the horrors of military service in Afghanistan.

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While CNN centered on spectacles of tornado mayhem, and BCC focus on the Obama and Royal spectacle of the “special relationship” bumped up to the “essential relationship” for the Obama visit to the UK, Al Jazeera kept its eye on the Arab Uprisings, but also the spectacles of terror throughout the Middle East. During May, uprisings were harshly put down in Yemen and Syria by state power, as Yemen appeared to explode into civil war the week of May 23, when President Saleh refused a series of negotiated promises to step down and stubbornly held onto power, plunging his country into the horror of violence and war. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, in May 2011 there were almost daily suicide bombings and paroxysms of violence. Al Jazeera was closely monitoring the revenge killings by the Pakistan Taliban for the killing of Bin Laden. In the most spectacular of the Bin Laden vengeance attacks, a group of Pakistan Taliban on May 23 infiltrated a naval military base outside Karachi and destroyed two American-provided surveillance planes and fought a gunfire battle with Pakistani forces, killing at least ten security officers in a gun battle that lasted for hours. The next day, Al Jazeera reported how Pakistan Taliban militants had rammed a car packed with explosives into a police station in the town of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, killing two policemen and wounding nineteen people. For several days, Al Jazeera focused on the Bin Laden revenge attacks in Pakistan with graphics describing the specific terrorist assaults, targets, and damage. Commentators remarked on the strain in US-Pakistan relations, the embarrassment for the Pakistani military, and worries whether Pakistan could keep its nuclear bomb arsenal out of the hands of militants. On May 25, both BBC and Al Jazeera reported on strains in US-Pakistan relations, citing Pakistanis who noted growing anti-American sentiments in the country, blaming their troubles on their alliance with the US that had seemed to unleash torrents of violence in the country, especially after the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The same day, CNN reported that the US was reducing its forces in Pakistan, but remained committed to going after key al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in the country.

Spectacles of Violence and State Repression in the Middle East, the Capture of Ratko Mladic, and the CNN/Fox Spectacle of Terror Yet on May 26, the capture of Ratko Mladic, the greatest war criminal at large in the West, dominated global cable news channels. Early in the day, Al Jazeera began posting claims that Mladic had been arrested in Serbia

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and presented many features on his crimes, rehearsing spectacles of horrors in the 1990s. Mladic, a powerful Bosnian Serb general, was accused of ethnic cleansing, butchering an estimated 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in July 1995, an atrocity taken as a symbol of the brutality of the 1992–5 Bosnian War. The city had been declared a safe haven by the UN under the protection of Dutch troops, and newsreel images showed Mladic patting Muslim boys on the head and assuring them they were safe, just before his troops rounded up thousands and brutally slaughtered them. Mladic was also accused of the bombardment of citizens in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital relentlessly attacked by Bosnian Serb artillery, bombs, and other munitions throughout the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, a spectacle of horror shown day after day on global cable news channels of the era. Indeed, the almost daily siege of the bombardment of Sarajevo was one of the longest in modern warfare, and killed approximately 10,000 people, including an estimated 1,500 children. Mladic was accused of perpetrating an especially heinous form of warfare whereby a heavily armed military unleashed artillery and sniper fire on civilians, and allegedly also used rape as a political weapon.16 The daily bombardment and reports of the horrors of war in Bosnia was one of the cauldrons that generated the concept of liberal humanitarian interventionism. The daily images of horrific murder of civilians by the Bosnian Serb forces, culminating in the slaughter of thousands in Srebrenica, inspired the UN, NATO, and the Clinton administration to eventually intervene against the Bosnian Serb regime.17 Mladic and Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic were charged by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in November 16, 1995, and Karadzic was caught and arrested in July 2008 and is now in The Hague on trial for genocide for the war crimes he had committed in the Bosnian War. Mladic had escaped capture for sixteen years, although he often surfaced in public during this period, and was believed to have protection from forces in the Bosnian Serb military. It was indeed fitting that the last of the Balkan wars’ major war criminals was captured during a period in which the liberal humanitarian doctrine of intervention to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity to protect civilians was in full bloom. It was the images and reports of Mladic’s crimes against humanity which had shamed Europe and eventually the US to support intervention to attack war criminals and protect civilians against war crimes and genocide, as the Clinton administration did in Kosovo, followed by the International Criminal Court indicting Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 for his participation in ethnic cleansing and war crimes in the region, and who died during his trial in 2008. Al Jazeera broadcast live on May 26 the announcement by Serbian President Boris Tadic that Mladic had been arrested and within days would be taken to The Hague, where he had already been indicted for war crimes

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in the International Criminal Court. The event was seen as another example of liberal humanitarian justice, punishing individuals for crimes against humanity. The arrest was said to be precipitated by Serbia’s desire to join the EU and Holland’s insistence that Serbia could not join until Mladic was brought to justice. A few images of the brutal general in custody of Serbian law enforcement showed a hunched old man, said to be in bad health. It was probable that Mladic had been under the protection of sectors of the Bosnian Serb military, perhaps retired, as Bin Laden was suspected to be under the protection of Pakistani intelligence or military authorities— although an Al Jazeera correspondent said later that it is possible that Mladic was arrested by chance. The same day, global media reported that Hillary Clinton had flown to Pakistan to try to repair damaged relations with Pakistan. Although the Pakistanis had returned to the Americans the damaged helicopter that crashed in the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was found, and had promised the US access to the compound to search for any clues concerning the activities of Bin Laden or al-Qaeda, Pakistan also asked the US to cut its troops in Pakistan in half and was reportedly closing three military intelligence centers which were claimed to be important for tracking and halting militant and terrorist activity in the country.18 CNN returned on May 27 for the first time in days to Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, after immersing itself almost totally in the horrors of a series of tornadoes that had torn through the middle of the United States, killing hundreds. A segment indicated that documents found in Bin Laden’s compound indicated an interest in making a deal with Pakistan, promising that al-Qaeda would not kill anyone on its soil if Pakistan would allow senior al-Qaeda operatives to live in the country. Commentator Peter Bergen stressed, however, that this report just indicated a plan or concept sketched out by Bin Laden, and did not provide evidence that Pakistan had actually made a deal with Bin Laden. By May 27, it was clear that Hillary Clinton and her team visiting Pakistan could not persuade the government to continue the current US military and intelligence operations in the country, with reports on Al Jazeera that Pakistan had rejected the appeal by the US and insisted that they would conduct a full review of US military operations in the country and would proceed from there to determine their military relations with the US. CNN included in its May 30 Memorial Day coverage a segment “Return to Bin Laden’s Compound,” which showed sullen Pakistani police keeping away reporters from the compound and an angry shopkeeper saying that the US was the world’s worst terrorist. A CNN correspondent, however, found children from the area who claimed to have played with the Bin Laden children and to have been in the compound. The correspondent claimed that when the children saw the wives, who spoke poor Pashtun,

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they were led to conclude that the inhabitants of the compound were Arabs; moreover, the correspondent said that the children interviewed claimed that they had never seen Bin Laden and were told the children’s father was Bin Laden’s faithful courier who had reportedly attracted the CIA to the compound.19 On May 31, global cable channels focused on the extradition of Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic from Belgrade to The Hague, where he would received a medical examination and be prepared for trial. At the same time in New York, IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) was taken from a plane and arrested on charges of rape. He was immediately subjected to trial by media spectacle, as his mugshots were globally circulated as he was perp-walked in handcuffs to his arraignment, and appeared before the judge, unshaven and exhausted, appearing guilty with downcast eyes and a grim countenance. After the spectacle of his arraignment, DSK was taken to the notorious Rikers prison, a prison reserved for hard cases and lowlifes. France, which does not allow pictures of suspects being arrested, with handcuffs, or perp-walked in front of the media, was horrified by the media spectacle of an apparent trial by media of DSK, one of the most powerful men in France who many thought would win the next presidential election. Indeed, sordid details of his encounter with a hotel maid and her accusations were leaked to the media, more or less finding the powerful head of the IMF and projected future President of France as guilty as the criminals on Law and Order.20 By contrast, only seconds of one brief clip of Mladic being carefully escorted to a bureaucratic site in Serbia for interrogation and medical examination appeared in the global media presentation of the Bosnian Serb war criminal, along with one snapshot of a tired old man. On May 31, Mladic was allowed to visit the grave of his daughter, who had committed suicide with her father’s favorite gun when she heard of his wartime behavior (although Al Jazeera pointed out that Mladic continued to claim she was murdered). Mladic then had a discreet meeting with his wife and son, with no images released. His transport to the airport to be flown to the Netherlands was also by a convoy of SUVs with blacked-out windows, similar cars being used to convey him from a helicopter to The Hague detention center for his trial. If the visual images and spectacle of Ratko Mladic’s arrest, interrogation, and examination in Serbia, and transport to The Hague did not themselves present damning images that would prejudice juries or public opinion in the court of law, global television networks roundly condemned Mladic. A BBC Newsnight episode played over the weekend of May 28–29 demonstrated with visual images, narrative commentary, Mladic’s own words, and expert testimony that the general was apparently guilty of the worst crimes against humanity imaginable. Newsnight narrated how Mladic was in charge of the siege of Sarajevo which over a four-year period killed as

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many as 12,000 citizens of the town. Pictures of the bombardment of the city were shown and a tape presumably of Mladic’s own words was played stating: “Shoot the presidency and the parliament. Shoot at slow intervals until I tell you to stop. Target Muslim neighborhoods, not many Serbs live there.” Footage was shown of Muslims being rounded up and beaten by Mladic’s troops at Srebrenica in July 1995, supplemented by video of dead bodies and mass graves. A Muslim survivor described how he and other men were separated from wives and daughters, how the men were taken to camps and massacred, and how the women were raped. Footage from earlier trials were used to condemn Mladic, and British authorities like Lord Owen gravely intoned the seriousness of his crimes and the heinousness of the person. CNN, Al Jazeera, and other global networks had similar contextualizations and framings of the arrest of Ratko Mladic, his crimes in the Bosnian Serb War, and his transport to The Hague. Yet Al Jazeera had also daily clips from Mladic’s son who claimed he was not medically fit for a trial, could not defend himself because of a failing memory, and was innocent of the charges (other networks portrayed these daily press briefings as well). In any case, the framing of the case of the arrest and trial of Ratko Mladic raises difficult questions for both the news media and the justice system. On one hand, should a global television network attempt to be “fair and balanced” if an individual is clearly guilty of serious crimes, as Ratko Mladic appeared to be? Further, should they give a daily global platform to someone like Mladic’s son who appeared to be telling daily lies, spin, and make legal interventions to try to block his father’s extradition to The Hague? Hence, not only are there dilemmas of liberal humanitarian war, as were experienced daily in Libya, but also dilemmas of liberal humanitarian justice concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity, and how the media was to process and present these issues. CNN predictably spent more time on new allegations concerning charges in US military courts against Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), said to be the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, and five other alleged terrorists held in Guantanamo. Ironically, the Obama administration had wanted to hold civilian trials for these high-level terrorist suspects, but was overruled by a military tribunal, and Al Jazeera tried to explain the Byzantine legal machinations without much success. However, the graphics under the Al Jazeera report noted “KSM water-boarded 183 times,” reminding the world of one of the low points of Bush-Cheney “War on Terror” “enhanced interrogation procedures,” while another Al Jazeera graphic read “KSM caught in Pakistan in 2008,” reminding viewers that it was Pakistan which had captured major al-Qaeda terrorists. Al Jazeera also had interesting reports indicating that the US would consider a high-level cyberattack an “act of war” and would respond accordingly. Yet another segment recounted that the US had authorized

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military intelligence operatives to spread positive messages about the US in cyberchat rooms around the world, deployed what were called “sock puppets” to convey US propaganda, or as US intelligence specialists preferred to put it, “counter-terrorism response to extremist ideology outside the United States” (indicating that such sock puppets would not be allowed in US chat rooms). On June 1, global cable networks led off with reports that Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic would be arraigned in the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Friday to begin his trial. Al Jazeera played live a press conference by the chief prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal, who stressed that while Mladic’s trial was of great significance in bringing justice to the Balkans, there were also thousands of other crimes in the region that needed justice, pointing to an almost infinite task for liberal humanitarian prosecutors who wished to bring justice to war criminals and punish human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor affirmed that Mladic was fit for trial, and that the tribunal had learned lessons from the past, in which war crime trials dragged on for years, and would expedite the process. Al Jazeera interviewed the Serbian Ambassador to The Hague, Miranda Kamisalic, who had met Mladic upon his arrival in The Hague and was present during consultation with Hague officials, planning his arraignment. She said that Mladic appeared in good health, was extremely chatty and interested in all details of the forthcoming trial and concerning who the people were who were carrying out the procedure. When asked by the Al Jazeera anchor whether the trial would help bring reconciliation or open old wounds, Kamisalic hesitated, saying that as a Sarajevoan she was emotional when she first met Mladic, who was responsible for bombarding her city for four years and killing thousands. Yet she concluded that Serbia’s handing over Mladic and the upcoming trial was an important milestone for justice that could help reconciliation. On June 3, Al Jazeera followed Mladic’s caravan from the Hague detention center to the court and a televised appearance. Mladic first tried to convince the judge that he was “gravely ill,” and indeed juxtaposition of the images of the burly and cocky general and the shrunken, aging alleged war criminal was striking. Still arrogant, Mladic refused to hear the charges, and after the Judge Alphons Orie slowly and meticulously read from a list of eleven war crimes that he was charged with, Mladic responded that the charges were “obnoxious” and “monstrous,” and that he would need more time to respond. Still defiant and narcissistic, at one point the accused straightened himself and told the court, “I am here defending my country and my people, not Ratko Mladic,” and Judge Orie responded: “I would like to remind you that you are charged as an individual.” Mladic asked for more time to enter a plea, and the judge agreed, ordering him to appear in court again on July 4.

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Al Jazeera showed interviews with some families of Muslim victims, some of whom were pleased that justice could be attained at last, while others could not understand how such a criminal could be treated with such respect, be called “Mr,” and receive such rights. Inevitably, many articles by major intellectuals all over the world began appearing on the Mladic trial. Historian Timothy Garton Ash penned an article “Justice for monsters,”21 putting the trial in the context of a resurrection of the sense of collective and individual responsibility for crimes against humanity promoted in the Nuremberg trials against Germany for war crimes in World War II. While fervor for such events waned during the post-war era, quests for collective justice were reinvigorated in the 1970s through truth commissions, opening archives to uncover crimes against humanity, judicial investigations, and a variety of domestic and international trials throughout the world. Answering standard criticisms of the International Criminal Court, Ash conceded that there are dangers of double standards, and that prosecutors need to be careful who and how they prosecute specific war criminals. Crucially, Ash argued, the United States needs to join the ICC if the institution is to grow in credibility and force, and if the US wants to be considered a country that follows the rule of international law, something that the Bush-Cheney administration explicitly rejected (in part, to protect members of their administration from prosecution). And while Obama had committed himself to joining the International Criminal Court, so far his administration has not yet advanced US ratification, marking another failure to fulfill his campaign promises.

Continuing Terror in Pakistan, Turmoil in Yemen and Syria, and the CNN/Fox Crusade against al-Qaeda On June 4, BBC broke the news that one of al-Qaeda’s most wanted militant commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri, had been killed in an American drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan, according to residents and militants in the area. BBC reported that nine people were killed in the strike about ten miles outside Wana, in the tribal region, and that there was a second strike reported in Karikot in the same region. While Pakistani intelligence said that they could not confirm the report, BBC claimed that a known Taliban militant in Wana contacted by telephone confirmed that Kashmiri was killed. BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, and other networks covered the story extensively, claiming that Kashmiri was considered one of the most dangerous and highly trained Pakistani militants, allied with al-Qaeda. A former member of Pakistan’s special forces, Kashmiri was suspected of being behind several attacks, including the May 22 battle at the Mehran naval base in the southern port city of Karachi. He had also

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been implicated in the terrorist attack on Mumbai, India, in 2008, in which 163 people were killed, including some American citizens. In a separate incident the same day, Pakistani security forces reported killing twenty-six Islamist militants after they crossed the border from Afghanistan, in the fourth day of fighting in the border area. A spokesman for Kashmiri’s Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami group said in a statement that “God willing… America will very soon see our full revenge. Our only target is America.” Yet terrorist incidents continued in Pakistan with Al Jazeera reporting on June 5 on a bomb blast in a bus stand in Matani near the border town of Peshawar, Pakistan that killed several people. Another bomb killed eighteen people at a bakery in an army neighborhood in the northwest town of Nowshera, which the Pakistan Taliban claimed was vengeance for Pakistani army actions against them in the nearby Swat Valley. US action in Pakistan was also stirring up resentment as on June 6, Al Jazeera reported that Pakistani officials claimed that US drone aircraft attacked at least three sites in the tribal region of South Waziristan on Monday, killing at least twenty people. In Yemen on June 3, a major media spectacle unfolded with reports that the presidential palace had been hit by a rocket and that President Saleh was seriously, perhaps fatally, wounded. For the next hours, there was speculation concerning his condition, until his officials announced that Saleh was in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. While there was intense global media focus on the drama in Yemen with speculation raging concerning the extent of Saleh’s injuries and whether he would return, CNN and all three of the major US news networks focused on the issue of how change in Yemen would affect efforts to stop al-Qaeda in Yemen. Many US commentators repeated the Saleh line that after the Saleh government, al-Qaeda would be strengthened and the US would lose its Yemen anti-terror contacts. A Yemenese commentator on Al Jazeera made the point, however, that any Yemenese government is going to have to be concerned with al-Qaeda. The situation in Yemen continued to be confused, as Al Jazeera juxtaposed on June 6 images of jubilant crowds celebrating Saleh’s exit and loudly chanting that they do not want him back, with official government statements shown on Yemen TV claiming he would be back in a few days. Reports on June 7, however, indicated that wounds were more serious than reported and that Saleh had serious burn wounds over 40 per cent of his body, requiring weeks of treatment before he could travel; yet on June 8, Saleh’s spokesman said that he was recovering quickly and was eager to return to Yemen, which he did in late September, intensifying bloodshed that spilled throughout the summer. On June 8, CNN and other global television networks focused on a video from Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, who delivered a twenty-eight-minute eulogy to Osama Bin Laden. Zawahiri also praised the

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uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, but attacked Pakistan’s “treachery” and urged his followers to rise up against the state. A CNN commentator saw the video release as a bid to take over leadership of al-Qaeda, although another commentator saw it as part of a cult of Osama Bin Laden, which with its leader’s death had lost it foundation. On June 11, global media channels announced that a senior al-Qaeda leader had been killed in Somalia. Al Jazeera reported that the victim, Abdullah Mohammed, topped the FBI’s most wanted list and had a $5 million bounty on his head for planning the August 7, 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The next day, Somalia’s President congratulated security forces who claimed that they had killed Mohammed when his truck refused to stop at a checkpoint in Mogadishu; officials had not immediately realized that they’d killed the previous week one of the world’s most wanted terrorists until June 11, because Mohammed was carrying a South African passport. CNN and US media presented the death as a major blow to al-Qaeda’s operations in the Horn of Africa, and part of a successful continuing offensive against al-Qaeda. In Pakistan, however, suicide bombings continued to devastate the country. At least thirty-four people were killed in a suspected twin-suicide bombing in Peshawar on June 11. Al Jazeera reported that the bombing took place in a market near a building that houses several newspaper offices as well as apartments, while the attack occurred when a large number of people were dining in the nearby restaurants. After an initial bomb blast, a second suicide bomber attacked, killing scores of people. On June 13, an explosion at a bank in the capital Islamabad killed at least one person, and brought bombings to a new urban target site. Such terrorist killings, claimed to be by the Pakistan Taliban, occurred in Pakistan throughout summer 2011, as relations with the US continued to deteriorate. In May 2011, Al Jazeera and other global cable networks began intensifying focus on Syria and critique of the Assad regime. In a turning-point episode, the Syrian government claimed that thugs had assaulted and killed security forces in the town of Daara and sent state forces into the area. Media attention focused on the killing by security forces in Daara of a young thirteen-year-old boy who had been arrested in an earlier demonstration and who opposition spokesmen said was tortured and killed by the regime; pictures of his mutilated body careened through the internet and Al Jazeera and other global channels. There were also reports that the Syrian government was using helicopters against demonstrators, and as thousands of refugees poured out of Syria into Turkish refugee camps, there was increased Western media coverage of the Syria debacle, with claims by human rights organizations that more than one thousand demonstrators had been killed and thousands displaced. CNN’s Arwa Damon reported on June 13 from the Turkish border on

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the plight of Syrian refugees, bringing on camera poignant accounts of how Syrians had suffered under the Assad regime. On June 14, Damon managed to get across the border into Syria, where again refugees from villages in Syria provided dramatic accounts of their suffering. Hence, just as Damon provided nightly accounts of Libyans in Benghazi suffering under the Qaddafi regime and fearing murderous attacks and calling for NATO intervention (see Chapter 3), so too was Damon providing the voice of oppressed Syrians under the murderous Assad regime, but so far CNN talking heads or US politicians were not calling for NATO intervention. There was increased difficulty in determining true from false media and video reports as both sides ratcheted up propaganda efforts. On June 7, France television channel 24 believed it had a scoop when the supposed Syrian Ambassador to France called up the station to say that she was resigning from the regime because she could “no long support the cycle of extreme violence against unarmed civilians,” recognizing the legitimacy of the people’s demands for freedom. The story quickly circulated through global media channels, but it turned out that the caller had been a fake and the real Syrian Ambassador angrily denounced the impersonation, claiming that she had not resigned. The next day the Ambassador appeared on television to denounce the hoax and threaten a lawsuit.22 On the internet the same week, there was much publicity about the popular Syrian blogger “Gay Girl in Damascus” who was reportedly arrested for her sharp critiques of the Syrian government. Pretending to be a Syrian-American commenting on the opposition movement in Syria, “Gay Girl” used a picture that BBC revealed to be the face of a British woman which the notorious blogger had taken from the woman’s Facebook pictures and used for the GayGirl site. Soon after, it was revealed that GayGirl was a married American male getting a Masters in Middle Eastern studies in Edinburgh, who had decided to do a blog on events in Syria to educate Western audiences, and who had attained a global following. Bloggers and gays and lesbians in Syria were furious because the notoriety of the GayGirl blog had called attention to them and endangered their lives; others were offended because a white American male presumed to speak for Syrians. Similar problems were emerging from video and audio footage of the uprisings and repression that could obviously be faked. Especially in states like Syria, where no foreign reporters are allowed, global channels had to rely on YouTube videos, or videos sent by people supposedly in the region who took live footage of the struggles, repression, and their bloody aftermath. The insurrections and counter-revolution obviously involved a propaganda dimension and both sides were using and making up propaganda to advance their agendas, using video footage to illustrate their positions and demonize their opponents. Syrian state television broadcast daily reports indicating that the

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demonstrators were armed gangs who were attacking Syrian state property and the military, playing footage of shadowy individuals who appeared to be attacking Syrian government troops. Opposition forces claimed that their demonstrations were largely peaceful and circulated YouTubes of government troops allegedly engaging in repression, with bloody footage showing wounded and dead bodies and Syrian troops allegedly firing on demonstrators. The embattled Assad regime tried to rally support, but daily demonstrations kept mushrooming up all over the country despite over a thousand deaths, and perhaps as many as 10,000 demonstrators imprisoned. At the same time, thousands of Syrians were fleeing into refugee camps in Turkey. The dramatic demonstrations for democracy in Syria and severe state repression continued through the summer and into the winter of 2011— events I will update in the concluding chapter, where I also draw some further conclusions about the Arab Uprisings, global media, social networks, and citizen reporting, all constituting a new media ecology and forces of insurrection. Meanwhile, throughout the summer, CNN and Fox covered the twisted vicissitudes of every purported al-Qaeda plot or twisted fantasy of Osama Bin Laden as the US government leaked alleged information about al-Qaeda plots found in the Bin Laden Abbottabad compound. In each case, CNN and Fox dutifully transmitted details of the US government alleged al-Qaeda terror plots, although many reports seemed to be ignored by many in the mainstream media. On July 7, the CNN/Fox Terror Networks said reports had been found that al-Qaeda was planning to utilize “surgically implanted body bomb explosives,” except there was no evidence this was yet actually done. On July 12, the networks reported that the CIA had sought DNA from the neighborhood of the Bin Laden Abbottabad compound under the guise of nurses going around giving fake vaccines to get DNA to see if Bin Laden family members could be identified. Throughout the month, there were reports that al-Qaeda was planning a big ten-year anniversary attack on the US on September 11, 2011. On the side of actual events rather than speculation, the New York Times broke a story on July 19, later confirmed by the US government, that the US was withholding $800,000 in aid to the Pakistan military in anger of their having kicked out US military advisors and shut down a US base used for drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. On July 21, Wolf Blitzer interrogated former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, obviously planning a political return to Pakistan after some years in exile,23 over whether the Pakistani government did or did not know that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad and whether they did or did not give him support there. The same day, CNN reported that al-Qaeda was contemplating using animated cartoons as Jihadist recruitment devices, playing some examples from the internet. At the end of September, US officials announced that they had killed

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by drone attack in Yemen the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was allegedly the head of al-Qaeda in Yemen and a major propagandist who had reportedly recruited American-born Jihadis through his website and publications.24 Al-Awlaki was a major target of US counter-terrorism operations because he had influenced and praised the Fort Hood shooter who killed thirteen fellow soldiers and wounded twenty-nine others as revenge for US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims. Al-Awlaki was raised in the US and, with fluent English and command of Jihadist interpretations of Islam, had influenced other Jihadis as well and was seen as a danger to the US. The use of drones had been intensifying in the Obama administration, the weapon of choice to kill Islamic militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Drones could be directed by satellite to hit targets where it was dangerous or impossible for US troops to go and could also be denied and covered up if they hit wrong targets. Indeed, in the months to come there would be increased reliance on drones for certain operations of targeting al-Qaeda militants. Throughout the fall and winter of 2011, spectacles of terror continued to be a major focus of US and global media. Conflict remained intense in Libya until the Libyan rebels captured and killed Qaddafi, as I discussed in the previous chapter. Throughout the region, demonstrations and state repression continued throughout 2011 in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and other regions of the Middle East. From September 11, 2001 to the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks that changed the world, the struggle against al-Qaeda and other forces of global terrorism had defined US foreign policy and had been a major force in global history (see Kellner 2003b and 2005). The Arab Uprisings had created a new discourse, new movements and struggles, and the overthrow of tyrannical regimes that seriously marginalized al-Qaeda discourses and forces, arguably opening a new era of struggle. The United States and some Western countries, however, seemed to be still caught up in the nightmare of a post-9/11 obsession with terrorism, and as the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks approached, there appeared to be a failure to see in the United States the magnitude of the colossal blunders and errors involved in the Bush-Cheney administration response to 9/11. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars, along with the new national security apparatus erected, had cost more than $3 trillion, and together with the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the rich had bankrupted the country.25 It was clear to many that the al-Qaeda attacks should have been seen as a crime, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates pursued as criminal organizations, leading to global military/police actions against the rogue murderers who used Islam to inflame their fantasies of Jihad and had killed innocents throughout the world.26 Indeed, for many Americans and Muslims the decade following 9/11

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had been a horrible one. Americans saw thousands of their own citizens die in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that also killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, creating bitter enemies. Rather than making Americans safer, many believed that the US response to 9/11 and Bush-Cheney foreign policy had instead made the world more dangerous for Americans. The wars had bankrupted the economy, pushed the US into serious decline, and created a national security apparatus that threatened American civil liberties and freedoms. In particular, Muslim Americans had to suffer a cultural Islamophobia that erupted after the 9/11 terror attacks and underwent harassment by the proliferating national security apparatus that targeted Muslims.27 In the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and others were killed or displaced through the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and other local wars throughout the region. Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda and the Bush-Cheney Gang had thus created tremendous havoc for the entire world, that undermined the global economy and robbed a generation of peace and security. As noted earlier in this chapter, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and terrorist revenge responses throughout the Middle East, the problematic of al-Qaeda and terrorism returned to media focus, especially in the US and the West. As the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks arrived in the US, there were reports that credible information indicated that there were plans underway to attack New York or Washington during the anniversary celebrations. Such attacks failed to materialize in the US, and September 11, 2011 was marked by somber patriotic ceremonies in Washington, Ground Zero, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the passengers had wrestled down United 93 to crash in a field, now another national memorial. In addition to state terrorism in the Middle Eastern countries and global Jihadist terrorism, in the West murderous individuals like Anders Breivik in Norway ran amok and slaughtered scores, and youth rioted in England, providing graphic illustrations of the Dark Side of the Spectacle.

The Dark Side of the Spectacle: Terror in Norway and the England Riots28 The globally-mediated world became caught up in a horrific spectacle of terror in Norway on July 22, 2011, when domestic terrorist Anders Behring Breivik set off a bomb outside of government buildings in downtown Oslo, and then went on a shooting rampage on an island outside of the capital, killing scores at a Labor Party youth camp. The spectacle shocked the world and generated debates on what could create such horror in normally placid Norway. In August 2011, spectacles of youth terrorizing neighborhoods

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throughout London and then England, with images of looting, vandalizing, and burning stores, homes, and cars also produced a global media spectacle of terror that shocked a global audience, leading to debates over what produced these horrors, and generating reams of speculation and analysis, still proliferating. While there are many types of media spectacle, as these studies have demonstrated, one form involves alienated men involved in school or workplace shooting rampages and acts of domestic terrorism such as Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, or Anders Breivik’s 2011 rampage in Norway. Social unrest such as the 1992 LA riots or 2011 England riots are also presented to global communication networks as media spectacle and provide a forum for debate over the social problems underlying the disturbances and potential solutions.29 In this section, I will engage the dark side of the spectacle involving the Norway terror rampage and England riots, and argue that while exploring these types of media spectacle requires careful sociological analysis, what they have in common is the quality of embodying male rage and exhibiting crises of masculinity that are resolved in spectacles of violence and terror. In the following discussion of the July 2011 Norway killings and England riots of August 2011, I am very consciously breaking with a tendency of US and other Western media that associate terrorism with al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, whereas I insist that there are many branches of domestic terrorism, two of which I will explore in the following pages.

Spectacle of Terror in Norway As I was watching the afternoon news on Friday July 22, 2011, Wolf Blitzer on his CNN “Situation Room” program presented “Breaking News” with a report that the usually quiet city of Oslo, Norway had suffered the bombing of government buildings in the middle of the city, followed two hours later by reports of the shooting of young Norwegians at a Labor Party annual summer camp retreat on Utoya Island, near Oslo. The two incidents were immediately linked as Norwegian police reported that the man captured shooting young people on the island had been seen in the vicinity of the downtown government bombings. CNN set up the report as if this occurrence were an al-Qaeda terror attack, recounting a threat two years before in Norway from an al-Qaeda group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (Helpers of the Global Jihad). CNN prated on about alleged al-Qaeda anger over Norway’s participation in NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Libya, as well as Norway’s newspapers running the satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had inflamed Jihadist rage in 2005. Interviewing a Reuters reporter in Norway, Blitzer learned that police

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had identified the suspect as a thirty-two-year old Norwegian man, leading Blitzer to query: “Did they mention his race?” Blitzer was, in effect, asking if the perpetrator was a Muslim terrorist, as the CNN setting up of the report had led the audience to believe to be the case. The Reuters reporter said that it was mentioned only that he was of Norwegian nationality, and Blitzer was forced to cut the interview to go live to President Obama’s impromptu news briefing in which he announced that House Speaker John Boehner had called off meetings to negotiate the debt ceiling crisis. This event provided one of the first times that the nation saw the spectacle of “No Drama Obama” seriously steamed and angry because Republicans had reportedly “left him twice at the altar.” Evidently, twice Obama believed that he had a budget deal with the Republicans, who then reportedly walked away from the deal, as apparently, according to CNN and other reports, Boehner could not get support from the right-wing-dominated anti-tax fundamentalists in the Republican party. Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid Sun’s front-page on July 23 screamed “NORWAY’S 9/11,” and, above the headline, highlighted in red capitals “‘AL-QAEDA’ MASSACRE.”30 So much for the pledge by James Murdoch at the British parliamentary hearings earlier in the week that Murdoch’s company would be more careful with its headlines. Fox News and conservative commentators, bloggers, and Twitterers in the US went on a rampage attacking Muslims, who they were sure were had perpetrated the vile deeds in Norway. A similar situation had occurred after the Oklahoma City bombing in on April 19, 1995 when a truck-bomb detonated in front of a government building and killed 168 people, injuring more than 680 and producing what was deemed the most extreme act of domestic terrorism in US history before the 9/11 attacks. The police released a picture of a swarthy-looking Arab man, leading to speculation that Middle East terrorism had hit the US Oklahoma heartland, a dominant media frame until white-bread and homegrown right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh was arrested and identified as the bomber.31 Media critics were quick to point out that not just CNN, Fox News, and right-wing extremists rushed to finger al-Qaeda-esque terrorism as the cause of the Norway spectacles of terror, but the New York Times and mainstream media, as well as the BBC, initially coded the Norway massacre as an al-Qaeda-led event. For much of the day the New York Times deployed the headline: “Blasts and Gun Attack in Norway: 7 Dead. Powerful Explosions Hit Oslo: Jihadists Claim Responsibility,32” suggesting that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Norway. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, the New York Times’ framing “led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes,

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remains at the Post with no corrections or updates. The morning statement issued by President Obama—“It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks”—appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.33

Homegrown Norwegian Terrorist While Western media were assuming that the Norway terrorist was a Muslim Jihadist, Al Jazeera was reporting by mid-afternoon on July 22 that Norwegian police had identified the terrorist as a “blond Norwegian,” implying that he was not an Arab Jihadist. Shortly thereafter, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and other global media sources announced that the suspect had links to neo-Nazi groups. In a press conference early in the evening, an Al Jazeera reporter asked Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg if Norway had problems with right-wing extremist groups and if the country was closely monitoring them. Stoltenberg responded: “Compared to other countries I wouldn’t say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway. But we have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing groups.”34 On both the BBC and Al Jazeera, commentators noted the similarities between the attacks on Norway and McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, but they missed the similar parallel with the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, where Korean American Seung-Hui Cho went on a rampage, killing thirty-two and wounding twenty-five, both episodes that I covered in my book Guys and Guns Amok (Kellner 2008). In many cases, aggrieved and enraged young men, mostly white, work out their crises in masculinity and go on violent rampages to create media spectacles where they attain a hard masculine identity and have their moments of celebrity. A young white Arizona terrorist, Jared Loughner, had gone on a similar

Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevick poses for Facebook and under arrest

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rampage in Tucson in January 8, 2011, killing a federal judge and others at a shopping mall meeting with congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords, presumably Loughner’s target, who was seriously injured in the shooting. Later in the day on July 22, the Norwegian police identified the terrorist as Anders Behring Breivik, who they described as “right-wing” and “a Christian fundamentalist,” and authorities claimed that so far Breivik has not been linked to any anti-Jihadist groups. Al Jazeera started a “Norway blog” and published pictures of Breivik’s Facebook page that described his religious views as “Christian” and his political views as “conservative.” The page noted that his hobbies included hunting, E-sports, and bodybuilding, and contained photographs, soon to hit global cable networks, of a handsome and very blond and Aryan young man, images that quickly circulated through the global media.35 As dawn broke on Saturday July 23, the global cable networks were closely following the Norway spectacle of terror as the horrible news broke that more than eighty young Labor Party activists were the victims of the mass shooting on Utoya Island, and that new bodies were being discovered on the island and in the water surrounding it. Stories of a killer running amok on the island and systematically terrorizing and shooting young people circulated as witnesses, friends, and relatives described the assassination-style shooting and how the terrorist, dressed in a police uniform, approached the young people as if he were there to protect them, and then opened fire, killing scores. Later described as a gun enthusiast, Breivik used multiple guns that he had brought with him to shoot indiscriminately at as many people as he could, even chasing some victims to the lake at the shore of the island and gunning them down as they swam for safety. Some survived to tell the story and the global media were tracking and reproducing the spectacle. A New York Times story by Elisa Mala and J. David Goodman, “Death Toll Rises to 91 in Norway Attacks,” indicated that the Norwegian government did not know if the terrorist was a lone gunman or had associates, with a police official stating: “We are not sure whether he was alone or had help … What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist,” adding that “so far Mr Breivik has not been linked to any anti-Jihadist groups.”36 As the day went on, the Norwegian and global media painted a picture of Breivik as a right-wing extremist who appeared to have carried out a complicated spectacle of terror to promote his agenda and create a media spectacle to publicize his views. The BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and other global media spent the day interviewing survivors, witnesses of Breivik’s slaughter, and punctuated reports with footage of groups of dead people, portraying surviving victims as begging Breivik not to shoot. The spectacle included constant replays of members of the youth group swimming in the lake to escape, with boats picking up wounded or

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escaping youths in the water, as well as multiple testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the bombing in Oslo and shooting in Utola. When a horrific spectacle of terror by someone previously unknown becomes a global media spectacle, researchers trawl the internet to discover traces of the terrorist’s personality and perhaps to ferret out his motivations. The Guardian produced a handy compendium, complied by Peter Beaumont, of his web-postings included under the rubric Breivik’s blogs: On ‘hate ideologies’ Islam (ism) has historically led to 300 million deaths. Communism has historically led to 100 million deaths. Nazism has historically led to 6–20 million deaths. ALL hate ideologies should be treated equally. On the failure of the Norwegian rightwing Progress party The vast majority of new faces in the Progress party are now politically correct career politicians and not in any way idealists who are willing to take risks and work for idealistic goals. On Norway’s Marxists In Norway and Sweden extreme Marxist attitudes have become acceptable/everyday while the old-established truths of patriotism and cultural conservatism today are branded as extremism. On his fear that part of Oslo will eventually have a Muslim majority There are political forces in Oslo who want mass-subsidised and low-cost ‘Islam-blocks’ in Oslo West for ‘better integration’ … If this ever becomes the case, most of Oslo West will move to Bærum (and most will eventually follow).37 From these bloggings, it appeared that Breivik hated equally Communism and Islam, despised the ruling Norwegian Labor Party and the right-wing Progress Party, and despised leftists and Marxists, while fearing and hating Muslims, a conventional right-wing extremist ideology. Researchers soon discovered, however, that Breivik had published on the internet hours before his attacks a 1,500-page compendium,38 in which he recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.” Exhibiting an apocalyptic mindset, Breivik predicted that a conflagration would erupt in Europe, which would kill or injure more than a million people, adding: “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.” Commentators noted that the manifesto was signed “Andrew Berwick,” an Anglicized version of Breivik’s name, and CNN reported that US

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government officials briefed on the case said that investigators believed that the text was Breivik’s work. In his grandiose vision, Breivik wanted to “instigate a revolution” and save Norway and Europe from being overwhelmed by Muslims and immigrants, thus purging the continent of impure races and preserving “indigenous Europeans” from “cultural suicide.” Such a vision is of course reminiscent of Nazi doctrines of “racial purity” and radical “final solutions,” although Breivik’s racist ideology seemed to be influenced by more contemporary extremist sources, as we will see below. While some “experts” claimed that Breivik’s “manifesto” resembled in form and content the writings of Osama Bin Laden,39 I would suggest that the more relevant similarities are with Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber who also spent years in relative isolation working on a manifesto as he sent his deadly bombs through the mail in the US, and plotted more extreme murders to publicize his political views. Like Kaczynski, Breivik had a totalizing critique of Western civilization, although Kaczynski saw technology as the source of civilization’s ills and “leftism” as his personal enemy, while Breivik attacked Islam, “multiculturalism,” and “cultural Marxism”.40 Scrutinizing Breivik’s text closer, it appears that his main “thesis” (or better, obsession) was that Muslims were colonizing Europe and must be violently confronted to protect Norwegian and other national identities from being overwhelmed by foreign religions and ethnicities, in particular Islam and Muslims. Yet his most intense anger and his murderous rampage were directed against those Norwegian multiculturalists and progressives who he saw as complicit with the Islamization of Norway and Europe. The title of Breivik’s text, “2083—A European Declaration of Independence,” refers to an alleged siege of Vienna in 1683, when “Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe,” apparently warning that Islam would overrun Europe by 2083 if the Europeans did not follow the scriptures of Anders Breivik.41 After several rambling and pedantic pages concerning the nine years that he had prepared the text, how he planned its posting, translations, and distribution, and apologies that English is not his first language and that he had no opportunity to proof the text, he writes: “Multiculturalism (cultural Marxism/political correctness), as you might know, is the root cause of the ongoing Islamisation of Europe which has resulted in the ongoing Islamic colonisation of Europe through demographic warfare (facilitated by our own leaders). This compendium presents the solutions and explains exactly what is required of each and every one of us in the coming decades. Everyone can and should contribute in one way or the other; it’s just a matter of will.” Breivik accordingly begins with a long section in which he equates “political correctness” with multiculturalism and “cultural Marxism” that stand as code words for everything that he opposes, including all forms

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of left, liberal, and progressive thought, including Marxism, feminism, multiculturalism, and anti-race theorists. In his genealogies of cultural Marxism, he privileges the Frankfurt School whose work he interprets as the origins of the “political correctness” movement (i.e. anti-racism, antisexism, anti-homophobia, and other forms of tolerance). In particular, he sees Herbert Marcuse as the main source of this “ideology” following right-wing US critics of the Frankfurt School such as Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt, as well as Michael Minnicino whom Brevick cites in his compendium.42 His obsession with cultural Marxism is quite astonishing and Breivik presents a long genealogy of the ideas of the Frankfurt School, Georg Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci, and, especially Marcuse.43 The presentation is generally trite and based on secondary sources which he cites in the compendium; Martin Jay’s Dialectical Imagination (1973), for instance, is given a detailed chapter-by-chapter summary. Breivik self-deconstructs, however, by opening with the claim that “one of conservatism’s most important insights is that all ideologies are wrong.” Breivik assumes that all forms of Marxism, feminism, and other isms are ideologies, failing to see that the Frankfurt School’s critical theory distinguishes between ideology that legitimates specific existing or imagined social systems and critical theory that provides critical analysis of existing ideologies and forms of thought. From this perspective, Breivik’s compendium is clearly an “ideology” in which he imagines Europe would be free of Muslims and all forms of cultural Marxism, legitimating his killing those forces which are standing in the way of his ideological vision. The text’s authenticity was at first doubted, but as Will Englund and Michael Birnbaum claim in the article quoted above, Breivik’s lawyer Geir Lippestad asserted that his client indeed compiled the grotesque text, thus making it appear that the rampage was carefully planned over a long period and that Breivik acted alone. According to global media reports, the Norwegian police were claiming that Breivik was talking, and would provide his reasons for his rampages during a courtroom hearing scheduled for Monday July 25, which would surely be a major media spectacle (except that it wasn’t televised as Breivik wanted!). Global media outlets quoted Breivik’s lawyer on July 23 as claiming that his client’s actions were “atrocious, but necessary,” raising questions again concerning precise motives and legitimation for such monstrous crimes. A young man claiming to be an acquaintance of Breivik appeared on Russian television (RT) the same day and asserted that Breivik was “brainwashed” by “nationalism and religion,” and implied that Breivik was angry at his failures with the “fair sex,” suggesting to me that this case might be another example of a crisis of masculinity resolved by hyperviolence generating the fantasy of a macho self.44

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Crises of Masculinity, Islamophobia, and Jihadist Christianity Following Jackson Katz’s notion of “crises of masculinities” generating male violence, I argue in Guys and Guns Amok (2008) that many school shooters, domestic terrorists, and other men who go on violent rampages exhibit various crises of masculinity resolved by producing media spectacles of violence of which they are producers and stars, creating instant celebrity.45 A loner, an ideological extremist, a womanhater, a gun and violence fanatic, and a purveyor of self-aggrandizing fantasies and then actions, Breivik was part of a syndrome of out-ofcontrol men who go on violent murder rampages to resolve their personal problems and work out their male rage. In the following analysis, I will accordingly argue how Breivik and other recent domestic terrorists have exhibited crises of masculinity and shared ideas, personality syndromes, and actions. Indeed, it was striking how derivative Breivik’s views and actions were, signaling him as a plagiarist and copycat killer. Like Timothy McVeigh, he shared an extreme right-wing anti-government and pro-gun ideology, and he produced a bomb remarkably similar to McVeigh’s to blow up government buildings and kill innocent bystanders;46 Breivik engaged in serial gun-shooting rampages like the Columbine murderers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, whose attacks on their classmates were imitated by Virginia Tech massacre assassin Seung-Hui Cho. Like the Columbine Killers and Cho, Breivik left behind video diaries and disjointed writings to publicize himself; like Cho, a failed film writer, Breivik orchestrated his spectacle of terror on Utoya Island as a horror movie with himself as star, producer, and director; like Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, he wrote a long and rambling “manifesto” to propagate his views, and he hoped to recruit followers who would engage in such demented killings and perhaps would do so, by copying Breivik as he had copied previous domestic terrorists. In each case, young men suffered crises of masculinity, were overwhelmed with male rage, immersed themselves into gun culture, and planned to carry out rampages of violence orchestrated as media spectacles that called attention to their personalities and actions, establishing them as instant celebrities who later would become models for future domestic terrorists. Muslim men who become Jihadists and carry out spectacles of terror also exhibit crises of masculinity and rage that they project onto Western infidels. Each specific terrorist has his own biography and agenda, and it is interesting that Breivik projects his male rage not only at Islamophobia, but also at the domestic Norwegian politicians and groups who supported multiculturalism, and thus allowed immigrants and various cultures, including Muslims, to be part of Norwegian society.

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As an article by Scott Shane in the New York Times points out, not only was Breivik a copycat killer deploying models of McVeigh, Kaczynski, the Columbine shooters, and Cho, but he was also deeply influenced by “a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber.”47 Shane notes that Breivik’s compendium showed that he ”had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam,” for he cited “Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch website, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.” Other anti-Muslim writers whom Breivik cites in his compendium include Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) who receives sixteen mentions, according to a tally by the Center for American Progress; Pamela Geller and her “Atlas Shrugs” blog is cited twelve times by Breivik; the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and its president, Frank Gaffney, and CSP’s senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Caroline Glick, appear a total of eight times, while David Horowitz and his “Freedom Center” is insulted with only one mention.48 Breivik’s favorite TV shows included Dexter which centers on a serial murderer who is portrayed as very sympathetic and rational, and, like Dexter, Breivik saw his killing rampage as necessary and justified. Breivik’s compendium reveals that he immersed himself in horror series like True Blood, a currently running HBO series about vampires and other medieval monsters alive and on murderous killing rampages, often for revenge or to eliminate forces of evil, in contemporary Louisiana. Like these creatures, Breivik himself is a monster rooted in a fantasy ancient identity who undertakes a grandiose spree of revenge killing.49 Breivik’s internet traces also revealed that he was a fan of violent online roleplaying games such as World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, leading to speculation that he might have used these games to prep himself for his killing rampage.50 Many domestic terrorists like the Columbine shooters, Timothy McVeigh, the Virginia Tech massacre terrorist Cho, and Andreas Breivik were deeply involved in violent media culture, as well as gun culture, and may have been inspired by specific artifacts of media culture that provided scripts for their murder sprees.51 As in a dominant mode of media culture, the terrorists cited here engaged in the sort of “redemptive violence” frequently found in US media culture.52 Breivik apparently rated American media culture celebrities, in good Hitlerian fashion, according to how Nordic they were, writing in his compendium: “It is obvious that Nordic entertainment super-stars like Scarlett Johansson (60–70 per cent Nordic purity), Gwyneth Paltrow (70–80 per cent), Pamela Anderson (90–95 per cent), Paris Hilton (70–80

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per cent), Taylor Swift (80–90 per cent) would have never been where they are today hadn’t it been for their distinct Nordic physical characteristics.” In a bizarre twist, Breivik’s compendium describes a secret meeting in London, in April 2002, to  reconstitute the “Knights Templar”, an elite medieval Crusader military organization popularized in the novel and film The Da Vinci Code and other sources. Accompanying pictures in Breivik’s video show him dressed as a Knight Templar, as well as in other military regalia, revealing how hyperbolic fantasy and extreme narcissism helped to drive this pathetic loser into rampages of violence where he could create the heroic male identity for which he yearned.53 Further, in the US, there was a great uproar as Christians claimed that Breivik was in no way a Christian, with Andrew Brown writing: “Anders Breivik is not Christian but anti-Islam. Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik’s ideology is fuelled by a loathing of Muslims and ‘Marxists’, his writing spurred by conspiracy theories.”54 In fact, I would argue that Breivik uses Christianity for his apocalyptic anti-Muslim tirades the same way that al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim groups (mis)use Islam to promote their Jihadist spectacles of terror. Obviously Breivik identifies with a Christian crusader mythos, as his compendium and accompanying pictures make clear, but he is in no way a “fundamentalist” Christian, for his ideological moorings are a witches brew of vile and crazed ideas. Indeed, while Breivik was deeply influenced by and copied spectacles of terror from American mass murderers and was influenced by US popular culture and internet ideologues of hate, strong European extreme right-wing influences were also evident in his hatred of Muslims, immigration, and multiculturalism, all propagated by the European Right. In addition, Breivik’s obsession with Marxism, and his belief that Norwegian society had capitulated to socialism and Islam, is more of a European than an American rightist motif. Breivik’s crime spectacle was thus utterly derivative and revealed an individual overwhelmed by hate and shaped by the most noxious imaginable cultural influences. Yet Breivik was seeking followers and his internet postings include obsessive details on how to become a Crusader terrorist, to plan specific spectacles of terror, and to make bombs and finance terrorist operations, as well as day-to-day accounts of how he planned his spectacles of terror. Indeed, Breivik’s rambling “2083” text posted on the internet is not really a manifesto, but a collection of rightist views and a diary of his months of activity and political musings as he prepared his spectacle of terror. It is also a terrorist cookbook telling would-be terrorists how to make bombs, carry out terrorist actions, to avoid being detected, and to use the terrorist attacks to publicize anti-immigrant and racist ideologies. In sum, Breivik’s sickening text and spectacle of terror is a wake-up call to a complacent world, telling people that right-wing extremists are here, angry as hell, and armed and prepared to kill to propagate their message. It points to a global international of right-wing would-be terrorists nourished

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in their hatred by internet hate sites, social networking sites where likeminded unhinged individuals can find kindred sick souls who reinforce one another in ideological bubbles of hatred and rage, and then carry out copycat spectacles of terror to prove themselves to themselves and to realize their own warped fantasies of power and grandeur. As Breivik would continue to reveal, he had planned his spectacle of terror to call attention to himself and his “manifesto,” and to constitute himself as the Knight of the Apocalypse who would inspire future rampages in a revolutionary war against Islam and “cultural Marxism.” Right-wing crazies in the US quickly revealed their true reptilian selves as the spectacle circulated through global media. Glenn Beck, the rightwing US broadcaster and icon of the Tea Party movement, compared those who died on the island of Utøya to the Hitler Youth. Beck argued on his radio show that the Norwegian Labor Party youth camp on the island was “disturbing” because it appeared “a little like the Hitler Youth,”55 implicitly assuming with Breivik that the assassinations were aimed at totalitarians (and erasing distinctions between Left and Right), and were thus justified. Extremist Islamophobes reacted defensively, as did other rightists cited in Breivik’s ramblings (see Note 48). In Norway, anger began to grow concerning the slow police response, intensified when reports came out indicating that the police, distracted by the Oslo bombing, mobilized thirty minutes after the initial calls from Utoya Island (at first dispatchers did not believe the calls). Further, it took an additional sixty minutes to reach the island, reportedly because the Norwegian police did not have a helicopter ready to fly special forces to the island and had problems with boats when they set off to confront the killer. While there will no doubt be inquiries and discussion, Norway put aside criticisms of the police in a spectacle of national unity. On Sunday July 24, the global media focused on the spectacle of the memorial service for the victims, held at Oslo Cathedral and attended by families and friends of the deceased, the Prime Minister, and a tearful King and Queen. Members of the Royal Family had visited Utoya on Saturday to pay their respects and give their regards, providing good publicity for a monarchy that would seem to be outmoded in modern Norway. It was a day of grieving for Norwegians, and for reflection throughout the world on how such an event could happen and what sort of monster could carry out such actions. Already by July 24, however, Breivik was assuming a martyr status among disaffected internet extremists, and thus it was highly likely that he would be a role model and that there would be copycat killers, as he himself was. As the Guardian’s Norway blog reported: “Nina Reim has got in touch to alert us to a Facebook page that was set up, ostensibly to tell people about an event that was being held to remember the victims Friday’s attacks in Oslo and at Utøya. The page attracted 4000 people who said they would be attending the event. However, last night a picture of Anders

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Behring Breivik—the man accused of being responsible for the attacks— appeared on the site, with the words ‘Honour to Anders Behring Breivik: hero and role model.’ As it turned out the page had in fact been created by a supporter of Breivik. This evening Facebook removed the page.”56 On Monday July 25, the aftermath of Breivik’s Norway terror spectacle unfolded as a global spectacle, covered by media throughout the world. At noon, there was a large public gathering in the square in front of Oslo Cathedral and one minute of silence was observed for the victims of the terror. Later in the day, Breivik’s appearance in court was a global media spectacle, as he had planned. After a flurry of angry demands that Breivik not be allowed to use the courts and media to propagate his ideology of hate and violence, Norwegian judicial officials announced that the hearing would be closed and that security conditions and specific threats had made it impossible to have a more open hearing at the time. While a crowd of angry protestors had gathered in front of the courthouse and photos were shown of Breivik smirking in a car as he entered the judicial buildings, he was whisked out after the arraignment hearing without footage of him and he was not allowed to address the public or the court as he had wished. According to Norwegian authorities, a major reason why Breivik’s court hearing was closed to the media and the public was that he had told police during questioning that he was connected to two cells ready for action. Officials explained that they did not know whether to believe this claim, but they did not want an open hearing where Breivik might signal followers. It was also clear that the Norwegian government did not want to give Breivik a platform from which to espouse his right-wing views. Revealing that Breivik was a devotee of the spectacle, Norwegian police noted that the murder suspect had two demands for his courtroom appearance, that he could wear a military uniform into court and address the court. The requests were both rejected, and the judge, Kim Heger, ordered that the arraignment be held in closed session, explaining to the press afterward that Breivik had admitted committing the crimes but refused to plead guilty. The judge declared that he had ordered Breivik to serve sixty days’ confinement with, first, a month of solitary confinement, where he could see only his lawyer and would not have access to the media or other people. Then, after a month more of confinement, Breivik’s first public court proceedings would begin. In Oslo, after experiencing grief and anger, young Norwegians organized a spectacle of defiance and resistance to terror on July 25, with 200,000 Norwegians descending on the city center to march, loaded with flowers, signs, and songs, showing to the world that they were united against rightwing terror. The Labor Party held a nighttime candlelight vigil with more than 100,000 attending and it was clear that Norway was showing the world a spectacle of unity against the hatred and societal antagonisms that Breivik represented.

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While Norwegian officials announced that Breivik had claimed that there were two more cells with whom he was connected, it was not clear whether this assertion was mere bravado and a ploy to promote more fear and terror, or an indication that more spectacles of terror might follow in Norway. The next day, Breivik was interviewed by the police, and his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, held a press conference, shown live on global media, indicating how calm and rational Breivik appeared. Yet the lawyer, appointed by the court, declared that his client was “probably insane” and would undergo mental examination before his trial, signaling a possible line of defense.57 On July 29, 2011, a week after the horrific terror attacks, the Norwegian government organized a spectacle of unity and resolve to reject Breivik’s racist and destructive ideology. For days, the square outside Oslo Cathedral had been bedecked with scores of beautiful flowers and candles, symbols of life-affirmation, and memorials to the victims, all representing hope for a better future. In a memorial service carried live by the BBC and Al Jazeera, there were commemorative speeches, musical numbers, and Prime Minister Stoltenberg called for a moment of silence to commemorate those who had lost their lives. Stoltenberg assured the people of Norway that the deaths would not be forgotten, that the heroes of the day would be celebrated, and that Norway would respond by supporting greater democracy, multiculturalism, and unity. Afterward, in a display of accord and unity, representatives of the different political parties, Christians and Muslims, native Norwegians and immigrants, all marched side by side in a spectacle of unity. Throughout the country, memorial services were held in which participants firmly repudiated Breivik’s extremism, and affirmed a tolerant and liberal democracy and multiculturalism for Norway.58 For weeks afterwards, Norwegian authorities investigated whether Breivik had accomplices, but authorities were concluding that he had acted alone. The homegrown terrorist Breivik was brought in for more questioning on July 29, and Norwegian police revealed that he had considered many more targets, but no evidence had emerged that he had accomplices or was a member of active terrorist networks. Breivik was confined in solitary incarceration and the Norway terror spectacle disappeared from global media, to be superseded by another stunning spectacle of terror that would emerge in London in August.

The Spectacle of England Riots and Lootings: Angry Young Men Run Amok On August 8, 2011, images of riots which were erupting in neighborhood after neighborhood in London and spreading to other cities throughout England circulated through global media. The initial footage of the London

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riots/lootings provided an example of media spectacle which inspired other young people and other individuals to carry out copycat actions by assaulting vulnerable stores and neighborhoods. The events provide a case study of how social networking mobilized scores of angry youth who went on a commodity riot looting and vandalizing stores, burning cars and buildings, and terrorizing local inhabitants and shopkeepers, events that would eventually be seen as one of the worst riots in British history. The London Riots spectacle was initially triggered by a police killing of a twenty-nine-year-old black man, Mark Duggan, who had been shot by police in Tottenham, North London, after armed officers stopped the minicab in which he was travelling, searching for illegal weapons. The police claimed that Duggan was carrying a loaded gun, and although there were media reports that he had fired at the arresting officers, no evidence was ever released that he had fired at the police, and Duggan’s community and many others saw the event as another example of excess police brutality.59 A peaceful protest on Saturday night, August 6, over Duggan’s murder by police exploded into an upsurge of robbery combined with vandalism and mayhem. The rioting first took place in the economically deprived area of Tottenham,60 and spread sporadically to other sites in London. On Sunday night, more disturbances occurred in London and elsewhere, with shops vandalized and trashed, generating a wave of what the British police condemned as “copycat criminal activity” in BBC news reports.61 On Monday afternoon, rioters and looters fanned throughout the capital, robbing, trashing, and in some cases setting stores on fire, randomly attacking cars and buildings, and producing a perhaps unparalleled night of

August 2011 UK Riots on Tottenham High Road, London

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violence and terror in London. Police warned residents to be vigilant and stay off the streets, and many shops closed early on Monday afternoon, but by Monday evening there were outbreaks of violence throughout the city. The event was truly a global spectacle, as Al Jazeera broadcast the London Riots live and nonstop, and the BBC could barely keep up with the cascading reports of lootings, vandalism, fires, and terror spreading throughout London, including Tottenham, Oxford Circus, Brixton, Hackney, more upscale Clapham, trendy Notting Hill, and Croydon, where Al Jazeera presented the live spectacle of a building burning and interviews with observers of the mayhem there and elsewhere in the city. A pattern appeared to be emerging, in which random groups of hooded and mostly young men armed with bats or Molotov cocktails suddenly showed up in a neighborhood and began looting stores or trashing neighborhoods (or both). It was quickly evident that many of the groups were flash mobs, using BlackBerries to mobilize groups of people to certain targets in specific locales. While Facebook, Twitter, and internet-mediated forms of social networking left traces police could track, BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM for short, allegedly allowed messages not easily traced to be sent to everyone on an individual’s personal mailing list (London police were negotiating with BlackBerry corporation officials to see if they could gain access to user messages, while hackers warned BlackBerry that they would attack its computer systems and personnel if they cooperated with the police).62 As the night went on, similar rioting was reported in Birmingham, and other Midland areas, and in Liverpool and other sites in the north of England.63 On Tuesday, there was the spectacle of Prime Minister David Cameron racing back to the UK from his Italian vacation, making the usual speech about how such violence would not be tolerated, calling out an additional 10,000 police to patrol London streets, and visiting a police precinct to buck up the officers; less controlled visits to neighborhoods by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and London mayor Boris Johnson saw the politicians surrounded and heckled by groups of angry citizens, who apparently recognized that a failed government and political system was partly to blame. On Tuesday night August 9 and into Wednesday morning, things were apparently calm in London, but copycat spectacles of rioting were again taking place throughout England. Just as groups in Egypt replicated the Arab Uprising in Tunisia, and other countries would carry out their own uprisings with similar strategies and tactics, so too were youths in England using their BlackBerries and other forms of communication to organize flash mobs and looting/rioting sprees throughout the country. The England riots were arguably not, however an uprising, since there were no political targets or goals, but only an explosion of rage and market-driven greed aimed at stealing high-value and other commodities, or destroying

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property. The spectacle appeared to be less inspired by Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” as 50-Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” On the fourth night of the disorders, the BBC had video documentation of intense rioting in Manchester in the northwest and Birmingham, Britain’s second biggest city, where youths were portrayed as taking over city centers and robbing and trashing at will, targeting high-end shops in the city’s main shopping areas. Further, outbreaks of violence were reported throughout England, including in Nottingham, where a gang of up to forty firebombed a police station. In addition, YouTube videos captured disgusting thuggery, including one, with clips shown by the BBC and Al Jazeera and circulated through the internet of global media, of youths appearing to help an injured young man while they robbed him.64 While it is doubtful that the England rioters understood the concept of legitimation crisis, it is certain that they were experiencing intense alienation from the British government and society. While watching the spectacle of the England riots in action, it was hard not to think of the Sex Pistols’ mantra “No Future,” or the Clash’s “London’s Burning.” For decades British working-class youth and youth of color had been seriously alienated, and few apparent efforts had been made to provide opportunities for youth or improve their living conditions in deteriorating neighborhoods. In addition, a culture of gangs and thuggery in depressed areas, glorified in media culture, had produced a hypermasculinist thug-life vision for men and propensities for violence that could explode at any time. Like Anders Breivik in Norway, the Angry Young Men of England were suffering crises of masculinity, having had exaggerated fantasies of male power which were denied in their everyday life.65 Male rage in England exploded into the spectacles of looting and rioting that were threatening the security and future of England. Like Breivik, the frenzied youth of England gained moments of empowerment and celebrity as they acted out their fantasies of controlling the street, striking out against the system, and engaging in an orgy of looting. Such compulsive looting is motivated by capitalist desires for consumption and the programmed thrill of presenting oneself in the latest fashion, or showing off the latest electronics: “I shop and consume, therefore I am.” Random violence and hooliganism, which accompanied the looting, however, are arguably driven by excessive rage and a nihilistic lust for destruction, theorized by Freud and Marcuse as “Thanatos”, thus fueling the asocial behavior on display in the UK with strong impulses of both naked greed and aggression.66 As with Breivik, the rioting British young males and others were copycats, emulating a model of behavior that had become a media spectacle. The script for the thuggery was concocted by global media culture, in particular hip hop gangster rap, ghetto exploitation films, and Black Thug-Life fashion and celebrities, emulated as well by white, Latino, Asian, and other ethnic youth as a guise of hard masculinity. The hoods, masks, sweatshirts, and

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baggy pants marked the uniform, and the thugs caught on video during the riots were behaviorally acting out Thug-Life gestures in situations where they could be their fantasy gangster identities and participate in a major media spectacle.67 The England riots were different from the 1992 LA riots, which were properly coded as race riots.68 The latter were triggered when the LA police, caught on videotape beating up African American Rodney King, were found not guilty by a white Simi Valley jury, setting off days of riots that caused millions of dollars of damage. In the England riots, the rioters appeared from initial media images to be heavily black, but they were also significantly white and of assorted other ethnicities, and included as well some women who appeared to have joined in the looting. The images I saw on BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and various US networks during the first days of the UK riots were mostly of rioting young men, but evidently many women and people of assorted ages and classes were arrested and appeared in the magistrate courts, accused of participating in the crimes. Indeed, the Guardian’s blog on court cases, personal accounts of participants in or eyewitnesses to the riots, and journalistic accounts from multiple sources indicate that the rioters were black and white, male and female, young and somewhat older, unemployed and employed, and of multiple ethnicities. These accounts also report that looting was a major part of the rioting and involved a wide range of social types, pointing out that all social groups and classes are conditioned to maximize consumption and that free luxury or highly desired items are irresistible in the consumer society.69 Indeed, in the Guardian’s blog summaries and articles on magistrate court hearings on suspected looters described many males and females and some older people, including professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, and a wide range of social types.70 Yet reports also indicated that in some neighborhoods there was little looting, but gangs, mostly of male youth, were fighting police, burning cars and buildings, and generally involved in rampages of rioting. Many in these groups were the most alienated of underclass youth who had little or no employment, few educational opportunities, a bleak future, and not much to lose. Their alienation was not just in Marx’s sense of alienated labor, in which exploited workers produce unpaid surplus value for capitalists, but in a deeper alienation in which these youth were often viewed as surplus, waste, and outside the system. Many of the vandals appeared to be part of well-organized gangs, perhaps experienced in fighting and causing social mayhem, while others appeared to be just random groups of youths or individuals enjoying a spree of looting or fighting. Yet the media spectacle of the UK riots presented the action as a spectacle of terror that indeed terrorized British society for days. Obviously, the multiplying forms of domestic terrorism are overdetermined and close sociological analysis is needed to help comprehend each example.

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In the examples under scrutiny here, there are, however, common crises of masculinity and male rage exploding into acts of violence that create a media spectacle. In these cases, individual agents carry out acts of societal violence that give them an illusion of power and a hypermale Macho Tough Guy identity, thus becoming part of something greater than their often failed lives. No doubt, many explanations will be offered as to the dynamics, causes, and consequences of and potential solutions to England’s dramatic spectacle of terror, which could be expected to continue into the indefinite future in threatened urban areas with dense poverty, gangs, and corrupt or ineffective governments throughout the world. Henceforth, small groups could use their BlackBerries and social networks to organize looters or flash mobs devoted to mayhem anytime, anywhere, and for any purpose, creating a media spectacle that would empower the spectacle’s producers, at least until they were caught and incarcerated.71 Obviously, great amounts of male rage were festering in the UK and the rampages provided a field for acting out these impulses. Thus, the Dark Side of the Spectacle involves, first, the use of new media and social networking for organizing crime and thuggery as in the England riots, or promoting discourses and spectacles of hate and terror as in the Breivik case. While some of us have promoted the internet, new media, and social networking as forces for progressive social change,72 as the England riots indicate, they can also be used for more nefarious purposes. The Dark Side of the Spectacle, by contrast, involves the proliferation of violent internet subcultures filled with hate groups, the promotion of violence, and ways to disseminate instruments of terror as well as the culture of hate. As I argued above, Anders Breivik was thoroughly steeped in an internet culture of violence, racist hate sites, and right-wing extremism; he procured many of his instruments of violence from the internet, and used the internet and social networking to disseminate his “manifesto” just before his rampages. Yet while it is important to recognize the dark side of the spectacle and new technologies, one needs to be careful not to make new media, the internet, and social networking the scapegoats for terrorist crimes that become major media spectacles of the day. The UK Conservative government in its response, not surprisingly, proffered highly problematic scapegoating and simplistic responses, dismissing the acts as “criminality pure and simple,” and politicians and the media used terms like “feral youth” to describe participants in the riots.73 On Thursday August 11, the BBC and other global television channels presented the spectacle of the British Parliament with all parties uniting in condemning the violence. Conservative leader David Cameron proclaimed that a “fight-back is underway,” explaining that digital camera imaging of the thuggery was leading to arrests and that “phony human rights” be dammed, pictures of thugs would be posted and every perpetrator would be

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arrested. The BBC and other media outlets followed the police in arresting suspects, who were taken to jail or in some cases to the 24-hour courts which were sorting out charges and presenting spectacles of accused youth, and some not so young, leaving the courthouse with scarves or shirts over their faces, or flashing defiant fingers at cameras. Cameron was firm in rejecting a call by the Labour Party and others for an investigation into the causes of the rioting, signaling perhaps that the Conservatives would rather not know anything, perhaps because their policies are in part responsible for the social problems under inquiry. Instead, Cameron’s Conservatives called for hard law-and-order responses by the police and the criminal justice system, ordering thousands of police on London streets, encouraging “more robust” responses, which might include water cannons and rubber bullets, bringing in the army in the case of extreme emergencies, and engaging in an “all-out war on gangs.” Cameron also suggested that social networking sites might be closed down in times of social troubles. These questions caused a giant uproar in the blogo- and social networking sphere, and forced the Conservatives to back down on this last demand.74 On August 11, a British police officially took exception to David Cameron’s criticism that their response had not been “robust” enough and took swipes at politicians returning from their vacations and not knowing the facts on the ground.75 The Cameron government also resisted cancelling a planned scaling-back of planned cuts to the police despite widespread protests and calls for more police after the UK riots. Evidently, Conservative politicians would rather pay fewer taxes and see deficits go down since they probably will avoid social unrest in their gated communities or guarded bubbles. There was also an uproar over Cameron’s call to bring in LA police chief William Bratton to advise the British police, with the BBC presenting a London police spokesperson on August 13 proclaiming that the Brits didn’t need Yank police to tell them how to do their jobs.76 In addition, there was a negative response over the weekend of August 13–14 from the Conservative Party’s Liberal Democrat allies to the Tories’ overly punitive response that included kicking families out of public housing if one of their children was found guilty of rioting and lawbreaking. Already, major political parties were providing opposing explanations and remedies for the England riots,77 while social commentators were using the events to scapegoat their favorite societal evils, offering homogenized and reductive views of the rioters and reductive solutions to the problems.78 By the weekend of August 13–14, the BBC announced that 2,200 people had been arrested for participating in the England riots, 1,400 of them in London, and that 24-hour-a-day magistrate courts were processing the suspects, assigning many to higher courts with stiffer penalties.79 The full force of the surveillance society was being deployed to identify and capture the looters. The Greater Manchester Police announced that it “will project

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digital images from CCTV footage on a giant screen in Piccadilly Gardens and the Printworks entertainment complex at the heart of the city before the end of Friday. The images of those suspected of taking part in the riots earlier this week will also be displayed on mobile advertising vans as part of its ‘Shop a Looter’ campaign.”80 For the moment, the August phase of the England riot spectacle seemed to be over, and in the aftermath various political parties were using the affair to push their own agendas, as were commentators and other groups. An interim British government report released in late November blamed the spreading of the riots on lack of robust policing in its early stages, thus reinforcing the law and order hardline discourse of the UK Conservative Party, but soon afterwards, the Guardian and London School of Economics (LSE) began publishing reports that insisted on more complex causes of the riots.81 In particular the LSE/Guardian report, nicely presented on BBC Newsnight on the weekend of December 10–11, emphasized an anti-police dimension to the uprising, documenting that many participants in the English riots consciously described how their actions were directed against the police and political system. The LSE/Guardian study interviewed 270 individuals who took part in the August riots across cities in England, who described their actions, motives, and the consequences for them. Many participants interviewed described their motivations as not directed by consumerism or looting, but anger and retribution against the police. Articles based on the interviews were titled “English riots were ‘a sort of revenge’ against the police. Rioters interviewed for our study say they sought retribution for what they saw as police abuse of power in their communities.” Another article indicated that “‘Humiliating’ stop and search a key factor in anger towards police. Interviewees said police treated them in a degrading way when they were stopped—particularly in strip-searching and handcuffing them.”82 Based on these studies, the BBC Newsnight report presented a white man, a black youth, and a woman student who all described anger at the police as a prime motivation for their participation in the riots. According to the report, 73 per cent of those questioned who had participated in the riots said that they had been stopped and harassed by the police, attesting to anger at the police throughout England. The LSE/Guardian series described a four-day gang truce so members could concentrate on participating in the riots. Many participants interviewed showed no remorse, and one-third said that they would do it again. The BBC Newsnight segment showed youths setting fire to police cars, attacking squads of police, and even attacking police stations, as well as looting stores. One segment had defiant youths marching and chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and participants told of the joy of controlling their public space and feeling empowered through their action. The BBC Newsnight report also featured a number of participants who felt that they were more generally revolting against the political

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system, with interviewees claiming that they felt they “got a raw deal from the government,” protesting more specifically against cuts from the Conservative government to education maintenance allowances, and other social programs, as well as anger about inability to get jobs. Hence, there were clearly a multiplicity of reasons that drove people to participate in the England riots. Reader comments to the LSE/Guardian study fiercely responded to the “Reading the Riots” report, criticizing methodology, conclusions, and arguments,83 but obviously the data and interpretations in the study had ignited a serious discussion, and suggested that the England riots had complex causes, forms, and consequences, and would be studied and debated for a long time to come. A later study released as a graphic in the text reaches other preliminary conclusions that indicate there were fewer gangs organized involved than Conservative politicians claimed, more white youth, and more juveniles 10–17.84 While it is too soon to draw conclusions on either the Breivik rampage of terror in Norway or the England riots, I want to next suggest some tentative conclusions on the cases that I have just examined in terms of the conceptions of media spectacle and terrorism discussed in this chapter, providing

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a diagnostic critique of what these spectacles of terror reveal about contemporary societies and how the social problems discussed can be addressed.

Some Tentative Conclusions on Terrorism, Media Spectacle, and 2011 It is now clear that spectacles of terror could be produced in any country and at any time through the actions of small groups, or even individuals, who would go on a rampage of terror and create a media spectacle, acting out their crises of masculinity (for it was mostly young men carrying out these acts), and gaining fifteen minutes or more of notoriety. In Norway, it was apparent that right-wing extremism was a growing problem in that country and throughout the world, and that states and citizens had not adequately reflected on its dangers, in part because of the obsession with radical Islamists following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the Islamophobia that the Right and Islamophobes had reproduced in the past decade. In Norway, the government had apparently not prepared for homegrown domestic terrorism, reportedly having no attack helicopters ready the day of Breivik’s terrorist assaults. Further, it took ninety minutes for the Norwegian police to finally confront Breivik, and after taking boats to the island that allegedly could not support the number of police, police were forced to borrow boats from civilians. Many of the rescues of the youth party members swimming away from the horror of Breivik’s terror were done by civilians camping across from the island, and news helicopters arrived long before the police. Yet once the police entered the island, Breivik quickly surrendered, and later said he was surprised that it took the police so long to come (it eventually came out in news reports that Breivik had called the Norwegian police to surrender but they took a long time to finally arrive).85 While Norwegian officials initially praised the police work, they did eventually constitute a national commission to study response strategies for domestic terrorism. In the US and other Western countries, state and media focus on antiterrorism issues have largely been on al-Qaeda and Islamic radicalism, and many Western countries were not prepared to deal with domestic terrorism committed by right-wing extremists. In the US, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security had produced a report in 2009 on Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment which indicated that economic recession and the election of an African American president might increase the threat of violence from white supremacists and right-wing extremists.86 Conservatives in Congress strongly objected to release of the report, and Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, withdrew the report and apologized. Daryl Johnson, the Department of Homeland Security

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analyst who was the primary author of the report, and who left the department in 2010, indicated in an interview that: “the number of analysts assigned to non-Islamic militancy of all kinds was reduced to two from six. Johnson, who now runs a private research firm on the domestic terrorist threat, DTAnalytics, said about 30 analysts worked on Islamic radicalism when he was there.”87 It was clear from the Norway example and Breivik’s connections and influences that there was also a global international of right-wing extremists, who circulated their ideologies of hate on the internet and created amorphous groups prepared to attack Muslims and immigrants, as well as the European states that took in immigrants and attempted to assimilate them, as in Norway. There appeared to be deranged individuals throughout the world, who were falling prey to racist ideologies of hate, and were prepared to erupt in violent terrorism to act out their rage and political agenda and to create spectacles of terror to gain attention and celebrity, as did Breivik. In England and other countries, crises of youth and masculinity were intensifying, as young men faced a hopeless future, and were immersed in a culture that promoted high consumerism and which required money to purchase what society inculcated as its tokens of the Good Life. Ads bombard youth in consumer societies daily with messages that they must buy x, y, and z to be cool and with it, and if you cannot afford it, pressures mount to take it by any means necessary. Critics suggested a complex cacophony of varying explanations for the England riots, including sociological analyses of the context in the UK of Tory cutbacks in social programs and spending during an era of scandals involving Members of Parliament who had padded their expense accounts, bankers and financial marketeers who had looted their institutions, and the corruption of media, politicians, and police in the Murdochgate scandal, as discussed in Chapter 5. Obviously, poverty, race, gangs, drugs, a culture of violence, broken families, and crises in values all contributed to the dramatic and shocking spectacle of the England riots. While Cameron and the Tories declined calls for a serious investigation of the complex and multiple causes of the England riots, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat Party called for public inquiry and a “victim’s panel” that would interview residents from the neighborhoods where the riots erupted. Calling for sustained inquiry into the causes of the riots, the Guardian teamed up with the London School of Economics (LSE) to launch a “Reading the Riots” project in which researchers are interviewing hundreds of people involved in the disturbances in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Gloucester. The study will include surveys of those who took part in the disorder, interviews with residents, police and the judiciary, and analysis of more than 2.5 million riot-related Twitter messages. Organizers of the project indicate that their research will be

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based on “a groundbreaking survey conducted in the aftermath of the Detroit riots in 1967 by the Detroit Free Press newspaper and Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. The professor who led the Detroit study, Phil Meyer, is advising the research into the disturbances in England. LSE’s involvement will be led by Professor Tim Newburn, head of the university’s social policy department.”88 In 2011, youth throughout the world was suffering crises of values and culture, as well as of masculinity, which were taking different forms in different cultures. In the Arab Uprisings, the initial demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, which successfully overthrew their dictators in struggles that were generally peaceful and non-violent, combined men and women, the young and the old, who joined together to channel their energies into radical political transformation. In Libya, by contrast, an armed struggle involving NATO bombing and other military support was necessary to overthrow the Qaddafi regime, with bloody and horrific consequences. Indeed, even after the October 20, 2011 killing of Qaddafi and collapse of his regime, bloodshed in the Libyan revolution may go on for months and perhaps years to come, as Men with Guns and Bombs could continue to wreak havoc in the country, joining Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries as seemingly permanently destabilized and violent sites of daily horror in the Time of the Spectacle. In the US and other countries that allow just about anyone to purchase, own, and use guns, weapons could provide a surrogate for a hard masculinity, and gun culture could easily erupt into rampages of terror. Indeed, imagine if England allowed guns on the street how the youth rampage could have produced an unimaginable bloodbath. After a shooting rampage at the Dunblane primary school in Scotland in 1996, the UK tightened its gun laws and took guns off the street, a salutary and effective effort to lessen gun violence and killing. Such action was also undertaken by Australia after a crazed gunman massacred tourists in Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996, leading state governments—some of which (notably Tasmania itself and Queensland) were opposed to new gun laws—to severely restrict the availability of firearms. In both cases, horrific slaughters generated a debate over tighter gun laws, leading to real changes (see Kellner 2008). In the US, by contrast, after every major shooting rampage, gun enthusiasts call for lessening restrictions on allowing guns in public so that people could defend themselves with guns against shooters. That the US has never had a serious discussion of domestic terrorism and gun rampages, which take place almost every week, is in part because the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun lobbies have made taboo discussion of how guns contribute to societal violence and how unrestrained gun laws make easily available the instruments of destruction and death. Thus terrorism and societal violence of all sorts are increasingly serious problems throughout the Western world, but they have multiple causes and

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require complex solutions. Better policing and law and order were immediately suggested as solutions in Norway and England, but debates have been unfolding into the deeper social roots that have led to indiscriminate domestic terrorist violence of a multiplying set of types and acts, as well as social vandalism and looting. In the preceding sections, I have suggested how the dark side of the spectacle has contributed to intensifying domestic terrorism and societal violence, yet in conclusion I would affirm that while media spectacle can help produce social disorder and violence, it can also contribute to transforming society and promoting social justice, as it has done in a contradictory and still unpredictable fashion in the Arab insurrections of 2011. Thus, media spectacle is a contested terrain upon which progressive and regressive forces alike can intervene and provides a field for some of the key political issues and struggles of the day. In the concluding chapter, I will update analysis of the Arab Uprisings and other major spectacles that I have analyzed in previous chapters, and will engage some other significant media spectacles that emerged later in the summer and fall of 2011. These include the dramatic emergence of widespread criminal charges against the mighty Rupert Murdoch media empire in a spectacle that turned media spectacle against one of the major purveyors of the spectacle and the tabloidization of news, threatening to destroy his empire. Finally, I will conclude with discussion of the Occupy movement that erupted with Occupy Wall Street on September 17, 2011 and soon morphed into a protest movement throughout the US and other parts of the globe, as young people and their supporters used the tactics of the Arab Spring against what were perceived as corruptions in the system of US capitalism.

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5 Theorizing the Contemporary Moment: From Murdochgate and the Arab Uprisings to Occupy Everywhere!

The Beginning is Near Occupy Wall Street slogan

The studies collected here have attempted to theorize the contemporary moment from the Obama presidency, Arab Uprisings, trajectory of Islamic terrorism, and various political insurrections in 2011 from the perspective of media spectacle. Obviously, there are difficulties in theorizing major political events as they unfold, as frequently it is only much later that scholars can gain deeper understanding of complex historical events. Since, however, contemporary history has been orchestrated and played out as media spectacle, there is some justification for throwing oneself into the maelstrom of contemporary events and theorizing the spectacles as they unfold and often take surprising and unpredictable twists and turns. Via the internet and global cable channels, much contemporary history is live, recorded on cell phones, digital cameras, and other recording devices and circulated globally. Contemporary history has its archives in YouTube, Twitter, blogs and websites that collect artifacts of the moment and provide material for global cable networks and print media, as well as researchers like

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myself who confront every day the raw material of contemporary history. Major print and broadcasting websites provide archives of the first drafts of contemporary history and multiple processings, framings, and debating of the issues of the day in print and broadcast media which cumulatively provide unparalleled sources of historical material for contextualizing and analyzing contemporary history, as I have done in this book. We are in an era of intense media saturation with global cable and satellite television, the internet and social networking, and ever-proliferating new media and technologies co-constructing and disseminating the unfolding of major events of the present moment as media spectacle. One of my goals in these studies has been to develop a critical theory of the contemporary moment through the prism of media spectacle. My studies have shown that throughout 2011, the major news stories of the day, that may well define the epoch, exploded into global consciousness through media spectacle, and that media spectacle played a significant material role in the development and circulation of the events. The Arab Uprisings throughout the early months of the year proliferated models of mass uprisings through, initially, peaceful protests that in the case of Tunisia and Egypt expelled dictators from power who had ruled for decades. In February 2011, uprisings in Libya quickly led antiQaddafi rebels to seize power in the eastern half of Libya and set off revolts throughout the country, with major figures in the Qaddafi regime resigning and in some cases going over to the rebels, appearing to generate a revolutionary Trifecta against aging dictators in North Africa. The Libyan Uprisings, however, were swiftly met with violent responses from Qaddafi’s state apparatus, throwing the country into a civil war (see Chapters 2 and 3), with the anti-Qaddafi forces dramatically seizing Tripoli in August 2011, and capturing and killing Qaddafi and major members of his regime in October—events discussed in Chapter 3. The killing of Osama Bin Laden in June 2011 brought back concentrated global media focus on al-Qaeda terrorism and Terror War, especially in the US, and, as I discussed in Chapter 4, returned global attention to Islamic terrorism after months of focusing on the Arab Uprisings. From the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, which reached their tenth anniversary in 2011, the succeeding era was one of Terror War, in which global and US media focused intensely on spectacles of terror (see Kellner 2003b and 2005). The spectacles of the Arab Uprisings of Spring 2011 displaced the terrorist narrative and discourse with that of freedom and democratic revolution throughout the Middle East and global spaces, although Islamic and other forms of terrorism remains a dangerous threat to the US and other countries throughout the world. In this era, Al Jazeera emerged as the voice of the democratic revolution, and the internet and global media were used to help generate and circulate processes of popular social transformation that renounced al-Qaeda

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terrorism while attacking authoritarian regimes and promoting freedom and regime change. As I have noted, media spectacles generally erupt as “Breaking News” with social networking media like YouTube and global cable channels presenting initial images and dramatic stories, constructed in spectacle form as major events that center global attention and dominate the news agendas for days to come. In an era of multiple media formats and social networking, the dominant media spectacles of the day quickly circulate back and forth from social networking to local and global television networks to major global newspapers and print media, and multiply via the vast all-enveloping sphere of the internet, which allows every individual to participate in the construction and dissemination of the spectacle. In an era of blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and social networking, individuals can repurpose discourses and images of the spectacle, produce their own interpretations and media interventions, and focus attention on areas of the spectacle that respond to their own personal or political agendas. New media and social networking help construct a new media ecology in which individuals can consume and help produce multiple media in a wide range of platforms and sites, thus becoming ever more immersed in media environments. While old media were centralized, concentrated in ownership and involved top-down communication, the new media ecology is more participatory, decentralized, multiple, and ever shifting and mutating. Media spectacles often constitute a common denominator to the contemporary media environment, but people consume and participate in this ecology in varying ways. Most importantly, people can use new media and social networking for popular resistance and democratic social transformation. Previously, Big Media were controlled by state and corporate powers used to advance their interests while often ignoring and negatively presenting social critique or protest movements. In the new era of global media and social networking, anyone can participate in the production and dissemination of news and information and use media to promote social movements and popular social transformation. Indeed, from the Tunisian and Egypt Uprisings through the Occupy movements a common model was used of activists using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, cell phones, and other social media to organize demonstrations, document the protests and often to capture the police/state brutality against the demonstrators, and to spread the message of the movements throughout the society under contestation and the entire globe, even getting their images and discourse into global media like Al Jazeera or the BBC. Media spectacles last indefinite periods of time as major news events, and are often supplanted by the new spectacle of the moment, as the March 11 eruption of the Japanese triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe displaced the centrality of global media of the Libyan civil war.

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Some days after the events in Japan dominated global news media, however, Libya once again became the major news story of the day, as NATO voted to intervene militarily on the side of the anti-Qaddafi rebels in Libya, setting off some weeks of exciting spectacles of civil war, while raising questions about yet another Western military intervention in the Middle East (see Chapter 3). The crises in Libya and the Middle East have continued to unfold throughout 2011 and their narratives will not be fully understood or evaluated for, perhaps, years to come. Media spectacles thus last different periods of time and have varying and often contradictory and ambiguous intensities and effects. There are reversals of the spectacle, ebbs and flows of the spectacle, and surprises of the spectacle as in the Libyan war and revolution that I discussed in Chapter 3. Major media spectacles like the 9/11 terror attacks, the Arab Uprisings, and the current global economic crisis have often unforeseeable consequences and will continue to play out over long periods of time. Global cable television often presents raw versions of events like the Middle East Arab Uprisings, the Libyan war and revolution, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the UK riots, and Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements, while newspapers, journals, blogs, and other discursive media provide more context, background, corrections, depth, and offer varying, often conflicting, opinions and interpretations. Developing my previous work on a critical theory of the media in these studies, I have focused on how global broadcasting media, and in particular Al Jazeera, BBC, and CNN, generate media spectacle and I present critiques of news media like CNN if, for instance, they play propaganda roles for the US government in the so-called “War against Terror,” or the NATO Libya intervention. In the studies collected here, I critically engaged the spectacles in question as they were constructed by various broadcast media, and use print material or other sources that question or supplement the accounts and presentations of specific broadcasting networks like CNN or Al Jazeera. In regard to US foreign policy and domestic terrorism, CNN emerges from my studies as an accomplice of Fox News in presenting anti-terrorist reporting that replicates sources and discourses of the US government. In relation to the Arab Uprisings, Al Jazeera emerges as the partisan voice of the democratic movements in the Middle East and partisan for the struggles against dictators, but also appears from my readings as a highly reliable source of information. CNN and BBC also emerge as strong supporters of the Arab Uprisings, while Russian television (RT) is consistently antiAmerican and pro-Russian, following the Russian government line on most every issue. While the BBC provides a solid source of global news and information, it lacks the sharp edge and radical democratic spirit of Al Jazeera, while CNN exhibits more blind spots and limitations in its depiction of

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global news than BBC and Al Jazeera, as I have noted throughout this book. Hence, upon concluding these studies I would rate the Guardian as the number one global newspaper of 2011 in terms of its coverage of the media spectacles and uprisings of 2011 that I have covered in this book, and Al Jazeera wins my nod as the top global broadcasting network in 2011, the Year of the Spectacle. The Guardian had daily articles, blogs, and frequent opinion pieces on all of the major media spectacles that I have engaged in this book; its website collects articles on these themes and has continued to pursue and update all of these stories. Just as the exploding political revolts in the North African Arab Uprisings, the Occupy movements, and, in a different register, the England riots exploded with spontaneity and speed enabled by new technologies and communication networks, so too did journalism need to develop new forms, like the Guardian running blogs which documented the daily eruptions of insurrection in the UK riots and the daily court proceedings of the Leveson hearing investigating the British media, government, and the Murdoch scandals.1 Al Jazeera English, in turn, has been presenting in-depth coverage on its English-language TV channel of the major spectacles of 2011, and its English-language website also has a wealth of articles, blogs, and discussions of the issues, including running blogs, like the Guardian, which include official statements of government, major journalistic articles, blog commentaries, tweets, YouTubes, and other images and information that proliferate with fast-moving events. US media, by contrast, are slow and clumsy in responding to fast-moving spectacles of the contemporary moment. Throughout this book, I have discussed how the major media spectacles analyzed contribute to understanding the phenomenon of media spectacle, and how their interpretations illuminate contemporary history. In this concluding chapter I shall draw some conclusions concerning what insights for a diagnostic critique that my studies have yielded into the Obama spectacle, the Arab Uprisings, the Libyan Uprising and Revolution, the ongoing Terror War pitting Islamic extremism against the West that has been going on during the entire new century, and other major media spectacles that I have engaged. Further, I will continue to draw general conclusions about the role of media spectacle in the contemporary moment and how dominant media spectacles that I have engaged are playing out as we proceed through 2012 further into the New Millennium in the Time of the Spectacle. In the first four chapters of this book, I have analyzed some major media spectacles of the era as have they unfolded through summer 2011, and in the concluding chapter will update the analysis of the spectacles and draw some conclusions as the stories continued to develop into the fall and winter of 2011. I conclude with how the Occupy Wall Street movement of September 2011 quickly transmuted into global Occupy

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movements encompassing the Western world and that responded to global crises of capitalism and the state. I will argue that 2011 may emerge in future histories and the popular imagination as a turning point in history and landmark of political struggle, much as 1968 and 1989 functioned in previous social histories and political imaginaries. Yet I want to open the concluding chapter with some reflections on a media spectacle which erupted in July 2011, and that continues to be a major event that provides some significant insights into the nature and role of media spectacle in the contemporary era and the ways that media spectacle can be turned against media empires, as Rupert Murdoch and his minions discovered in summer 2011.

Media Spectacle and Murdochgate “Sir, your newspapers for two decades have engaged in the degradation of the proper feelings of our people. What is vile they offer to gloating eyes, what is vindictive they applaud. You have done more harm to this country than any of its external enemies,” Martin Boyd, Lucinda Brayford2

In July 2011, as I was editing the first draft of my text, dramatic revelations concerning misdeeds by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World (NOTW), one of the most successful tabloid newspapers in history, erupted, creating a vast media spectacle that was compared to Watergate and that threatened the existence of Murdoch’s global media empire.3 Richard Nixon’s Watergate crisis implicated the President in a series of scandals that led to the famous Watergate Hearings as a major media spectacle of 1973, followed by his resignation—the first US President to ever resign from office. The cascading scandals in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire were thus referred to in some circles as “Murdochgate” (see Note 3 above), a series of events that might destroy his empire. For years, there had been accusations that employees of Murdoch’s various tabloid newspapers had hacked telephones to gain information and pay police and other informers for news source material. In 2007, a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman and an alleged hacker, Glenn Mulcaire were sent to jail for hacking the cell phones of members of the Royal Family, and reports surfaced as well that celebrities like Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, and Jude Law were also hacked, as well as figures connected to sports, always an important domain of the spectacle. At the time, Murdoch and his stooges claimed that the hacking was the work of a single rogue reporter, and police and government inquiries accepted these claims.

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On July 4, 2011, however, a British Guardian reporter, Nick Davies, who had been pursuing the hacking stories for years, broke with colleague Amelia Hill the sensational revelations that Murdoch’s tabloid News of the World (NOTW) had hacked the cell phone messages of Milly Dowler, a thirteen-year-old missing girl whose disappearance was a media sensation in 2002.4 The Guardian reported that a NOTW employee had apparently hacked into Dowler’s voice-message system, deleted messages, which gave her family and police hope that she was still alive, and used hacked material to write stories about this missing girl. Dowler was found murdered, and the revelation that NOTW had hacked the murdered girl’s phone and interfered with the police investigation created a British and global media spectacle in summer 2011.5 The Guardian research revealed that London police had indicated that more than 4,000 allegations of phone hacking of celebrities, politicians, the Royals, and ordinary people had been gleaned from convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire’s notebook, which contained over 11,000 pages of notes. Allegations that NOTW reporters hacked into cell phone voicemail systems belonging to families of UK soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and of families of victims of London terrorist attacks were especially explosive. Outrage grew from day to day as additional major figures in the Murdoch media empire were arrested, and Murdochgate became one of the major media spectacles of the moment, with far-reaching consequences. In the wildly successful Harry Potter films, the last of which was released just as the Murdochgate scandal was breaking, the Daily Prophet news tabloid provided a satire of a Murdoch tabloid, and one could see Murdoch himself as a figure for Voldemort, the evil villain whom Harry Potter was to vanquish. In any case, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire was a major source of right-wing power throughout the English-speaking world. Differently branded as News International (UK) and News Corps (US), globally, Murdoch’s media empire was said to have a market value of around $46 billion, including some 175 newspapers throughout the world, HarperCollins publishing,  20th Century Fox and other movie studios, and television interests in China, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere, including major cable channels and distribution systems.6  Murdoch had been at the center of the construction of global media companies using new technologies to create cable-satellite television empires, global news and information conglomerates, and in the UK alone, Murdoch media properties comprised several leading newspapers including establishment papers The Times and the Sunday Times, popular tabloids NOTW and the Sun, along with control of Sky TV and a major stake in BSkyB, the two largest cable-satellite franchises in the UK which he had merged. At the time that the hacking scandal broke out, Murdoch had been seeking permission from the British government to purchase majority shares in the UK cable system BSkyB, so he could effectively control cable

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television in the UK. In the US, Murdoch owns many newspapers, including the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, which he purchased in 2007 just before the newspaper industry went into economic free-fall, losing millions in the exchange. Murdoch also controls 20th Century Fox films in the US, as well as Fox Television and Fox News, two of the most popular, profitable, and, in the case of Fox News, powerful news channels in the United States. Murdoch’s media empire contributed massively to the tabloidization of news and information from the 1990s to the present. His Sky TV and Fox News television channels highlighted sensationalistic stories with glitzy presentations, large graphics that tell people what to think, and the collapse of codes of news and entertainment—framed from a right-wing conservative position.7 Murdoch’s newspapers as well featured giant sensational headlines, short stories with gobs of tabloid trash and scandal, and pictures galore, including naked women in his Brit tabs. Thus not only was Murdoch the major purveyor of an aggressively right-wing political slant on the news, but he degraded journalism and helped create the tabloidization of news and information. Indeed, it is ironic and fitting that Murdoch’s media empire would be put in question and perhaps destroyed by media spectacle since his newspapers, cable television channels, and internet sites have been major forces since the 1980s in the tabloidization of news and information, highlighting scandals and wrong-doing of the rich, famous, and the political class.8 In the US, Murdoch’s media had brought tabloid stories like the O. J. Simpson trial and Bill Clinton sex scandals into the center of news and journalism in the mid-1990s, while importing codes of entertainment into journalism and, for some, seriously undermining traditional standards. His Fox News network became infamous as the voice of the right wing of the Republican Party, and in the UK Murdoch had the power to make and break politicians and even to choose governments, as I discuss below.

Scandals of the Murdoch Media Empire The press, designed for freedom’s best defence, And learning, morals, wisdom to dispense, Perverted, poisoned, lost to honor’s rules, Is made the sport of knaves, to govern fools. Philadelphia Public Ledger, 1839.

With the unfolding of the hacking scandal concerning the Murdoch press in the UK in July 2011, old allegations circulated widely that staff from Murdoch’s tabloid paper News of the World regularly hacked into cell phones, used private detectives, and bribed police officers so they could

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obtain illegal sources for stories, supplemented by daily stories of other wrongdoing. The British government soon became deeply involved in the scandal when it was revealed that former NOTW editor Andy Coulson had been hired by David Cameron and the ruling Conservative Party to run their media communications unit during the 2010 general election which the Conservatives won, thus bringing a Murdoch Fox into the British Government Henhouse. Coulson’s involvement in the hacking scandal had been alleged for some time and he had been fired as NOTW editor in 2007 because of the scandal of hacking the British Royals, but such a criminal past did not deter Cameron from hiring Coulson, who was long implicated in the foul practices of the Murdoch empire. Yet when Coulson was formally arrested for his role in the hacking and other illegal activities in July, 2011, Cameron’s Conservative Party government was threatened by its associations with the Murdoch gang. Hence, as the Murdoch phone hacking scandal unfolded, focus centered on Rupert Murdoch and his son James, now Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, and the current NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks,9 a fiery redhead and the youngest woman ever to edit a major UK periodical. In what appeared as a desperate attempt to limit damage, James Murdoch announced on July 7 that the 168-year-old NOTW tabloid would be shut down, as advertisers were abandoning the paper in droves and the uproar was growing. As noted above, the Murdoch media company was currently involved in an effort that was being evaluated by the British government to gain full control of BSkyB cable/satellite system, and the Labour Party insisted that the issue be debated in the British Parliament, in the light of recent Murdoch corporation scandals. On July 13, Murdoch announced

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation

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that News Corporation was withdrawing its proposal to take full control of BSkyB and the same day UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a public government inquiry would be formed to investigate the affair under the charge of Lord Justice Brian Leveson, which I discuss below. When the scandal erupted, Rupert Murdoch flew to London from a conference/vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho, and found himself at the center of a media circus of the type which his own press had long orchestrated. While he initially claimed he had returned to protect Brooks, who many in the British establishment were suggesting should resign as editor of NOTW, he was soon summoned to appear at a hearing in Parliament, along with his son James and Rebekah Brooks. After first hesitating, they agreed to appear, as scandals were appearing daily, and one after another major NOTW figures, including Brooks, were arrested and charged in the criminal inquiry. Accusations multiplied concerning police corruption and too cozy relations with the Murdoch empire, and Paul Stephenson, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police Service (a.k.a. Scotland Yard) resigned as uproar mounted over his failure to investigate alleged phone-hacking by the Murdoch corporation and other wrongdoing after the 2007 convictions of some of Murdoch’s employees. That under Stephenson’s leadership, one of Andy Coulson’s closest assistants at NOTW, Neil Wallis, was hired as public relations advisor to the police, also put Stephenson’s judgment in question. Stephenson’s resignation was followed by that of another highranking Scotland Yard cop, John Yates (a.k.a. “Yates of the Yard”), the UK’s counter-terrorism chief, who had worked and socialized with Wallis, and had apparently recommended that Wallis’ daughter be given a job with the police. It was clear that the Murdoch corporation had corrupted the British media, the political system, and now the police and legal system, all of which had failed to investigate and prosecute their earlier wrongdoings. Murdoch’s media were employing the vilest methods to get stories, had corrupted politicians and the police alike, and were Kingmakers in the British system. While Murdoch had supported Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives in the 1980s, he personally disliked her successor John Major and supported Labour Party candidate Tony Blair, who enthusiastically pushed Murdoch’s interests and socialized with the Murdoch family. Although Murdoch reportedly liked Blair’s successor Gordon Brown, by contrast, other major News Corporation figures apparently preferred David Cameron who the Murdoch papers ultimately supported and who beat Brown and the Labour Party in the 2010 General Election.10 Thus it appeared that England was suffering a legitimation crisis at the time of the Murdoch media scandal and the English riots of 2011, which I have discussed in the last chapter. In the US in the 1960s, the United States was said to have suffered a “legitimation crisis” during the era of the

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Vietnam War, during which there was also heavy-handed police repression to deal with anti-war protestors, upheavals in ghettoes and poorer areas, growing divisions between rich and poor, and the scandals of the Nixon administration, resulting in Richard Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate affair.11 The British government was now in full-scale legitimation crisis mode as the Cameron government was soiled by its tawdry association with the Murdoch media empire, and had indeed carried out a right-wing agenda that cut social programs, education, and programs for youth, and a deficit-spending cuts agenda that benefitted the rich while harming the working and middle classes—all the while spending lavishly on expensive wars in Afghanistan and Libya. The televised parliamentary hearing on July 19 was a global media spectacle of the highest order as Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks were grilled by a British parliamentary committee. Although Murdoch injected near the opening that this was the “most humble day of his life,” he refused to take responsibility for the crimes of his corporation, and his answers ranged from doddering and vague responses, revealing his age and growing infirmity, to belligerent denials of any responsibility. His son James would sometimes interrupt to try to answer questions, and provided long technocratic and sometimes evasive answers (which later would be called into question). As the testimony was nearing its close, a British activist and comedian emerged to attempt to hit Murdoch with a shaving-foam pie, diverted by a quick response from Murdoch’s wife Wendi. Ms Murdoch body-blocked the pie-thrower and picked up the messy shaving-foam plate and shoved it into the comedian’s face, producing a minor piece of theater that would probably make her a star of the moment in a global media spectacle. Following the British parliamentary inquiry, members of the Murdoch corporation questioned in public some of James Murdoch’s answers, leading the once-heir-apparent to presumably be re-summoned to the British Parliament when it returned in the fall.12 James Murdoch was especially under fire for authorizing a million-dollar payoff to Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association and a major figure in British sports, who had allegedly been hacked by NOTW, sued, and was paid a large out-of-court settlement that British parliamentary questioners suggested was a bribe and hush money. James Murdoch had also denied knowing details of a brief put out by a law firm, Harbottle and Lewis, working for News Corps, which young Murdoch claimed confirmed that the hacking was limited to one rogue reporter, whereas other executives in News Corporation had claimed that Murdoch Jr. was familiar with details of the hacking brief and other company emails discussing widespread hacking problems in the company; moreover, the law firm Harbottle and Lewis claimed that the Murdochs misrepresented their work for the corporation.13

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Meanwhile, there were announcements that the FBI and Justice Department were opening inquiries into possible illegal activities of Murdoch’s media corporation in the United States, and rumors circulated concerning the possible hacking of US 9/11 families and dirty business deals done in the US by Murdoch businesses. Indeed, by August 2011 there were reports that Murdoch employees had also engaged in computer hacking and even had a drone at their disposal in the US, allegedly capable of taking pictures and hacking into telephone frequencies, that possibly violated US navigation laws (the latter was reported on Keith Olbermann’s August 3, 2011 Countdown TV show). While the UK government had announced a commission of inquiry into activities of Murdoch’s media empire and other media industries that may have employed similar criminal tactics, US Congressmen called for investigations into whether Murdoch’s US connections had engaged in similar tactics and whether Murdoch’s corporations have broken other laws, since his media empire is rooted in the US, and Murdoch has obtained US citizenship, making his businesses vulnerable to investigation through the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In Murdoch’s native Australia, the government announced on September 13 a formal inquiry into the behavior of Murdoch’s and other Australian media companies, generating investigation throughout the English-speaking world into Murdoch’s heinous journalistic practices. On August 1, London police arrested the former managing editor of NOTW, Stuart Kuttner, on suspicion of conspiring to hack cell phones and pay police officers, the eleventh of Murdoch’s close associates to be arrested in the scandal. Kuttner allegedly: … personally authorized cash expenses until his retirement two years ago in his role as managing editor, said multiple current and former company employees, who, like most people interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing police investigations and to avoid jeopardizing their ties with the company. Mr Kuttner did not respond to requests for comment. A person familiar with the company’s internal investigation said the regular infusions of cash, usually also authorized by newsroom editors as well as Mr Kuttner, contributed to the newsroom’s “Wild West” atmosphere. The funds were used as advances on expenses and also to pay sources for articles, said the former journalists. So far a search by the company of the cash records has found more than $200,000 in payments to police officers from the News of the World, according to two people with knowledge of the documents.14 Members of Murdoch’s media organizations were thus involved in complex cases of bribing police for information, hacking computers and cell phones,

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and corrupting government and police. In Murdochgate, we thus see media spectacle turn on one of its own major producers with unpredictable results, as through the fall and winter of 2011 allegations continued to emerge concerning knowledge of systematic wrongdoing throughout the Murdoch media empire. Individuals within the Murdoch corporation questioned the parliamentary testimony that James Murdoch gave, and on August 16, 2011, Clive Goodman, the only NOTW reporter to actually go to jail, published a letter claiming that knowledge of hacking was widespread in the Murdoch organization and discussed frequently at editorial meetings until editor Andy Coulson warned against public discussion of such illegal activity, creating another media uproar and calls for new British parliamentary hearings.15 And on August 23, it was revealed that Coulson continued receiving large payments from the Murdoch corporation after he went to work for David Cameron as part of the Tory media team, creating more scandals for the reigning British government.16 James Murdoch was called back to testify again before a British parliamentary committee on November 10, 2011, when two major figures in the British Murdoch media conglomerate News International contested his earlier testimony indicating that he was unaware of widespread hacking at Murdoch companies.17 Murdoch again denied knowledge of criminal activity at the family company, but British Member of Parliament Tom Watson argued that James Murdoch and his staff were “all bound together by secrecy,” and called Murdoch “the first Mafia boss in history not to know he is running a criminal enterprise” to which Murdoch replied, “Mr Watson, that’s inappropriate.” The Leveson Inquiry began hearings some days later on British press practices and ethics, beginning November 14, and planned to call scores of individuals who claimed to have been hacked and abused in multiple ways by the British press, promising sensational revelations into Murdoch and other media scandals for months to come and hopefully generate serious debates over ethics and journalism. Held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and preceded over by High Court Judge Sir Brian Leveson, the Inquiry opened by calling the Dowling family. The Dowlings recounted the painful story of how the hacking into their missing teenage daughter Milly’s telephone, and the deleting messages so the Murdochs’ tabloid NOTW newspaper could access new ones when her voicemail was full, provided false hopes that their daughter was still alive, hopes crushed when her murdered body was found. The Leveson Inquiry continued with movie stars and celebrities Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, who recounted harassment by tabloid media and anger at having their phones hacked and conversations reported in the Murdoch media, followed by sports figures and other celebrities who had similar stories. In the weeks to come, the Dowlers’ lawyer, Mark Lewis, who was representing other victims of phone hacking as well, reported his

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consternation at finding out his phone was hacked, as were other lawyers who had investigated or defended clients against the Murdoch empire. The Leveson Inquiry brought in a panorama of celebrities who had been abused by the Murdoch and other media corporations, as well as an ordinary British family, the McCanns, who recounted their torment by tabloid media when their three-year-old daughter went missing during a trip to Portugal and British tabloids went into a feeding frenzy of sensationalism about the case, including allegations that the McCanns were involved in their daughter’s death, a libelous charge that cost the offending tabloids vast amounts of cash. Actress Sienna Miller told the Leveson Inquiry of her distress when confidential details of her private life were published in the tabloid media, and she blamed those around her for leaking to the media, when in fact, as she learned later, the Murdoch and other tabloid media had systematically hacked her phones. Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling reported systematic harassment by the media over the years which constantly invaded her privacy, even to the extent that notes from the media to facilitate interviews were put in her daughter’s backpack! Formula One boss Max Mosley, the McCann family, Hugh Grant and others recounted the pain of reading outright lies about them in the tabloid media, and their inability to get the tabloids to retract the story, or to get the public media regulatory body the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to respond to their complaints. The Leveson Commission was scheduled to continue hearings in the months to come so no doubt other shocking revelations would be revealed, as members of the press and its critics would be called upon to discuss British journalistic practices, and relations between the British press, public, politicians, and the law. As the Leveson Inquiry hearings continued into December, 2011, they were opening fascinating windows into the practices of British journalism ranging from the tabloids to the Guardian and BBC, providing rare insight into the production of news stories, journalism and ethics, and the relationship between government and the media. Murdoch corporation employees were grilled on how their tabloid stories were produced, how private detectives were deployed, and how the Murdoch corporation related to the police, government regulatory agencies, and public criticism of their media (since many of those interrogated were under criminal investigation for telephone hacking, this theme was off-limit to those facing criminal charges in the Leveson Inquiry). Lawyers who were representing victims of hacking and other invasions of privacy or libel told of their experiences of being hacked, followed by private investigators, and being intimidated by members of the Murdoch media mafia. Government regulators were grilled concerning how they had failed to prosecute or even publically rebuke members of the media establishment when complaints were brought to them and rare public discussions were taking place concerning the failures of media regulation and how to better regulate the media.18

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There were also daily discussions of proper journalistic ethics and responsibilities to the “public interest,” a term that meant quite different things to different journalists, public officials, and academics (one Murdoch employee joked that “public interest” was whatever interested the public). After a break following the December 21 hearings, the Leveson Inquiry was scheduled to resume activities on January 9, 2012, hence 2012 would no doubt see many other shocking revelations concerning Murdoch media scandals and might be the year of judgment for Murdoch’s media empire. On January 19, 2012, a UK High Court judge announced that Murdoch’s NOTW had agreed to pay thirty-seven phone-hacking victims ranging from actor Jude Law to ordinary people who had been hacked thousands of pounds in settlements, with estimates that settling the many other outstanding hacking legal suits would cost the company over ten million pounds.19 Meanwhile, I would like to draw some preliminary conclusions concerning the Murdoch media scandals, journalistic ethics, and the crisis of democracy.

The Murdoch Media Empire and the Crisis of Journalism A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power, which knowledge gives. James Madison

By November 2011, the number of hacking victims in the Murdoch media empire scandal had been expanded to over 5,800, of which 638 had been contacted by the police.20 These numbers suggest that Scotland Yard’s phone-hacking investigation, Operation Weeting, running since January 2011, and staffed by forty-five full-time detectives, is only at a beginning stage and will be active for months, perhaps years to come. In addition to Operation Weeting into telephone hacking, British police are carrying out Operation Elveden into illicit payments to police officers and Operation Tuleta into allegations of computer hacking. These investigations are accompanied by the Levenson Inquiry that has been holding hearings on unethical behavior by the Murdoch media empire and other members of the UK press that is already underway. While official investigations of the Murdoch media scandal and ethical journalistic violation by the British press are only beginning to unfold at the time that I am concluding this study in Summer 2012, it is still possible to draw preliminary conclusions

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concerning crises in democracy, ethics, and journalism unfolding by the Murdoch media empire scandals. The extent of hacking of public and private citizens by the Murdoch media empire is truly shocking, as is their bribing police and other authorities for stories, and telling falsehoods about British citizens. Clearly, the Murdoch media empire is one of the most unethical media corporations in history, and their shocking violations of journalistic ethics are currently under investigation. But the failure in the UK of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which is supposed to regulate the media and respond to complaints by citizens of mistreatment by the media, suggests that stricter regulatory legislation is necessary in the UK and other countries where the Murdoch media have been running amok to provide regulatory bodies and laws to safeguard the public from media abuse. Yet it is perhaps the vulgarization and tabloidization of the media that is among Murdoch’s noxious legacies, a sentiment expressed in the quotation from the novel and used by Murdoch’s school tutor to express his sentiments about Murdoch as a journalist, quoted as the epigram at the beginning of this chapter. From his beginnings as a newspaper publisher in Australia in the 1950s through his acquiring of media properties in the UK, the US and throughout the world, including newspapers, broadcasting, and new media, Murdoch has engaged in the lowest common denominator and sensationalist tabloid journalism, subverting established journalistic standards, ethics, and traditions. Of course, the Murdoch media empire subversion of journalistic news-gathering standards now has Murdoch and his family and minions involved in serious criminal investigations, so the courts and future publics will ultimately provide the most serious critique of Murdoch’s journalistic practices over the past decades. In addition, and perhaps most worrisome, is the excessive political power accrued by the Murdoch media empire which has intensified crises of democracy in the UK and US and other areas of the world where the Murdoch media have unduly influenced politics. Earlier in this discussion, I indicated that a robust democracy requires separation of powers between arenas of government and the media. In many countries, excessive state control of media has made democracy impossible or severely undermined it, while in the US I have argued that corporate media who have been biased in favor of conservative political parties like the Republicans who advance their corporate agenda have undermined US democracy.21 Yet the Murdoch media empire scandals provide a singular example of how excessive control of media across the spectrum of press, broadcasting, and new media have given the Murdoch empire excessive media power and the ability to corrupt journalism, governments, and intensify crises of democracy. The current investigations into the scandals of the Murdoch media empire may well curtail the power of its corporations in specific countries and even globally, and the future

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of democracy in the UK and other sites of Murdoch power may be decided in the current investigations of Murdoch media scandals now on-going. Hence, the investigations concerning crimes and journalistic wrong-doing of the Murdoch media empire will have momentous consequences for the future of media and democracy in our time. While Murdoch and his minions were undergoing attack in a media spectacle questioning and undermining their media empire in late summer and fall 2011, Barack Obama was the target of a media spectacle attempting to undermine his political regime. I began this book with a study of “Barack Obama and the Politics of the Spectacle” in Chapter 1, since he had mastered the art of the spectacle in winning the 2008 election. Yet his troubled presidency arguably revealed limits of governing by the spectacle, as I next discuss.

Barack Obama and the Politics of the Spectacle “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

In Chapter 1, I described the transformative event of how Barack Obama had mastered the politics of the spectacle and orchestrated spectacles of hope, youth, change, and a new America to win the unprecedented election of a relatively young person of color. I described the spectacle of Election 2008, Obama’s inauguration and first months in office, indicating that the challenges of governing could often not be solved through spectacle alone. Indeed, the Republican victory in seizing control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections, including the election of sixty-some Tea Party radicals, all strongly anti-Obama and anti-government, who would do their best to block all of Obama’s initiatives and downsize government, showing how it was almost impossible to govern in a divided state with a hostile Congress. From the beginning of Obama’s 2008 election, there was a dramatic anti-Obama spectacle that intensified after he became President in which Fox News and other Murdoch media enterprises, Talk Radio, and a rightwing blogosphere savaged Obama, raising questions concerning whether he was really born in the US (the “birther question”), whether he was a loyal American, or a Muslim agent of foreign powers. Every one of his initiatives was viciously contested, and when the Republicans gained control

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of the House of Representatives in the mid-term 2010 elections, Obama had to contend with a hostile Congress. Thus Obama himself, running for re-election in 2012, became a contested terrain and was challenged to orchestrate media spectacle in the 2012 presidential campaign to promote and advance his presidency. I would argue that the two years from the 2010 mid-term election in which the Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives into the 2012 presidential election demonstrate that power elite theory, which I discussed in Chapter 1, still explains the functioning of much of US politics. In 2011, Obama confronted a hostile Republican-dominated Congress, corporations and lobbyists opposed to much of his agenda, a military-industrial complex which had been bogged down in two wars and which Obama had not been able to significantly include in pressures to cut their bloated budget, unrelenting right-wing media attacks speared by Fox News and other Murdoch enterprises, and seemingly intractable economic crisis. In the following analysis, I will discuss how a politics of the spectacle, such as Obama had mastered, can be blocked and undermined by negative spectacle politics. Yet I will argue in the conclusion of this chapter that counter-protests such as the Occupy movements can organize against the dominant elite forces in the highly contested worlds of US and global politics, opening up a new terrain of struggle and contestation. In early 2011, Obama had barely been able to bring Republicans and Democrats together to forge a budget for the coming year, and for weeks the spectacle loomed of closing down the government because no budget deal had been achieved.22 Days before the deadline, compromises were reached, but the unresolved economic issues continued through the year. In late July 2011, Congress had to pass once again budget provisions for the coming period, but also had to raise the debt ceiling so that the US government could borrow enough money to pay the interest on its spiraling debt. Usually the debt ceiling was routinely passed by Congress, and there had never been a showdown battle over this technicality. The Republicans, however, were intent on demanding trillions of dollars-worth of cuts on government spending programs and were opposed to any tax hikes, including tax loopholes for the rich, as their condition to pass the debt ceiling package. As the clock ticked to the August 2 deadline, there was the spectacle of dire economic consequences if the US did not lift the debt ceiling to borrow enough to pay interest on its deficit. The Republicans played hardball, refusing compromises and extorting the Democrats to provide significant budget cuts without yielding on taxes as their condition for passing the debt ceiling, leading Republican House Speaker John Boehner to claim that he had gotten 98 per cent of what he wanted.23 The media spectacle of the ugly and dispiriting political maneuvers played through the debt-ceiling and deficit-reduction crisis left much of the

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US public disgusted with Congress which was held, as it would soon appear, in declining esteem. A CBS-CNN poll in early August showed a shocking 82 per cent of the US public had an extremely low opinion of Congress,24 and there was strong public and pundit disapproval of how both parties and the Obama administration had handled the crisis. On August 4, 2011, a “Breaking News” media spectacle erupted with the frightening story that the Dow Jones index of US stocks had plunged 513 points, wiping out 4 per cent of its value and its gains for the entire year. The same day, on BBC, Al Jazeera, and global media channels, there were reports that Italy, the thirdlargest country in the European Union (EU) and Eurozone, might default in paying its loans and had had its borrowing rates raised to an unsustainable 6+ per cent, creating the specter of default and helping ignite a Eurozone crisis that would continue and intensify throughout 2011 and into 2012. During the first weeks of August, the spectacle of economic catastrophe dominated global media. The ways that financial crises in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and then Italy were presented in global media represented financial markets as terrorists and dictators, who would destroy states and perhaps EU economies if the states in question did not conform to market rules and demands. Yet the media spectacles of economic crisis and default demonized the allegedly profligate countries like Greece and Italy for spending beyond their means and driving the banks to raise higher interest rates for borrowing money, and no one seemed to question why these financial institutions were allowed to wreak havoc on the global economy. Another terror spectacle of financial markets seeking restitution and threatening disaster emerged on August 5, the day after the US stock market had precipitously plunged. BBC, Al Jazeera, and other global news sources reported the falling global stock prices throughout the day with Al Jazeera reporting that the Japanese Nikkei market had declined 3.7%; the Hong Kong market had lost 4.29%; the Singapore Straits market had gone down 3.6%; the British FTSE 100 ended down 2.71%; the DAX in Frankfurt fell 2.78%; the French CAC 40 was off 1.26%; and there were estimates that world financial markets had lost over $2.5 trillion during the previous week and analysts feared worse to come.25 Politicians and commentators made demands that governments and relevant authorities take action, with reports that there were telephone calls between Obama, Merkel of Germany, and Sarkozy of France seeking common ground; Italy promised it would soon have a balanced budget and was taking immediate measures to ensure cuts in spending; Olli Rehn, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner of the European Commission, spoke in a long address televised live on Al Jazeera, assuring that measures were being taken to stabilize the European economy; and the European Central Bank said it would intervene to purchase Italian, Greek, Spanish, or other excessive European debt to preserve the Euro and EU. Obviously, the shock waves from the terrorizing financial markets had hit

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and the European powers were desperately scrambling to placate the inexorable power of the Market. Just when it appeared that any more bad economic news would be unimaginable, late in the day on Friday, August 5, Standard & Poors announced that for the first time in history the US government’s credit rating had been downgraded from AAA to AA+. Initial announcements suggested that S&P claimed that the recent US government plan worked out to raise the federal debt ceiling “falls short” of what’s needed to stabilize the nation’s long-term finances. Moreover, S&P claimed that “the political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policy-making becoming less stable, less effective and less predictable than what we previously believed.”26 Cable news channels put on call some of their top economic advisors who came to the station, or who called in to explain the shocking news, and various other economic “experts” were summoned to the studios to discuss the situation. Anderson Cooper’s CNN AC360 show bagged John Chambers, S&P’s “Chairman of the Sovereign Ratings Committee” (yes, these economic terrorists use such Medieval nomenclature), to explain S&P’s unprecedented decision. Nervous and not used to explaining his agency’s arcane and mystifying procedures, Chambers made it clear that the messy process of negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and produce a deficit package had undermined confidence in the US government’s ability to deal with financial issues and that the $2.2 trillion deficit reduction package did not go far enough. Indeed, it came out that S&P had called for $4 trillion debt reduction measures, raising the specter that, like the Republican Party, if S&P do not get their way, they will take retaliatory action. Jeffrey Toobin on CNN commented that S&P was not “the word of God,” and that they had botched their ratings in the 2008 financial meltdown, when AAA-rated corporations had tanked, a critical evaluation seconded by CNN’s economic commentator Ali Velshi.27 The Obama administration announced that S&P’s calculations were based on a $2 trillion accounting error and were obviously steamed, bitterly denouncing off-camera to CNN and other reporters S&P’s assault on the US economy and the Obama administration. Not surprisingly, both political parties in the US immediately exploited the S&P downgrading and provided explanations for partisan political gains. Republican House Speaker John Boehner blamed Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats for not doing more to cut the deficit, even though Obama had been pushing for a “grand bargain” for much larger spending cuts from which Boehner and the Republicans allegedly walked away. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid said that the solution would require increased revenues (i.e. the tax cuts that Obama and the Democrats had been calling for and that the Republicans refused to even consider) and a “more balanced approach.”

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It appeared that Obama’s re-election was going to revolve around how the economic crisis turned out. Leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Rommey released a fiery statement saying that only under the presidency of Barack Obama had the US been downgraded by financial ratings institutions and that Obama and his administration were responsible for the decline of the country—overlooking that the gigantic deficit had been the results of massive tax cuts for the rich by the Bush-Cheney administration and two highly problematic and expensive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And shortly thereafter, as Texas Republican Party Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy for presidency, he made the theme of “America downgraded under Obama” a major motif. Over the weekend of August 6–7, investors worried about the impact on global financial markets and the US stock market and, sure enough, on August 8, as Americans prepared for work, results trickled in from massive drops on the Asian stock exchanges, including reports on Al Jazeera that: ●●

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The The The The

Japanese Nikkei fell 2.18%; Chinese Shanghai Composite finished 3.8% down; Australian S&P/ASX 200 was down 2.9%; and Hong Kong-based Hang Seng fell 2.2%.

The European stock markets continued to plunge and through the day, the Dow Jones had gone down around 400 points by noon and President Obama came out, gave a cheer-leading speech about how the American economy was “always ‘AAA’“—and the Dow Jones fell hundreds of more points, closing down 634.76 points, losing 5.6% of its value. There were also detailed reports all day on the weekend killing of elite US Seal troops in an incident in which the Taliban evidently shot down a US helicopter.28 CNN featured a caption “Worst Days of the Obama Presidency,” as pundits speculated on how the events of the day would affect Obama’s re-election prospects and reflected that the country needed stronger leadership. The obsession with the US stock crash and global financial crisis was so intense on CNN that they barely mentioned the London riots which were exploding in neighborhood after neighborhood and spreading to other cities throughout England—an example of media spectacle inspiring other young people to assault vulnerable stores and neighborhoods, leading later to media pundits reflecting on how social networking had mobilized scores of angry youth who went on a commodity riot (see my discussion of the UK riots in Chapter 4). As August unfolded, Republican candidates were running hard against Obama, with Tea Party extremist Michelle Bachmann winning an Iowa state straw poll on August 14, the first vote of the election system, and right-wing Christian evangelist Texas Governor Rick Perry declaring his candidacy

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for the presidency the same day. As the Republicans hit the campaign trail to campaign against Obama, he himself went on a bus tour through the Midwest on August 15–17. No longer was the Obama campaign an uplifting spectacle of hope; Republicans appeared with signs protesting him, he was attacked for leaving the White House for the campaign trail when the economy was in crisis, and for purchasing an expensive new bus to campaign in. Indeed, the anti-Obama Republican spectacle machine was in full attack mode, assaulting everything that the president said and did, promising intense political media spectacle throughout the 2012 presidential campaign period, already underway. In August and into September 2011, Obama began pushing hard for a new jobs initiative, knowing that his re-election hinged on producing new jobs and the perception that he was able to manage the economy. On September 8, in a dramatic speech to both houses of Congress. Obama unfolded his new jobs program, and went out almost daily in the following weeks on the campaign trail to promote it, while the Republicans continued in full attack mode, pausing only for a day of national unity on the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. By the fall 2011, the 2012 presidential campaign was raging. Republican candidates had crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, giving Obama and the Democrats hopes that they could hold onto power. The Republican primary spectacle saw right-wing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Sarah Palin lite) win the first Iowa straw poll and then instantly crash as she made one gaffe after another. Texas Cowboy Governor Rick Perry swaggered on the national stage and soon after he had announced his candidacy, he quickly revealed he knew nothing about foreign affairs, American politics, or his own presidential campaign, as he failed in much-circulated debate footage to remember the three cabinet positions he had planned to eliminate. African American businessman and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain, appeared to offer a refreshing right-wing alternative to the Republicans, and briefly topped many presidential polls in November. Yet soon after, Cain left the race following an intense spectacle of several women accusing him of sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association, providing graphic detail of his aggressive groping. Cain denied these charges, but quickly abandoned his campaign when a woman revealed that she had a thirteen-year-long affair with the married candidate, and had evidence to prove it.29 In December, as the first official Republican primary approached, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared to be rising in the polls as the favorite of Republican conservatives who did not want to vote for Mitt Romney, considered too liberal. Romney’s forces, though, spent millions running ads in Iowa recalling Gingrich’s messy three marriages, his work as a lobbyist for unpopular federal agencies, and other misdeeds over his long

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career, and Christian evangelist Rick Santorum arose out of the bottom of the Republican pack to effectively tie with Romney in the Iowa primary. In more liberal New Hampshire, however, Romney won handily, Santorum fell back into the pack, and Ron Paul, the contrarian Libertarian candidate, came in a strong second, generating a spectacle of critique of the US Federal Reserve bank that Paul vilified, as well as the military-industrial complex that he wanted to effectively curtail. Things got nasty in the Republican South Carolina primary where Romney attacked Gingrich’s record as a venture capitalist, buying corporations and then firing people or selling them to make money; Romney in turn attacked Gingrich’s career as a lobbyist, his record in Congress, and his messy personal life. Gingrich won convincingly, although as negative attacks accelerated against him he did poorly in the Republican primaries of early 2012, which were won by Romney and Santorum. Yet after winning eleven Republican Party primaries and caucuses, Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10, 2012, and endorsed Romney on May 7, thus making it likely that it would be Romney vs. Obama in the 2012 election campaign. Indeed, the 2012 presidential campaign promises to be an intense and fascinating media spectacle that will be a topic for another book. Next, I want to return to discuss how the Arab Uprisings proceeded through the summer and into the fall and winter of 2011.

Media Spectacle, Al Jazeera, and the Arab Uprising “In 2011 the eyes of the world watched the aspirations of millions unfold as our newsrooms broadcast, tweeted and published the events unfolding in the Liberation Squares from Sidi Bouzid to Jisr Al-Shughur. The coverage of these revolutions is ongoing, and we continue to report the fight of the youth to achieve dignity and freedom from tyranny and dictatorship.” Wadah Khanfar, director-general of the Al Jazeera satellite TV network

By July 2011, it appeared as if the Egyptian revolution was seriously faltering. Al Jazeera presented an upcoming Friday demonstration in Tahrir Square, originally organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, as an affirmation of unity between secular and Islamic forces who had negotiated to hold a joint rally. Yet in a large demonstration on July 29, the Islamicists pushed the secular forces aside, not allowing them on their stage or to speak, leading the group to hold an impromptu press conference against the Muslim Brothers hijacking the revolution for its own agenda—a theme that

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had been recurrent for some months. There were reports that Egypt’s poor had not benefited from the Egypt Uprising, and that many of its defenders were becoming disillusioned.30 Yet on August 3, 2011, one of the most astonishing media spectacles of contemporary Arab history unfolded as eighty-three-year-old dictator Hosni Mubarak was wheeled into a Cairo courtroom on a hospital cot and put into a cage as an epochal trial against him opened. Flanked by his two sons Alla and Gamal in prison regalia, his former interior minister, and six other members of his regime, the Mubarak entourage was on trial for a variety of crimes, ranging from claims that they had ordered army and police to fire directly on demonstrators in the February 2011 uprisings, that had driven Mubarak to resign and his regime from power, to charges of corruption. Al Jazeera and other global TV networks played the proceedings live, presenting the spectacle of a messy but vital incipient Egyptian democracy after decades of dictatorship. The proceedings sent out a powerful message to dictators across the world that the Mighty Can Fall and that they can be brought to justice. While Al Jazeera showed pro-Mubarak demonstrators in the street and interviewed individuals who expressed sympathy for Mubarak, most Egyptians shown watching the spectacle indicated pleasure that perhaps justice would be done. Yet critics indicated that the plaintiffs had too many judges and were making too many charges, including one lawyer who claimed that the real Mubarak had died in 1984 and the man in the cage on trial was a fake! The spectacle showed Mubarak and his two sons charged with a long laundry list of crimes, with Mubarak straining to hear the judges’ questions posed to him, but then clearly stating that “I totally deny all these charges,” with his expression stern, his voice clear and strong. Mubarak’s sons Alla, clutching a Koran, and Gamal, the defiant-appearing one-time heir apparent, likewise denied the charges. Al Jazeera’s reporter Sue Turton remarked that “Egyptians are starting to believe that justice will be done on their part,” but commentators indicated that if the proceedings turned out to be a farce and the Mubaraks got off, there would be extreme anger and turbulence. Western reports on conditions in Egypt previous to the trial indicated growing poverty, disillusionment with the uprising, and increased fragmentation, and it was not clear whether the spectacle of Mubarak on trial would enliven Egyptian democracy. Indeed, the consequences of the trial were uncertain, both within Egypt and within the Middle East, which intently focused its attention on the spectacle of Mubarak and his entourage on trial in a cage as the world looked on in wonder. As New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid put it: The trial riveted the region, where uprisings inspired in part by Egypt have shaken the rule of autocrats in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain.

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But the euphoria of Tahrir Square, a symbol of popular will, has given way to a more familiar chaos and bloodshed in those places. Some Arab officials even suggested that the spectacle of the trial on Wednesday—a president and his family, along with his retinue of officials, facing charges—would make those leaders all the more reluctant to step down. On the very day Mr Mubarak’s trial began, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria escalated his own bloody crackdown on a city at the heart of the uprising against him. Yemen faces chaos, Bahrain unrelenting repression, and the leader in Libya, seemingly unhinged, has helped take his country into what looks like a prolonged civil war. “Mubarak in the Cage,” read a headline in a Lebanese newspaper, Al Akhbar. “Who is going to be the winner?” it asked.31 The trial continued the next day, focused on Mubarak’s interior minister, but did not become a major global media spectacle again until Mubarak was returned to court on August 15, 2011, wheeled in again on an ambulance stretcher, and, with his sons, put into a cage for the proceedings. This time the process was relatively short, with the judge ruling that cases would be consolidated against the Mubaraks and the interior minister, all facing charges of ordering shooting at demonstrators after the February uprising. But the judge also ordered that the proceedings would not be televised, creating a fierce debate whether this would compromise the transparency of the Mubarak trial and angering protestors who wanted to observe the process. Yet, as the Arab Spring passed into a hot and turbulent Arab Summer and then Fall and Winter, there continued to be harsh political repression in Egypt. Six days of demonstrations in Tahrir Square from November 25 into early December, 2011, left at least forty-one dead and over 1,000 injured in what protestors were calling a “second Egyptian revolution.” An uneasy peace ensued, and the first phase of planned elections for a People’s Assembly that would create a constitutional government took place as scheduled with an extremely high turnout. The Muslim Brotherhood and more radical Islamic Salafis party won about 50 per cent and 25 per cent of the first round of voting, creating fears that elections may provide the road for an Islamic state, or a coup d’état by the military to prevent such an occurrence.32 More violence broke out during the second round of elections in Egypt, and 2011 was coming to an end with very tense relations between the Egyptian military who continued to wield power, the emerging political parties, and the Egyptian public. By the end of the year, reports circulated that the regime had arrested over 2,000 people since the uprising had begun and tortured many.33 In December, the world was shocked when images widely circulated on the

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internet of Egyptian security police beating a young woman in Tahrir Square, pulling off her Muslim headscarf and blouse, and stripping the woman down to a blue bra as the thugs continued to beat her; the image of the “blue bra girl” mobilized demonstrations against military/police brutality, including what was considered the largest women’s demonstration in history against the regime on December 20. In January after the third round of elections, it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood controlled about 47 per cent of the parliamentary seats while the more radical Islamic Salafis party controlled around 20 per cent, marginalizing the liberals. Hence, by the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on January 25, 2012, the situation was ambiguous. There were tumultuous demonstrations in the country, some led by Muslim Brotherhood forces who had triumphed in the electoral process and controlled parliament, celebrating the revolution. Many of the youth and liberal forces who had helped organize and promote the upheaval were demonstrating against the government, chanting, “Down, down, down with the military regime!” The military regime had promised to hand over power to a civilian government and for the January 25 celebrations released political prisoners and did not crack down on demonstrations, but have continued to arrest and torture dissidents, so the future in Egypt is far from certain. In addition to the spectacle of continuing struggles in Egypt for a freer and democratic society, the revolutionary upheaval in Libya that had deposed a dictatorial regime, and ongoing struggles throughout the region against entrenched authoritarian regimes, Al Jazeera, BBC, and other global networks focused heavy attention on spectacles of violence in Syria in the latter months of 2011 and into 2012. Syria had been having massive demonstrations throughout the country since mid-March 2011 against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian regime was meeting the demonstrations with violent repression, leading to funerals and renewed demonstrations. The central Syrian town of Hama had been controlled by opposition forces for some time, and in late July Syrian government forces surrounded the city with tanks, artillery, and brigades of troops, aiming to break resistance. Cutting off the city’s power, communications and internet connections, on July 31 the Syrian government launched a massive attack. Hama was the center of a 1982 resistance to the regime of Hafez al-Assad, the current president Bashir’s father, who had slaughtered thousands in one of the most brutal massacres in Syria’s modern history, and the son apparently was following in the jack-boot steps of his father, launching an all-out assault on the city. Foreign media had been banned from Syria, but DIY videos taken of protests, government assaults on demonstrators, pictures of wounded and dead protestors, funerals, and renewed demonstrations had been sent to the internet documenting the Syrian Uprising and state repression, and circulated on the internet and broadcast on global media portraying

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heavy-handed Syrian state terrorism against its own people. During the Syrian government assault on Hama, long reports were broadcast on Al Jazeera, BBC, and other networks. Hoping to crush the revolts before Ramadan, there were unconfirmed reports that Syrian army troops were defecting and fighting on the side of townspeople, illustrated by video footage, but impossible to verify, showing allegedly Syrian government troops coming over to the rebellion and embraced by town people. Reports of the killing of demonstrators in Syria continued daily throughout August and into the fall and winter of 2012. Al Jazeera, the BBC, and other sources showed amateur videos of tanks entering the city center of Hama and bombarding civilian areas, citizens running from gunshots, snipers shooting at civilians from rooftops and then pictures of dead bodies, including a graphic picture of a man whose head had been shot off, a dead child, a girl reportedly crushed by a tank, and other spectacular images of violence that were condemned as “horrific” by Barack Obama. The UN Security Council strongly condemned the attacks on August 3, 2011, and Hillary Clinton claimed on August 5 at a press conference that the al-Assad Syria regime had killed over 2,000 of its citizens since the protests had begun, and announced tougher US sanctions on the regime. Once again, citizen video provoked global response to regional violence, while the Syrian people continued to demonstrate against the barbaric al-Assad regime. Al Jazeera showed amateur videos of people from Hama continuing to demonstrate on August 4 after five days of attacks, and showed demonstrations throughout Syria against the slaughter of civilians in Hama and other regions. Al Jazeera also presented Syrian state television images of desolate rubble-strewn streets and wrecked buildings in Hama, and reported that Syrian state TV claimed Syrian troops were responding to an armed rebellion there and fighting “terrorists.” Yet no independent sources confirmed the claim, denied by residents who called up Al Jazeera, BBC, and other media sources to denounce Syrian government state TV claims as false and mendacious. Al Jazeera and the BBC reported that after the Friday prayers on August 5, 2011, there were large demonstrations throughout Syria against the state repression, and showed videos of demonstrations and government repression against the demonstrators. A CNN logo described “Syrians Protest Despite Crackdowns,” and correspondent Arwa Damon reported that demonstrations were intensifying despite harsh government repression. Damon interviewed by telephone a protestor who insisted he and his fellow citizens had to protest, to document the struggles with video, and to send them to the internet, so that the world could know what was happening and pressure the Syrian government. The protestor said that he could be executed for being in possession of a satellite phone or video camera, pointing to the risks being taken by the Syrian opposition and the heroic role of those who were documenting the struggle and state oppression.

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Despite the intense repression, Damon reported that demonstrations were spreading to other cities. Throughout the weekend of August 6–7, Al Jazeera reported on growing repression in Syria of protestors, increased anger of Arab leaders, and global outrage exploding at the murderous assaults on protestors by the Syrian regime. On Monday August 8, 2011, CNN reported that the usually conservative and quiet Saudi regime sharply criticized what a CNN logo described as the Syrian “killing machine.” CNN commentator Fouad Ajami explained that it was a religious issue, with the pious Saudis outraged that the Assad regime would go on a killing spree during the Ramadan sacred Muslim holiday. In any case, Arab countries were ending their five-month silence against Syrian repression, and as death tolls of protestors went over 2,000, Al Jazeera showed demonstrations against the Syrian regime in Lebanon and throughout the region. CNN’s Arwa Damon reported on expanding state repression throughout Syria with especially intense repression in Deir ez-Zor, and fiercely denounced as a “lie!” Syrian claims that they had pulled their troops out of Hama. To refute the claim, Damon recounted reports that Syrian government troops were going house-to-house and arresting demonstrators, with video footage, impossible to verify, which seemed to confirm the report. The following days of August presented continued intense oppression of the opposition in Syria and increased demands that the murder of its citizens stop and that stronger international measures be taken against Syria. Over the weekend of August 13–14, Syrian gunships were used for the first time to pound opposition forces in the seaport city of Latakia, killing scores. Bombing sites included a neighborhood of Palestinian refugees and the bombardment brought increased pressure for actions to be taken against Syrian repression. Al Jazeera showed citizen video of ships bombarding neighborhoods and then troops arresting scores of citizens. Reports emerged that “in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city,” government forces “have begun systematically killing detainees in an attempt to discourage participation in the protest movement.”34 On August 15, Al Jazeera reported that the Syrian government ordered residents of Latakia, including a Palestinian neighborhood, to go to a soccer stadium that was to serve as a detention center, and reports emerged from Western sources that there are already 10,000 residents in the camp.35 Al Jazeera noted that Turkish diplomats ramped up their demands on Syria to stop the oppression, claiming that the demand “is our final word to Syrian authorities.” The Jordanian Prime Minister called for a halt to Syrian military operations against its people and the Palestine Liberation Organization denounced the violence, claiming it was “part of the crimes against humanity,” targeting Palestinians and Syrians alike.

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On August 18, 2011, international pressure accelerated against the al-Assad regime with Barack Obama calling  for Assad’s resignation, and the United Nations claiming Syria’s  use of force against  anti-government protests may constitute crimes against humanity. Obama’s statement was followed by a press conference by Hillary Clinton and statements from the EU, UN, Canada, and other countries. Yet as the year went on, killing in Syria continued to intensify, there were increasing condemnations of the Syrian regime and calls for Assad to step down, and by the end of the year there were claims that the regime had killed over 5,000 of its citizens.36 Throughout the fall and winter of 2011 and in 2012, Al Jazeera intensely followed the uprisings in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries of the Middle East and generally took the side of the protestors against the regime. Al Jazeera continued to intensely cover the Arab Uprisings throughout the region and on September 20, 2011, Al Jazeera itself became part of the news with the report that its highly esteemed director-general Wadah Khanfar was stepping down to be replaced by a member of the Qatari Royal Family.37 The same day, RT broadcast a report claiming that Khanfar was forced to resign because of a WikiLeaks memo allegedly showing connections with the American government, with RT implying that he was connected with the CIA.38 In the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick published a story headlined: “After Disclosures by WikiLeaks, Al Jazeera Replaces Its Top News Director.”39 The New York Times story reported that WikiLeaks had published a diplomatic cable sent by the American Ambassador, Chase Untermeyer, and dated October 2005, which “describes an embassy official’s meeting with Al Jazeera’s news director, Wadah Khanfar. According to the cable, the official handed Mr Khanfar copies of critical reports by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency on three months of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iraq War; Mr Khanfar said that the Qatari Foreign Ministry had already provided him with two months of the American reports, according to the cable, suggesting a close three-way consultation involving the two governments and the network.” The story further reports that while Khanfar will take seriously these reports of anti-American bias in his coverage of Iraq, he will not sign an agreement, but will attempt to be fair in further coverage of the Iraq War. The cable noted that Khanfar had, in one case, “changed coverage at the American official’s request. He said he had removed two images depicting wounded children in a hospital and a woman with a badly wounded face.” This, however, is a mild humanitarian gesture and does not provide evidence that Al Jazeera was a mouthpiece of US policy, a charge laughable in the face of critique of Al Jazeera by the Bush-Cheney administration and others during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (see Kellner 2005). While Al Jazeera was not in conflict with US policy in its Arab Spring and Libya War conflict, it was far in front of US policy in supporting the Arab Uprisings and was continually critical of dictators in the region who

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were and continued to be close allies of the US. While Al Jazeera was criticized as being soft on portraying events in Bahrain, a close US ally, in comparison with Syria, in fact, Al Jazeera presented sharp critiques of the Bahrain government’s repression of demonstrators. It had been particularly sympathetic in presenting critically Bahrain government trials of doctors and nurses accused of aiding protestors—coverage visible everyday during the last week of September as the trials unfolded, with the Bahrain government earning the condemnation of medical spokesmen and human rights groups throughout the world; likewise, when a Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report criticized the violations of rights by the Bahrain government, Al Jazeera covered the report and new protests against the government.40 Yet, the charge of connections with the CIA and being a mouthpiece of US government policy was an embarassment for an independent Arab TV channel in the Middle East, a region highly suspicious of American propaganda and US policy and meddling in the region. Yet other than the WikiLeaks cable that indicated a willingness to take into account US criticism of their coverage in Iraq, there is no evidence that Khanfar or Al Jazeera was connected with the CIA or an arm of US foreign policy. Such stories, as presented by RT, are propaganda attempts to smear one of their major competitors and a shameful episode in the era of global journalism. Hence, Al Jazeera itself became a spectacle and topic of intense debate. It had been fiercely independent from the beginning and caused a firestorm of controversy throughout its years as, first, an Arabic channel, and then one with an influential English-language channel and website as well, covering hot-button Middle East issues. In any case, Al Jazeera, like all broadcasting networks, should be judged according to its presentations of the news, criticized for biases, and held to strict journalistic standards. During the Arab Spring and 2011 under Wadah Khanfar, Al Jazeera had been rightly acclaimed for its coverage of the Arab Uprising, and rose to be respected as a global news channel of the highest importance. Whether it would continue to be the voice of the Arab Uprisings in its post-Khanfar regime is, of course, an open question, as is the future of the Arab Uprisings which Al Jazeera under Wadah Khanfar so faithfully chronicled. While the effects of the Arab Uprisings are complex and contradictory, they appeared to inspire a series of global uprisings throughout the world, including major rebellions in Europe and the United States with the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I will thus conclude with a brief look at the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement and a global proliferation of Occupy movements throughout the world, producing more media spectacles of political struggle during the Year of Insurrection, 2011.

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From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere! “We are the 99 percent.” Occupy Wall Street slogan

2011 has emerged in my studies as a year of popular uprisings and political insurrection in an era of cascading media spectacle. Following the North African Arab Uprisings, intense political struggles erupted across the Mediterranean in Greece, Italy, and Spain, all of which faced economic crisis and cutbacks of social programs. In February and March 2011, workers and students in Madison, Wisconsin occupied the state capital building to protest and fight against cutbacks of their rights and livelihood when a right-wing Governor, Scott Walker, signed a bill to curtail union rights and cut back on social programs, including student aid and healthcare; Egyptians declared their solidarity with protestors in Madison and sent them pizzas. For weeks during the summer of 2011, there were also widespread demonstrations in Israel in which demonstrators, like in Tahrir Square in Cairo, occupied and set up a tent city in Tel Aviv to protest against declining living conditions and government policies in Israel. In the face of the failures of neoliberalism and a global crisis of capitalism, tremendous economic deficits and debts in these countries, enabled and produced by unregulated neoliberal capitalism, there were calls by established political regimes to solve debt crises on the backs of working people by cutting back on government spending and social programs that help people rather than corporations. These struggles emerged globally with powerful protest movements against government austerity programs erupting in Spain, Italy, the UK, Greece, and other European countries, intensifying as capitalist economic crises escalated. In many of these struggles, youth played an important role, as young people throughout the world were facing diminishing job possibilities and an uncertain future in an era of global economic crisis. There were also global revolts against nuclear energy plants, one of the most beloved forms of power in techno-capitalist regimes, where high-tech solutions to energy production were celebrated and promoted. But after the frightening nuclear meltdown and catastrophic leakage of radiation in the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, demonstrations throughout Japan protested nuclear energy production, leading Japan to cancel some plans for new nuclear power plants, to close down many existing plants for more stringent tests, to demand stricter regulation of nuclear power plants, and to call for development of new renewal and safe energy sources. Dramatic demonstrations in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland in 2011 led national

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governments to declare moratoriums on nuclear energy production and to call for new types of energy. Existing forms of energy and economic production, as well as existing politics and the state, were thus put in question and contested in 2011, and bankrupt forms of the state were overthrown, most dramatically in the Arab Uprisings. In particular, neoliberal economics and authoritarian states were shown to be highly defective and destructive, and the worst examples of the latter were overthrown. Solutions to social problems in the Arab Uprisings of 2011 involved citizen participation in popular protests, calls for social justice and political reform, and for redefinitions of relations between people and their social institutions. In Japan after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, people and politicians demanded the end of nuclear energy production and the Japanese people demanded a more responsible and accountable government, putting new demands on politicians. In September 2011, a movement “Occupy Wall Street” emerged in New York as a variety of people began protesting the economic system in the United States, corruption on Wall Street, and a diverse range of other issues. The project of “Occupy Wall Street” was proposed by Adbusters magazine on July 13, 2011, and on August 9 Occupy Wall Street supporters in New York held a meeting for “We, the 99%.” On September 8 a “We are the 99 Percent Tumblair” was launched and on September 17 Occupy Wall Street protesters began camping out and demonstrating in Zuccotti Park in downtown New York close to Wall Street, setting up a tent city that would be the epicenter of the Occupy movement for some months.41 Using social media, more and more people joined the demonstrations which received widespread media attention when police attacked peaceful demonstrators, yielding pictures of young women being pepper-gas sprayed by police. Mainstream media attention and mobilizing through social media brought more people to demonstrate and by the first weekend in October, there was a massive protest in lower Manhattan that marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and blocked traffic, leading to over 700 arrests. The idea caught on and during the weekend of October 1–2, similar “Occupy” demonstrations broke out in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Washington, and several other cities. On October 5 in New York, major unions joined the protest and thousands marched from Foley Square to the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park. Celebrities, students and professors, and ordinary citizens joined the protest in support, and daily coverage of the movement was appearing in US and global media.42 Police violence against the movement appeared to intensify its popular support and Al Jazeera had telling footage on October 5 of demonstrators videotaping police beating up their colleagues, calling attention to the fact that the participants were using media to organize, to document violence against them, and to circulate their message globally,

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and that the Occupy Wall Street was traversing the globe as a major media spectacle of the moment. During the weekend of October 8–9, large crowds gathered in Occupy sites throughout the country, and it appeared that a new protest movement had emerged in the United States that articulated with the global struggles of 2011. Like the movements in the Arab Uprising, the Occupy movements were using new media and social networking to both organize their movement and specific actions, as well as to document police and government assaults on the movement—documentation used to recruit more members and to intensify the commitment and resolve of its participants. Occupy Wall Street was positioned against financial capitalism and the corruption of the political class in the US, just as the 1990s anti-corporate global capitalism movement focused on the WTO, World Bank, IMF, and other instruments of global capital. In Greece, Spain, and Italy, people were demonstrating against these same institutions of neo-liberal global capitalism, as well as their own national governments. Like the Arab Uprisings, the Occupy Wall Street and other anti-corporate movements were outside of the domain of old-fashioned party politics, embraced diversity, and tended to be leaderless. Although after meeting with Egyptian and other militants, some members of Occupy Wall Street indicated that they were going to search for particular issues that could lead to concrete actions, so far no specific demands have been made to define the movement as a whole, although specific targeted actions were undertaken by some Occupy groups.43 Slogans such as “We Are the 99 percent” and “Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out,” and critiques of economic inequality and greed were becoming characteristic of the movement, which was producing a great diversity of slogans, including humorous ones like “We Demand Sweeping, Unspecified Change!” and “One Day the Poor Will Have Nothing to Eat but the Rich.” Momentum continued, the protests spread globally, and by mid-October there were over 1000 Occupy sites in over eighty countries. Activism in these movements was taking place simultaneously online and

Insurrections 2011 as Media spectacle: From the Arab Uprisings To Occupy Wall Street

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in the streets,44 and activists circulated information, planned events, and mobilized for action. Interestingly, many of the tactics and goals of the Occupy movement replicated the politics and vision of Guy Debord and the Situationist International discussed in the Introduction, creating situations, demonstrating outside of organized party or movement structures, using slogans and art of different forms to raise consciousness and inspire revolutionary movements. 2011 was looking more and more like 1968 with eruptions of struggle, police and establishment brutality, and renewed protest and actions. Yet new media and social networking were creating new terrains of struggle. In using new media and social networking, the Occupy movements had the same decentralized structure as the computer networks they were using, and the movement as a whole had a virtual dimension as well as people organized in specific spaces. Hence, even if people were not occupying the spaces where the organizing and living were taking place they could participate virtually and be mobilized to participate in specific actions, locally or in cyberspace. While the right-wing Tea Party movement which had helped the Republicans win Congress in 2010 and block all and any progressive and even mildly ameliorative initiatives was hierarchical and top-down, the Occupy movements were genuinely bottom-up. While the Tea Party was financed by rich right-wing Republicans like the Koch brothers and had a national television network in Fox News to promote their goals and fortify their troops, the Occupy movements produced their own media including their own website, news releases, videos, and Livestream that broadcast live action taking place in Occupy sites.45 The Occupy movement exemplified Deweyan strong democracy, was highly participatory, and experimental in its ideas, tactics, and strategies. By the end of October, establishment violence against the Occupy movements intensified, and on October 25 police brutality was used to forcefully remove Occupy Oakland militants, causing a concussion and hospitalization of Scott Olsen, a young Iraq war veteran. Olsen became a cause célèbre and the Oakland movement organized a general strike on November 2 that closed down much of the inner city and first slowed down and then shut down the Port of Oakland, the country’s fifth biggest, as thousands of marchers descended on the Port. The same day in New York, demonstrators ascended on Lehman Brothers where George W. Bush was allegedly meeting, shouting “Arrest George Bush” and calling for a citizen’s arrest that apparently kept Bush imprisoned in the Lehman Brothers building until he was spirited out in a limousine after the demonstrators left for other destinations. Henceforth, demonstrators could be assembled in flash mobs that could occupy any site at a moment’s notice and submit corrupt businessmen, politicians, and others to the wrath of the people.

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The Occupy movements had generated a new political discourse that focused on economic inequalities, greed, and the corruption of Wall Street and financial institutions, and the need for people to organize and demonstrate to force government to meet their needs. As evidence that the Occupy movements were constituting a threat to the established system of power in November 2011, police and city governments closed down some of the biggest Occupy tent sites, sometimes violently, yet people continued to rally to the cause of the movement and demonstrations, occupations, and actions continued through the year. The brutality pictured in the closing-down of the Occupy Wall Street site on December in Zuccotti park presented images of a fascist police state as video footage documented police beating up demonstrators, tearing apart and bulldozing their campsites, and throwing their possessions in garbage trucks, including the Occupy Wall Street library that had collected over 5,000 books, presented a frightening image of a fascist police state. One of the main features of the Occupy movements was having media on hand to document their activities and those of police brutality, and the spectacle of police throughout the United States brutally tearing down Occupy camps made the US look like the thug regimes overthrown in the Arab Uprisings. The documentation accumulated of brutal police power provided material to radicalize new members and harden the resolve of the experienced ones that made possible a continuation of radical Occupy movements in the future. After the political establishment shut down some of the major Occupy sites, like Occupy Wall Street, members began taking specific actions, transforming public spaces into “temporary autonomous zones” occupied temporarily by flash mobs of protestors. As Michael Greenberg indicates: On December 1, for instance, protesters gathered in front of Lincoln Center to await the end of the final performance of Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha, about the life of Gandhi. The idea was to dramatize their affinity with Gandhi’s method of non-violent resistance. The following day, occupiers launched twenty-four hours of dance, “radical theater,” and “creative resistance” near Times Square meant “to educate tourists and theater-goers about OWS” and to demonstrate “a more colorful image of what our streets could look like.” December 6 was the day to “reclaim” selected bank-owned vacant homes in poor neighborhoods, reinstalling a handful of willing families that had been foreclosed upon and evicted. On December 12 there was a march on Goldman Sachs’s offices in Manhattan. On December 16 there was a rally at Fort Meade in Maryland where Private Bradley Manning, a hero to the movement, was standing trial for allegedly releasing classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

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The next day, more rallies were scheduled in New York and elsewhere, this time for immigrants’ rights. And so on.46 On December 16, the third-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement happened to correspond with the first anniversary of the death of the vegetable vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia who had set himself on fire and burned to death in protest, a media spectacle that was frequently taken as the spark that ignited the Arab Uprisings. As I argued above, the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Everywhere! movements were inspired by the Arab Spring, creating an American Autumn and Winter that guaranteed that 2011 would long be remembered in history books and popular memory as a time in which media spectacle took the forms of political resistance and insurrection. As 2012 began to unfold, Occupy movements continued to undertake actions throughout the US and the globe. In the US and other countries, the movement had morphed from being primarily located in tent cities and occupations of specific sites to groups focused on particular actions. The movement’s base was expanding to include individuals who had not participated in the first wave of occupations and to make coalitions with varying groups for targeted actions. Occupy groups in the US also began focusing on politicians, heckling candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in the primaries which began in earnest in early 2012. Those affiliated with the Occupy movement demonstrated against various and sundry politicians of both parties, and carried out protest actions at various politicians’ offices in Washington or locally. How the Occupy movements would participate in the 2012 presidential election was of interest to both parties and those participating in or sympathizing with the movement. Indeed, it was the very nature of the multiplicity and complexity of the Occupy movements that they could not fit into standard political models and were thus spontaneous and unpredictable in nature. The Occupy groups and their allies could point to specific victories in early 2012, to which their movements had partially contributed. On January 18, 2012, major internet industry websites went black in a day of protest against a proposed Congressional bill Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and a Protect Identity Property Act, which opponents claim could lead to online censorship and force some websites out of business. By midday, Google officials asserted that 4.5 million people had signed its petition against SOPA,47 while Wikipedia claimed that 5.5 million people had accessed the site and clinked on a link that would put them in touch with local legislators to register their opposition to the act. Evidently, the action had an impact, as politicians who had been for the bill suddenly indicated opposition to it, and the bill’s sponsors withdrew it for further consideration.

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On January 18, 2012, the Obama administration announced it would temporarily deny a permit for the building of the highly toxic Keystone XL pipeline which would have transported extremely dirty oil from a vast oil deposit in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.48 And on the same day, activists were celebrating in Wisconsin having received over one million signatories to have a recall election to potentially unseat Governor Scott Walker who was financed with ultra-right wing Tea Party movement money and had attacked union bargaining rights in a highly publicized affair that led union workers, students, activists and their supporters to occupy the Madison Wisconsin state capital in protest in May 2011,49 linking Occupy movements in the Middle East with the US and anticipating the Occupy Wall Street movement by some months. Hence, new politics and subjectivities were emerging from specific sites of the Occupy movement, which are global in inspiration, tactics, and connections, leading to a new era of global, national, and local political struggle with unforeseeable outcomes in the Time of the Spectacle. These movements were inspired and connected in certain ways with the North African Arab Uprisings that began an intense year of struggle throughout the world in 2011. History and the future are open and depend on the will, imagination, and resolve of the people to create their own lives and futures rather than being passive objects of their masters. Media spectacle is a contested terrain upon which the key political struggles of the day are fought and 2011 was a year rich in examples of media spectacle as insurrection.

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Notes

Introduction  1 In the studies collected here dissecting the major media spectacles of 2011, I expand my concept of media spectacle developed in a series of books including: The Persian Gulf TV War, 1992; Grand Theft 2000. Media Spectacle and a Stolen Election, 2001; From September 11 to Terror War: The Dangers of the Bush Legacy, 2003b; Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy, 2005; and Guys and Guns Amok: Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombings to the Virginia Tech Massacre, 2008.  2 After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Bush/Cheney administration manipulated the event into promoting US intervention in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of what they presented as a Global “war on terror.” I, by contrast, use the term “Terror War” to describe the post-9/11 epoch since the Bush/Cheney administration were co-creators of this spectacle, and because the US and its allies were part and parcel of the war on Al Qaeda and areas that were alleged to be sites of terrorist enemies of the West. Indeed, Robin Wright (2011) argued in her recent exploration of changing attitudes of Muslims in the contemporary era that the term “war on terror” “often appeared to Muslims to be targeting them all,” and was thus perceived as a war on Islam and Muslims (2011: 123).  3 My earlier analyses of globalization, continued here, include Douglas Kellner, “Theorizing Globalization,” Sociological Theory, Vol. 20, Nr. 3 (November 2002): 285–305, and Steven Best and Douglas Kellner (2001) The Postmodern Adventure. Science Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium. New York and London: Guilford and Routledge. On neoliberalism, see David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005).  4 For analyses of a diversity of types of media spectacle, see Kellner 2003a, which has a historical genealogy of the spectacle going back to Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern cultures. Here I am only discussing media spectacle as major socio-political events of the contemporary moment and their impacts on journalism and politics.  5 On how Kate eventually became a fashion icon after initially mixing English country fashion with celebrity fashion, see Pamela Church Gibson, “New patterns of emulation: Kate, Pippa and Cheryl,” Celebrity Studies, Vol. 2, Nr. 3 (November 2011): 358–60.

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 6 Useful background information on the British Royals is provided by Kitty Kelley (1997) The Royals. On the life and death and aftermath of Princess Diana as media spectacle, see Keat and Steinberg, 1999.  7 See Janet McCabe, “And bringing up the rear: Pippa Middleton, her derriere and celebrity as feminine ideal,” Celebrity Studies, Vol. 2, Nr. 3 (November 2011): 355–8.  8 For my conception of critical social theory, see Douglas Kellner (1989) Critical Theory, Marxism, and Modernity.  9 I explicate my conception of media/cultural studies in, most recently, Media/ Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches, co-edited with Rhonda Hammer, 2009, and Media and Cultural Studies. KeyWorks, co-edited with Meenakshi Gigi Durham. Malden, Mass. and Oxford, UK: Blackwell, second edition, 2012. I have explicated and illustrated the concept of diagnostic critique used in these studies in Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush/Cheney Era, 2010. 10 Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967) was published in translation in a pirate edition by Black and Red (Detroit) in 1970 and reprinted many times; another edition appeared in 1983 and a new translation in 1994. Thus, in the following discussion, I cite references to the numbered paragraphs of Debord’s text to make it easier for those with different editions to follow my reading. The key texts of the Situationists and many interesting commentaries are found on various websites, producing a curious afterlife for Situationist ideas and practices. For further discussion of Debord and the Situationists, see Steven Best and Douglas Kellner (1997) The Postmodern Turn, Chapter 3; see also the discussions of spectacle culture in Best and Kellner, The Postmodern Adventure, op. cit.; Kellner, Media Spectacle, op. cit. On Debord’s life and work, see also Vincent Kaufmann (2006) Guy Debord. Revolution in the Service of Poetry. On the complex and highly contested reception and effects of Guy Debord and the Situationist International, see Greil Marcus (1990) Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century; Tom McDonough, editor (2002) Guy Debord and the Situationist International; and McKenzie Wark (2008) 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International. 11 On the impact of Guy Debord and the Situationist International on contemporary social theory and radical politics, see the sources in Note 10 above. I discuss how Situationist tactics and ideas have influenced the Occupy movement in Chapter 5. 12 I argued that Barack Obama won the presidency in part because he mastered media spectacle in Douglas Kellner, “Barack Obama and Celebrity Spectacle,” International Journal of Communication, Vol. 3 (2009): 1–20 at http://ijoc.org/ ojs/index.php/ijoc/article/view/559/350 and “Barack Obama, the Power Elite, and Media Spectacle,” in American Study Institute, 2010: 11, 25–70. Seoul National University. I will draw on these studies and expand and update my analysis of the Obama spectacle in Chapters 1 and 5.

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Chapter 1  1 I refer to the “Bush-Cheney administration” rather than to the George W. Bush administration because of the immense role played by Dick Cheney. For my analysis of the Bush-Cheney administration that documents the claims made in this section, see Kellner 2001, 2003b, 2005. I will also use the term “the Bush-Cheney Gang,” a concept explicated in Kellner 2001, which describes the stolen election of 2000 as one of the great crimes in US political history.  2 On the September 11 terror attacks and how they enabled the Bush-Cheney Gang to push through a right-wing and corporate agenda, see Kellner 2003b and 2005.  3 In this study, I am ignoring Obama’s earlier pre-2008 election political history. Obama first came to national attention through his dramatic keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Party convention where he emerged as a rising star and then established his own political trajectory and philosophy in two well-written and best-selling books (Obama 2004 and 2008). On Obama’s life history and rise to the presidency, see Wolffe 2009 and Remnick 2011. The latter provides an excellent account of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of the Obama and Clinton teams in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries. For an illuminating portrait of Barack and Michelle Obama, see Kantor 2012.  4 See Suskind 2011, 10. Suskind presents an excellent behind-the-scenes picture of Obama’s relations with Wall Street, his early insider advice concerning a looming financial crisis from Wall Street players who attached themselves to his campaign, and the way that Obama dealt with the 2008 economic crisis in his campaign and during the first two years of his presidency.  5 Suskind (2011, 19ff) recounts how Obama early on came to see rebuilding America’s infrastructure as a major platform for campaigning and challenge for his presidency, a challenge not yet met.  6 On Obama’s mobilization of the internet in the 2008 presidential election, see S. Rezayazdi, “New politics, new media,” Little Village, January at http://www.littlevillagemag.com/content/2009/01/new-politics-new-media/ (accessed January 14, 2009); Gulati 2010, and Cornfield 2010. Although the latter two articles by political scientists provide detailed analysis of Obama’s use of new media and social networking sites, neither engages the Obama spectacle that was the driving force of the Obama campaign. Diana Owen (2010) asserts that the majority of people polled claimed that they depended on conventional media, especially television, for their news and information on the election, although significant age-related differences in media appeared, “leading to speculation that a dual media system may be developing in response to the preferences of older and younger audiences.” In her study of the role of the media in the 2008 election, Owen also neglects the role of media spectacle, as do historians and analysts of the election including Wolffe 2009, Remnick 2011, and Suskind 2011.  7 See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKsoXHYICqU (accessed December 14, 2009).

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 8 See http://www.hopeactchange.com/creators/song (accessed January 30, 2009).  9 See http://www.dipdive.com/dip-politics/ywc/ (videos 2 to 30, accessed January 30, 2009). For detailed analysis of the YouTube videos assembled here, see Kellner and Kim 2009. 10 See “Obama’s Secrets,” The National Enquirer, March 17, 2008: 35-7, and Matthew Mosk, “An attack that came out of the ether,” The Washington Post, June 28, 2008: C1. A compendium of all the rumors and innuendos concerning Obama are found in Jerome Corsi, The Obama Nation. Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality (Threshold Editions 2008). Corsi also did a smear on John Kerry in the 2004 election, helping to lead the “Swift boat” campaign against Kerry in which former Vietnam veterans who had served with Kerry attacked him and impugned his patriotism. The smears against Obama were recycled endlessly through Fox News and the Murdoch media empire, Talk Radio, sleazy tabloids, and, of course, the internet, and many of the same anti-Obama stories and others continue to circulate to this day. For critiqe of Obama from the left, see BorillaSilva (2010) and the articles collected in St. Clair and Frank 2011. 11 For the Paris Hilton for President video, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =k4WDjuiQmxA&feature=PlayList&p=D2B5F8D06FBBD2B7&playnext=1& playnext_from=PL&index=25 (accessed July 6, 2009). 12 Suskind 2011, op. cit., provides an excellent account of the unfolding of the financial crisis in the context of the 2008 presidential election. On the financial crisis and US government response, see Sorkin 2010 and St. Clair and Frank 2011. 13 See Kellner 2007 on “The Politics of Lying” during the Bush-Cheney era. 14 On Palin’s unsavory connections, see Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert, “Meet Sarah Palin’s radical right-wing pals,” Salon, October 10, 2008 at http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/10/10/palin_chryson/print.html (accessed November 12, 2009). On John McCain’s radical right associations and involvement with the corrupt Savings and Loan tycoon Charles Keating that won him ethical rebuke in the Senate, see Alex Kooperman, “The return of Charles Keating,” Salon, October 10, 2008 at http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/ (accessed November 10, 2009). Remnick concludes that although it is not really possible to blame McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for his defeat, “she did help him lose ingloriously. She behaved erratically, heedlessly, and McCain did nothing to stop her. By giving himself over to her rhetoric, by failing to put an end to the sort of smears she reveled in, McCain had forfeited some part of what he valued most in himself—his sense of honor” (2011, 555). 15 For a dossier of articles on Joe the Plumber, see http://topics.nytimes.com/ top/reference/timestopics/people/w/joe_wurzelbacher/index.html?inline=nyt-per (accessed November 14, 2008). For a video in which Joe exposes his right-wing views, see http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/16/joe-in-the-spotlight/ (accessed November 14, 2008). Obama also told Wurzelbacher in an off-thecuff remark caught on video that: “We want to spread it around to look after all people,” a comment taken by the right wing as evidence that Obama was a socialist out to redistribute wealth. 16 See Elisabeth Bumiller and Jeff Zeleny, “McCain and Obama hurl broadsides at each other over taxes and jobs,” The New York Times, October

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23, 2008, at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/us/politics/24campaign. html?hp=&pagewanted=print (accessed November 10, 2009). Bumiller and Zeleny provide a detailed report on McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” tour. As it turns out, Obama’s grandmother, whom he visited near the end of the campaign and who died the night before the election, was a “Rosie the Riveter,” working in factories during World War II, when the men were overseas fighting. 17 Salon’s “War Room” blog tracks the daily campaign trail of both camps at http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/ (accessed October 24, 2008). 18 See Remnick’s first-person account of the election night spectacle in Grant Park, op. cit, 556ff. 19 See Jose Antonio Vargas, “Obama Raised Half a Billion Online,” Washington Post, November 20, 2008 at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/11/20/ obama_raised_half_a_billion_on.html (accessed December 31, 2011). 20 Elizabeth Drew notes that no evidence appeared concerning a “Bradley effect” in the 2008 presidential election and claimed that: “Some of the smartest political analysts I know had already dismissed the Bradley effect as a myth. And there was no evidence of such a phenomenon in this election. In fact, a considerable number of whites said that they voted for Obama because he is black.” See Elizabeth Drew, “The truth about the election,” The New York Review of Books, December 18, 2008 at http://www.nybooks.com/ articles/22170 (accessed December 27, 2008). Remnick also argued that Obama’s election put in question the “Bradley effect” (2011, 556). 21 See the PEW Research Center report at http://www.journalism.org/ (accessed January 5, 2009). 22 See James Rainey, “McCain found to get more bad press,” Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2008, A17. An earlier survey by FAIR, however, “Top Troubling Tropes of Campaign ’08,” October 10, 2008, suggested that major tropes such as “Straight-Talking Maverick” for John McCain, and “Barack Obama, Elitist Snob” created a positive narrative for McCain and negative representations of Obama; the studies’ examples, however, were from earlier in the year and were arguably overtaken in the final few weeks of the campaign, as were what the article suggested were largely positive tropes for Sarah Palin, who had overwhelmingly critical media coverage in the last weeks of the campaign; for the FAIR survey, see http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3629 (accessed October 26, 2008). 23 Robert Draper, “The Making (and Remaking) of McCain,” New York Times, October 26, 2008 at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t. html (accessed October 26, 2008). 24 David S. Broder, “Obama Asks Nation to Rise to the Challenge of his Words,” Washington Post, January 20, 2009 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/20/AR2009012002299.html (accessed October 2, 2011). 25 As Ron Suskind notes in Confidence Men, Bush left office with a 20 per cent approval rating, the lowest of any President in history, with the economy in crisis, two unpopular wars, and with “Bush a pariah now across the land” (2011, 125).

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26 See, for example, Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko (2007) which illustrates the universal health care benefits received by citizens of Canada, France, and Great Britain. On the unfolding of Obama’s plans to tackle health care during his first term in office, see Suskind, op. cit. 27 See Charles Ferguson’s documentary Inside Job (2010) for a cogent account of the magnitude of the financial crisis in the US from unregulated banking and financial institutions, and the limits of the ability of the Obama administration team to deal with the crisis, a theme that is also central to Suskind 2011.

Chapter 2  1 After initially using the discourse of “revolution” to describe the overthrow of dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, Al Jazeera and other global networks then used terms like “Libya’s Uprising,” “Egypt’s New Era,” and “Tunisia in Transition,” as well as terms like “The Arab Spring,” “The Arab Awakening,” or “The Arab Uprising” to describe the events engaged in this chapter. Curiously, Wikipedia has its pages on the events under the rubric of “Tunisian revolution,” “2011 Egyptian revolution,” and “2011 Libyan Civil War.” By “revolution,” I follow Herbert Marcuse’s concept of revolution as a rupture with and overthrow of the previous social order that develops new forms of economy, politics, culture, and social relations, involving a decisive rupture with the previous regime and an entirely different society with non-oppressive social relations and a new economy, polity, social institutions, culture, and subjectivities. On Marcuse’s concept of revolution, see Douglas Kellner, Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism, Berkley and London: University of California Press (USA) and Macmillan Press (England), 1984, and Marxism and Revolution, Volume 6 of the Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, edited by Douglas Kellner and Clayton Pierce, London and New York: Routledge, 2012.  2 To be sure, there were organized opposition movements to the Soviet regimes within the Eastern Central Europe Soviet bloc countries and within the Soviet Union itself for decades. These oppositional movements had long been producing critiques of the regime, sometimes clandestinely circulated, and had organized opposition to the Soviet system. On the other hand, certainly the cascading collapse of one Communist regime after another, seen throughout Europe and the Communist bloc on television, and discussed on radio, newspapers, and other media, helped to mobilize massive crowds that led to the overthrow of the Communist regimes. For first-person witness of these events, see the narrative and concise analysis by Timothy Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern (1993). Among other themes, Garton Ash describes the role of the media in making images of the oppositional movements visible to various publics and the struggle for media access of the oppositional movements. In a key summary judgment, Garton Ash wrote: “In Europe at the end of the twentieth century all revolutions are telerevolutions” (1999, 94). In the Prague Velvet Revolution, Garton Ash wrote: “Television is now clearly opening up

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to report the revolution,” signaling that Václav Havel and the oppositional movement had won the revolution (1999, 101).  3 Francis Fukujama famously argued that the collapse of Soviet Communism by the 1990s marked the triumph of Western Ideas of Freedom and Democracy, and thus the end of major political conflicts; see The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992). With the 9/11 terror attacks on the US and the resulting era of Terror War, Fukujama’s ideas were widely discredited (see Douglas Kellner, From September 11 to Terror War: The Dangers of the Bush Legacy, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003). To some extent, though, the Ideas of Freedom and Democracy are indeed part of the struggle in the North African Arab Uprisings, which revealed that many more enemies of a free society had to be eliminated before one could seriously argue that we had entered the realm of freedom dreamed of by liberals and Karl Marx.  4 On the new media ecology that the internet and other new technologies have produced, see Mark Poster, The Second Media Age (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1995) and Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellner, “Technopolitics, Blogs, and Emergent Media Ecologies: A Critical/Reconstructive Approach,’ in Small Tech. The Culture of Digital Tools, edited by Byron Hawk, David M. Rider, and Ollie Oviedo, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008, 22–37. On the emerging Middle East media ecology, see Lynch 2006.  5 For an account of previous self-immolations that helped mobilize protest movements, see Robert Wirth, “How a Single Match Can Ignite a Revolution,” New York Times January 21, 2011 at www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/ weekinreview/23worth.htm. See also the detailed account of Bouazizi’s life in Wikipedia, which has a section on subsequent imitation of his selfimmolation in other Middle East protest movements at http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Mohamed_Bouazizi (accessed April 9, 2011). The “Werther effect” refers to mass suicides in eighteenth-century Europe after Goethe’s hero Werther committed suicide in a popular novel (see Lawrence and Jewett 2002), and there was a wave of suicides throughout the Middle East after Bouazizi’s immolation, although none of the other suicides appeared to have provided sparks for a revolution.  6 On February 19, 2011, 60 Minutes broadcast an episode titled “The Spark” which described how following the self-immolation protest, activists in Tunisia began circulating images of Bouazizi, made him into a martyr, organizing marches commemorating him and protesting the oppressive Tunisian regime.  7 See Robert Mackey, “Video That Set Off Tunisia’s Uprising,” New York Times, January 22, 2011 at http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/video-thattriggered-tunisias-uprising/ which recounts how: “The desperate act of the vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, led to protests in the town, which were recorded in video clips posted on YouTube. By the time he died on Jan. 4, 2011, protests that started over Mr. Bouazizi’s treatment in Sidi Bouzid had spread to cities throughout the country.” On the Tunisian insurrection, see also Wright 2011, 15ff. 8 In addition to the 60 Minutes report, see also David D. Kirkpatrick and David E. Sanger, “A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History, New York

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Times, February 13, 2011, A1. For an excellent set of articles on the role of media and social networking in the Arab Uprisings, see the special section of International Journal of Communication 5 (2011), “The Arab Spring and the Role of ICTs,” edited by Ilhem Allagui and Johanne Kuebler, studies that I draw on in the discussion below. See also Ghonim (2012) whose Revolution 2.0 I also discuss below. 9 See Elizebath Dickinson, “The First WikiLeaks Revolution,” January 13, 2011 at http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/13/wikileak (accessed March 10, 2011). The text was widely circulated on the internet. Dickinson wrote: “Tunisians didn’t need any more reasons to protest when they took to the streets these past weeks—food prices were rising, corruption was rampant, and unemployment was staggering. But we might also count Tunisia as the first time that WikiLeaks pushed people over the brink. These protests are also about the country’s utter lack of freedom of expression—including when it comes to WikiLeaks.” Laila Lalami argued as well in “Tunisia Rising” (The Nation, February 7, 2011, 7–8) that there were multiple causes for the uprising and people generally knew of the corruption of the Ben Ali regime. Lalami also remarks that Western media hardly paid attention to the events in Tunisia, although they had thoroughly covered the Iranian Uprisings of 2009, as they would with the Egyptian and Libyan Uprisings. 10 On Tunisia’s economy, see Alex Callinicos, “Tunisia: Patterns of Revolt, Socialist Worker, Jan. 29, 2011 at http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=23670 (accessed April 14, 2011). 11 On the background and trajectory of the Tunisian Uprising, I am drawing on Kevin Anderson, “Arab revolutions at the Crossroads,” April 2, 2–11 at http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/arab-revolutions-crossroads-kevinanderson/ (accessed April 14, 2011). 12 See Anderson, op. cit., who also draws on Sari Hanafi, “Lessons of the Jasmine Revolution,” Al Jazeera English, Jan. 23, 2011 at http://english.aljazeera.net/ indepth/opinion/2011/01/201111985641326468.html (accessed February 4, 2011). 13 See Robin Morgan, “Women of the Arab Spring,” Ms. (Spring 2011): 21. 14 Nadia Marzouki, “Tunisia’s Wall Has Fallen,” MERIP, Jan. 19, 2011, cited in Anderson, op. cit. 15 See the detailed account “Tunisia crisis: as it happened,” Guardian, January 14, 2011 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/blog/2011/jan/14/tunisia-wikileaks (accessed May 14, 2011). Le Monde also had an excellent blog on the success of the Tunisian Uprising “Revivez les évènements de vendredi en Tunisie,” January 14, 2011 at http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2011/01/14/suivez-en-directla-situation-en-tunisie_1465727_3212.html#ens_id=1245377 (accessed May 14, 2011).  16 See Andy Morgan, “From fear to fury: how the Arab world found its voice. For year, musicians in Tunisia and Egypt were terrified of aggravating the authorities,” The Observer, February 27, 2011 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/ music/2011/feb/27/egypt-tunisia-music-protests (accessed May 14, 2011). For

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detailed accounts of the role of cultural forms in Middle East protest over the last years, see LeVine 2005 and Wright 2011. 17 On the Arab public sphere, see Lynch 2001 and Abish 2008. On the Arab hip hop public sphere, see Ulysses, “Hip Hop revolution,” Open Democracy, December 16, 2011 at http://www.opendemocracy.net/ulysses/hip-hoprevolution (accessed December 22, 2011). 18 For an excellent historical contextualization of Egyptian politics from Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak and the Egyptian Uprising, see Lloyd C. Gardner, The Road to Tahrir Square. New York, The New Press, 2009. 19 On Egypt’s economy, see the introduction to El-Madhi and Marfleet, op. cit. and Ahmad El-Sayed El Nggar “Economic policy: from state control to decay and corruption,” in El-Madhi and Marfleet (2009), 34–50. 20 For meticulous and detailed analyses and documentation of the corruption and totalitarian repression in the Mubarak regime, see Elaasar, 2009. Elaasar, however, does not anticipate the Egyptian Uprising and tends to overlook democratic forces within Egypt itself. Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, by contrast, documents the emergence of profuse democratic forces and anticipations of the Uprising in On the State of Egypt. What Made the Revolution Inevitable (2011). Al Aswany, author of the acclaimed Egyptian novel The Yacoubian Building and an excellent story collection Friendly Fire, provides in his essay collection On the State of Egypt a wonderful set of short essays that present problems and struggles in Egypt that predate the Uprising, with each essay ending with the statement “Democracy is the solution,” a phrase that serves as the epigram for this section and the hope for a better Egyptian future. Al Aswany opens his collection with an Introduction “On Tahrir Square” that documents his own participation in the uprising, preceded by an analysis of why Egyptians had not rebelled in a mass uprising previously. For a prescient anticipation of the Egyptian Uprising, see also the studies in Egypt: The Moment of Change, edited by El-Madhi and Manfleet 2009. The editors and their contributors document various dimensions of repression and revolt against the Mubarak regime and suggest that a breaking point may be coming, thus anticipating the 2011 revolts. 21 See Timothy Phelps, “Where Egypt’s unrest took root,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2011, A1. 22 Joel Benin, “Egypt’s Workers Rise Up,” The Nation, March 7/14, 2011, 8–9 (accessed online at http://www.thenation.com/article/158680/egyptsworkers-rise, March 9, 2011). Benin claims that workers movements had very progressive aims from the beginning of the uprising: “At the appropriate moment, workers did not hesitate to fuse economic and political demands. On February 9, Cairo transport workers went on strike and announced that they would be forming an independent union. According to Hossam el-Hamalawy, a well-informed blogger and labor journalist, their statement also called for abolishing the emergency law in force for decades, removing the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) from state institutions, dissolving Parliament (fraudulently elected in 2010), drafting a new Constitution, forming a national unity government, prosecuting corrupt officials and establishing a basic national minimum wage of 1,200 Egyptian pounds a month (about $215)” (p. 8). For

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an update on the continuing role of workers in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab Uprisings, see Joel Benin, “Working Class Revolutions?,” The Nation, September 12, 2011, 25–9, and for historical contextualization of Egypt’s labor struggles, see Joel Benin, “Workers’ struggles under ‘socialism’ and neoliberalism,” in El-Madhi and Marfleet (2009), 68–86. 23 See Alaa Al Aswany, On the State of Egypt, op. cit. and Ghonim, op. cit. 24 Morgan, “Women of the Arab Spring,” op. cit., 21. 25 Shahin and Juan Cole, “The Women’s Movement in the Middle East,” Tomgram, April 26, 2011 at. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175384/ tomgram%3A_shahin_and_juan_cole%2C_the_women%27s_movement_in_ the_middle_east_/#more (accessed May 15, 2011). 26 See Morgan, op. cit., 21. For another account of how a YouTube video was used to assemble young women and men, see Melissa Wall and Sahar El Zahed, “I’ll Be Waiting for You Guys”: A YouTube Call to Action in the Egyptian Revolution, International Journal of Communication, 5 (2011), Feature 1333–1343. 27 Joel Benin writes: “The events of January–February followed a decade of escalating mobilizations among many different sectors of Egyptian society— committees in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in opposition to the US invasion of Iraq; the Kifaya (Enough) movement for democracy; doctors, judges, professors; and, above all, industrial and white-collar workers” (“Egypt’s Workers Rise Up,” op. cit., 8). On the Kifaya and other dissent movements of the 2000s in Egypt, see Rabab El-Mahdi, “The democracy movement: cycles of protest,” in El-Mahdi & Marfleet 2009, 87ff. 28 Author and journalist David Wolman was present at the 2008 anti-Mubarak demonstration in Alexandria organized by the April 6 Youth movement and wrote an article on Egyptian internet activism that featured Ahmed Maher and his April 6 group; see “The Techie Dissidents Who Showed Egyptians How to Organize Online,” The Atlantic at http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/ archive/2011/02/the-techie-dissidents-who-showed-egyptians-how-to-organizeonline/70734/ (accessed December 8, 2011). Wolman stayed in touch with Maher and returned to Egypt as the anti-Mubarak uprising exploded, writing an e-book on the event; see David Wolman, “The Instigators,” published by The Atavist in May, 2011 and available as a Kindle book at http://www. amazon.com/The-Instigators-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B004Z2GW24 (accessed December 8, 2011). 29 In his memoir of the Egyptian insurrection Revolution 2.0 The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power, Wael Ghonim (2012) describes how as an apolitical Google employee in Egypt, he was moved by the murder of Khaled Said and produced an anonymously administered Facebook page commemorating him. 30 Linda Herrar, “Egypt’s revolution 2.0: The Facebook Factor,” at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/612/egypts-revolution-2.0_ the-facebook-factor (accessed December 8, 2011). For Ghonim’s version, see his Memoir, 64ff.

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31 See El-Mahdi, op. cit., 93–7. 32 On the 2009 protests in Iran over what was perceived as a corrupt election, see Wright 2011, 90–111, whose account indicates that Iranian youth anticipated the Arab Spring in using new media and social networking to protest against the Iranian government, including the emergence of martyrs, like Neda, a young Iranian woman killed in protests who became a symbol of upright youth protesting against political oppression. 33 On the role of Al Jazeera in Middle East politics, see Hugh Miles, Al Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West. New York: Grove Press, 2005; Marc Lynch, Voices of the New Arab Public Sphere: Iraq, Al Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006; and The Al Jazeera Phenomenon, edited by Mohamed Zayani, Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005. 34 See Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, “Post-Mubarak Egypt, the rebirth of the Arab world,” Washington Post, February 11, 2011, A01. 35 Laurie Penny, “Rise of the Digital Natives. How the battle for the Internet politicized prankster cybercollectives like Anonymous.” The Nation, October 31, 2011, 20-22. 36 On the Mubarak regime, see the sources in Note 19. 37 See Ghomin, op. cit. and Ned Parker, “Crowds Swell as Protest Seeks a Leader,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2011, A1. 38 See Wolman, The Atavist, op. cit. and see Ghonim 2012: 129ff. 39 Gamil Ghobrial