shoot to save, nationalism

rc-am rcollins at
Sun Mar 28 10:14:19 PST 1999

an excerpt from a conference paper by brian massumi, "requiem for our prospective dead (towards a participatory critique of capitalist power)" on the war in the gulf and somalia.

"According to a self-congratulatory formula widely circulated at the time in the US press, under American leadership the world was on the verge of making the old call to arms obsolete: henceforth, 'thugs' aside, the armed forces would no longer 'shoot to kill' but 'shoot to *feed*'. It is nothing new for the military to justify itself with the claim that is slaughters in the service of life. What is more remarkable is the tendency to blur the very boundary between life and death, even between the organic and the inorganic -- and with it the distinctions between war and peace, civilian and combatant."

and, a reminder for those who talk about the 'principle of national self-determination'. there is no principle here or now, only a cynical manipulation of nationalism (of which we could argue megabytes about in any case), which has been the history of petit-nationalisms for the last hundred years -- at least:

"At the end of March, 1941, I was appointed Ic (Staff Officer Intelligence) to the second Army, then assembling in southern Austria [for the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia]. ... "The military weakness of Yugoslavia was accentuated by political, religious, and racial divisions. Apart from the two main groups, the Serbs and Croats, there were millions of Slovenes, Germans, and Italians, each with separate national aspirations. Only the Serbs were really hostile to us, and our propaganda took the line of offering liberation to the other races, particularly the Croats. ... "46th Panzer Corps of 2nd Army swept down on Belgrade from the northwest, and made rapid progress against negligible resistance. This corps was opposed mainly by Croats, who had been so influenced by our propaganda that some units mutinied and greeted us as 'liberators'."

-- Major General F.W. von Mellenthin "Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War," Trans. H. Betzler, Ed. L.C.F. Turner (U. of Oklahoma Press, 1956), pp. 34-35

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