A group of protesters all wearing black destroy a police car as the authorities stood nearby. June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.
A comment on my (self-described) hilarious post on the wanton destruction of a Tim Horton’s during the G20 protests raises some interesting, if alarming questions as to their legitimacy. Now, any article from a site that has main categories like “US NATO War Agenda” and “Crimes Against Humanity” obviously deserves to be taken with a grain of salt – a massive grain of salt – but nevertheless its allegations that at least some of the ‘Black Bloc’ protesters are in fact undercover police officers seem to be partially borne out by their photographic evidence.
Some of the evidence offered, like the argument that one black-clad protester has the physique not of a “seedy ‘anarchist'” but rather “the fit strong body of a trained soldier,” seems subjective at best. Their main charge, that some of the Black Bloc-types are wearing the same heavy-duty combat boots as the riot police, is much more possible. According to this line of thinking, the wanton destruction committed by the Black Bloc is an attempt to discredit the entire protest movement, a sort of ‘false flag‘ operation.
There are two main problems with this, the first being that reaction to the Black Bloc is tending more towards the “those guys are ruining an otherwise perfectly legitimate protest,” rather than something like “all protesters are this capable of violence!” At the same time, the credibility of photographic evidence in any form has been called into doubt (especially with the release of the near-magical Photoshop CS5). So I don’t know how much stock I put in the thesis, but it’s worth thinking about.
One other possibility is that it’s a reverse false flag op, and that the Black Bloc protesters specifically sought out the same issue combat boots as the police are using. The targets of their demolition could point in either direction; they are utterly predictable:
For the most part, their targets are specific and symbolic: As the crowd tore across Queen St., they hammered police cruisers, attacked banks and other corporate companies. Yet they left a record store, a local tavern and an independent hardware shop untouched.
This is all more food for thought than any kind of accusation. One more idea: would we want to use any kind of false flag operations in Afghanistan? Are the Taliban doing so? Perhaps it’s an idea best consigned to the Cold War; one can only hope this is the case.
A violent anti-G20 protester, using Black Bloc tactics, throws a chair through the window of a Tim Horton's while demonstrators smashed their way through downtown streets June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.
Even the Greeks in their orgy of destruction would never dream of touching a Goody’s. Aren’t all Canadians outraged? Are they pressuring the Harper Government to send all three tanks at the protesters? Is everyone buying Timbits in solidarity? Come on, Canada, time to rrroll up the rim your sleeves!
Date: Monday 7 June 2010 Time: 6.30-8pm Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building Speaker: Stephen Graham Respondent: Gareth Jones Chair: Dr Fran Tonkiss
Cities have become the new battleground of our increasingly urban world. From the slums of the global South to the wealthy financial centres of the West, Cities Under Siege traces how political violence now operates through the sites, spaces, infrastructures and symbols of the world’s rapidly expanding metropolitan areas. Drawing on a wealth of original research, Graham shows how Western and Israeli militaries and security forces now perceive all urban terrain as a real or imagined conflict zone inhabited by lurking, shadow enemies, and urban inhabitants as targets that need to be continually tracked, scanned, controlled and targeted. He examines the transformation of Western militaries into high-tech urban counter-insurgency forces, the militarization and surveillance of March international borders, the labelling as “terrorist” of democratic dissent and Politics/Geography protests, and the enacting of legislation suspending “normal” civilian law.
But best of all…
This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city is obviously going to be the defining social construct of the 21st century, but whether that happens in the benevolent, ‘new urbanist’ way that’s all the rage these days seems increasingly unlikely. From Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums:
The cities of the future, rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks, and scrap wood. Instead of cities of light soaring toward heaven, much of the twenty-first-century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay.
One is reminded of John Robb’s take on cities and the coming urban warfare, along with his prescription against urban conglomerations. Cities are immensely important nodes in a country’s system, and taking them down is easier, more profitable, and much more effective than as was practiced in the first half of the twentieth century.The will to besiege a city that continued up through the World Wars at Leningrad, Liege, and Namur is no longer there, but that brute force method is no longer needed. And the material rewards – not to mention the political and social effects of urban devastation – are more promising than ever.
McChrystal’s population-centric counterinsurgency definitely appears to be working. Now the Taliban has adopted similar methods in order to recreate NATO’s success with the Afghan population.
A 69-point plan has been issued with restrictions and limitations on executions, prisoner-taking, the treatment of civilians, and other rules of engagement that are generally observed by the West. Definitely interesting that a long-term insurgency would start playing by the same rules as their opponent. Patrick Porter sees this as a reinvention along traditional Hamas/Hezbollah/jihadist lines.
How this might play out in the long run of course remains to be seen. Much like Americans, Afghans love a winner, but they’re much more overt about hedging their bets and backing the likely victor. That, in the end, may prove to be the most important factor of all.
This is of course not the only suggested explanation for conflict in the developing world. Essentially, all the arguments put forth can be summarized as pertaining to ‘greed’, or monetary and personal gain, and ‘grievance’, i.e., ideological and cultural clashes. Abridging the vast array of motives to these two is oversimplifying the matter to begin with; further choosing one of the two as the sole factor would be downright spurious. Complicating matters is the tendency to use the ‘pre-modern’ character of third world conflicts to build an intellectual bridge back to the very beginning of history. Continue reading →
Apparently the Tamils are back in a new, friendlier incarnation. The PLA “aims for a democratic socialist liberation of the northeast for a Tamil Eelam,” rather than the nastier LTTE, which was “an extremist organisation that fought only for itself rather than the people’s needs.” Right.
The most curious aspect of this is that it’s still ideological. If former LTTE officers can join as speculated, it dilutes the ideological purity. But if they’re excluded, the PLA loses that veteran experience. Then again, if there are former dissident LTTE officers in the higher echelons, the infighting will be a sight to see. I don’t think many will join, though. The Tamils are such an excellent example of COIN, and the postgame only backs that up: “Shattered by their experiences in the war zones this year, depressed by their subsequent incarceration in detention camps, few Tamils expressed any great enthusiasm for a return to war.”
No matter; ideologically-motivated insurgency is on its way out.