Wednesday, September 26, 2007

De-swastikating the aerial landscape

[Image: Via Archinect, the LA Times says that "The U.S. Navy has decided to spend as much as $600,000 for landscaping and architectural modifications to obscure the fact that one its building complexes looks like a swastika from the air." The Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Photo: Google Earth.]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Imperial Blue

[Image: Via johanna at Flickr.]

An excellent article by journalist Andy Beckett appeared in The Guardian a couple of days ago. He and local sculptor Silke Dettmers took a long and circuitous walk to trace the sudden geography of a 10ft tall 11-mile long blue fence, Beckett tells us, that “has sprung up around the 2012 Olympics site in east London.” Designed to secure a ‘city-within a city’ this meandering and unmistakably visible blue reef barrier, if you will, has lapped up massive swaths of Hackney Wick and Stratford.
But the color choice is certainly intriguing. The blue he describes is “a vivid, electric cyan that dazzles the eye” and “seemingly has little to do with any blue in the natural world.” Indeed this blue is everything the opposite of a wall that tries to blend in or oppress with some brutalist color or texture – instead it is meant to be enjoyable on some level, and seen from great distances by all except perhaps the blind themselves. It is more than a spectacle, it uses spectacle as its cover. By using such a sarcastically-refreshing color like this one the enclosure quietly mocks the openness of a space where no such barriers would ever need to exist, and in this way it is a blue completely unto itself; it is above all a politically charged blue (not much unlike the blue of the UN), it is a very carefully selected blue; like a hardened ribbon of pseudo-sea or sky that has woven itself across the land space, and by virtue of this blue the fence alludes to an open space that will never exist -- rubbing in the residents faces just the opposite in fact. It is this new imperial blue that calls the gaze to itself only to provide a highly privatized corporate veil for the coveted development of what will take “almost half a decade” to build Beckett writes, or “until the Olympic facilities are finished.”

[Image: Via inthebeginningwaslig ht at Flickr]

If walling were an urban sport of sorts in addition to being a candidate for Mayor (as we recently cited in Flint), then this would no doubt be its biggest event.
Or, when the walls aren’t busy narrating the collision courses of history, they are running rampant through the city – you might say it’s the longest billboard in recorded history, stitching and branding the sidewalks and countryside with the shadowy shape of a snaking global corporatism.
If Fenceland is indeed The Greatest Show On Earth, then this blue stroll is most certainly the Olympic Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

[Image: Via inthebeginningwaslig ht at Flickr]

The timing is almost impeccable, too: as APEC exits stage right the Olympics enters stage left. The nomadic fortress obviously needs next to no time to rest. But, more interesting this time around is not the question of whether Fenceland is a traveling performance piece for a kind of transnational “security theater” (again, as I saw it in Australia just weeks ago where the same blue was used in some instances, and Germany just weeks before that), but more so this time as something akin to Cirque de Soleil in that ‘the show’ embeds itself into the city, cementing its tendrils, instigating mass redevelopment projects through colossal corporate squats, promising a new local economy (just don't mention the debt along the way), minimizing its own need to travel, instead institutionalizing itself with clone-like expansion.

[Image: Via Evening Standard, Olympic village unveiled as £2bn legacy for London.]

A couple weeks ago I asked whether Sydney would see any permanent complexion changes in the city as a result of the sweeping APEC spectacle that had temporarily re-imaged the CBD, and whether the temporary had merely been used as a means to integrate more subtle changes in the permanent security landscape there. Well, by the looks in East London there can be no doubt, the landscape here will be forever altered by this temporary border fence and everything that is going on behind it – might this be the first stage of a longer lasting security strategy?
Would this even be really any surprise?

[Image: Via CABE, Olympic, Paralympic and Legacy Transformation masterplans]

It’s a long article but a must read as far as I am concerned. Beckett gets into how certain demographics are being re-shifted, how boroughs redrawn, historical culture erased; how the fence is also being used as a long-winded advertisement for global capital messaging, and least of all, how it symbolizes the pretentious nature of the Olympic games itself, how they are planned, who will get to participate in them, and ultimately who will in essence get to partake in seeing them. It is, as his case makes to some extent, the emblem of an Olympic sham; a politics of ‘microbordering’ that carefully carves sites of wealth with both blatant and disguised forms of exclusion. We see this type of development in every city where the Olympics takes hold: mass displacements of people, homeless swept out of view, communities completely uprooted for stadiums and Olympic cities that often dry up afterwards leaving nothing but a permanent scar on the landscape: an Olympic ghost town when all is said and done.

[Image: Via Martin Deutsch at Flickr.]

Beyond that this blue fence is a look at different walled-cities in context of one another, not to mention how these walls transport imaginary geographies from the outside to the inside, from the other to the familiar - the normalization and internalization of capital's frontier.
Ahhh...nothing I haven't already stumbled to articulate before.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Welcome to the Ring Dome

[Image: The Ring Dome by Minsuk Cho, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, NYC. Photo by Alan R. Tansey].

If there were such a thing as a kind of psychic milit_urb then I think this ‘ring dome’ in SoHo (in Petrosino Park to be precise) by architect Minsuk Cho would be it, or at least looks like it would be. Seriously, (from my photo-dependent vantage) this structure is both simultaneously beautiful and alarming for me to see at the same time (not alarming in any real sense of the word, just visually) – it’s there, glowing with this electric forcefield of wound coils - like a little Tesla barrier weave, or the architectural equivalent of a police taser gun or something. Who knows, it could be a little love nest conjured out of thin air by a spatial magician, or maybe it’s an electrified detention facility dropped instantaneously down on a helpless family of urban migrants from the Pentagon’s twisted sorcerer arm. Actually, it looks more like something out of a video game, a temporary forcefield. I wish I could be there to actually check it out. It almost appears like it's a shield for some hyperactive brain – a thought guard – as if it has caught something invisible. What’s at the center, what's in there? … I don’t know, we all know I’m crazy.

[Image: The Ring Dome by Minsuk Cho, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, NYC. Photo by Alan R. Tansey].

Anyway, if you are in NYC you need to go take a peak, walk around it, see if you can’t walk through it, stand underneath it and tell me what’s the effect? It’s all part of the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s 25th anniversary celebration titled Performance Z-A which is going on all month and into October. Joseph Grima, the gallery’s director, says it isn’t quite a Postopolis! 2 but definitely something next of kin. There are a bunch of great participants lined up from Eyal Weizman, Pedro Reyes, Stefano Boeri, Gianluigi Ricuperati, and Tomas Saraceno, taking turns holding events in different places, indoors, outdoors, between doors like only the Storefront can allow – for example, today/tonight Teddy Cruz will be hosting ‘Food for Thought: The Tijuana-NY Kitchen.’ For one evening, Ring Dome becomes an open-air kitchen, serving authentic Tijuana tacos in an exchange of food for thought.

[Image: The Ring Dome by Minsuk Cho, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, NYC. Photo by Alan R. Tansey].

There is even a new funky ‘micro-bookshop’ that is being cultivated out of the gallery itself, uniquely curated by the participants themselves. I tell ya, the Storefront just keeps on rocking. It’s incredible actually. So don’t miss it. Go now, get some tacos with Joseph, Teddy and the gang tonight! (damn...I just realized, really realized, I am missing this).

The Wall as Mayor

Just got back from my big bounce to Indiana - great experience! Not a lot of time right now, unfortunately, but thought I'd throw this up from a quick jaunt to Flint, Michigan we made on Saturday in the meantime.
[** In no way whatsoever is this an endorsement of any kind for the said campaigner who is apparently running for mayor in Flint. **]
But, when I saw these signs, well, I just couldn’t help myself snapping a few shots: “Walling for Mayor” … “Vote Walling for Mayor” …

Come on! As you can imagine I was totally stunned reading these plastered over neighborhoods and lawns, next to that classic nifty American white picket fence. It's almost as if the people there are voting for Walling as a verb, as an action more so than a person or candidate (which is made all the more precarious by our natural associations with candidates as translators of public action or inaction); again, it's as if local residents have been given the choice of voting for a strategy of building walls as an actual candidate for their town – like some literal manifestation of architecture as a political figure itself, like the essence of urban division as an ideal choice for public service; it's too eerily symbolic for me to pass up; it's blatant, in Flint of all places, it's craziness! It's The Wall as Mayor!

I have to admit, a name like this is more than ironic, and if I were a politician I imagine I’d change it pretty quickly, if for the simple fact that it just doesn’t sound very good to me – vote for Walling – not to mention that I'd probably be setting myself up for some impossible political consensus. But hey, in certain parts of the world maybe even along the US-Mexican border his name might carry a lot of political weight, rally a long line of support. Perhaps it's all just in the reading. Anyway….
Dear Mr. Walling, if you are reading this, sorry if I have, well - whatever.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The City in the Crosshairs: A Conversation with Stephen Graham (pt. 2)

Alas, here is the second part of my interview with Stephen Graham who teaches Human Geography at the University of Durham and is the Deputy Director of the Centre for the Study of Cities and Regions and the Associate Director of the International Boundaries Research Unit.

In Part 1 we talked about the nature of cities as sites constituted by what Steve calls the “new” military urbanism, a state that is less about the border than its internalization, less about linear lines of defense than amorphous biometric security nets, less fortress than more interwoven surveillance technologies that re-inscribe political violence into the city through a mixing of privatization, miltarism and corporatism. In Part 2, we discuss how the city is produced by imaginary geographies that emerge in culture to help re-image foreign places as sites of "necessary" imperial conflict and the role of infrastructure during war time, particularly that of state-backed disruption. Steve also gives us a gander at what he thinks the future of geopolitical conflict will look like as new “contesting transnational architectures of imperial urbanism” mount up around strategic geographies of global resource accumulation.

• • •

[Bryan Finoki] What role does the urban geography of the Middle East have in fomenting social change, democratic uprising, theocratic fortitude, fascist dictatorship, or, in just helping to author a good old-fashioned run-on narrative of perpetual conflict? What skeletal imprints of ancient empire-building are evident in the modern transformation of these cities today? How are contemporary Arab cities becoming the future fossils of an 'empire urbanism'? Or, are they, perhaps, becoming the places of empire’s own self-destruction? What are places like Fallujah, Najaf, Baghdad, Jerusalem, being turned into and what might they represent 150 years from now?

[Stephen Graham] I think the legacies of western colonial empires are much more important than the legacies of classical or Mesopotamian civilizations. Many of the problems of the Middle East are the result of casual line-drawing around colonial zones of occupation and exploitation which transmogrified into nation states riven with overwhelming internal contradictions, which could really only ever be maintained through repression and political violence. Iraq is a classic example here.

Certainly, the extravagant project of a neoconservative “New American century”, based on continuous expeditionary and urban warfare, seems mortally wounded after Iraq. But this doesn't mean that U.S. and western imperialism will cease or wither. The Caspian Basin oil reserves are the biggest geopolitical prize of the early 21st century. With ‘peak oil’ this prize will only grow. So, the struggle between U.S., Russian and other interests to control geopolitics of oil in the Middle East will only intensify.

The key here will be the age-old colonial tactic of establishing and maintaining corrupt, client regimes and proxy armies rather than full-scale invasion and occupation. In the case of the U.S., this is likely to be backed up by large-scale private military corporations, supported by a small, elite military presence relying on high-tech surveillance and targeting within what the Pentagon is calling the ‘long war.” I’m skeptical that a U.S. president will commit a full-scale force to a Middle Eastern invasion in the near future after Iraq.

[Bryan Finoki] Not that the state’s failure to succeed in Iraq is any part of the plan, but it does help to more quietly institutionalize the privatized war market and to pacify the public who will become less invested in the troops over time and also further removed from being able to scrutinize the conflict as a “private war.” So, are we saying that the Long War will ultimately drive future conflict zones around key geopolitical sites further underground into state-sanctioned clandestinization? Are we entering a new era of secret wars?

[Stephen Graham] Yes, I think so. When war becomes a purely corporate activity, the monopoly of violence long seen as a characteristic of modern western states withers away. Instead, the US state military, in particular, increasingly shepherd a vast array of private military, security and ‘reconstruction’ corporations – as well as proxy armies. These are utterly unregulated and unscrutinised and able to perpetuate civilian atrocities and absorb their own casualties almost invisibly whilst the western media continues to fetishise about dreams of ‘clean’ war through new technology.

[Bryan Finoki] Cities also serve a different role in conflict, one that is indirect and depicted rather than physically conquered. How would you summarize the role cities play in helping the west to project certain notions and imaginary geographies of Arab worlds? Specifically, how are foreign places distorted in western culture’s popular images and understandings of the Arabic world?

[Stephen Graham] As Edward Said argued, popular perceptions of Arab cities tap into very long-standing Orientalist tropes suggesting that these cities constitute an Other to the west inhabited by exoticism, deviousness, bestiality and eroticism. All forms of western popular media do little to disavow these Orientalist myths; instead, tropes which essentialise Arab cities as intrinsically terroristic have simply been added to the mix. Western media and military commentators routinely render Iraq’s cities as little but animalistic “terrorist nests”.

There are two key ways in which Arab cities are portrayed as essentially non-social spaces which need to be unveiled, assaulted and controlled by dominant western military technology. First, as Derek Gregory has argued, the voyeuristic consumption by Western publics of the U.S. and UK urban bombing campaigns -- a dominant feature of the ‘war on terror’ -- is itself based on mediated representations where cities are actually constructed as little more than physical spaces for receiving murderous ordnance. Verticalized web and newspaper maps in the U.S. and UK, for example, have routinely displayed Iraqi cities as little more than impact points where GPS-targeted bombs and missiles are either envisaged to land, or have landed, are grouped along flat, cartographic surfaces. Between 2002-2004, for example, USA Today offered an “interactive map of Downtown Baghdad” on the Web where viewers could click on bombing targets and view detailed satellite images of urban sites both before and after their destruction.

[Image: The USA Today's Interactive Map of Baghdad. Click here to access.]

Meanwhile, the weapons’ actual impacts on the everyday life of ordinary Iraqis or Afghanis, who are caught up in the bombing, as ‘collateral damage’, have been rendered almost invisible by a process of self censorship amongst mainstream western media, combined with U.S. military action. This has happened as part of the U.S. military’s elaborate doctrine of ‘psychological operations’ and ‘information warfare’. In April 2003, for example, such doctrine led U.S. forces to bomb Al-Jazeera’s Baghdad offices because the TV station regularly transmitted street-level images of the dead civilians that resulted from U.S. aerial attacks on Iraqi cities. Through reducing the transnational diffusion of images of Iraqi civilian casualties – a process already limited by the decisions of an overwhelming majority of Western media editors not to display such material – such campaigns operated to further back-up the dominant visual message within the verticalized, satellite-based coverage that dominated the mainstream western media’s treatment of the war, especially during its earlier, bombing dominated, phases.

[Image: Movie trailer for the 2004 documentary film 'Control Room'; also read this relevant Democracy Now! transcript with Amy Goodman and the filmmaker Jehane Noujaim and senior producer for Al Jazeera Samir Khader.]

Such coverage combined to propagate a series of powerful and inter-related myths: that Iraqi cities existed as asocial, completely physical domains, which could be understood from the God-like perspective of remotely-sensed or cartographic imagery; that such cities were, at the same time, somehow devoid of their populations of civilians; and that it was not inevitable that Iraqi civilians would therefore be killed and maimed in large numbers when their cities were subjected to large-scale aerial bombardment (even when this targeting was deemed ‘precise’ through the dominant, verticalized, mediated gaze of Western onlookers). As Derek Gregory suggests in The Colonial Present, in this imaginative geography, which is strongly linked to the wider history of colonial bombing and repression by Western powers, Arab ‘cities’ were thus reduced to the:

“places and people you are about to bomb, to targets, to letters on a map or co-ordinates on a visual display. Then, missiles rain down on K-A-B-U-L, on 34.51861N, 69.15222E, but not on the eviscerated city of Kabul, its buildings already devastated and its population already terrorized by years of grinding war.”

Second, through video games produced by the U.S. military, such as America’s Army and Full Spectrum Warrior, millions of westerners (and others) regularly immerse themselves in stylised renditions of fictional ‘Arab’ cities to fight for ‘freedom’ and cleanse these cities of shadowy ‘terrorists. Both games – which were amongst the world’s most popular video game franchises in 2005 – centre overwhelmingly on the military challenges allegedly involved in occupying and pacifying stylized, Orientalized, Arab cities. Their immersive simulations “propel the player into the world of the gaming industry’s latest fetish: modern urban warfare” (DelPiano, 2004). Andrew Deck (2004) argues that the proliferation of urban warfare games based on actual, ongoing, U.S. military interventions in Arab cities, works to “call forth a cult of ultra-patriotic xenophobes whose greatest joy is to destroy, regardless of how racist, imperialistic, and flimsy the rationale” for the simulated battle.

[Images: From the video game America's Army.]

Such games work powerfully to further reinforce imaginary geographies equating Arab cities with ‘terrorism’ and the need for ‘pacification’ or ‘cleansing’ via U.S. military invasion and occupation. More than further blurring the already fuzzy boundaries separating war from entertainment, they demonstrate that the U.S. entertainment industry “has assumed a posture of co-operation towards a culture of permanent war” (Deck, 2004). Within such games, as with the satellite images and maps discussed above, it is striking that Arab cities are represented merely as “collections of objects not congeries of people” (Gregory, 2004b: 201). When people are represented, almost without exception, they are rendered as the shadowy, subhuman, racialized Arab figure of some absolutely external ‘terrorist’ -- figures to be annihilated repeatedly in sanitized ‘action’ as entertainment, or military training, or both. America’s Army simulates ‘counter terror’ warfare in densely packed Arab cities in a fictional country of ‘Zekistan’. "The mission" of the game, writes Steve O’Hagan (2004):

"is to slaughter evildoers, with something about ‘liberty’ [...] going on in the back ground [...]. These games may be ultra-realistic down to the caliber of the weapons, but when bullets hit flesh people just crumple serenely into a heap. No blood. No exit wounds. No screams"

Here, then, once again, the only discursive space for the everyday sites and spaces of Arab cities is as environments for military engagement. The militarization of the everyday sites, artifacts, and spaces of the simulated city is total. “Cars are used as bombs, bystanders become victims [although they die without spilling blood], houses become headquarters, apartments become lookout points, and anything to be strewn in the street becomes suitable cover” (DelPiano,2004). Indeed, there is some evidence that the actual physical geographies of Arab cities are being digitized to provide the three-dimensional ‘battlespace’ for each game. One games developer, Forterra systems, which also develops training games for the US military, boasts that “we’ve [digitally] built a portion of the downtown area of a large Middle Eastern capital city where we have a significant presence today” (cited in Deck, 2004).


(see Deck, A. (2004) Demilitarizing the playground. No Quarter. (February 2006); DelPiano, S. (2004) Review of Full Spectrum Warrior. Games First, (February 2006); O’Hagan, S. (2004), Recruitment hard drive. Guardian Guide. June 19-25: 12-13.)

[Bryan Finoki] Switching from those kinds of virtual cogs in the war machine let’s talk about the more physical gears of retooling the battlefield. Much has been written about the relationship of urban warfare and the sort of ‘perishibility of colonialism’ that we are witnessing in the urbanization of insurgency. You’ve talked about how modern infrastructure has historically been seen as the triumph of man’s ability to control nature, yet in the context of war infrastructure is the most vulnerable component of the city and ultimately the power of modernism. In this scenario the infrastructure becomes a weapon to be turned back onto itself, and the bane of a city’ own existence.

However, this is not merely an informal tactic on just the part of terrorists. Less attention seems to have been given to the ways more formal sponsors of disruption actually function. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on state-backed disruptions of urban infrastructure that are or are not similar from the insurgent disruptions of city systems. John Robb describes an “open-source warfare” used by the insurgents to swarm the more traditional military paradigms of American super power. Could you elaborate on the state-sponsored acts of infrastructural warfare as thy have grown from the WWII bombing campaigns on urban structures in Europe to the more systematic destructive re-landscaping that we find taking place for example in the West Bank or Iraq?

[Stephen Graham] Actually, state-backed infrastructure disruption is far more damaging than anything that infrastructural insurgents or terrorist could ever hope to achieve. With wholesale carpet bombing of civilians now illegitimate, militaries such as the US and IDF now bring coercive pressures to bear on whole city populations by demodernising cities and deliberately ‘switching off’ the circuits essential to modern urban life. This is justified because urban infrastructures are deemed to be ‘dual use’ in international law. This has been called the strategy of ‘bomb now, die later’ or the ‘war on public health’.

Israel has perfected this with its D9 bulldozers and systematic attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese airports, electricity systems, bridges, ports and water systems. The US has developed a family of non-explosive bombs deliberately designed to short-out entire electrical systems. It also has very powerful Electronic pulse weapons to ‘fry’ computers and electrical systems.

Underpinning US infrastructural warfare strategy is the notion of the "enemy as a system". A doctrine that developed from the “industrial web” ideas used to shape Allied bombing in World war II, this doctrine was devised by a leading US Air Force strategist, John Warden, within what he termed his strategic ring theory (1995) and has been the central strategic idea driving all major US bombing campaigns since the late 1980s. This systematic view of adversary societies, which builds directly on the industrial web theorisation of US air power strategists in World War II, provides the central US strategic theorisation that justifies, and sustains, the rapid extension of that nation’s infrastructural warfare capability.

"At the strategic level," writes Warden, "we attain our objectives by causing such changes to one or more parts of the enemy's physical system" (1995). This 'system' is seen to have five parts or rings: the leadership or 'brain' at the centre; organic essentials (food, energy, etc); infrastructure (vital connections like roads, electricity, telecommunications, water etc.); the civilian population; and finally, and least important, the military fighting force (Felker,1998).

[Image: Warden’s strategic ring theory.]

Rejecting the direct targeting of enemy civilians, Warden, instead, argues that only indirect attacks on civilians are legitimate. These operate through the targeting of societal infrastructures - a means of bringing intolerable pressures to bear on the nation's political leaders. This doctrine now officially shapes the projection of US aerial power and underpins the key U.S Air Force doctrine document – 2-12 – published in 1998 (USAF, 1998). Warden (1996, 6), recalling its centrality to the Iraq and Kosovo campaigns that we’ll explore shortly, outlines how the ‘Strategic Ring Theory’ shapes the targeting of infrastructure. “When we want more information” [about an adversary society], he writes, “we pull out subsystems like electric power under system [‘organic’] essentials and how it as a five-ring system. We may have to make several more five-ring models to show successively lower electrical subsystem. We continue the process until we have sufficient understanding to act” (i.e. make targeting decisions).

Kenneth Rizer, another U.S. air power strategist, recently wrote an extremely telling article in the official US Air Force Journal Air and Space Power Chronicles. In it, he seeks to justify the direct destruction of dual-use targets (i.e. civilian infrastructures) within U.S. strategy. Rizer argued that, in international law, the legality of attacking dual-use targets "is very much a mater of interpretation" (2001, 1).

Rizer writes that the US military applied Warden's ideas in the 1991 air war in Iraq with, he claims, "amazing results". "Despite dropping 88,000 tons in the 43 day campaign, only 3000 civilians died directly as a result of the attacks, the lowest number of deaths from a major bombing campaign in the history of warfare" (2001, 10). However, he also openly admits that -- as we shall soon discuss -- the United State's systematic destruction of Iraq's electrical system in 1991 "shut down water purification and sewage treatment plants, resulting in epidemics of gastro-enteritis, cholera, and typhoid, leading to perhaps as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and the doubling infant mortality rates" (2001, 1).

Clearly, however, such ‘indirect ‘deaths are of little concern to US Air Force strategists. For Rizer openly admits that:

"The US Air Force perspective is that when attacking power sources, transportation networks, and telecommunications systems, distinguishing between the military and civilian aspects of these facilities is virtually impossible. [But] since these targets remain critical military nodes within the second and third ring of Warden's model, they are viewed as legitimate military targets […] The Air Force does not consider the long-term, indirect effects of such attacks when it applies proportionality [ideas] to the expected military gain" (2001, 10).

More tellingly still, Rizer goes on to reflect on how US air power is supposed to influence the morale of enemy civilians if they can no longer be carpet-bombed. "How does the Air Force intend to undermine civilian morale without having an intent to injure, kill, or destroy civilian lives?" he asks:

"Perhaps the real answer is that by declaring dual-use targets legitimate military objectives, the Air Force can directly target civilian morale. In sum, so long as the Air Force includes civilian morale as a legitimate military target, it will aggressively maintain a right to attack dual-use targets" (ibid. 11).

In 1998 Edward Felker – a third US air power theorist, like both Warden and Rizer, is based at the U.S. Air War College Air University – further developed Walden's model. This was based on the experience of Desert Storm, and drew on Felker's argument that urban infrastructure, rather than a separate 'ring' of the 'enemy as a system', in fact pervaded, and connected, all the others to actually "constitute the society as a whole". "If infrastructure links the subsystems of a society," wrote Felker, "might it be the most important target?" (1998, 20).

[Image: Felker’s modification of strategic ring theory.]

In practice, state infrastructural attacks against modern urban societies are devastating. In urban societies, there are few alternatives once the food can’t be shipped in, the electricity goes off, the water and sewerage pumps stop working, and the wastes can no longer be removed. Very quickly, the poor, the weak and the old succumb to water borne diseases. Following the total destruction of Iraq’s electric system in the First Gulf war in 1991, foe example, Colin Rowat, of the Oxford Research Group, has calculated that:

"the number of Iraqis who died in 1991 from the effects of the Gulf war or postwar turmoil approximates 205,500. There were relatively few deaths (approximately 56,000 military personnel and 3,500 civilian) from direct war affects. The largest component of deaths derives from the 111,000 attributable to postwar adverse health effects" (Rowat, 2002)

Using a longer time-frame, UNICEF (1999) reported that, between 1991 and 1998, there were, statistically, over 500,000 excess deaths amongst Iraqi children under five -- a six-fold increase in death rates for this group occurred between 1990 and 1994. Such figures mean that, "in most parts of the Islamic world, the sanctions campaign is considered genocidal" (Smith, 2002, 365). The majority of deaths, from preventable, waterborne diseases, were aided by the weakness brought about by widespread malnutrition. The World Health Organisation reported in 1996 that:

"the extensive destruction of electricity generating plants, water purification and sewage treatment plants during the six-week 1991 war, and the subsequent delayed or incomplete repair of these facilities, leading to a lack of personal hygiene, have been responsible for an explosive rise in the incidence of enteric infections, such as cholera an typhoid" (cited in Blakeley 2003a, 23).

According to William Church, ex-Director of the Center for Infrastructural Warfare Studies, the next frontier of infrastructural warfare will involve nation states developing the capacity to undertake the types of coordinated ‘cyberterror’ attacks that they are so comprehensively mobilising against. "The challenge here," he writes, "is to break into the computer systems that control a country's infrastructure, with the result that the civilian infrastructure of a nation would be held hostage" (Church, 2000, 3). Church argues that NATO considered such tactics in Kosovo and that the idea of cutting Yugoslavia's internet connections were raised at NATO planning meetings, but that NATO rejected these tactics as problematic. But, within the United State's emerging doctrine of Integrated Information Operations and infrastructural warfare – which involve everything from destroying electric plants, dropping Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) bombs which destroy all electrical equipment within a wide area and developing globe-spanning surveillance systems like Echelon, to dropping leaflets and disabling web sites – a dedicated capacity to use software systems to attacks opponent's critical infrastructures is now under rapid development.

[Image: ECHELON, UK.]

Deliberately manipulating computer systems to disable opponent's civilian infrastructure is being labeled Computer Network Attack (or CNA) by the U.S. military. It is being widely seen as a powerful new weapon, an element of the wider 'Full Spectrum Dominance' strategy. Drawing again on Walden's Ring Theory, and its derivatives, Kelley, (1996) -- author of a major US Air Force strategy document Air Force 2025 -- outlines the rationale:

"the information warfare battlespace is the information-dependent global system of systems of which most of the strengths, weaknesses, and centers of gravity of an adversary's military, political, social and economic infrastructure depend. That is, not only must the question 'What and where are the data on which these infrastructures depend ?' be answered, but, equally important, we must ask 'what are the structures and patterns of human activity depending on these databases and communications infrastructures ?' Information attack requires more than a knowledge of wires." (2)

(See Blakeley R. (2003), Bomb Now, Die Later. Bristol University : Department of Politics, February 2004; Church, W. (2000), “Kosovo and the future of information operations.” (February 2004).; Felker, E. (1998), Airpower, Chaos and Infrastructure : Lords of the Rings, U.S. Air War College Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Maxwell paper 14, July; Kelly, J. (1996), Air Force 2025, U.S. Air War College Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; Rizer, K. (2001), “Bombing dual-use targets : Legal, ethical, and doctrinal perspectives,” Air and Space Power Chronicles, 5th January, (February 2004).; Smith, T. (2002), “The new law of war : Legitimizing hi-tech and infrastructural violence,” International Studies Quarterly, 46, 355-374.; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)(1999), Annex II of S/1999/356, Section 18, February 2004); Warden, J. (1995), “The enemy as a system,” Airpower Journal, 9 (1), 41-55.)

[Bryan Finoki] And then we can even consider different forms of state-sponsored disruption used on the homeland as well. I am thinking for example the entire Enron scandal where the power companies literally hijacked California by causing power outages and manipulating the energy market while pushing for an unregulated energy policy. So, it is not only a tactic for war but also a domestic political economic tool as well. How do you see the state-backed infrastructure disruption tactic being internalized this way as well?

[Stephen Graham] The California case certainly was an extreme example of the corporate takeover of key ‘public’ infrastructure and the possibilities of corporate corruption through deliberate disruption and ‘shock treatment’. It was also a microcosm of the dangers of forcibly reengineering public infrastructures through the application of extreme and completely inappropriate neoliberal ideologies – a saga repeated through many ‘structural adjustment’ policies in the global south and Eastern Europe in the last few decades.

Image: Antwerp as a Colossal Octopus Pump (Image 3). Life Magazine, 26 January, 1953 via Space and Culture.]

Even the interests of capital have started to mobilize against the problems of trying to compete in a ‘globalised’ or ‘networked’ society using infrastructure systems that have been splintered off, commodified and reengineered to serve the profit demands of corporate owners. On the other hand, the costs of small disruptions in stock markets, electronic trading, and global logistics circuits means that many states are trying to find ways of re-regulating private infrastructure operators so that such disruptions are minimized.

[Bryan Finoki] If we accept that militarism necessitates the political boundaries of an inside and an outside constantly casting the conflict zone as some ‘other’ place beyond the sovereign territory of the nation-state, then it’s interesting to see how this new military urbanism both consecrates the physical borders of nation states as well the network infrastructure that allows transnationalism to flourish where borders are theoretically less relevant. There seems to be a contradiction within this type of spatial militarization that simultaneously cements the “other” across the board in urban and geographic patterns while also paradoxically serving the higher ‘inclusive’ structures of global capital.

With that in mind, how have conflict zones abroad been re-incorporated into the domestic fabric of the city, or inside the nation rather than merely existing as a space outside of national sovereignty? Is part of the effect of globalization with the spread of capital and military investment a new internalization of the conflict zone?

[Stephen Graham] There are huge contradictions here. The key is the shifting line that is continually being drawn between the consecrated and celebrated mobilities of people, information, capital and goods (“good” globalization) and those mobilities, people, and bodies that are rendered illegitimate, pathological, or malign. Huge political opportunism is always at work here, taking advantage of latent racisms and the symbolic demonisation of large swathes of the non-white world within popular culture and media. Thus, whilst many core industries in North America would grind to a halt without the ability to exploit cheap ‘illegal’ migrants – agriculture, tourism, construction, child care, textiles, restaurants etc. – the mobilities of the people who risk everything to come and supply that labour must also be continually attacked and demonised. This labour is fine as long as it is invisible and operates in the interstices of urban space.

[Image: ECHELON, UK.]

The changing geographies and architectures of borders also fit with this altered idea of the ‘inside’ and outside’ of nations. Instead of a Euclidean geometry of territorial states occupying all the space of the world and organising their mutual borders, we are seeing the emergence of what we might call the global border assemblage. This is organised through architectural and digital technologies of control which are layed out along the key lines of mobility – usually city to city. It operates through the continuous surveillance, tracking, profiling and marking of bodies, goods , information and capital, and an attempt to separate out legitimate from illegitimate ones. It is preemptive as it links databases and profiles into continuous imaginations of the near future. And it both enters the internal space of nations and extends beyond their territorial borders. So, for example, US immigration and port policy now extends way beyond US borders as it strives to reshape practice in the airports and ports of all the main trading partners. Meanwhile, new borders are being enacted within nations, as certain districts are profiled and surveilled for terrorist sympathizers or those deemed insufficiently patriotic. We should also not forget the global ‘shadow space’ of rendition made up of airports, CIA torture centres and other archipelagos of exception.

Perhaps this is a post-citizenship world based on profiling, tracking and risk assessment rather than standardized national entitlement and political rights? The US recently talked to the UK government about having different visa arrangements for US nationals with Pakistani links or origins to those of the rest of the UK citizenry.

[Image: Deconstruction | 2007 | Almost Safe Series. Photo by Anthony Goicolea.]

[Bryan Finoki] As you know, I am trying to explore the geographies of what I refer to as counter-empire landscapes, by this I mean spaces not just of resistance, subversion, or a circumnavigation of western militaristic hegemony (i.e. border and smuggler tunnels, high seas piracy, the urbanization of insurgency, etc.), but ultimately spaces of colonial capitalist resistance – spaces, that perhaps, are born out of the erosions in the spatial logic of a securitized nation-state border. This could be day-laborer spaces, new sites of political activism, network space, and other hybrid geographies of critical spatial practice that include art and different informalities of community design.

Where do you see the greatest sort of spatial backlash to current colonial forms of militarism? Spatially, how do you see globalization progressing?

[Stephen Graham] I think the things you are looking at – and it’s a fascinating project – might best be seen as a parallel 'unbordering' assemblage that follows, and works to undermine, the state, military and commercially-led global bordering assemblage I discuss above. These various spaces and networks of insurgent citizenship, resistance, activism and militancy that you talk about work, erupt within -- and, especially, below -- the infrastructures of mobility and control of the global bordering assemblage. So here is the spatial backlash that you talk about. I think Keller Easterling’s work, in her book, Enduring Innocence, captures the counter and mainstream geographies and architectures of control really well.

[Bryan Finoki] What can we predict about the future and the way cities will look, the ways they will be planned and function, say, 400 years from now, in light of all this defensive design? Will they further devolve into economic engines for imperialism, militarized slums, half preserved in ruins, perpetual conflict, urbicide, crumbled under the strategic weight of the Pentagon's networked battlespaces? Or, can the Third World help bring forth new models of an 'anti-imperialist urban regime'? Not just localized cities of resistance, or bunkers for an urbanized insurgency, but post-imperial, post-capital cities reinvented out of Empire in a new egalitarian form, beyond the uneven wealth distribution that cities seemed to have served through out history? What will the cities of a post-Empire landscape look like, how will they function, how will they be governed, and more interestingly, how will they emerge?

[Stephen Graham] I think smart materials, nano technology and biotechnology will increasingly be woven into the architectures and geographies of cities in ways that make securitisation a great deal more stealthy than occurs now. In other words, Deleuze’s ‘Societies of Control’ are set to massively intensify. As ‘ambient intelligence’ and embedded or ‘ubiquitous computing’ become the means to orchestrate the world, formal defensive design may thus increasingly become more of a symbolic marker – a signifier of status, centrality and commercial power. The real architectures of control, already, are algorithms, software, databases and microelectronic tracking systems, satellites and sensors, linked intimately to physical spaces, infrastructures, and bodies, rather than the obvious architectonic brute force of walls and ramparts.

[Image: North Bank | 2007 | Almost Safe Series. Photo by Anthony Goicolea.]

In the longer term and broader context, I think that, strategically, we’re going to be moving back towards a multi-polar world. I think US power will wane as its military dominance will be increasingly difficult to sustain, especially with the chronic balance of payments problems, economic mismanagement, resource depletion and the externalization of more and more high value-added activities to Asia. China, and India, too, are likely to emerge as major economic and military superpowers and their militaries will move rapidly towards the high-technology control architectures currently almost monopolised by the US. China, already, is very active in many parts of Africa and the Middle East in quasi-colonial roles.

So, instead of some 'anti-imperialist urban regime,’ I think we’re likely to see contesting transnational architectures of imperial urbanism centred on the extraction and control of key resources (oil, water, unflooded land, food, technology); the organizing of transnational capital circuits of accumulation, trade, labour exploitation and migration; and the military control of key spaces and corridors linking (urbanising) terrain with the critical vector of aerial and space power.

[End of Pt. 2: Bryan Finoki / Stephen Graham, 2007]

Earlier: The City in the Crosshairs: A Conversation with Stephen Graham (pt. 1)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Subverting "Military IKEA"

A little bonus coverage for all you “Fenceland” fans out there who thought the boutique-fortress was so bad-ass. This video treat comes to us via Stephen Smith who wrote a great piece on the performative nature of APEC’s temporary siege of Sydney calling it “Military IKEA” and the urban crossover “between war industries and policing”; “event management, border control and entertainment”; righteously stating that it is all just “part of a 'world series' - a security spectacle than encompasses G8 summits, Olympics, World Cups etc.”

I find this spectacle notion of the border endlessly curious; the border as stage as well as a space for keeping people in/out, for drawing people towards a center or as Dan described as leading people out to an inevitable scattering away from center, “the opposite of creating a contemporary open space” he says. There are so many dimensions to what can seem like just a crude linear wall, a simple line with two sides when in fact it is completely physically and programmatically dynamic, facilitating flows and directions and nodal elements in various proximities to and within the spaces of itself.
Anyway, I heard about this stunt during the week but didn’t find the video. So, thanks to Stephen we got video, who also adds:
For those on the ground the security overkill was genuinely scary. But at the same time, all the modular fencing was like a movie set. In fact, the theatrical aspect was literally realised via the satirical TV show, "The Chaser". The Chaser boys managed to sweep through checkpoints in their fake Canadian motorcade and to top it off, had a Bin Laden look-alike step out of one of the cars outside Bush's hotel! The Chaser team got themselves arrested but their antics seemed to define the event. It was almost as though the whole APEC stage show was waiting for their appearance. It is eerie the way this urban military response can be so violent at one moment but is also so easily interchangeable with spectacle and entertainment.

It’s hilarious, the perfect finale to the "Fenceland" to be sure – check it out. “The road’s yours.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Fenceland" (The Greatest Show On Earth!)

[Image: The APEC Fence in Sydney, photo via The Sage of Shadowdale.]

Well, the “APEC Fenceland” has come and gone now after the world’s top geopolitical brass camped out in Sydney all last week. In light of the G8 Summit held in Germany earlier this year the movements and installations of these roving fortress productions sure are getting lots of practice and therefore I guess not surprisingly all the more streamlined, like “the efficient business of event management” as this article writes; dare I even say, elegant.

[Images: Via Circula Quay 2.]

It’s more than a little ominous, actually. These types of scaled moments seem more like rehearsals for something much bigger on the horizon, a sequel around the corner. I don’t know what exactly that would entail, but they just create this atmosphere of some future event to come that you may not want to be there to experience, exactly. In other words, this flexing of state power is a kind of indirect terror, or something. Maybe it’s just another version of that old classic march of troops and missiles on flatbeds in the streets, that preeminent televised showing of military capability to the rest of the world, which as we all know now is usually just posture. Either way, even when it’s passed it leaves something hanging in the air that doesn’t quite sit right.

[Image: Photo via edwardaggie98.]

I wonder to what degree these mighty spectacles are becoming all the more sensationalized almost as a kind of transnational pop-up architectural performance art; or, a surreal militaristic carnival parading in the temporary occupation of the city. More so, I have to wonder, am I the one doing all of the sensationalizing over here?!

[Image: The BBC covers the construction of the APEC security fence in Sydney.]

Anyway, I am curious now that the big urban border party and all its defensive accoutrement has been taken down what if anything has been left behind? Put differently, do these grandiose security performances deposit any sort of insidious permanent mark on the city; will Sydney remain somewhat invisibly re-militarized after the show has moved on? To that end, what about the cultural imprints; has anyone asked – what are the psychological effects of these spectacles on residents? Maybe I am searching for too many implications here – but hey, that’s my job!

[Image: Photo from the BBC, Bush Arrives at fortress Sydney.]

One of the things that most struck me was just how seemingly clean and meticulous the Sydney production appeared. Did you see those barriers, those posters, the marketing material? Well, neither did I, really, but it looked like the more sophisticated side of Subtopia had swooped down in a massive flock of urban barricades and took a fat vacation there, or more appropriately, hosted our own pow-wow. Really, the APEC security scheme was almost all-too-professional; and ironic in the way it advertised for an event that no one could technically be a part of. Compared to Baghdad’s surge walls or the old insurgent urbanism of Northern Ireland, the Aussie approach took on a massive somewhat seductive boutique-like meandering of military urbanism, so carefully ordered and assembled, all lined up flush with the edges of the sidewalks, fashioned even more so by a perfectly arranged orange carpet of street cones.

[Image: via Pong.]

I can’t believe I’m saying this but – it was almost done with a sense of style. All that stuff looked to me a little too bizarrely decorative to even be real. I mean, make no mistake about it – it was real, but from my vantage it seemed like one big weird window-shopping experience for the residents there, limited to these strict gazing corridors, an absolute arcade for the media. Only in this case the shutters and the bars on the windows and all of the sidewalk caging and detour signage itself were the products on display. It’s similar to the US/Mexico border fence in the sense that it has become a strange sort of tourist attraction these days.

[Image: Photo via The Sage of Shadowdale.]

But I clearly have my own obsession with this stuff and an unwieldy tendency to over-scrutinize the aesthetics and fetishization of border fences now. I’m working on that - promise.

[Image: Via The Sage of Shadowdale.]

So, even though neither you or I were there to stroll around the eerie evacuated streets, past the streamers of lightweight warnings and flexible blockades, or what we might call a temporary new aged market place of geopolitical medievalism, a few of our fellow bloggerades hunkered there down under did a more than brilliant job of covering this Subtopian escapade. Let me cull together some of what they had to say for you:

Thanks to Marcus Trimble we get a good technical overview of what he called the “Pink and Purple Zone” alluding to Sydney’s security makeover impersonation of Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone.’

“Five kilometres of fencing ha(d) been erected around the Opera House, parts of Macquarie Street, Bridge Street and surrounding side streets,” he said. With concrete basing the fence stood 2.8m-high (9.2ft) over this portion of the city that was referred to by APEC security planners as The Declared Area, “in which,” Marcus goes on to write, “the NSW Police ha(d) been granted magical new abilities to search people for whatever reason they like. If they think that you look a little suspect, then the games over. The prisons have kindly kept some spare space for all the extra arrests expected over the course of the conference.”

[Image: Photo via marcel.wegermann.]

In terms of statistical figures for the entire operation, the Sydney Morning Herald's survival guide listed these numbers:

Attended: 21 global leaders, 400 associated business executives, 1500 media persons, 4000 occupied hotel rooms, 4950 police officers on duty, 800 additional security guards on patrol, 500 prison beds especially vacated for arrested protesters, 12,000 clearway road signs, and 1 water cannon. And there were supposed to be some Blackhawk heli’s but in Dan Hill’s experience all he got were those “bulbous police helicopters, sprouting with antennae.” We'll get to that in a bit.

Marcus also tells about Google’s temporary silly fuzzying of satellite images of the area and the ironically timed mounting of loudspeakers through out the streets that would theoretically give instructions to people in the event of a pandemonium. All of which seems impotent in light of what didn’t happen during the week. Though, I’m sure officials would attribute the relative protester passivity to the ingenious web of security they masterminded that week.

[Image: APEC Is Everywhere, via iansand.]

Nevertheless, Dan also picked up on all of this and am I ever thankful he did. You see, I know Dan’s ability to provide live onsite coverage first hand (as he voraciously and single-handedly documented the entire Postopolis! event in NYC), and so we shouldn’t be at all surprised by his deliciously mordant post wandering through the embellished streets of what he called “The Anti-Fun Palace.”

[Image: Photo/caption via City of Sound: The transport services have been reconfigured too, with bus stops shifting location for APEC and indicating just how malleable the city can be.]

Dan’s descriptions of what I might choose to call a kind of vacant sublime that cloaked the cordoned area in Sydney conjure that notorious image I can’t seem to shake loose from my imagination of a global scale slithering security fence, a Goliath border wall; and what I’ve repeatedly referred to here on Subtopes as the nomadic fortress. Dan writes:

“The Fence is very configurable, allowing different streets to be closed at different times. Indeed, the police occasionally seem unsure which streets to shut off, when.”

Maybe it’s a kind of mock-hydrology of anti-activist militarization, a means for de-irrigating, de-populating the urban zone. However, he also makes some great allusions to London and Archigram and even the popular artist Cristo. So, in his own words:

In the Sydney Morning Herald's special APEC section, John Huxley writes of prison language - 'lockdown' - and the Dead City that's left behind. I find the peculiar atmosphere a little reminiscent of the accidental pedestrianisation of London after the 7/7 bombings, though here cultivated through the power of nightmares rather than actual terror.

In the spirit of Cedric Price or Archigram, you could see the entire fenced structure as one transient building - a kind of tentacular walking city, with its own streets and arteries, overlaid temporarily over the concrete city beneath, as if it's squatting on the CBD, attempting to suffocate or strangle, perhaps.

Of course, it's the antithesis of what Price and Archigram attempted with their visionary work - a kind of Anti-Fun Palace, in which possibilities are diminished and the only course of action is to be shepherded out to the perimeter of the city. From an urban planning perspective, it's the opposite of creating a contemporary open space. You could see the whole thing as a design problem - perhaps run as an avant-garde exercise in a crazed design school somewhere: how to tighten the grip a very public space, centred around one of the country's principle attractions? Again, you begin to look at The Fence as a temporary architectural incursion in the city, a reversal of the usual - or at least more written about - architectural and urban design work. You half wonder where The Fence is heading next.

Indeed – where will The Fence turn up next? And again, I ask: what if anything has been left behind as the kind of permanent entrails of geopolitical militarization? This is all over the news, but for instance, a lot of locals are unhappy with the way this has supposedly tarnished Australia’s image, or killed business - some are demanding compensation for lost profits during the 'siege.' But, I’m more curious about the physical leftovers, of the things that will be conveniently forgetten to bring down; will any type of militarization linger on in the wake of the event?

[Image: The Opera House in Sydney behind the APEC Fence, photo via Super Colossal.]

When you see how utterly transformed Sydney was by the armored set design of the whole thing, the billboard marketing, the alternative geographies of mobility within the vicinity of the CBD building (essentially, its own ability to account for the disruptions it would cause), while the real show – the one that wasn’t meant to be seen at all – was staged strategically and interestingly enough inside the demure architecture of the Opera House itself (Australia’s grandest pedestal), the whole thing gave new meaning to what Bruce Schneier called “security theater.”

[Image: The trash cans were even incorporated into the drama. Photo via A Reminder.]

Call it Fenceland, a kind of 21st century traveling stage show, an urban drama performed in the dimensions of the city streets themselves; the city as stage, the architecture as set design, security as the ultimate prop for a bunch of invisible antagonists performing in a place that is neither meant to be seen or heard; riffing off of Dan, it's a kind of anti-opera. I mentioned earlier how these types of exhibitions of global security almost seem like rehearsals for something much more looming still to come, but I also can’t help to view such events as the shows themselves, the avant-garde staging of a temporary military occupation of your city, while the media provides the programs and the postcards of what may soon come to a city near you. At $140m, APEC was the global Broadway musical production of military urbanism; this, my friends, is The “New” Greatest Show on Earth!

[Image: Above images via Rain.Forest.]

However, to put this all in a completely different but albeit critical political context, Angela Mitropoulos gives us some text from her talk earlier this year at Sydney University which is more than relevant, looking at how global activism is being re-framed not only politically but literally by these types of fortress productions making more and more connections between the ways activists are being treated as the extensions of the detainee. To quote her at length:

the debate over representation was also a debate over whether those protests were anti-globalisation, a manifestation of globalisation (including that of protest), or counter-globalisation, and so on. In other words, were these protests a nationalist response to the forces of neoliberalism (as in an attempt to save nation-states from the ravages of international finance) or a global response to capitalism? It is not necessary to reiterate those debates here, though it might be noted that, locally at least, the turn to noborder campaigns after the anti-WTO protests was a consequence not of declarations of unity and claims to representation, but of an insistence on irreconcilable differences within the anti-summit milieux.

Remarkably, in the midst of the campaigns to close the detention camps, though it often did not pass without challenge, there was – and continues to be – a distinction made between activists and detainees. Briefly put: those outside the camps are identified as activists, those inside as detainees. Underneath this, of course, is a definition of politics, of what counts as political and, moreover, what is to be understood as movement. Ironically, then, those who cross borders without state authorisation are, according to this, not part of a movement, while those whose sense of politics remains fixed by national boundaries reserve for themselves the definition of movement. It might be added, with some rather more grim irony, that the techniques currently deployed against anti-summit protests – of raids, lockdowns, corralling and so on – are all forms of border policing, controls on movement whose less visible laboratory is that of migration control.

In any case, this distinction for some amounts to an argument for inclusion, for opening up or re-defining the category and identity of activism to include those, as with detainees, who are excluded from it. But if one proceeds not from the apparently self-evident question of how to represent, or encompass, everyone or everything – which, put differently, means instead proceeding from a sense of how migration controls function not only as instances of exclusion, but also (as Agamben would put it) inclusive-exclusion – the answer is by no means so simple as expanding the scope of recognition and representation. Or giving out more passports and visas.

[Image: The APEC Fence, via Jarod_Is_Happy.]

Alright, being that I am out of time right now I just want to say thanks to all who forwarded me links to news sources and articles on the week (I really do appreciate it, and sorry if I didn’t get back to you as quickly as I would have liked), and to Marcus, Dan, and Angela for hitting this up. And to all the rest of you, take note, because you never know when the state of exception may decide to celebrate a holiday in your hometown.

Also, check these links out for more:

BBC Pics
We can build you - APEC and the rise of military urbanism (Stephen Smith)
Australia: Greenpeace activists stage APEC coal protest
Flickr shots
More Flickr
Apec strives to silence doubters
Bush arrives in fortress Sydney
Apec security leaves bitter taste in Sydney
Photo Essay: Sydney APEC 2007 Almost A Quiet Earth