Since it seems that IKnight’s post seems to have sparked a spate of discussion on Gundam 00 I might as well add more fuel to it. Omo wrote a post about how Gundam 00’s world is similar to our own world, in a sense he is somewhat right and some what off. Omo’s theory that it is a sort of Japanese view on the post 9/11 world it inevitably means that it offers a critique of American foreign policy and how the dynamics of politics have shifted. To be sure much of it might seem new, but Al Qaida did not show up over night and preemptive strike has been used before. Omo suggests that the War on Terror and the War against Communism are two very different things, but I don’t entirely agree with that for a number of reasons. Moreover I find omo’s idea that we are crediting an invisible enemy that is neither here nor there, something that can’t be grappled and zapped to be misleading and to be frank false. To be fair omo and I probably sit on opposite sides of the fence on the issue. I stand to lose far more than omo does and that alone will certainly color my perception of reality as it will inevitably be through a lens of conflict. I disagree with the idea that you need to be an “innocent” civilian to understand peace, I may know more about killing than I do about living vis a vis civilians like omo, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t fully appreciate the concept of peace.
Just because Jihad-kun can wear a disguise, doesn’t mean he can use moon prism power.
I think that the current enemy is very human and is limited to what humans can actually do, what omo suggests, though unintentionally, amounts to the Grand Jihad-kun of al Qaida and his peon Jihad-kuns having supernatural powers that they are invisible and can strike at will. I am sure that the enemy would like to be able to masquerade as anyone, but they are no Stasi nor are they Cylons they’re not there yet the fact that they have had a couple anniversaries to snag a second victory and yet nothing has occurred in that time might well mean that they are not everywhere. They are human they can be hunted down run down and zapped for good measure, there is nothing superhuman about them. The Jihad-kuns we face have a physical vessel only that in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and the issue of Pakistani sovereignty makes the task more difficult coupled with the challenges of having finite man power, finite money, and fickle public will. Like the War against Communism this conflict is seemingly one of ideology only that this isn’t a war between nation states per-se but is one of national/cultural wills. The enemy is human he can be killed, and unlike in Gundam 00 where the terrorists are mostly human, but can’t be killed that only holds true if reality were dictated by Sunrise. My enemy was not born to kill, the Grand Jihad-kun himself was born wealthy and peaceable, and he also had youthful transgressions of his own, but essentially in more ways than one believe it or not Grand Jihad-kun was once average. Like Setsuna he made a conscious decision to kill, neither came out of the womb blasting everything in sight shouting Gundam or something similar What drove him to do what he did I don’t understand nor do most within the US military really want to understand much about the Grand Jihad-kun other than how much lead it will take to kill him before old age does. The face of violence is and has always been human, 9/11 did not change that it simply made the public aware of another kind of enemy; one that had largely been ignored, but had been in existence for some time. Lastly the Jihad-kuns of the world aren’t the only face of violence in this century, as there are other ongoing conflicts across the globe.
There is a place for violence certainly it would fit the situation above.
While the term neo-conservatism is one that makes omo uncomfortable and suspicious of my sanity, if we are to discuss Gundam 00 as a view of the post 9/11 world then it is impossible to avoid the issue given how it had shaped American foreign policy. I can understand how omo would prefer to avoid the term given the acrimony and the viciousness that flew around the interwebs during the last administration, but to that I think we need to face what it is without flinching or shrinking from the subject. As Gundam 00 and Gundam SEED were post 9/11 Gundams certainly they felt the need to deal with it too as both were on some level a critique of American Foreign Policy as they saw it. What it was the is idea that American military power had to be selectively maintained through their weapons procurement program, in order to create a peaceful world abroad and to fight extremism through the planting of democracy (along with capitalism) and the confrontation of enemies abroad. If we boil it down that is precisely what CB was trying to achieve along with Kataron the use of force to build a better world by using military intervention and violent methods to confront enemies like Ribbons, and plant their version of responsible government (or regime change) to ensure a more peaceful world. The goals might be different, but the methods and the justification of violence is similar, the only difference being perhaps the question of when to use violence, for CB and Kataron it was pretty much all the time. For Kataron because they had nothing for free they fought and killed for what they through was the solar energy that they were entitled to, it wasn’t about bargaining to get a fair price and that certainly carries some socialist overtones (which is more or less in line because the movement did start out as a defection of New Dealers so the story goes).
Certainly I think having a more benign ambition made Patrick the only real hero in Gundam 00 pilot pool.
I think that omo falls into the trap that many people who hope for peace when he ascribes GAR and cool to what CB was fighting for, in short he romanticized their violence. If Setsuna wanted a world where people like him would no longer be victimized he’d be better off slaughtering the entire human race, as free will essentially means that the average person has the capacity to screw over his fellow man. Tieria fighting for a future is pointless as humanity will always have a future one way or another so long as there are people, and given the current problems of our world I have doubts that war is the gravest threat facing humanity. Sumeragi doing it for herself and her ideals is what every revolutionary does the thing we often forget when thinking about revolution though are the ones that ended badly. I think Gundam 00 does romanticize the notion of a just terrorist, which undermines any message of peace just as much as it undermines any anti-war message. While Kataron did target civilians that was glossed over for a good vs. evil dynamic, which is sort of how the far right and to an extent the far left sees things anyways. On the face of it Jihad-kun and his friends did not reject the principles of that brand of foreign policy, and if omo’s assertion that the “terrorist were right” holds then that right is much more monstrous than I think most people would recognize. The CB path for peace certainly isn’t one I think of as practical, certainly wishful, but definitely idiotic in regards to finite strategic assets, though with GN Pixie Dust I guess it’s admissible.
War takes you to strange places, I doubt Katie or Patrick could have imagined that this was fated.
I think that it is a matter of interpretation whether or not war is an extension of peace or peace is the temporary absence of war. Certainly the more notable parts of human history are punctuated by war, as there was a Hundred Years War, but not a true Hundred Years Peace. Not Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Pax Britannica, or any of the other Paxes were without conflict. I think if Gundam 00 were truly about peace it would deal with the problems of reconciliation, reconstruction, over coming cultural differences, building consensus among a large and diverse group, and the pains of societal change; I don’t think there is much of that in Gundam 00. While there was talk of change there wasn’t that much of a fundamental change within the characters in terms of goals. Everyone wants peace, but the general quibble is on whose terms it will be. Certainly the Grand Jihad-kun of our world wants peace, but his peace probably involves a lot of dead Jews, Christians, atheists, Sunnis, and Shia, no Israel, and one Caliphate that rules over a world population consisting of Sunnis, but not any kind of Sunni his kind of Sunni. Then there are those who disagree with that kind of peace, hence there will be war. If there is a message of peace in Gundam 00 I think that it is fairly weak and on a shaky foundation when it is surrounded by all that sexy violence. Marina did not bring peace to Azadistan, she just showed up in the end to give a speech while the violence magically disappeared through GN Pixie dust. Certainly if peace attained through the CB way were possible we’d already have achieved it long ago. That’s where I think that most allegedly anti-war and pro-peace fictional works fail, the act of war itself is easier than peace. That winning a war is easier than maintaining a peace, and try as one might the seductiveness of violence as a means doesn’t lose its luster. Touting peace is good is easy and pretty much a given no matter who you ask, but again if peace were a theme I’d certainly expect a bit more on the problems of building it and maintaining it, rather than it be the end result of killing the big bad.
There are some leaders who won’t even let their starving impoverished populace eat cake…democracy fail.
Mass communication will not bring peace since even while the peon Jihad-kuns of our world use the same internet we are still embroiled in violent disagreement. Democracy might be a means to peace but if you really think about it democracy doesn’t always work, it has failed before and there will be failures of democracy in the future no matter what. Electing Hilrod 00 and casting aside 00bama will not really change all that much in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless democracy is touted as a the thing that will bring peace, not only because of the grand assumption that we can all peaceably come to a compromise all the time, but also because authoritarianism simply cannot last and is very bad. Fact is Stalin was never deposed, Mao was never deposed, and Mugabe has yet to be and may never be deposed, so if certain requirements are met an autocrat can stay in power for a very long time. Certainly Napoleon, Louis XIII of France, Charles XII of Sweden, and Peter the Great of Russia were not very democratic but they did lead their nations to a pinnacle of power, which was largely supported. Greater awareness on the part of Saji and Air Head Louise will not bring peace because while there is much talk of Darfur there is no action on Darfur. Having an all powerful group of people threatening every one with destruction will not bring peace as even with enough American and Russian nuclear warheads to blow us all to hell twice or thrice over, there is no general desire to behave. Even in his post omo doesn’t talk much of peace but he certainly talks much of war and conflict. Nevertheless GN Pixie dust mediated communication as the vehicle of peace theme essentially means magic will bring us peace, and if that is the case then the peace theme of Gundam 00 is rather lacking. Even with the aliens thing, if there is intelligent life out there I bet they are smart enough to never make contact with a species such as ours, unless they are the Combine.
Unless you pilot a Megadeus, YE GUILTY.
Omo is right about one thing though, the rejection of service to a nation state in favor of oneself, Jihad-kun, Lyle, Sumeragi, and the gang are waging war for their own satisfaction. In a sense it might be modern to reject one’s society in favor of one’s own desires and wishes. In a fictitious world where there is GN Magic that might be okay, but fundamentally I think that sort of mentality is no less dangerous than any other mentality used to wage war, because in the end you are still killing people only with the CB mentality it is for your own satisfaction and the only accountability is to yourself. That may sound good, but then you have to realize that not all people are responsible. I don’t think the problem is government, but rather people.
Tl;dr Omo you’re not an innocent civilian because those taxes you should have paid also go to DoD. Even if you didn’t pay your taxes you certainly are guilty of tax evasion.
PS Sorry excuse to post Katie and Patrick Wedding Fan art and Mugabe with cake.