Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Review of Neil Jackson’s Photo Essay "Conflict"

In “Conflict” photojournalist Neil Jackson examines the causes and consequences of ethnic, national, and international violence. He employs 134 of his photographs along with quotations that explain and document his work. The photographs place us where we have better sense of conflict.

This is an important work that will interest anyone who wants to learn about modern history. Knowledgeable historians and astute political observers will be challenged to think deeper about the causes of conflict. Students of history at all levels will be challenged to think about who we are and why governments often act with malice.

Jackson examines a variety of issues and conflicts, including: education; the Second World War; Bosnia; Northern Ireland; Scotland; control of oil resources; British banking and government deception and manipulation in the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009; and the Peak Oil energy catastrophe. We gain a better understanding of modern conflict, the twilight days of the age of oil, and the end of modern civilization.

Education doctrines that date from a century ago to the present explain much about how the western world evolved into patterns of authoritarianism, popular submission, civil war, genocide, international conflict, and atrocities.

We learn how industry, government, media, and the public and relate to values, democracy, authoritarianism, manipulation, power, domination, violence, and war.

Neil Jackson’s work supports a quote in his introduction: “Almost all conflict is about the allocation of resources. People fight in war or in civil society to get a better deal.” His work can also demonstrate that conflict stems from hatred, xenophobia, vengeance, arrogance, authoritarianism, racism, ignorance, and stupidity, as well as from the hopes and dreams of the poor and the young who seek a better life. Neil Jackson can expand his study in many directions.

How is it that the U.S. fell into the trap set by Osama Bin Laden? Despite the recent lessons of the USSR in Afghanistan and the U.S in Vietnam, the U.S. is now trapped in a guerilla war in economically destitute Muslim Afghanistan. The story of David and Goliath is shared by Christianity and Islam. Yet the U.S. does not see that the Muslim world views Bin Laden as David and the U.S. as Goliath.

Revolution is a form of conflict and the Middle East is the world’s tinderbox of revolution. Here, the greatest oil wealth is squandered on the world’s largest indoor snow park and Rolls-Royces while the masses suffer in poverty. What were the motives of the young men who gave their lives in the terrorist attack of 9/11. Were they religious fanatics or do their motives have to do with the poverty of the masses who are excluded from the benefits of national wealth? Did political alienation drive religious fanaticism? Who supplies the elites with weapons needed to suppress revolution in the Muslim world? Did the U.S. imprison and torture Bin Laden’s followers in order to silence discussion of their motives?

War is often folly and many aggressors fail miserably. Adolph Hitler promised Germany a Third Reich that would last 1,000 years, but it lasted barely 12 years. Hitler committed suicide in a pathetic fashion to avoid the humiliation of a trial before the world, including the Jewish people he hated.

Oil is central to Jackson’s study of conflict, and much of the Second World War, Cold War, and the two Bush/Cheney wars are about oil. The very survival of the globe’s population depends on oil. How is it that virtually all of us squandered this vital liquid on automobiles, pleasure boats, suburban living, get-away vacations, luxuries, and vanities? What does this tell us about us?

Neil Jackson’s work evolves as he learns. I will check back from time to time to learn from what he is learning.

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