I woke up yesterday morning and had a peek at the news on my computer, as I do every morning. I was surprised to find a story about Georgia and Russia on the brink of war. This morning I wake up to find Russia has taken control of South Ossetia. Overnight!
Ok I admit that since I left LSE I haven't been keeping up on geopolitics but I traced the story back through BBC archives and its been going on for some time - Russia issuing South Ossetians with Russian passports so they can use military force to 'protect Russian citizens' and Georgia being accused of ethnic cleansing in the villages...and all the while, Georgia on the brink of NATO membership. Oh and by the way...one of those bombs just happened to fall near the pipeline. yes. oil of course.
I read the news and I can't help smelling the stink of media spin. Each party has its spin doctors. Whose allegations are true? Who is right and who is wrong? Well, probably everyone involved. But I realise that I will never ever know.
And I wonder - there must be Britons, Americans, Canadians who have been to this province in the last few years and seen for themselves whatever is going on. There were people in Burma, people in the Dominican Republic in the late 1970s. How come their voices aren't heard anymore? I knew more about the DR in the 1970s as a member of a Catholic youth group than I know, as a concerned and educated person on international development about South and Central Asia.
Information is coloured. And in the modern day of media enterprise, truth is an antiquated notion.
I knew about the DR because of a social movement - 'Young Life.' Yes, social movements have their own bias but international social movements are important in a world of big business media and the enterprise of government.
At this moment, there are deep discussions about regulation of the internet. The internet has been and could continue to be a vehicle for truly democratic dissemination of information and the engine of social movements.
Americans, when you vote...Britons, Canadians, Belgians, Japanese...make sure you consider whether you want governments to continue their encroachment on this last 'semi' free speech arena.
And, I'd like to know whats really going on in South Ossetia and what has REALLY happened to those busloads of children reportedly being sent out of the region. These are the things that really matter. Where are those kids now? Are they alive and well? Who is taking care of them? And for what purpose?
How informed are we, really?