Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television

)
Author(s): Thomas Keenan
Source: PMLA, Vol. 117, No. 1, Special Topic: Mobile Citizens, Media States (Jan., 2002), pp.
104-116
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/823254
Accessed: 14-08-2017 21:53 UTC

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said one to the American journalist David Rie feel if you were mugged in full view of a policeman rescue you" (140).org/terms . Or. PMLA Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) THOMAS KEENAN The price of eternal vigilance is indifference. It seems as if we cannot talk I04 ?) 2002 BY THE MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA This content downloaded from 129. UN military forces an offering "humanitarian" assistance and protesting [ will in the international community to do THOMAS KEENAN teaches media theory. and writers. in military and political and historical discuss seum and on the wartime journalism of so-called postmodern wars or of humanitarian crises.. in the heart of Europe.128. in WITH THESE EPIGRAPHS I AIM TO ABBREVIA CITED "LESSON OF BOSNIA"-THAT A COUNTR and a genocide happened. You can find this pr 1997) and editor of books on the mu- everywhere today. the media in contemporary conflict.000 Bosnian Muslims died. and in critical m studies analyses concerns the news media and contem. commentaries on genocide and catastrophe. and more than two million other people w A state formally recognized by the European Com States [. -Jean Marie Cardinal Lustiger (qtd. He is the author cisely with the expectation of action-and the relation of the hu of Fables of Responsibility (Stanford UP.. His current manuscript. in legal and Paul de Man. calMedia.. Everythi down to minutest details. and I w College. and human rights at Bardis a programmatic quality to these formulations.] and the United Nations [.99 on Mon. as Rieff says with slightly mo 200.jstor. . on known as the world or the West simply looked on ans." Intervention. There literature. and yet. of what has been called the CNN effect or the porary conflicts. . nothing . -Marshall McLuhan.77. tarian response to that expected action. reporters. in full view of t cameras. "Live Feed: Crisis. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about.] was all While it was being destroyed. . hundreds of TV crews parade befor offoreign journalists. Understanding Here in Sarajevo. where he is associate investigate professor that program here: the complex that links what we so call "the of comparative literature and directs themedia" and its images with action or inaction-or more Human Rights Project.

.. persist: on the humans and their habitats around the world. [.99 on Mon. from the British Welcome Today the images of all that haunt us all: the to Sarajevo to the Spanish Territorio Comman- che to the Serbian Pretty Village. Or think. for an instant or an hour. at the heart of the story.] All over the world putting a reporter and cameras at the center of there were people like me." was a made possible the emergence of a host of non- motley. story. in a less fictional mold.. during the swelter. ] We did not act quickly enough apparently no one can portray the war without after the killing began. day the action.. tion and cold war proxies-in an essay on the ing days of July 1995. affluence and idealism have current universe dubbed "real time. . into the jaws of a contemporary Hell.128.] sans frontieres. [. who did not fully appreciate sent the war and tell its story without putting its and the speed with which you were the depth immediate presentation and the tellersbeing of engulfed its by this unimaginable terror.I I 7. our conscience. and others-that use television every last one a woman or a child. Victoria. Pretty dead choking the Kigara River.org/terms . the men can be is a politics that takes the world rather than the seen among the roiling mob. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. The men of as a central part of their campaigns to mobilize Srebrenica had somehow disappeared. religious. Think of whose States. any citizen of our civi. politics. in that con. disheveled people. the faces staring out from behind to haunt our consciousness-indeed.. or ethnic groups as its ing for protection from the conquering Serbs. the them on their television screens that August image or specter of the camera that now seems day in 1992. The recurrence of the trope the high and low points of the battlesacross over so Bos- many different accounts and styles nia-he was there. seemingly endless caravan.. television ("US" 56) has become the principal mediation between the This content downloaded from 129. The opening sentences of the 20 November This is the situation Michael Ignatieff de- 1997 installment read: scribed some years ago-before Bosnia and Rwanda. I Thomas Keenan 105 what happened in Bosnia or Somalia or Or.. zenship.Rwanda finally. to form the barbed wire seemed painfully familiar [. [. but his articles in- and methodological predispositions mirrors the sistently begin with people watching television: phenomenon it describes: the omnipresence of "To the hundreds of millions who first beheld the gesture is the ubiquity of the camera. though.77. bus after governmental private charities and pressure battered bus rolling to a stop and disgorging groups-Amnesty International. together with their nation as its political space and that takes the women and children. conscience and money on behalf of endangered Videotaped images. 55). of the extraordi- What interests me here is less the precise formu- nary series of articles in the New York lations Review ofof and differences among these analyses Books. of course. . sitting in offices. which is to say that no one can pre- after day after day. the extraordinary (in so many ways) feature films already available about the conflict confession in Kigali of his and our inaction in the faceMarcel in the former Yugoslavia: even skipping of the Rwandan genocide put him squarely- and immobile-in Ophuls's war reporter epic documentary The front of the television: Troubles We've Seen. [. [. It footage shot the day before.] Medecins scores of exhausted. pushing up against the human species itself rather than specific citi- fence of the United Nations compound. .jstor." most privileged figure of our ethical conscious- begins his 4 December 1997 piece ("America" ness. Since 1945. our responsibility itself. in which Mark Danner has chronicled than their ubiquity. then and there. Television is also the instrument of a new kind of Taking shape upon the little screen.ethics of television. now the first chapter of The lized land could have pressed a button on a Warrior's Honor: remote control and idly gazed.. think of the president of the United without talking about the media. when the crises were those of starva- Scarcely two years ago. object. floating to Lake Flame.]. racial.] Whether it wishes or not.. plead.

Walter Benjamin. pas and sometimes more generally what we nick- name "the media" or "real time. but the means accountability. for better or more often for worse.jstor. feeds the papers' (210." "victims.1 only collapse and annihilate time and distance. to block or prevent all other action. Humanitarian ings. apparently un- safety. And among military thinkers. a fig leaf that disguises the actual doing of noth- ing of the International Committee of the Red ing) nor a heroic new nonstate politics of the Cross in 1864 is linked directly to the possibility sort anticipated by many of the founders of the of high-speed transmission by telegraph." or "suffering.. the "far-flung ruins and imagery and news dispatches drive decisions debris" of our daily lives or our familiar terrain. between public in- course that. or ernmental organizations. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about.77. about intervention has by now gained a name of would open up "an immense and unexpected its own-the CNN effect-and is the topic of field of action" (236). borders.org/terms . nourrit les gazettes" 'without the media. Film and television do not vigorous debates. formation or opinion and response. en retour. sometimes precisely the image put the coordination between media and inter- vention epigrammatically: "sans medias. like that of the international movement of Such action threatens not simply to hide inac- human rights nongovernmental organizations. the so-called famine play.)-he calls this "la loi du tapage. In some does not have to justify itself in political terms. I propose that we under- stand the "humanitarian action" that triumphed We can invert this slightly and say simply that in Bosnia as somewhat different from either of humanitarianism as we know it today-trans- the options that seem available-it is neither in- border relief-is unthinkable except in the age of more or less instant information. and the rest by which we shoulder each other's fate. action. The found- action (a passive acquiescence or a cover-up. [. not to national interest of the television camera and the speed of the or the defense of the state but to "human be- satellite uplink (Brauman 15)." the law duced nothing less than a temporal explosion. to render impossi- on the concept of "mobilizing shame" ("Becom- ble. but what kind of This content downloaded from 129.99 on Mon. its effective founder. It is an action that- contemporary relief operations since Biafra and precisely because it refers. and state power through emergent alternative real virtualities that are marked by the affirma- centers of power like the media and nongov. In the humanitarian arena This type of action has as its field or condi- proper." such tarians. Bernard Kouchner. and in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" at this latter. humani." Field of action. and humanitarian movement. tion or offer alibis for not doing other things but as Alex de Waal has argued. of noise. through which we see each other. in the essay "The Work of Art there is no important humanitarian action. and diplomats. which displaces or warps state institutions dented times and spaces available for action. in turn. the discussion turns more radically to interrupt. 33) (Famine Crimes 65). et celle-ci. tion of possibilities of engagement. cases." efforts sometimes seem to depend on a fairly which is to say that it refers to the order of the limited set of presuppositions about the link be- ethical-opens the possibility for a political dis- tween knowledge and action.128. "the dynamite of the tenth of a second." "misfortune. as is so often said-they also make unprece- ion.] It has become not merely the means limited by traditional notions of sovereignty. ing Shameless" 3)." Recall that for d'action humanitaire importante. by way of public Ethiopia have been born and bathed in the light opinion and the image.. as well as by the negativity of this "dyna- movement or what de Waal nicknamed the "Hu. my least. the invention of the motion picture intro- trans.io6 Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) PPMLAA suffering of strangers and the consciences of manitarian International" also developed as a those in the world's few remaining zones of new sort of international actor. okay. mite. the sense that television that in what remained. tion the image. (21. Thanks to what is loosely termed public opin. interest.

all of us somewhere or sometime. then today "we" cannot be What the journalist here wants us to under. which he says is discerned more clearly there because of the danger. shape not only our under- place. for things thoughto happen (a particularly dangerous crossroads)ex- this time in a different way. a camera regularly happens to the event. and of-I think-a (Cohen 12) crisis in our sense of public information and ex- posure today. finally. We need to precisely targeted in the sniper's gunsight is also attend to these sounds and images not just as ac-blurred intersection of what our impover- the counts of war but as actions and weapons in ished that theoretical vocabulary allows us to call war-as operations in the public field. because we who watch and listen are be there when something happens to happen. occurrence and today constitutes an immense field of opportu- image.77. The privileged or a place where things happened because ample at the close of the artwork essay is cameras war. and the French Revolution and in need of exten- But it begins with the camera and its operator. Today is what matters here. in this confusion is are good that a few hours of patience by a cam- eraman will be rewarded with compelling images a certain experience and definition of public of a life being extinguished or incapacitated. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. nor caricatured "There was a cameraman there"-this is a as a postmodern prejudice for the discursive fragment from a news report about a man shot over the real. waited patiently (compelling what he labels the aesthetics of mechanized images of lives extinguished)? The camera is warfare. which only event and representation. rich concept sent to us by the Enlightenment mously and confusingly called a global village. its taking take part in them.something given in advance. it seems. a camera to make what Marshall McLuhan so fa. distributing.99 on Mon. The is there. the chances What is at stake." nundrum (which comes first?). a veritable and the cameraman's viewfinders-not as po- commonplace. and es- Mr. Sabanovic got in the way at a particularly pecially in events like those at this crossroads-it dangerous Sarajevo crossroads. The crossroads so standing of them but their conduct. political difficulty and opportunity for us. Thanks to the camera. in a way. not the sum total of stand is the complex structure of that "there". The confusion is all too real.128. undergoes a mutation. we do in watching and listening? When I say ogies-and agents-that extend out from the "we. If the public means us. us in our with their having been there. of publicity. as he or she so often is? No matter camera metaphorizes the becoming public of where. we are too. What do transmitting. 251). The corollary of the cameraman's What difference does it make that a cameraman being there is that. not a commu- was it a place where cameras waited patiently nity or a people but rather something that comes This content downloaded from 129. McKenzie Wark's Virtual Geography). as weapons in what weone toomore version of a timeless ontological co- easily call "image contests" or "publicity battles. cameras don't simply represent conflictswhat but it means for the event to occur. Of course. So also caught in the intersection of the sniper's much so that it has become a cliche.I 1 7 1 Thomas Keenan 107 action? The answer is also Benjaminian." I mean that hazy thing called the public. it vectors (borrowing this sense of vector from takes not just a camera but a network of editing. space and time. but its silent wit- ness transforms the event and its "there"-that or best "captured by camera and sound record- ing" and not the naked eye (242. sive rethinking.org/terms . exposure to others. This confusion cannot be written off as nity for doing battle. and viewing technol. Because the spot is treacherous. to say that today things don't tential victims exactly but as targets of those happen unless a camera is there. That is why there constitutes something like an exemplary ethico- was a cameraman there to film his near-death.jstor. nor simply eliminated with a dec- by a sniper in Sarajevo: laration of the moral superiority of the things themselves.

X operation. than the basic structure of American democ- ian and armed interventions and the nation build. can soldiers of Operation Restore Hope land on but for what have traditionally been regarded an Indian Ocean beach at Mogadishu. nor with the great border- less coalition and its triumph in the Gulf War. camerapeople.Io8 Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) PMLA after the image. diately after the event to the grand old man of hand. and publicity can bring the missions to an end. He So the television image constitutes a field told his diary and then the opinion page of the of action: not just a representation of actions New York Times that he had finally seen enough: elsewhere but a field in or on which actions occur-a public field. with a view to starving children to the gun-belted fighters. better.. sion there is no humanitarian intervention seems not with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re- to come true in a multiple and almost perverse way here: images-there. paramilitary violence.128. is to be controlled by popular predicates of that concept. But the images (from the nal consideration of information. the famine and diers who are drawn to them. the grounding what one does in what one knows. warlords. remote-controlled by television images. no place for him have already decisively shaped the interpretation but no place for a decision.our government.2 tion. is what is hailed or addressed by mes. and particularly ones pro- We can begin with this snapshot. and the camcorder pictures now seems overtaken and displaced by emo- of a helicopter pilot held hostage and a dead sol.. The place of politics disappears-there Max vehicles. but only if If American policy from here on out. is nothing less even starvation.99 on Mon. American foreign policy. tion. whom. and the Mogadishu line) is not only. Mr. for the organs that and practice of humanitarian interventions in the regulate the link between knowledge and ac- decade since that fateful night in the lights. Kouchner's claim that without televi- himself-watches his era end on his television. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. emotional impulses. . awoke that morning in December 1992 to watch Thinking about the images at hand. and he harshly assessed the damage. rounded by reporters and interviewed on the sibility of being a target and of being missed.jstor. The first Ameri- then there is no place-not only for myself. or live voked by the commercial television industry. particu- we're willing to part with some of the cherishedlarly policy involving the use of our armed forces abroad. The public. we could in real time as the soldiers landed and were sur- even say that what defines the public is the pos. who sages that might not reach their destination. in both executive and leg- dreds of reporters. feed. racy: responsibility and deliberation.77. The ratio- ing that followed them. and responses are now somehow con- dier dragged in the street) and the phrases (Mad trolled or. the photo op invasion and the CNN effect. the American military informed in advance of the time and place of the Kennan-the architect of the cold war. disaster undertake humanitarian rescue missions for the breaking out of new world order with such en- publicity value alone. George Kennan. Somalia. the author of the doctrine of containment. December 1992.org/terms . we could say in short. Television. armies will but with chaos on an African beach. What is threatened in Mogadishu. not by the clans but by the cameras and the sol- colonial and post-cold war state. as Kennan says. as it turns out. that virtual place. a possibility of response to an The lesson of those lights was clear imme- open address. of starving children- unification of Europe. displaces the This content downloaded from 129. brightly lit landing. the liquidation of the post. technicians islative branches. we could say. ergy and confusion that it threatens to tear apart What happened there? We are not finished the institutions of government and publicity understanding the complex of clan politics and themselves. can shame governments into action. and the succession of humanitar. met notas the responsible deliberative organs of by clan fighters or starving children but by hun. beach.

. Instead.. Early on in the war the CNN effect. The world has done noth- matter of the starving children. 222): general contemporary televisual publicity: [T]he hope of the Western press was that an in- formed The space of politics in ancient societies was citizenry back home would demand that their governments not allow the Bosnian the public space (square. [. substitutifig emotion for forces. Politics is the time of reflection. Images. On make 26 January 1993.] We are heading toward a cathodiccasuistry and indifference far more regu- larly democracy. But what then of Bosnia. the image of catastrophe) has the power to cir- More not cumvent or pressure political institutions and people are killed and injured. "[N]o slaugh- ter sphere rational-critical experience of the public was more scrupulously and ably covered.77. raped. from war correspon- This compelling immediacy of the media. where everything immediacy for the delay proper to thought. Let me cite just three examples. The sights are so familiar. To- Muslims day.128. seemed In somewhat more complex but no more visible as it happened. but without rules. Soma- proper to democracy is the sharing lia of was hyperactivity." characterizes in no good"-"we failed" (223. the sound emotions and all options. When there is no longer time to share. [. and Weiss 46).3 This content downloaded from 129. whether into it was doing asomething. Is a real-time democracy to tell the opposite story: a brutal combi- nation ble? An authoritarian politics. yes..jstor.. (71-72.. They are rushed to the hospital.] There than [they] succeeded in mobilizing peo- is no ple of politics possible at the scale of the speed to act or even to be indignant.. Scott. CNN's and sharing disappear in the putative Christiane instantane-Amanpour reported on a creeping de- ity of the live transmission-as if it did not spair have with the televisual: its own temporality.their pictures would shock the world circuiting of the public sphere. Bosnia seems possi- immediately . with the attendant displacement staff were patient with photographers.. virtually nothing happened in that this phenomenon. The emergency ward is just in so-called democracies. its delays and frames and decisions-but there Takeisany noday in the life of this city. Paul Virilio has suggested it is said. or forced space.. mywhich trans. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about." and "it [did] by what is nicknamed "emotion. anger. Today. hoping of deliberation by emotion and hence theperhaps short. The operating In Somalia.can We in a dispatch that won her the first of and should dispute the contention that discussion many prizes for coverage of Sarajevo.was the cliched meaning for we share? Emotions.). And we must happen and sometimes too quickly. Television has become the forum for all from their homes.. or the dead American soldier. the public image has taken over public to go on being massacred.99 on Mon. But of overexposure what is and indifference.] Around noon another mortar falls. dents. the proud inginter- and the doctors have lost hope and patience. full. Bosnia inactivity. the displacement of the response? traditionalAs David Rieff wrote. the things that we things react see have already taken place. oretical terms. ofthe the trajectory that travels from a cer- magnetic pull of the image and the microphone.I 7. (216) light.org/terms . events seemed dictated by the theater is awash in blood. and yet on the the- contrary.) Sarajevo became the metonym. sometimes too quickly. they certify. its own internal structure. tain expectation about the putative power of has been testified to by the highest officials images of the to despair at their failure and even to United States government and military (Minear. perhaps they have lost their im- debating the claim that the image (and especially pact.. [. we If the lesson of Somalia was that cameras made no longer have time to reflect. reason. Surgeons labor to save lives. the siege. what doThis watching. We vote while bites watch-and "visual bites" culled from the fighting bred ing TV. from Mogadishu to Sarajevo. only nine months into things happen. forum. agora . just power.I | Thomas Keenan Io9 national public place.

This United from Sarajevo just after the fall of Srebrenica. a soldier sent by the fled by the wind. Then I saw my feet." (1) thirty-nine months of televised siege. the looking at me. This slight movement is enough to cover the civilian as he rushes out to retrieve Mr. after ing. A civilian is shot on a city street. A what to do and paralyzed by fear. "'This United Nations soldier was and representation. "a United Nations soldier looks on.." Postmod- star next to him. Sabanovic. they capture the increasingly He lies in the main hospital here with a video surreal and sordid nature of the three-year-old of the moment when he was shot and became Bosnian war. a television cameraman. or. about what he and our sense of reality." said Mr. (1) United Nations armored personnel carrier. outside the central Holiday Inn. being photographed. "the Sara- The scene is shocking. headlined "In Sa- mean the inaction that they demand of their pro- rajevo. films the shooting. reporting live for France 2 tried to move them. meaning. images of something more confusing. motionless. he gory. even while he is there in Sara felt my legs in my chest. Watching this tape.128. a paraplegic. unsure side. . The reporter can thus watch trying to do anything to save them.. without his attempted murder. it was so long. Roger Cohen of the Faruk Sabanovic or of what happened to him on New York Times took this as the premise for the the street in Sarajevo. all sort of bo 20. like the cam- entry of those representations into the field of the eraman. He is curled in an almost fetal position. Victims of a 'Postmoder' War": ducer and their viewer. And the images are somehow not just of They were not wrong. I feel like metonymized. He just looked. who is happens shifts onto the screen. on the front page loss of orientation-in images-that has affected of the Sunday New York Times. their hermeneutic supplement: they Here is his lead for the article."' apparent re. Nations soldier was looking at me. they are for Cohen an alle- searching article I quoted earlier. As the space and time of w it's somebody else. That is their rich allegorical things and events they ought simply to represent. Faruk Sabanovic. I aries collapse. waiting at a dangerous There he is.. a dangerously blurred boundary between event motionless". of what the reporter finds to be with a video".or dislocation of the field of knowl- Thanks to images like these. The civilian victim is not only crippled being filmed. Mr.I O Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) PMLA Giles Rabine. a pale and gentle-featured The images capture more than the maiming of youth. And who's the interviewed person's story on TV as it is told to say they're wrong?" to him. He did noth- on 13 July 1995 commented simply that. "It's strange when I watch the video. who eventually moves his white "postmoder" or "future" war. we are all like edge and action to the screen of a monitor and the that UN soldier. live. its inert the headline call a "postmodern war. videotape. doubly so by virtue of the jevans have had enough of being interviewed.99 on Mon. "But I remember it so well. waiting. screaming abuse at what some military analysts are now calling the soldier. Sabanovic. Cohen sees a taped image f Sarajevo and in it the whole new troubling t whose lithe body has turned limp. of this troubling collage are also elements of A Sarajevan man arrives. Cohen seems paralyzed by the ern for many reasons. He falls.jstor. of the reported from the besieged city. is a thoroughly modern victim of war. The elements United Nations soldier looks on. and of a certain paralysis. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. The crack of a shot echoes United Nations as a "peacekeeper" to a city of- in Sarajevo's valley.org/terms . just looking. For me. But I could not.] lies [. I He enumerates the transformation or the d This content downloaded from 129. He did nothing. After I was hit. In the hospital.77. Sabanovic. crossroads to see somebody killed or muti- walking briskly across the street. his hair ruf- lated. but mainly because it's a sight of people watching: "Faruk [. In May 1995. He lies on his ficially called a "safe area" watches.] matter of images. they've had by a sniper but is also in possession of images of enough of us watching them die. He just looked.

borders and a systematic critique of this postmodern c clear distinctions. "a str and A compelling image is a weapon. I have t people of Sarajevo may now watch that from their I despise them" (12). pullin equipment. sap whatever will or ability there may dangling be modifier betrays the ambiguity to prosecute a devastating military most campaign" alert to: the difficulty of discerning (12). so that even the subject o in Sarajevo.77. fought therewith images. principles. hospital beds the moment they were So crippled. too much mediation. no comprehens teleguided public opinion could only force action? difficulty and a certain indetermination Cohen. The sy that speaks of it also tells the metrical story of aopposition more of the interpretat profound disturbance. of imagery and a failure of the pro after all. central authorities or the disappear.. endless. The sniper and wha Because the spot is treacherous. paralyzed by images just looking. armies and peoples become what exactly happens so abruptly." he writes. story in the prone twenty-year-old. and muchtroubles tion-it more. one who just watches.org/terms . Looking is not acting. unreal. in Sarajevo and or in video repetition. he says. In the face of this diffi New York. watching? Surely Cohen means the and "live images of suffering. [. subject Certainly most of the journalists of the un- in Sarajevo image apart from himself. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. is "just here t no compelling images: "Thus. split from hims Mr.these opinions recapitulat tion but in comprehension. Didn't Somalia an excess suggest. has seenfor his part. Sabanovic got in the way at a particularly feel like it's somebody else. PeopleMogadishu can watch versus "the Sarajevo-confirms tha This content downloaded from 129. that images could be of those images-no compelling. in the late spring ofruk 1995.ing of a was which directionless de. the crip indistinguishable. enough to withdraw that conclusion. Th becomes they sap the will in war.jstor. bu formal groupings. ac. And yet Cohen finds a moral fo of a life being extinguished or incapacitated.] And I know they brought has long watched the crushingto of theSarajevo-so hospital in their ambulance only be endless as to become increasingly unreal-the the camera happened to be there. that action. and for Cohen the diffusion of im-some reservations. the of live death comes derstood this and recognized that their work was to mean for Cohen at o not simply impartial. That is why there now sharing the position of the immob was a cameraman there to film his near-death. not they just inand are.I 1 7 1 Thomas Keenan III that coincides with the emergence of the moment video- they were crippled.that rise far above the ba violence of his eras sometimes seemed like the best guns had video with its succinct acc by the Bosnian government. constitute somethin are hesitant action: lost are centrality. thanks the cam Sabanovic. or som Cohen proposes ages goes hand in hand with a jections. war in which civilian live on prived of almost all other military camera. image is alienated from it. more disturbing which although they are not form dispersion or evisceration of the andconditions ofat best. and the crisis ofsentence a certain idea of publicity.. authority. a conviction and the cam.too and much yet paradoxi- watching. so abruptly tape: states are replaced by militias or other in- comprehension is difficult." says Saban dangerous Sarajevo crossroads. him and with him "reality The triumph of images figuresrajevo this for Cohen: surreal. just as the world consciences. the chances hen calls "the twisted video" together redu are good that a few hours of patience by a cam- eryone to eraman will be rewarded with compelling a paraplegic-inert.99 on Mon. he says.128. caught on tape. distributed denness of world- the rifle shot." Without direction. in the end so the two viewers agree t abruptly that comprehension is the difficult" (12). cally the war is one of images. tape has effects but disagree about The image sparks a crisis. There the United are Nations. bu wide.

. prehending history as well as the present.] is paralyzed and immobi- most previous analyses. who thus forms a symmetrical pair with by those who receive it" (Introduction 7). Yet this gap between lized" ("When the West" 87). It is tion. a normative reason-and the progressivist hint we have no such excuse.. the more we feed[ing] on televised images of evil. there is not some strong strain of irrationality though it is in a certain sense highly disputable that. we might have been able to say we "gap between knowledge and action" in Bosnia. "whether there is any rela- sap [the] will.. but a somewhat hyperreal hell.] from the fact that rary loss? Suppose they are the problem. In addi- senseless. would call into question the de- there is nevertheless something extremely impor- gree of enlightenment the civilized West has tant at stake here. rhetoric of European progress and community.jstor. This It is not clear just how far Cushman and Mestro- Time We Knew. .information and practical or moral engagement drillard. then. attempt to measure the signifi- vic are willing to go in "call[ing] into question" cance of what seems an obvious failure: the last the Enlightenment axioms threatened by the time around. (79)shore up a notion whose apparent solidity may be This content downloaded from 129.] Media watchers lose touch with reality. in a collection of essays they edited. And "the Bosnians knowledge and action is full of meaning for ap- [. Virilio. [. T]hus they live war crimes in the former Yugoslavia amounts to amid a type of spectral war" ("No Pity" 81). They feel watching cripple our responses. behind the radical conclusions from this proposition. But and images.] only because the camera happened to covery of the public sphere as the site where be there. [their] voyeurism and individualism idea that the public sphere collapsed. if laid bare. the mediated images of the world are mere rep- What failed in Bosnia? We often say that we resentations that lend an air of unreality to the failed and imply that "we" means this well- things they represent.] end up finding the whole situation unreal..99 on Mon. that "images obliged to ask. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. . Because of television in the word attain suggest that the editors re- and the rest of the "daily barrage of information main committed to the questionable project.112 Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) [PMLA theoretical status and the actual function of the And that means that the crisis is not merely one public image are in question. ... . What is lost in Bosnia is nothing in the CNN effect: "they brought me to the hos.tionship between the degree or extent of public thesis has also been articulated by Jean Bau. made even of the so-called Enlightenment project: the pas- more so by their being harassed by the media sive Western observation of genocide and other and humanitarian agencies. and this discrepancy has been neglected in virtual soldier [ . [. (8) help clarify." Their "Baudrillardian" hypothesis: tion and try to move beyond the simple desire to recover them.. [." The strong version of his hypo. which this radicalization can managed to attain at the century's end.. Thomas Cushman and Stjepan Me- strovic.] stand passively byknown public of the so-called Enlightenment or engage in self-serving forms of ineffectiveproject. But the more we rely on and retreat to the action. Sabanovic believes of inaction. a toleration of the worst form of barbarity and Some American commentators have drawn gives us pause to wonder whether. less than the Enlightenment and with it the dis- pital [." Cohen fears that the camera and the knowledge and action are articulated. this contrast causes us to rethink the success hell..org/terms . and al." it is not possible for "even the most what happens if we seize on the insight that the disinterested viewer to ignore the grim reality ofEnlightenment and its public sphere are in ques- genocide. and beyond their understanding. Baudrillard suggests that "Bosnia exem- plifies total weakness": "the West has to watch The important point is that there is a sharp dis- crepancy between what we know and what we helplessly" in a "military masquerade where the do. didn't know what was happening. but throughout The specter of irrationality-always opposed to the second genocide in Europe in this half century.128.77. to rescue them from their tempo- Lack of action proceeds [.

expects that. blaming the victims"-one demand interpretation. or a 189). smoldering building would bringno people image speaks for itself. But what can only be thought of as a failure and the problem concerns. and a conceit. Here'smanitarian the tasks of escorting convoys across collapsed public in a sentence: "People [. this some- in those terms is. even or especially emo.I I7. con- tend with of stand-up taped in front what weacould call the rule of silence- shelled. the by "what [is] actually happening.128.] that if people back home could only of be told and shown what the pictures and the automatic was actually chain of happening reasoning they inspire. speaks would force directly them to stop shrugging to our capacity their for reason.in the obviousness. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. in It is the this public was part of an old conceit. in another sense. What if that expectation about them. the consolation of images itary offense like air strikes-and the new hu- and the dream of public information. There is nothing to immediate happen about (223). the program that216). So what failed in continued because the cameras and the images Bosnia is an idea or an interpretation (and a prac- were there and were supposed to make a differ- tice) of publicity. they belief will act.org/terms . the nalists evidence or self-evidence [. knowledge and action. . as Rieff puts it in the sharpest phrases of his book.] then they but would was want their fail- the governments ure itself? At stake is to do something" (41. .. was not in Sarajevo failed what [. or one more sphere must.99 on Mon. the images were open the public sphere." failure. of unintended and illumination was part consequences of the or misfiring. Images always shoulders. a conceit. "administering the Serb What if we think about this understanding of publicity not as a failure or as the emergence siege" and becoming "accomplices to genocide" of irrationality but as an alibi. of the public sphere as an arena ence by virtue of what they showed? of self-evidence and reason an idea that we now Hypothesis: To the extent that we imagine must challenge.]of confrontation meant that the humanitar- lines console themselves with the thought that ian onceoperation was an active impediment to any This content downloaded from 129. This implies a secondinformation rule. not to put an end to the public or take for granted the articulation between sphere but to begin reconstituting it. "Do Something"). or like the United Nations. the success thing (see Keenan. which seems to define As it happened. "oneor fantasymore of this kind picture. even analytically implied by the contents or their proximity to reality haveinformation. a conso- lines and hence in the zone of any possible mil- lation. of public or one more story. let alone around. "It was the if conceit theoffaith jour.I Thomas Keenan I13 implicated in the disaster. and if we continue to consolation is that an image's content or meaning think that images by virtue of their cognitive is self-evident. they have the What if the relevant information. problem? The story of Bosnia is To draw out the most radical conclusion one of images that might have signified genocide from Cushman and Mestrovic: what if some or part aggression or calculated political slaughter but of the Enlightenment-not its failure but rather seemed for so long to signify only tragedy or dis- the faith we put in the informative power ofaster im. that connection is bound to enough to demand only that we "do something. correspondent's after Bosnia if nowhere else. The combination of the traditional (147.or human suffering-and hence were avail- ages-didn't just fail to stop what happenedable butfor inscription or montage in a humanitarian prevented it from stopping? What if the disaster rather than a political response. in short. as David Rieff puts The conceit it. who suggests in Slaughterhouse observers to be stationed on or between the front that this failed in Bosnia: a naive hope... The naive of a political strategy. we miss the opening ofdo something the world did.jstor. something that And new fields of action that they allow." fail. consolation? I borrow these words again from tasks of peacekeeping-which require military David Rieff.77. amounted to." power to compel action..more picture would force tional something images.

as they put it. And this project was best The responsibility of the viewer is coexten- accomplished by intervening: stationing UN sive with the lack of self-evidence of the image: troops close enough to Bosnian Serb forces that it dictates nothing. particularly present. . itary intervention is introduced into the tradi- we cannot count on their obviousness. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about. lant. "compro. of necessity the focus of an tion-the unexpected outcome. fall for tional nexus of television and humanitarianism. "it is a responsibility that is neither alert. and and must always be interpreted.] stand-up [. but not a something happen and are now indispensable in sufficient one. Images never speak never guarantee any outcome. to demand. even if they seem often to make like weapons or words: a condition. as Avital another public. As Rieff says. ing of the public sphere-"the thought that once mise the humanitarian mandate" by antagonizing [people] have the relevant information. the humanitarian one.org/terms . "This convergence act"-allowed or even produced an interpretive of interest between the UN and the Chetniks was complacency. . consolation of information properly acted on but to induce a responsibility-even if. the conceit that information leads ineluctably to A politics that "use[s] television [ . ever succinct. neverthe- drift from context to context. how- If they can condition some action (and. The image is left to wander and to unavoidable and actual it has become.jstor. the public sphere is violence. vention" (189. lize conscience" and "that takes the world rather There is no compulsion. which always failure of Bosnia was that a certain understand- obligated the UN not to. nothing but surface less remains just that: a politics. vigi- firmative choice: "the wish that there be no inter. precisely because we think But images. which comes into its basic strategic error here. does not stop. The image remains. lar happen. in Sarajevo and elsewhere that's exactly what without guarantees. 176). and knowledge will that such a result is certain. or one not an exceptional situation" but the structural more story.] to mobi- actions adequate to the compulsion of the image. information. in that sense. the image's "banal takes place in public (in fact. compels nothing. or one more [. It can al- the peacekeepers would be either targets of West. the only thing more unwise war. neglect to expect the own most pressingly when the possibility of mil- unexpected.] law of the operation (175). ways be used. Because images are so important. Still. tions-which means that the accounting. nor informed" (305)." however reinscription. and this fate is what we can call.. but into the gap that they opened rushed the than attributing the power of causation or of humanitarian action. they will the aggressor. displacing all other op- paralysis to images is to ignore them altogether. in another space and time.77. bor. would bring people around. "Surely one more picture. nor will they for themselves. They are. tenu- This content downloaded from 129.99 on Mon. not a solution and frame. which is to say that it can ern air strikes or easy hostages for the Serbs. indeed. only interpretation and than the nation as its political space. ing" on video. sure. at least This is the predicament of that "new kind of pol- not without repeating what seems to me the itics" Ignatieff announced. and the terrible escorting humanitarian convoys. This action was not just the King being attacked by the Los Angeles police. always available for reinter- happened). would force them to And it happened thanks to the images. the battle rowing words from Cohen. .128. less certain. We cannot. but a struggle." the banality of a "succinct account. pretation and reuse. constituted by the irreducibility of this battle). we might say: endless vigil and a struggle for reinscription. though. The image has no guaranteed not the public as the last refuge of that dream or meaning and remains only to testify. "fig leaf" that Rieff too lightly calls it but an af.I 4 Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television) PPMLAA other participation. virtual Ronell argues about the videotape of Rodney and visual and nevertheless real enough. here. then it is only at the risk of indirec. from stop shrugging their shoulders"-nothing is less which we expected something rather different. . In this new media state. never make anything in particu- force or drive any action.

terson.UP. Thomas. Weiss.. Paris: Jacob." Times Literary Supple- "Live From." Kigali Airport. and perhaps have looked Magazine 10 Apr. and appropriation .gov/Africa/ 19980325-16872.html>. and important studies by Gowing and by Livingston. Ammiel Alcalay. Politics. 1997. Cambridge: Joan This content downloaded from 129. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Note." Trans. 1993. "In Sarajevo. Intervention. James. and Public Policy." Back to the Front: Tourisms of 87-89. I suppose. 14 Aug 2017 21:53:56 UTC All use subject to http://about.128." Conflicts and Diplomatic Crises: Does It Pressure or Distort Foreign Policy Decisions? Working Paper 94-1. 9-60. Nik. and a semester as a fellow at the Joan New York Times 21 May 1995: 1+. it includes in particular Kouchner. changed. Cushman and Mestrovic. and Weiss. Rotberg and York Review of Books 4 Dec. New York: Metropolitan-Holt. Cambridge: Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press. The attitude towards us has been changing-certainly. "America and the Bosnia Genocide. Research Paper R-18. 1997. 1997: 3-4. ed. Brauman. The research for the essay could not have been accomplished without a Title F leave from the State University of New Cohen. 1996. 1994: 36+. And people look to us and sort of vent their frustrations on Bosnia by Television. shaky ground indeed. Cushman and Mestrovic. some conscience in the Girardet. Lon." New Benthall.. "Do Something. Boltanski. Role of the International Media in Wars and Humanitarian in the last month. Relief and the Media.nara." New Strobel. Keenan.. This Time 79-80. and Beyond: The West. Rwanda. don: Tauris. 1997: 56-64.org/terms . "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechani. Gowing."When the West Stands In for the Dead. that promises have been made and broken-prom- ises from the Western allies have been made and broken. Alex. This Time 80-84." Trans. through a Glass Darkly. Assistance Workers. Brauman and Rene Backmann. phabet City 7 (2000): 44-46. Clarifying the CNN Effect: An Exami- tics. Thomas.77.eds. Binghamton. Graham Burchell. New York: New York UP. Zlatko. Dublin: Crosslines. beth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio.. Media and Poli-Livingston. 1994. 2001 <http://clinton4. Cushman and Mestrovic. 31 Oct. Gow. Distant Suffering: Morality. eds.I I 7 I i Thomas Keenan I 15 ous. 2 For a more thorough account of how the Somalia inter- de Waal. Ed. Victims of a 'Postmodern' War. Jean. [.Modern Conscience. "As Bad as Things Were. Review of Books 20 Nov. This Time . Trans. Rights Organizations in Rwanda. This Time ' The literature in these debates is extensive-in France 1-38. 25 Mar.. Normandie." Cushman and Mestrovic. . Harvard U.. at us as being able to jog. and Preston. Seib. which are hereby gratefully acknowledged. and Boltanski. "Live From. 1991. Le malheurdes autres.] So the tide is turning somewhat. Bloomington: Indiana thing similar: "Those of us who've stayed in Sarajevo. which is the majority of the press corps-have been Dizdarevic. Eliza- Benjamin. Oxford: Curry. Caen: FRAC Basse- cal Reproduction. "Somalia. .S.. see Keenan. People have seen that really nothing has Crises. Al- ." Social Insecurity. "Editors' in the John F. Scott. 1. and Rwanda Government Officials. The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Baudrillard. 1997: 55-65. "Remarks by the President to Genocide Survivors. on Larry King Live. Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief In- July of that year. George.." Trans. London: British Film Inst. . Illuminations. Jonathan. Somalia. but that's a mea- sure of people's despair. 130-63. York Times 30 Sept. on 30 . 1996. Politics. and U. Kouchner. 1994. and Public Policy. Cushman. 1999. Crosslines Spec. uncertain. 1998. Walter. WORKS CITED Ignatieff." ment 21 Feb. Mark. 3 Amanpour was then just back from Somalia.99 on Mon. 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