Friday, June 30, 2006

Perhaps It's All Very Simple...

I will be concentrating on Michael Totten's blog in the next few posts. Today he writes:

Media Israel is a cartoon. Media Lebanon and Media Iraq are cartoons, too. The information that dribbles out from those places is extraordinarily limited. It is just impossible to get the whole picture or even five percent of the picture if that's all you have to work with.

Often on purpose. During the Vietnam War many draft-dodgers got jobs in the already-biased but rapidly growing mainstream media. Once there, they only let their own ilk through the door. Then you get results like this:
"...stories that are filed by reporters in the field very seldom reach the American public as written. An anecdote from Col. McMaster [commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment] illustrates this dramatically. TIME magazine recently sent a reporter to spend six weeks with the 3rd ACR as they were in the battle of Tal Afar. When the battle was over, the reporter filed his story and also included close to 100 pictures that the accompanying photographer took. TIME published a cover story on the battle a week later, allegedly using the story sent in by their reporter. When the issue came out, the guts had been edited out of their reporter’s story and none of the pictures he submitted were used. Instead they showed a weeping child on the cover, taken from stock photos. When the reporter questioned why his story was eviscerated, his editors in New York responded that the story and pictures were “too heroic”. McMaster had read both and told me that the editors had completely changed the thrust and context of the material their reporter had submitted."

Perhaps it is all very simple: these editors were and are cowards. They will never allow anyone who thinks the the U.S.A. (or fighting and democratic U.S. military allies like Israel or Iraq) is worth defending with armed force to be seen as a hero. They could never sustain their own self-image (or that of their idols) as heroic draft-dodgers otherwise. The End.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Defeating the Hydra

A most thought-provoking article from Raymond Ibrahim, over at VDH's Private Papers. The author sounds a note of near-despair over the likelihood that al-Zarqawi's death may have little effect in the long run upon the War on Terror:
Both leaders, Banna and Qutb, were eventually targeted and killed by Egypt’s secular the world’s surprise, the partially-banned constantly-harassed Brotherhood managed to win 88 out of 454 seats in Egypt’s 2005 parliamentary elections...

Yassin was being wheeled out of a mosque after morning prayers, an Israeli helicopter launched two hellfire missiles that hit and killed him...Hamas, like the Brotherhood before them and also to international consternation, went on to win in a landslide...

[N]early 20 years after the death of [Khomeini] not much has changed in Iran. Sharia law still governs; Sharia endorsed enmity towards the West still thrives. In fact, the only real difference is that the Islamic theocracy’s aspiration for nuclear armaments is nearly realized.

The author then invokes this intriguing analogy:
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out.

In the modern context, I suppose the equivalent of "cauterization" would be the capture and conversion of terrorists to the West's cause. That wouldn't mean necessarily converting them to Christianity (or Judaism, or Buddism, etc.)

However, that would mean making them choose to convert to at least a more moderate version of Islam that permits both Muslims and non-Muslims to live, thrive, and seek justice against Muslim oppressors, and to spill the beans on their former comrades. Thus "new heads" would be prevented or discouraged from growing.

I now recall that this method has been used effectively by Muslim governments throughout the middle east for centuries to de-fang or eliminate religious extremism: captured leaders are often given the choice of converting (sometimes receiving a pension) or death. The parallel is perhaps closer to what we did to the Japanese at the end of WWII, forcing them to alter their religion by renouncing the Emperor-as-a-god as The New Sisyphus has described.

Question is, in a "modern" world that worships "multi-culturalism", that would surely see what we did to the post-WWII Japanese as a gross violation of human rights, how could we ever pull this off?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yassir Arafat: The Cover-up

...among the secret documents that the State Department recently released after 30 years is a document demonstrating that the US was aware from the outset of the key role Arafat played in murdering those American diplomats. "The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat"

...despite the fact that the American administration was well aware of the truth, it placed official blame for the murders on the Black September.

This certainly strikes me as detestable: that the murderer of U.S. diplomats may be excused to further the careers of other U.S. diplomats, without - as thirty years of history have demonstrated - advancing the interests of the U.S. at all.

Exactly who made the decision to keep the secret, and maintain its secrecy for a full generation? And why, when its disclosure would make clear to the world, as did the KAL 007 tapes, just what sort of monsters it was dealing with?

Update, 6/19

My namesake also has something to say on this matter.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blindfolded by Real Power

Nixon's cover-up of a "third rate burglary" in 1972 with his puny Presidential prerogatives at the the Watergate apartments was a crime; but the feat of making seven and perhaps ten million deaths disappear was a demonstration of real power, beside which Nixon's was nothing...

Nor is the answer to this problem simply adding more conservative media outlets to "balance" things out. There's no reason to think that honesty is an attribute of a particular political orientation. Two versions of a story don't necessarily mean that either one is true. What's needed is a way to reform our organs of sight and escape from a world where practically every terrorist attack is prefaced with a denial that a particular community is a threat; or that taxes can be cut and spending upped without consequences. What's needed is some way out of the maze of lies, not to get at the liars, because liars never pay the price, but to get away from the lie.

Absolutely spot-on insightful commentary from Wretchard at his Belmont Club. Solomon2's partial answer is to concentrate on the personal failings of dishonest, untruthful, deceitful, or wilfully blind reporters and editors. Ad hominem attacks upon others is generally frowned upon, but why should anyone buy into the words of proven purveyors of perverted ideas? If you can back it up with factual examples, discredit and even insult them by name.

Sure, we risk someone getting angry and taking a swipe at us. The plus is that in the long run this approach should ensure greater personal responsibility and accuracy in journalism, politics, and academia.