Sunday, September 19, 2004

Divide and Conquer - (part IV)

Propaganda, Propaganda, Propaganda

The other problem here is of course the type of information available in places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. To be sure, there are varying degrees of censorship in these countries. But, by far, most of these countries have state run television. Satellite TV is regulated and only certain satellite connections are allowed. I imagine that there are some intrepid techie types in the country who are able to mess with their satellite settings and receive other channels, but this is relatively limited. Books are strictly vetted. Certainly none that criticize the government, Islam, Palestinians, the oil industry, etc are allowed in the country through official channels and certainly not translated into Arabic. These books are usually smuggled in along with American and European music, movies, etc.

Go to the inner sanctum to read more on this subject...

News in most of these countries comes from limited sources. Most reading this blog should be familiar with Al Jazeerah. As much as we might decry their "bias" we should read them regularly to understand what is reported in these countries and how. For instance, today's headlines include things like France backs Annan's "illegal war" view

(...)"You well know that what explains our country's disagreement with the way the war was carried out was that it clearly did not at that time abide by international law, and there was not a clear request from the United States to start that action," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on Friday(...)

(...)"We have always considered that international law constitutes the framework for any action, notably against terrorism or for stability in the world," he said.

(...)"I've indicated that it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view it was illegal," Annan said.

Washington hit back on Thursday by claiming it considered that a previous UN resolution passed four months prior to the conflict gave it sufficient authority to wage its action because Iraq had refused to surrender suspected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

After 19 months of US troop deployment in Iraq, no such weapons have been found by US weapons inspectors scouring the war-ravaged country.

News flash for Michele and Kofi, the terrorist and most "rogue" countries don't give a shit about international law and certainly, none of those laws have as yet held any terrorist and brought them before an international court.

and Saudi Clerics Reject US Criticism:

(...)"How do the Americans have the right to speak about violation of religious freedoms and human rights in this country or another?" questioned a leading Shia leader, Shaikh Hasan al-Saffar.

He said US support of Israel, the occupation of neighboring Iraq and the reported mistreatment of Arabs and Muslims in the United States since 2001 had robbed Washington of moral high ground.(...)

(...)The report said religious freedoms were denied to all Saudis except those who adhere to the "state sanctioned Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam".

Salih al-Fawzan, senior Sunni preacher and member of Saudi Arabia's top religious body – the Supreme Association of Ulama – condemned the United States as an 'infidel'' country.

He also defended restrictions against non-Muslim religions in Saudi Arabia. "Prophet Muhammad said there should not be two religions in the Arabian peninsula," al-Fawzan said.

Does anyone else see the irony of these statements? And people there believe them with all their heart. Believe that their brother Muslims are persecuted here in the United States and that the United States is bent on destroying their religion and culture. They perpetrate the myth that the freedom of the United States is just that: a myth. Not for them. This is their government owned media telling them this so that they will not question their benevolence. So that they will believe that all of the actions that their government takes is for their own good. Does this remind you of the USSR? This is the tact of all totalitarian governments.

This article was in response to the United States state department placing Saudi Arabia on a list of countries that deny religious freedom and enforce one state religion: wahhabi/sunni. Why is this important? Powell and the State Department have made remarks recently about Saudi Arabia needing to open up the paths of information into their country. The Saudi's are resisting of course.

What else can we see:

New Book Alleges Bush Snorted Cocaine at Camp David
The only good part about the article is that it does identify Kelly as a gossip mongerer, although they do lean just ever so slightly towards saying her account could be true. They also remind readers that she wrote smear books on a number of people, including the British Royal Family.

US Dollar May Devalue Further
Guess what that's about? US economy is going to bust. The UN said so.

The Davinci Code is Banned in Lebanon
In the name of protecting Christian beliefs. Apparently, the fictional novel contains passages that Jesus married Mary Magdelene and sired children. This proves that it is not just Muslims in the middle east that are ignorant supporters of totalitarian suppression.

But interestingly, some one in Lebanon complains...

The ban prompted the president of the Lebanese publishers' association, Ahmad Fadl Allah Aasi, to address an open letter to Lebanese President Emile Lahud to denounce "suppression of freedoms," on Tuesday.

"We now have a ministry of culture, so why do security [services] deal with culture? We want to protect literary and creative productions against any suppression of freedoms," he said.

"If Beirut loses its freedom ... Lebanon would lose its reason to exist ... and Beirut [should] remain the window to foreign cultures in the region," he said

Washington's secret nuclear war
Laugh if you dare. It is basically an article about the US using depleted uranium rounds...

Illegal weapons of mass destruction have not only been found in Iraq but have been used against Iraqis and have even killed US troops.

But Washington and its allies have tried to cover up this outrage because the chief culprit is the US itself, argue American and other experts trying to expose what they say is a war crime.

The WMD in question is depleted uranium (DU). A radioactive by-product of uranium enrichment, DU is used to coat ammunition such as tank shells and "bunker busting" missiles because its density makes it ideal for piercing armour

So, not only is it an illegal war, but we are using illegal weapons of mass destruction. But you should go to their site. There is a picture of two US soldiers lying down on the ground, looking like they are clutching their stomachs. Under which it claims that over 27k soldiers, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have sought treatment for exposure. Then there is the picture of the deformed fetus in which they claim that this is the reason for this problem.

Dr Jenan Ali, a senior Iraqi doctor at Basra hospital's College of Medicine, says her studies show a 100% rise in child leukemia in the region in the decade after the first Gulf war, with a 242% increase in all types of malignancies.

You notice that Dr. Ali does not actually claim that depleted uranium is the cause. What is more likely the cause is the improperly stored radioactive material and looting of devices (such as barrels to store water) from the Tuweitha Nuclear Research Center. These people did not even have enough information to know that the place was dangerous. Further, it's been stored there since around Gulf War I. Imagine that.

But, we digress...

Boycott Isreal
Do I have to explain this one?

US Soldiers Battle Their Conscience

When Sergeant Abd Allah Webster was ordered to pack his bags and deploy to Iraq this February, he refused with a heavy heart.

He knew the decision would put him at odds with his superiors and potentially cost him his liberty.

But despite the consequences, he took a stand because he believed his faith precluded him from killing fellow Muslims.

Abd is in jail. Read the whole story. They show a picture of him and his little baby and talk about how sad it is he has been separated from her. More lines as well that make you understand the gist of the report...

According to the US army, since 2003 it has received 96 applications, 48 of which have been approved.

This is more than four and a half times as many as the army received in 2001 and in 2002.

But JE McNeil, executive director of the Washington-based Centre for Conscience and War, says the military vastly underestimates the true number of applications.

"Nobody knows the true figures but it is definitely in the hundreds," she told

This is to make their own people believe that even the US armed forces personnel IN LARGE NUMBERS object to the war in Iraq or war in general. I'm still waiting to hear what happened to Marine Cpl Hassoun and his trip to Lebanon.

When looking at the front page, be sure to check out the 8 photo essay showing the "carnage in Fallujah". Two guesses what kind of people are in the photos.

And objectively of course, they will print a story about a "bomber" targeting Iraqi police and killing 23 people and wounding 54 others, but that takes back seat to the innocent women and children in Fallujah.

The strike on Saturday followed an air raid on Friday that killed three people - among them an elderly couple - and several bombardments the previous night that left 44 people dead around Falluja, some 50kms west of Baghdad.

Doctors said several women and children were among the dead, while US forces described the strikes as targeting safe houses belonging to Jordanian-born fugitive Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and/or his supporters.

No report here of any one but women and children being killed. There are never any dead or injured fighters. I don't know about you guys, but, if this was my only source of info, I guess I'd have to believe that the US army was committing genocidal acts or was completely incompetent. But, since I have a clue about the real world, we should all know that four things are most likely:

  1. The fighters police up their dead and wounded and do not take them to the hospital. If they did, just like in America, we would know who they are. After action, the army routinely monitors the hospitals to see who is coming and going. They would either be arrested there or followed back to their hideouts and BOOM! second operation commences. This has already been reported by the DOD and our friendly Iraqi bloggers. I think these fighters have learned their lesson.
  2. The hospitals are operating in hostile territory. The doctors and administrators, if they do treat any of the fighters, would be under direct pressure not to relate any details on pain of death. This is how the criminal and rebel elements work in all insurgencies.
  3. Al Jazeera reporters are not going to report on any hostile fighters being injured because they would then be targets of these hostile fighters for revealing their identities or would not be able to roam freely about to take pictures.
  4. Al Jazeera is a propaganda mouth piece for the Islamists and terrorists.

Al Jazeera was highly annoyed at having their Baghdad office closed down. Get a load of this arrogance...

Bahjat adds that Iraqi officials who were opponents of Saddam Hussein should be grateful to Aljazeera because the channel had given them a platform to present themselves to both Iraqi and wider Arab audiences.

There's a nice bit of journalistic ethics. It's not the government that holds power, it is Al Jazeera and these poor schmucks should be GRATEFUL that Al Jazeera daned to allow them a few precious minutes of their time. My friend Sam tells us what he thinks about Al Jazeera here, Aug 7

It is an easy work required nothing but a tape-show yet with their limited mentality they see it as a big achievement. It is certainly nothing but a failure. We know Al Jazeera broadcast from Qatar another Wah[h]abist incubating state which feeds the terrorists with money and ideology mostly under cover. Al Jazeera also exaggerates the news and show it from one angle which stimulates and exacerbates the insurgent attacks and violence in Iraq and the whole Middle East. They call it resistance yet we know that some time they film criminals or thefts.

You know that old saying: if it looks like it, feels like it, smells like it and tastes like it, it probably is a pile of shit. Even an average Iraqi on the street knows propaganda when he sees it.

To be fair, and not appear to be the alter-propagandist, Al Jazeera does report on other important issues:

Arab Reform
If you aren't up on this subject, you should. Certainly, parts of the story still claim that the US Middle East Initiative is intrusive and designed to destroy Arab/Islamic culture and advocate that "change must come from within". But, I'd love to remind Al Jaz that they wouldn't even be in print or on TV if it weren't for pressure from the US, much less talking about "Arab reforms". But, I suppose they will keep on living in their fantasy world.

Other stories include:

Chromosome 5 link to spinal atrophy

Deaf Children Form Own Language

These are nice pieces, but the majority of the information is all about the bad westerners and their interaction with the Middle East. Do you have to wonder now why the folks in this region look at us as evil interlopers? This doesn't even cover the issues of Palestine and Israel.

So, what else have we learned about the enemy?

  1. They have a strong lead on propaganda
  2. It's free propaganda
  3. It's supported by the governments of these countries
  4. It's the ONLY source of information allowed in barring state TV (which is just as bad; go see and BBC Arabia
  5. The US has yet to produce a viable operation to counter this problem or to force these countries to allow outside information into their borders

In short, part of the battle is: propaganda, propaganda, propaganda. And I don't mean "propaganda" as in "lies to further our means", but in the form of REAL information about the US, it's citizens, how we think, how democracy works, why the "insurgents" or "militants" or whatever they want to call them are dangerous for the Arab/Muslim world.

Of course, I have only given you information from one source, but, in the middle east this is practically THE source. What is the US answer to this propaganda machine?

Internews: Supports Open Media World Wide
Radio Free Europe: Serving Europe, Middle East and Western Asia
Radio Free Iraq (Arabic only)
Al Hurra (the free one): American TV for Arab audiences; satellite
Projects for Human Rights Recognition (this is long but very interesting)
Middle East Television Network and a statement about being behind the curve and trying to catch up quickly.

For years, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has monitored closely the efforts of the U.S. government to counter the often emotional and misleading anti-American reports being broadcast to Middle Eastern audiences. Radio and television are the preferred, and most powerful, information mediums in the Middle East. Yet the United States has had very little success in communicating through the collection of state-run channels and independent stations, such as Al Jazeera, all of which broadcast an overwhelming barrage of anti-American sounds and images.

Now more than ever, the United States needs its own voice in the Arabic language. The pervasive anti-Americanism in the Middle East can no longer be ignored, nor can it be lessened with marketing gimmicks or propaganda. The new network will provide a steady diet of the truth, backed by the American tradition of journalism, to open the Arab world to freedom and democracy. By utilizing balanced and objective reporting with a mix of news and information, this network will gain a loyal following.

In today's world, American foreign policy objectives cannot succeed against a tide of hostile public opinion. Foreign leaders will not join international coalitions without the consent of their people. Thus, the war on terrorism will cease in the absence of favorable public opinion in those countries.

Some more on METV initiative by the US

Radio Sawa: Arabic; English "about us" is available but we're not the audience, but, if you are interested in getting some exposure to cultural music as well as hear what kind of western music is being played, I suggest you go their and link to it "live". I'm listening to it now and it sounds like it is playing a cool Arab love song, sort of "Gloria Estafan/Julio Iglesias" meets "Iraq". I wish I could understand what they were saying. Sub-titles would be nice.

While these are all a good start, we must remember that for every one of these there are 100 of them that vary in opinion from outright anti-Americanism to vague "America: maybe good, but...". America must put more money where it's mouth is. It needs 24/7 coverage, just like the regular media and Al Jazeera. It must be able to go where things are happening and report with a modicum of objectivity while at the same time, promoting the message in order to gain an audience. The first audience that grows is likely to be those that are just interested in how the information is juxtopositioned against their state owned TV, but at least it's a start. From all I've read it seems that it needs more funding and better people. The Broadcasting Board of Governors might even need to change to fire it up.

Most of all, we need to commit to this 100%. This cannot be half assed. We may need to press for the government to fund this better. I've heard rumors that Al Hurra in Iraq has had difficulties keeping journalists because we are cheap compared to the other channels who are willing to pay for these folks to go into dangerous areas and report for them. Further, I've also heard difficulties with type and condition of equipment. Maybe it's me, but it seems we should spare no dollar on this effort.

It's the first step in "divide and conquer" strategy.


Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I think our only hope of preventing a total war of annihilation with Islam in general, is for individual moderate Muslims to reclaim the religion away from the radicals who sit in positions of power in Saudi Arabia. To that extent there is a large grain of truth in one of the claims made by some of the more intelligent liberals: the root of all these terrorism ills DOES reside in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, after that brief glimmer of lucidity, the typical liberal then derails into being the Jihad Propagandist's handy tool in spouting their rhetoric and propagating (the root word of "propaganda") their ideas FOR them, to the detriment of free people everywhere.

Yes, they DO hate our freedom. (Freedom from Islam.) No doubt about that.

Kat said...

yes, the more I read the more I believe that it is Saudi Arabia that has perpetrated this largely on the rest of the world. Most of the funds start there. But they don't end there anymore. We can certainly put a stop to that area if we push hard enough and I believe the last two statements, one by President Bush about not supporting tyrants and one by Powell about SA not having freedom of religion, are the first signs to SA that we are not happy with their "help" so far and expect a whole hell of a lot more.

But, even as I read that, I see that they are going to have a hard time letting go, both because of their own power desires and because they have now created a monster that could eat them and the people around them easily.

The other issue I see is that, truly, there are limited number of "moderate" Muslims in the ME. the Moderate Muslims that do exist, do so at their own peril, either from the government or other "private" people. The moderate Muslims that exist actually exist outside of the ME. And, I don't see the ME Muslims looking at moderate American muslims as a good example.

We have to help foster (and I think we are trying) more moderate Muslims. Freaking support them financially or whatever. And they must live and come from the ME. We must do unto the SAudis what they are attempting to do unto us.