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American Values

Neoconservatives stand, of course, for the use of American power to spread American values. Like, you know, trying to shut down media outlets whose opinion the government finds wrongheaded or inconvenient. And that's how it goes. We can debate all day and all night how biased al-Jazeera's coverage may or may not be compared to, say, Fox News (not much, I think) or how much more pernicious the forces in whose favor al-Jazeera is biased are compared to those forces supported by Fox (considerably, I would say) but at the end of the day, much as I like to complain about Fox News I don't think President Kerry should try and shut the network down. Giving unfavorable coverage to American foreign policy is well within the core rights of a media outlet operating under a liberal system.

And, one must ad, there's more to al-Jazeera than criticism of the US and Israel, it's also just about the only mass outlet in the Arab world for criticism of Arab governments and, thus, an important dynamo for the Arab reform movement. It's harsh coverage of Israeli policies is not, moreover, any harsher than that available in the official Arab media. So I'm not exactly sure what American neocons think they're doing with their anti-Jazeera crusade, but functionally they're acting as dupes for the very Arab dictatorships they claim to despite while wrecking America's credibility as a force for liberalization and democratization in the Middle East. It's a neat trick.

August 19, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

neat trick?

"you think that's air youre breathing now?"

it's all part of the plan matt, don't act so surprised. The REASON to shut down AJ is because it is an "important dynamo" in arab reform. The SALES PITCH is the israel thing.

After all, if the arabs are reformed...it will require reprogramming the entire american public to hate another group of existential enemies so that the machine can continue to operate.

The important fact is not that oceania has always been at war with Eur/East-Asia...the important fact is that they ALWAYS WILL BE.

Posted by: sampo | Aug 19, 2004 12:45:08 PM

OK, here's the love that dare not speak its name.

As long as being a good neighbor to Israel is a prerequisite for American support, the region is fucked. The bottom line is that the only leaders who can cut deals with Israel are dictators who are only competent at running brutal and intrusive intelligence agencies.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 19, 2004 12:50:46 PM

American antagonism toward al-Jazeera probably helps its credibility among Arabs. To the extent that al-Jazeera really does criticize Arab dictatorships unfriendly to the US, that criticism is more effective if al-Jazeera is perceived as hostile to the US. You're assuming that American hostility to al-Jazeera is bad for al-Jazeera. I'm not sure that's true.

Posted by: Xavier | Aug 19, 2004 12:59:04 PM

trying to shut down media outlets whose opinion the government finds wrongheaded or inconvenient.


- - -C'mon, Matt. You're more diligent than this. Various media have been shut down for incitement, not "inconvenience". (though, I would grant that incitement is inconvenient)

Do you think a government--especially a government in an area as close to martial law as Iraq is--has the duty to suppress media outlets that incite violence?

In any event, if you want to address the issue, address the actual problem with those media outlets....not the strawman of "inconvenience".

Posted by: Jon Henke | Aug 19, 2004 1:00:59 PM

Matt, you're the first person to suggest shutting Fox down, if only to dismiss the idea, and it's basically impossible within our sustem of government, but hey, what a great idea! I'm sure there's something in the Patriot Act which would work.

Also, we could look at Murdoch's immigration papers and then send him to Guantanamo for watter-boarding.

Posted by: Zizka | Aug 19, 2004 1:07:07 PM

incitement

When did Al-Jazeera commit incitement?

When they shut down Al-Sadr's paper they didn't even claim he was inciting people they said he was "printing lies" (which should shut down every media outlet in the US).

Posted by: absynthe | Aug 19, 2004 1:11:03 PM

Jon Henke -- feel free to wander over to Abu Aardvark's typepad site for more on ALJ and incitement.

I note that in Canada, a radio station was recently shut down by the CRTC. These things to happen. Usually there is some sort of open process -- and preferably the tribunal making the decision is at arms-length from the government, with sort sort of appeal process built-in

If Janet Jackson's boob was shown on Al-Jazeera, and the arms length media commission of Iraq conducted an investigation and ruled that, because of boob-showing, ALJ would be fined and, if boob-showing continued, shut down, then I would be a little more sympathetic to Allawi.

Not that I am unsympathetic to boob-showing. Whether Allawi's boobs or someone else's.

Posted by: Ikam | Aug 19, 2004 1:21:32 PM

praktike: As long as being a good neighbor to Israel is a prerequisite for American support, the region is fucked.

It's not the prerequesite though.

While Egypt and Jordan have signed "peace" treaties, their state-controlled press is viciously anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-Semitic (Egypt ran a TV series during last Ramadan based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion called "''Horseman without a Horse.")

That's not being a "good neighbor."

We support Saudi Arabia, and have C.P. Abdullah over to the crawford ranch, despite the fact that when his country gets hit with terror attacks that a group called "al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula" takes credit for, Abdullah says that he's "95% sure that Zionism" is responsible for the terrorism in his country.

So we support plenty of regional players that are not "good neighbors" to Israel. We just started warming up to Libya too.

The "Israel" part of this National Review article is being played up here, but the Allawi government could give a rip about that. They've already announced they have no intention of normalizing relations with Israel, outside an Arab League deal. Rather, they are concerned about the incitement against themselves. They've had several people assassinated already and having a major media outlet constantly refer to you as a U.S. puppet doesn't help.

BTW, I'm not defending their decision, I think it's wrong. They should keep it open. But I just think their calculation has less to do with Jazeera being critical of Israel and more do to with it being critical of their government.

Bahrain shut down al-Jazeera for a while too, calling them "Zionist."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1980191.stm

Gotta love the Middle East.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Aug 19, 2004 1:27:00 PM

Gotta love the Middle East.

Now that's something we can all agree with.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 19, 2004 1:29:18 PM

And, one must ad, there's more to al-Jazeera than criticism of the US and Israel, it's also just about the only mass outlet in the Arab world for criticism of Arab governments and, thus, an important dynamo for the Arab reform movement.

Al-Jazeera is old news - the new darling of Arab satellite news is Al-Arabiya, based in Media City, Dubai. A recent survey of Iraqis (Oct 2003) with satellite dishes found that 37% were getting their news from Al-Arabiya; Al-Jazeera got 26%.

Another thing about A-J: its owner, the emir of Qatar, considers himself a rival to the House of Saud. So bear in mind a lot of his criticism of the Saudi regime is self-serving, although in the Arab media any kind of criticism of the powers that be should be welcomed.

And only in the West would A-J or A-A be considered to be "anti-American" or "anti-Israel" - both networks are routinely chastised by the Arab world for their perceived pro-American, pro-Israeli sympathies and their adoption of Western values as far as female newsanchors and field reporters are concerned.

For example, both networks took a lot of flak for deciding to refer to Israel by name in their broadcasts and not the standard "Zionist Entity" preferred by the Arab mainstream media. I think Al-Arabiya was the first to make this change (they have a growing reputation for fairness which tends to bite them in the ass among the hardliners), but A-J soon followed suit.

Posted by: oodja | Aug 19, 2004 1:29:50 PM

While Egypt and Jordan have signed "peace" treaties, their state-controlled press is viciously anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-Semitic (Egypt ran a TV series during last Ramadan based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion called "''Horseman without a Horse.")


Most Egyptians and Jordanians watch the BBC, Al-Jazeera or one of the other sattelite stations. The idea that these are totalitarian societies with restricted media like Saddam's Iraq is just lame spin.

The whole idiotic "horseman without a horse" flap was another mistake just like shutting down AJ. In the middle of a massive, brutal, military crackdown going down in the West Bank and Gaza greenlighted by Washington Israel gets angry about an ignorant TV show that has like two scenes where someone is reading the Protocols and off goes Powell the SecState of the lone superpower off to Egypt to tell them they can't say bad things about Jews.

If you wanted to convince someone that Jews don't run the world I can hardly come up with a more unconvincing scene than that. It's just counter-productive.

Posted by: asdf | Aug 19, 2004 1:39:37 PM

asdf,

Please. I never said there weren't other media outlets available to Egyptians.

I said that the "state controlled" media outlets do not behave like "good neighbors" wrt Israel.

Nor did I say they had too. I was just trying to illustrate that being a "good neighbor" to Israel is not a prerequisite for U.S. support.

It's clearly not. And, if you got a lot of oil (read: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E.), you can get away with plenty of anti-Israel and even anti-U.S. rhetoric and we won't do a thing.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Aug 19, 2004 1:53:11 PM

"When did Al-Jazeera commit incitement?"


- - -Ask the Iraqi government. It was their conclusion:
Iraq's interim government has ordered the Al-Jazeera television network to close its Baghdad office for a month, accusing it of inciting violence and hatred...
Note that I'm not necessarily for or against their dismissal. I'm just pointing out that Matt has erected quite a libelous strawman.

"When they shut down Al-Sadr's paper they didn't even claim he was inciting people..."


- - -Again, I think you're mistaken. The claim--true or not is a separate matter--was that the newspaper was inciting violence.

I think that was probably a mistake, under the circumstances, but let's not pretend that the newspaper was just making harmless political criticisms.

Posted by: Jon Henke | Aug 19, 2004 2:21:26 PM

Blaming your own problems upon outsiders is a long and hallowed tradition in Arab culture.

Al-Jazeera follows those traditions of blaming Israel, the US, and anybody but Arabs for the cause of Arab problems. They may be providing a valve for the oppressed Arab masses, but that valve doesn't point in any constructive direction.

I don't agree with their being banned from Iraq, but that was a step taken by the government of Iraq, not by us. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Al-Jazeera enjoys a very cosy relationship, if not outright collaboration, with the thugs who kill and murder in Iraq. I have little sympathy for them.

Nor, apparently, do most of the Iraqi bloggers

Posted by: Kevin P. | Aug 19, 2004 4:17:54 PM

What Xavier said:
American antagonism toward al-Jazeera probably helps its credibility among Arabs.

There is no media outlet or dictatorial regime in the world that wouldn't benefit (in terms of public opinion) from being attacked by the US. Especially if Israel is involved. It's a PR bonanza for them. Their stock (if they have stock) probably quadrupled immediately. Allawi is probably a major shareholder. He can retire in Paris now.

Foxnews benefits from all the negative publicity as well. Otherwise it would be a crappy cable channel full of boring stupid talking-heads. Like MSNBC.

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 19, 2004 4:22:43 PM

Matthew, you imply that "the forces in whose favor al-Jazeera is biased" are (considerably) more pernicious than those supported by Fox. Did you mean this? Just askin'. Er, and who are these forces anyway? I'm just trying to think of anyone more pernicious than the Bush administration.

Posted by: robg | Aug 19, 2004 4:45:22 PM

"more pernicious the forces in whose favor al-Jazeera is biased"

robg inspires a question. For those who know more than I, exactly which side of the 17-sided war in Iraq(don't ask me to name all 17, they just changed again)....does al Jazeera's biases support?

Seriously. Sunni/Fallujah insurgents? Sadr/Iranian insurgents? SCIRI/Iranian moderates? All insurgency on principle? Just asking.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 19, 2004 5:36:11 PM

Al Jazeera is a secret instrument of a group of evil Finnish cranberry-growing conspirators seeking world-domination. The 700 Club wasn't enough for them. Bastards.

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 19, 2004 6:13:42 PM

exactly which side of the 17-sided war in Iraq(don't ask me to name all 17, they just changed again)....does al Jazeera's biases support?

Probably the sunnis, given that AJ operates out of Qatar.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 19, 2004 6:31:37 PM

Interesting article on Al-Jazeera from MEMRI

Posted by: Kevin P. | Aug 19, 2004 7:15:31 PM

In a way, Fox believes the traditional networks should be shut down, through competition. Same with CNN. In fact, I think the CNN of old has been shut down. Roger Ailes wants one point of view all the time for everyone. You know, the TRUTH.

I think shutting Fox down would be a great move in the first few weeks of a Kerry Presidency. As a result, Republicans will be pissed and will use the sunseting of the assault weapons ban to begin killing liberals and then we can take Michelle Malkin's advice on profiling Republicans and have the war they've wanted since Watergate.

Let's get it over with.

Posted by: John Thullen | Aug 19, 2004 8:16:28 PM

I loved this article, despise the mistakes. I'll ad it to my favorites list. :)

Posted by: Laurence | Aug 19, 2004 8:29:00 PM

Accusations that al-Jazeera incites violence are usually based on their airing of al-Qaeda videotapes and the fact their coverage doesn't favor the U.S.

I've actually watched al-Jazeera - it was on pretty much everywhere in Morocco. Once they aired a lengthy press conference with President Bush at some summit, dubbed into Arabic. The image of Bush speaking perfect modern standard Arabic was pretty weird. More to the point, it was just his words, as they came out of his mouth. They do put on multiple perspectives of every issue they cover.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich | Aug 19, 2004 9:13:57 PM

btw, the Emir of Qatar stopped funding the station some time ago. It's coverage isn't as harsh on Qatar as some other countries, but I wouldn't say he has editorial control. To be honest, I actually give Emir Hamad credit for being serious about reform in his country.

And how come no one ever mentions the fact Qatar as also primarily a Wahhabi country?

Posted by: Brian Ulrich | Aug 19, 2004 9:16:21 PM

Because that would be . . . nuance.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Aug 19, 2004 10:06:46 PM

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