Friday, May 14, 2004

"...I am the Proud Little Brother of Sargeant Sherwood Baker"

"...I am the Proud Little Brother of Sargeant Sherwood Baker"

Love the war or hate it; one can always support a good soldier. And agree with views of the brother on the war or not, this is one heck of a tribute:

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

FZ or Zakaria Filles

Fareed Zakaria was on Forum [on KQED, with Michael Krasny; see sidebar] this morning. ( He is a really interesting case. For the most part, most of the Average Joes and Jills in the Muslim community consider him a sell-out—as one caller said to him in that show—but when you listen to him, he's actually saying a lot of things to the Average American that need to be said. And presenting them in a package (he himself being the package) that they can relate to.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Abu Gha-ra-eib

The Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Scandal is, like everything else, being over-covered and under-understood. But Brian Lehrer's segment is definitely a little better than most:

Media and Opinion-Shaping

Talk of the Nation on NPR has a segment on "The Arab Media" today, with Shibli Telhami, the manager of Al-Arabia, and the Washington Correspondent of Al-Jazeera. []

Shibli Telhami's take on whether the media drives public opinion or public opinion drives the media is interesting—he's right about the media reflecting more than forming public opinion on the most important issues. I mean, people have always believed the most cynical possible version of what Amrika Bahadur, The Agency and their own rulers are up to—and up till very recently, without the benefit of satellite television. Besides the political point—and irony—of the Secretary of State of the Free World wanting to shut down Free Speech, there's a subtle and deep point here for students and watchers of the media.

And the thought going through my head during the clip of Colin Powell commenting about Al-Jazeera “crossing the line of screaming ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre” was this: “So, Mr Secretary, you would rather that the 1.2 billion Muslims base their opinions on conspiratorial e-mails than on a news channel that carries you and Don Rumsfeld live much, much more often than even C-SPAN? Or that carries Knesset proceedings?”

Monday, May 03, 2004

Was It Worth It?

I have been a bit of an activist on human rights in Pakistan and in the US, but before it started, I was never able to bring myself to say I was against a war in/on Iraq. Not that I was for it either. Governments go to war or interfere in other countries for national and personal interests--never for morals or ethics—or rarely so. My own country's record in Afghanistan is a wonderful case study. We stood up to the Soviets, which was good for all. But the way the governmet and the military went about it was, well, pretty objectionable. And that was back when there was a black and a white in this world.

One rather odd fact Americans need to think about is this: The only time Saddam actually used weapons of mass destruction is when he was a US ally. When he wasn't, he didn't. Which did not make him any less of a monster.

Why did the US go after him? Well, he wasn't "our SOB" any more. Which, from the strictly logical point of view of a nation-state or government, is a valid reason for going to war. Always has been, however much us 21st century liberals might think otherwise.

As for whether we did Iraqi's a favor getting rid of him—we certainly didn't do them a disfavor. But that's not the same as saying we did them a favor. We use a lot of playground analogies in the US. Here's one that might help in this situation: Say you are the little kid on a playground being terrorised by a bully. And there's a bigger person standing behind that bully handing him Gatorade, holding his towel and sharing the lunch money the bully just snatched from you. And then, suddenly the other, bigger person whacks the bully, and turns to you, cracks into a big smile and says in a very LOUD voice "Now on things are going to be all nice in this here playground." How would you react? That was the state of mind of Iraqis and a lot of the Muslim world the day the statue fell in Baghdad.