Category Archives: media

Press freedom

Decision time

It’s coming soon now.  Next week we will have the votes in Congress that determine to a large extent whether the US attacks Syria or not.  The administration has certainly been trying its best to stir up support both at home and abroad without a great deal of success.  The media seems to be behind Senator McCain’s pro-war, pro-rebel stand to a great extent, but the larger public keeps saying, “no”.  Little of the mainstream media is skeptical of this possible effort, and the reports that cast doubt on Administration propaganda are mostly ignored.  If the President decided to  wait for a Congressional decision, he doesn’t seem to have wanted to use it to change his mind, which I hoped for at one point.  This morning’s New York Times talks of air raids by US and French planes as well as the missiles to “degrade” Assad’s ability even more.  That would mean even more civilian casualties, death, and destruction than there has been already.  I fail to see how such a plan would deter the Assad regime from the path it is already on.  If it is true, that the regime feels itself as backed into a dire corner between life and death, as I believe it does, it is bound to choose its own survival by whatever means.  Nothing much that the West can do aside from wiping the slate clean as in Iraq, will have much effect.  All sides in this fight have been incredibly brutal, and to pick one as the incarnation of evil is to misread the people involved and the facts on the ground.

The article also contains this statement:

“They are being pulled in two different directions,” a senior foreign official involved in the discussions said Thursday. “The worst outcome would be to come out of this bruising battle with Congress and conduct a military action that made little difference.”

I think that’s what’s likely to happen anyway, no matter what John McCain and the hawks say. The President has not seemed to want another war, and has tried to reassure people about no boots on the ground.   That doesn’t mean he can’t be dragged into more agression.  Once begun, military action of any kind has been rather self-perpetuating.  If the military action makes little difference, it might cause an uproar here at home among the war party, but it will not change the ultimate outcome in Syria, even if there are cries for more attacks.  The Syrians themselves have to sort out what is to become of them.  Whoever or whatever caused the deaths by poison gas, our entry into a local civil war will not change the ultimate resolution on the ground.  Morality has nothing to do with this other than as a propaganda tool.

Nothing we did in Iraq turned the country into that shining example of democracy that President Bush promised.  It only served to make most Iraqis detest us for the foreseeable future.

Secrecy and Fear

I’ve just finished reading Peter Maass’ fine piece in the New York Times on Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden.  It is at once terrifying and awe inspiring.  It is also a fairly accurate diagnosis of what the fear mongering of the Bush era and since has done to whatever was left of American civil liberties.  Government suppression of information about its questionable true activities have reached some kind of a nadir in a long history of secrecy and coverups beginning with Vietnam, and perhaps long before then.  That American citizens should be forced to go to such extreme lengths to provide the public exposure of government wrongdoing is very scary indeed.  It makes me feel as though I should be investigating ways of securing myself against the kinds of intrusion that Poitras and Greenwald have been subjected to, as well as the much more severe retaliation against Snowden and Manning and who knows how many others.  The brutality of war has infected all the security branches of our government, to the point at which the government itself becomes the enemy of every citizen who wishes to live in a democratic country that values the freedoms of speech, assembly, and of the press that it brags about to the world but does not practice.

And as an aside, the embassy shut downs have been called off, except for Yemen, and not one thing has happened to any of our embassies or foreign service personnel.  How strange!