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21 May 2007

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Arnie

Interesting and informative post. Who sets the agenda for the 24/7 media? Why, it's nothing sinister, just the free market. The public understands AQ (for sure) and has been taught that Syria too is terrorist. Anything more complex than one or the other would bore the public and, therefore, not sell ads.

chimneyswift

The Russians I knew in the mid-90's always liked to joke about American's attitudes towards propaganda. "Everyone here thinks that there is no propaganda. They think the Soviet Union fell because it depended on propaganda all the time. Don't you think maybe there is better propaganda here, and that is why the U.S. won the Cold War?"

Of course it helps that we've actually got food, and we're not trying to feed people with just our propaganda, but I do think they may have been right that our propaganda system functions much better than theirs did.

stanley Henning

All this is coalescing in my mind. I think the Sunnis in Iraq must also must be receiving considerable support from someome -- possibly from some of our "allies" in the region. Otherwise how could they possibly keep up as they have so far?

John Hammer

Didn't big Assad blow up a whole city full of Sunni militants? I'm not shocked that the MSM won't or can't put this into context. They are attuned of the trivial and blind to the substanstial.

Matthew

Col: Is the media stupid or do they just not care anymore? The latter is the more frightening development. Facts often are inconvenient. And often uncomfortable.

I watched CNN's John King interview Ron Paul yesterday. It was obvious that the substance of Paul's crtique of the 9/11 Mythology was irrelevant. Instead, Paul was questioned politically (in the Soviet sense). Will we soon be critiquing people for being right too early?

johnf

>Can we take 24/7 news seriously?

http://movies.crooksandliars.com/TDS-NILF.mov

João Carlos

"Are they just ignorant or are they complicit?"

I vote complicit...

Abu Sinan

I am glad that you pointed out that the same people the US is supporting in Lebanon are the same people that are knee deep in it with these people.

Hariri, "The Lesser" as I like to call him, and his supporters have been working with these guys for a very long time. Money and arms have been given to these same people.

It is not just Palestinians involved in this however, many members of this group are foriegn from places like Saudi, Tunisia, Egypt and the like.

It just seems whenever some "unity" is needed in Lebanon it is gained by pounding on the Palestinians. It is kind of a sad group/national sport in Lebanon.

As to Hizb'Allah and the whole representation thing, I agree with them. The whole "confessional" set up to the current Lebanese government structure is profoundly unfair and undemocratic.

Who, in their right mind, would set up a system where a group or groups of people are guaranteed positions and numbers in government based on their religion and what group they belong to without population being taken into account.

The Lebanese Shi'a may be a majority in the country, yet there is no way to know because the powers that be refuse to allow a census to be taken.

People should be elected to office and hold office based on elector votes, not some behind the scenes power-dealing to decide what religious group gets what seats and how many.

This problem is only going to get worse as the Shi'a population grows.

For me this is hardly about unity, this is all about a government in trouble trying to "rally the people" by kicking the crap out of their favourite punching bags.

I have never bought the old idea that giving citizenship and rights to Palestinian refugees and their offspring delegitimises the Palestinian struggle. Far from it, it would do nothing more than show the rest of the world that the Arab countries are willing to put their actions where their words are and treat their Palestinian residents like human beings.

As to who is responsible for the the zealots? My money lays with The Lesser Hariri and those around him along with Saudi money.

J

Colonel,

let's box up all the u.s. mainstream media cheese-heads, including their propagandists like blitzer, roberts, etc. and send them to walk point in all the mess. watch how quickly they doo doo their propagandist drawers.

shepherd

Colonel Lang,

This seems to dovetail into the last discussion... the media's ignorance or complicity.

One piece of propaganda that has been sold very well, apparently, is that terrorism is an ideology unto itself rather than a tactic. As a result, whenever "terrorists" of whatever stripe arise, "state sponsors of terrorism" like Syria will leap forward to support them. This case is the reductio ad absurdum of that idea.

Leila

Extremely useful post, Col. Lang, thank you. I am blogging it. I anticipate a spike in visitors to my blog looking for information and context - your analysis is very necessary, and I will urge people to read it.

jonst

A lot of questions...no answers from this corner. The timing of the fighting, coming as it does on the heels of the resolution vote last week has to, at a minimum, raise eyebrows. Ok, so what? May be nothing more than a coincidence. Still, it is my understanding now that only the 'great powers' can stop the Tribunal from going forward. i.e. Russia. Interesting then to note that the bombing target in Verdun today was the 'Russian Cultural Center', according to some press reports. As to Syria supporting (or anyone else, for that matter)groups at cross purposes, I would argue that such cognitive dissidence has been a hallmark of the struggles in Lebanon, going back to 1976, at least. That does not mean such a dynamic is at work here and now. But I would not rule it out completely. The MSM is clueless in situations like this. Too many players, too much history to consider,to complex, too many hidden agendas, including the Israeli's one for them to work with. Even if they were so inclined to do their homework in the first place. Whatever they will report one can bet it will be the lowest common denominator.

cynic librarian

Beyond the obvious remark that the press follows the Israeli line on Lenanon, ie, all Moslems/Arabs are evil, there's not much else to be said.

I guess you could talk about the sentimental attachment that most Americans have for Israel and the politicians' toeing the AIPAC line.

For an insight into the way that think tanks cook the news and feed it in various states of macerated goo, you might wish to take a gander at this description of the white board to TV screen description.

There's also this.

And this.

Nabil

'Al-Qaeda' does not just refer to the organization, in the American media it is used as a synonym for Sunni extremist ideology. Lebanese have a more nuanced knowledge of the flavors of Islamist, extremist organizations, so if you ask us 'Are they Al-Qaeda?', well...maybe, maybe not. Who cares? They act like them and believe the same things, and actually they've pledged allegiance to them. What does it matter to me whether or not they write letters to or get money from Al-Qaeda proper?

There are other 'shadowy groups' in Lebanon, like Jund el-Sham, which aren't Al-Qaeda, but may as well be.

Whether Syria supports them or not is open to debate. Fat7 il-Intifada and the PFLP-GC are both Palestinian organizations supported militarily by Syria. That is fact. The group called Fat7 il-Islam, which is currently fighting the Lebanese army, split from Fat7 il-Intifada. They seem to have plenty of money, so they are getting support from somewhere.

Things are not as straightforward as 'These are Sunni, these are Shia, you can't support both of them'. You can. Syria supports Hizbullah on the one hand, and Hamas and other hardline Sunni groups on the other.

tons15

Colonel, I believe there was some info in your blog about secret shippments of weapons on the coast of Lebanon - this was about 8 or 10 weeks ago and you sounded like Kassandra that this does not bode well. You were so correct.
Is my recollection correct?

Sean-Paul

Col. Lang I am not saying this to be sarcastic or rude. You know I have nothing but respect for you and your opinion. But in answer to your final question I would answer you thusly: I would encourage you to rent Outfoxed. The answer to your question, by and large, is Roger Ailes.

swerv21

colonel:

i have been tracking this story since it broke on sunday. it isn't just 24 hour news in the u.s.- seems like every news source has an agenda.

the gulf papers took pains to point out that there was 'internal' fighting going on- and yet numerous saudis, yemenis, pakistanis and so on have been among the dead.

lbc in lebanon carried many quotes from numerous factional leaders, politicians etc. pointing the finger at syria.

the chorus of 'leading' questions was echoed in our own outlets: the times, bloomberg, etc.

i did ultimately find one source that was able to report the news without the 'overlay'.

chosun ibo. korea.


Will

the skinny on this in debka rings true

"After founding the Palestinian Fatah Uprising last year, Syrian intelligence discovered that the leader they had appointed, Mussa al Alama, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem known as Abu Khaled, had betrayed them. He had enlisted 300 members, recruited in Damascus’ refugee camps, to al Qaeda.

"They arrested him on Dec. 21, 2006, accusing him of misusing Syrian intelligence funds allocated to pay and train Palestinians to fight in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. He had spent the money instead on opening an al Qaeda center in central Damascus. This center passed the trained men to Lebanon instead of Palestinian territory, together with Iraqi, Saudi, Yemeni and Sudanese fighters from Iraq.

"On Dec. 10, 2006, DEBKAfile reported a esoteric ceremony that took place on Nov. 27, at the Nahr al Bared camp which is now under Lebanese army assault.

"An armed Palestinian faction ceremonially changed its name from Fatah-Intifada (Fatah Uprising) to Fatah al-Islam. At the ceremony, its members showed off their new Taliban-style beards and said they had come to realize that the only way to achieve Palestinian goals was “by killing all the Jews and their crusader allies.” "

robt willmann

As I have said before, the large television, radio, and print media organizations in the U.S. are actively and intentionally promoting the gangster foreign policy which is causing so much havoc and destruction.

It is difficult for those of us who believe in certain ideals about this country to recognize and let go of the myth that the consolidated media in the U.S. is seeking objectively to report news and ferret out injustice and investigate and expose governmental misconduct.

But once you release that myth, and look at what appears in the mass media as possibly being propaganda, you can quite easily spot it.

Matthew in his comment above mentioned the CNN Late Edition interview with Congressman Ron Paul yesterday, Sunday, May 20. I made it a point to tape that brief segment and family members and I watched it several times to evaluate the positively blatant attempt to smear Representative Paul, who, by the way, is a physician who has actually practiced medicine. Paul blocked the hatchet attack quite well, but it was a good, yet disgusting, example of intentional media propaganda.

If you think back a few months, you can see that the media oligopoly has been and is promoting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as Democrats and John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as Republicans in the presidential race. As another example, look at the flattering Newsweek magazine cover of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

I recently pointed out on this weblog facts about the proposed Iraq Oil and Gas Law that you don't see in the New York Times or Washington Post newspapers. Their articles on that subject, which intentionally mislead the public by omission, would be hilarious if they weren't so scandalous.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2007/05/a_dayton_proces.html

Although doing this exercise is unsettling and unpleasant, it is useful to do and helps explain how easily this country was misled into the Iraq War II.

State controlled media, as in China and Cuba today and as was in the former Soviet Union, and a media oligarchy and oligopoly, as in Mexico and here in the U.S.A., are the same thing, because an oligarchy is dependent on a powerful central government to allow its creation and to protect it. There can be rare
exceptions, such as in
Venezuela today where the central government split from the media oligarchy.

The U.S. oligopoly was permitted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed by President Bill Clinton; by rulings of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by mostly 3-2 votes; and by no antitrust enforcement by the Department of Justice and its Antitrust Division.

Tracing how this insidious process happened over only a brief period of time is another story.

As always, old sayings are wise:

1. You have freedom of the press if you own one.

2. The owner of the media outlet controls the content.

Anyone who thinks that if Al Gore enters the 2008 presidential race and wins, there will be antitrust action against the media oligopoly, please guess again.

The negotiating place in the Clinton administration for the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the office of Vice President Al Gore.

kimmy

If Israel and Palestein would only go back to the Oslo agreement all problems would be solved.
But too much land has been stolen by the Israelis, and they don't wan't to give it back.

b

Published on March 5, 2007 Seymour Hersh wrote:

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south.
[...]
Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, [..] Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.
BTW: when will the U.S. have finished its new airbase in Kleiaat, north Lebanon?

Chris Marlowe

This reminds me of the famous comment of President Bush when told that there were Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq. He replied "I thought that they were all Muslims?"

Very reassuring.

The MSM media is dumbing down America to the point where anyone who has a beef with America can be accused of being allied with al-Qaeda. Who cares about all those little historical details anyway? Henry Ford said that history is bunk.

Under this definition:

Castro--Has ties with al-Qaeda

Chavez--Has ties with al-Qaeda

Putin--Potential ties with al-Qaeda

Of course, never mind about Muqtada al-Sadr and Nasrallah. They don't like the US, so they must be al-Qaeda allies too.

Hey, if you're not with us, against us. That's what the Great Decider said himself. What more do you need?

And it goes on and on...

pbrownlee

Mencken on the MSM - "The average newspaper, especially of the better sort, has the intelligence of a hillbilly evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of a prohibitionist boob-jumper, the information of a high-school janitor, the taste of a designer of celluloid valentines, and the honor of a police-station lawyer."
(Quoted in Review of The Brass Check, requoted The American Guardian, June 21, 1941)

Seems a bit unfair on janitors and rats...

The "especially of the better sort" is particularly apt - anyone else read Broder on the "courage" of Blair and Bush? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/18/AR2007051801709.html
(Not to be read on a full stomach.)

Mo

As usual, a wonderfully erudite and learned post on the Middle East.

The Siniora govt. played with fire arming these guys and are now getting the obvious burns. One important fact missing from the post is the coincidence not with the chapter 7 resolution but with last weeks visit of the US governor general of Lebanon, David Welch who announced that Lebanon's main 2 goals were the election of a new President and getting rid of the AQ linked extremist groups in the country. That this should happen so soon afterwards is unlikely to be mere coincidence, esp. as the justification for such an operation was a bank robbery that reportedly netted them the handsome sum of $1500!

3 points of contention with the post though Colonel, sorry.
As much as I find it hilarious that the Syrians are blamed for everything bar the extinction of the dinosaurs by the US and Lebanese administration, to say the Syrian regime cannot support both ignores Syria's quite pathalogical duplicity in Lebanon. I am not suggesting that they are supporting these guys but these are the same people that supported just about every team in the Lebanese civil war, and in fact helped perpetuate the war by coming to the aid of whoever looked like they were about to be wiped out. The Syrian govt. has always backed all the sides so that at the end of the day they could "own" whoever was in charge.

Second point; I have to strongly disagree with the assertion that Hizballah is virulently anti-Sunni. They have neither said nor done anything that I know of to even remotely suggest this to be true. I don't understand how they could have Sunni allies, like you say, and be virulently anti-Sunni. All my Sunni friends (not to mention my Sunni mother) are some of their most ardent supporters.

Finally, the Palestinians. The actual number of the Palestinians in the country is closer to the 350,000 mark. But I agree with you entirely that people who have no prospects are dangerous. The Lebanese only need to look at Gaza to see that. However, like I have said before, the absorbtion of such a large number of people into a weak state and a weak economy, may possibly lead to a situation or enviornment that is worse than what they have now.
They are not going back to Palestine (proper) and a Palestinian state is a long way off. A humane and just solution does need to be found for these peeple or they will continue to be used as political scapegoats.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"who sets the agenda for the content of 24/7 news.">

A difficult and complex analysis indeed that must place working journalists within the larger context of "media concentration" for which see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership
http://www.globalissues.org/HumanRights/Media/Corporations/Owners.asp
http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Issue=OWNER&Language=EN

Trends in broadcast journalism:
http://www.ips.uiuc.edu/ilint/mt/iir/online/2006/11/the_foreign_correspondent_in_a.html

For professional org views/print see:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/index.jsp

For a brief period of three years, I was once a working journalist/print, and still write free lance pieces on occasion. From my experience, the answer to the question posed (per print media not broadcast) would include: ignorance, lack of training and expertise in international relations and military affairs, self-censorship for career reasons, and simply going along to get along. No "vast conspiracies" at the working journalist level.

As far as I know, and I am out of date on this, journalism schools have not often offered extensive courses in foreign reporting/being a foreign correspondent. When I checked this with colleagues in the late 1990s, I believe it was said that Ohio and Columbia offered a course specifically on foreign reporting.

At a professional seminar about a decade ago, I sat at the featured speaker's (David Binder, New York Times) table at lunch and posed a question to him. "From your experience, what is the major problem we have in covering US foreign policy," I said. "We aren't aggressive enough," he said. Fair enough.

How can young journalists just starting out be best prepared for serious reporting on US foreign policy? I suggest an apprenticeship with someone of the highest professional quality and integrity like a Knute Royce, (not unknown to this forum).

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