Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Democracy as Deception

The “Los Angeles Times,” ran a piece on Wednesday, Nov 30, detailing the Pentagon’s paying Iraqi newspapers “to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.”

It can be found here:,0,3132219.story?track=hpmostemailedlink

The revelation, Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi report, “comes as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics [and that’s a good one], including one workshop titled ‘The Role of Press in a Democratic Society.’ Standards vary widely at Iraqi newspapers, many of which are shoestring operations.”

Now they have something in common with “The L.A. Times.”

Read former book review editor Steve Wasserman’s piece to see what the scribe is talking about:

Digression is the mother’s milk of bloggers.

Back to the piece. One outraged and anonymous Pentagon source allegedly told the reporters, “Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we’re breaking the first principles of democracy when we’re doing it.”

Of course, Mr. Anonymous, you broke those principles by launching an unprovoked invasion (technically).

The (p)resident talks a great and folksy hooey when waxing poetic about liberty and such. the scribe has never bought it, suspicious of those brandishing democratic credentials while rising to power by stopping a vote.

The rest is all bad history of which this story is just another example.

Of course, it might be alright in some instances that undemocratic means are used to achieve democratic ends, but the report leads us to believe the content of the articles in question does not reflect any actual sentiment in the market the papers are serving.

That’s how they got found out. Another unnamed guy said, “Stuff would show up in the Iraqi press, and I would ask, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ It was clearly not something indigenous Iraqi press would have conceived of on their own'.”

On top of skirting the rules of civil democracy, the strategy is oafish. Your $3.5 billion in war funding per month at work.

To teach democracy, you have to be democracy.

Meanwhile, the (p)resident is presented as having “forcefully” proposed the same defeat-by-slow-death he has for months now.

And it’s very nice that sentiment has changed on the war and that a humiliated press has taken off the gloves where the administration’s concerned. Still, there’s not nearly enough going on to stop it before another thousand men and women die.

The administration now knows it has lost the critical mass of support needed to justify the extraordinary expenditure the conflict requires, but pulling the plug and turning the massive machine around will take time and, you guessed it, lots more money.

The getting will be good for a little longer because that is the plan.
the highway scribe will read from the novel "Vedette" to the accompaniment of guitarist Omar Torrez on Dec. 15, 8 p.m. at 33 1/3 Books & Gallery Collective, 1200 N. Alvarado St. @ Sunset Blvd.


Stefanie said...

Just one more thing to make me mad about this stupid war. Grrr.

highwayscribery said...

Thanks for visiting Stefanie. One good, attentive reader's worth a thousand wayward cyber-surfers.


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