No Wars In '04?
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
Insight Magazine | September 16, 2003
On the eve of the second anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush offered the country a visionary, courageous and correct assessment of the progress of the war on terror - and his strategy for waging and winning it.
One particularly noteworthy passage in the president's address televised to the nation on Sept. 7 was his characterization of the high stakes involved in this global conflict:
"For America, there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 - to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities."
Unfortunately, this presidential affirmation of U.S. policy geared toward fighting the terrorists and their state sponsors on others' soil rather than our own is at risk of being undermined by recent actions the president has allowed to be taken in his name.
Pre-eminent among these was the decision announced recently that Secretary of State Colin Powell had been authorized by Bush to seek a U.N. Security Council mandate for postwar Iraq. At best, the effect was to signal the president's recognition that his U.S.-led liberation had failed and could only be legitimated - and salvaged - if those who had opposed it (in particular, the French, Germans, Russians, Syrians, Chinese and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan) were placated with U.S. concessions leading to new military and/or political arrangements. At worst, the signal was the United States was preparing, once again, to bail out on a difficult and costly international mission.
Matters were made worse by the coincidence of this apparent volte-face with several others. For example, Powell pointed recently to the fact that talks about North Korea's nuclear-weapons programs had taken place in the context of the six-party "framework" as evidence that the United States successfully was containing the danger that Pyongyang soon will be able to wield - exporting the ultimate weapons of mass destruction. This claim rang all the more hollow for it being accompanied by reports that the Bush administration had decided to revert to the Clinton policy of giving Kim Jong Il financial and other rewards before North Korea demonstrably abandoned its nuclear ambitions.
There also was the decision to back away from a resolution that would have put the other imminent nuclear threat - that posed by Islamofascist Iran - before the U.N. Security Council for urgent action. Similarly, with the exception of periodic warnings from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about Syrian contributions to instability in Iraq, the Bush administration seems to have decided to give Damascus a pass.
Then there is Saudi Arabia. As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was scheduled to demonstrate in yet another congressional hearing on Sept. 10, the kingdom continues to contribute vast sums and cannon fodder to the terrorist organizations we are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. Yet, the Bush administration's party line remains that Riyadh is "cooperating" fully with Washington and is a reliable partner in the war on terror.
In much the same see-no-evil vein, Powell actually declared last week that "U.S. relations with China are the best they have been since President [Richard] Nixon's first visit" in 1972. This despite evidence that the Communist Chinese remain very much the "strategic competitors" the Bush administration confronted upon taking office. This is thanks to, among other things, their continuing nuclear buildup and proliferation, threats on Taiwan, life support for North Korea, trade-devastating currency manipulations and strategic mischief-making in both our own hemisphere and elsewhere.
How can one square the seeming disconnect between the firm and robust things Bush says and what his administration actually is doing on so many fronts - a disconnect unlikely to go unnoticed by our enemies?
A possible - and deeply worrying - explanation is that the president is heeding the counsel reportedly advanced of late by his political handlers. Published accounts say the most influential of these, White House adviser Karl Rove, has warned that there must be "no more wars" for the remainder of Bush's term. Grover Norquist, allowed by Rove to portray himself as a close ally, has opined publicly that "[Wars] are expensive and a drain politically. They are not political winners." According to Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, it follows that if Bush persists in engaging in them, he could doom himself to being a one-term president.
Further evidence that the Bush administration now is following what might be called the "No More War in '04" strategy was obtained last week, when an unnamed senior official told a reporter that the North Koreans could "breathe easy because we aren't going to do anything to them for 14 months."
As Bush noted in his Sept. 7 speech, however, the alternative to our being on offense against our terrorist enemies and those who shelter, arm or otherwise support them is to be on defense. Just because we find war to be inconvenient or a "drain politically" does not mean we can avoid fighting them. It simply means we likely will wind up having to wage them, in the president's words, "again on our own streets, in our own cities."
If Bush wishes to be taken seriously - either by our foes or the American electorate - he would be well-advised to make clear that there is no daylight between his rhetoric and his policies concerning the war on terror. After all, at stake is not only his presidency but the national security. http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9859
posted on 09/17/2003 12:37:44 AM PDT
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
On the airwaves: more voices of America
It was 2 pm in Washington, Nov. 18, 1996, prime time for evening listeners and viewers in Tehran. A brand new television studio was being launched at the Voice of America (VOA), the largest and only global US publicly funded broadcast network. For several years, Persian-language TV host Ahmed Baharloo had been on VOA radio, and his weekly call-in program, Roundtable With You, was widely heard in Iran. Now, with a newly established satellite TV link to rooftops throughout the Islamic Republic, would the program be seen as well?
This was the hour of reckoning. The anticipation in the control room was palpable, crowded as it was with VOA radio and television staff. The switchboard lit up as radio call after call came in. The expert in the studio was a Persian-speaking specialist in television satellite reception, and some of those present began to wonder if his expertise really would be needed.
At precisely half past the hour, a caller in Tehran named Mehrdad phoned in. For the first time, he explained, he could see Baharloo having listened to him on the radio for years. The control room erupted in thunderous applause. VOA had entered the multimedia age. Baharloo told his caller that he would mail him a prize, since Mehrdad was the first viewer of the VOA Persian Service. No need to send me a prize, the viewer interjected; Youve just given me the greatest gift of all!
Within a few weeks, the TV calls were matching or exceeding those on radio, and the government in Iran confiscated 1,700 satellite dishes. But with a video footprint covering most of the country, it was all in vain. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it a few months later: The Voice of America has a Farsi call-in show in which Iranians from all over the country telephone Washington, long distance, just to chat about their problems. They are knocking at the worlds door. This past summer, VOA Persian launched the latest in a series of expansions. Now it sends daily TV transmissions to Iran.
The pioneering program seven years ago foreshadowed the great Middle East media revolution of the late 1990s and the post-Sept. 11, 2001 years. As the Iraq war demonstrated, television has emerged as the primary source of information in the Arab world, Iran and beyond. Among international broadcasters, a stampede is under way to capitalize on this. In the words of Arab-American scholar Hisham Sharabi, relatively new non-government Arab TV networks are an important catalyst in what he sees as a possible transformation in the Arab political order.
How did this happen? In 1996, Qatars Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani began to fund Al-Jazeera television. Uniquely, the ruler insisted it was to reflect expressions of opinion by opposition as well as established regimes throughout the region a marked departure from the practice of state-controlled Arab media at the time. Provocative, irreverent, subversive was the way analyst Rym Ayadat of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro described the station. Al-Jazeera did break the mold.
It soon was replicated in style and substance throughout the Gulf region: Abu Dhabi TV was modernized and made news its primary suit with vivid, on-scene reportage. On the eve of the Iraq war last winter, the Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcast Center in London joined in by launching Al-Arabiya TV, while Iran inaugurated its Arabic-language network Al-Alam.
Despite the proliferation of these new indigenous networks, the United States and France are planning to launch international Arabic-language television networks. The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the VOA and other American overseas outlets, has announced it will introduce an around-the-clock television service later this year or in early 2004. The start-up cost is projected at $62 million, with annual operating expenses of approximately $37 million. Congress is still debating legislation to cover about half of the initial costs, but staff is being hired and the new Middle East Television Network (METN) seems to be well under way.
In France, a parliamentary commission last May unanimously recommended establishing next year a full-time news channel broadcasting across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in French, English and Arabic. Unlike the US stand-alone METN, it would rely heavily on material produced by the established French global network, Radio France International. It would be staffed by 200 journalists at an annual cost of $93-116 million. As an insight into French thinking, the commission said that Al-Jazeera offered proof that what it called Anglo-American cultural imperialism could be broken.
The principal question, of course, is: Can the new non-Arab international broadcast television outlets succeed in entering an already crowded and popular souq of news and ideas? Undoubtedly, this will depend on the content of their programs and production values and primarily on whether or not viewers find that the new networks offer solid information unavailable elsewhere. One thing seems certain: entertainment television may work in attracting some youthful viewers, but it will not appeal to elites or serious advocates of political reform in the Arab world.
The experience of the US-funded Radio Sawa, which replaced VOA Arabic 18 months ago, is instructive. Radio Sawa, a pop music station with a fast-paced headline service and occasional stringer reports and chats, attracted large numbers of youthful listeners in Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE. A survey by a London firm, however, indicated that during the Iraq war listeners of all ages turned away from the station or rated it far below other Arabic services as a news source. In a post-Sept. 11 world, where the situations in Iran, Afghanistan, and on the Israeli-Palestinian front are so tense, viewers in the Arab world who count will expect solid content, reportage and insightful analysis if the new international TV outlets are to compete.
Hisham Sharabi has pointed out that Arab TV is increasingly characterized by candid, academic discussions on history, economics and literature. He noted that talk shows, especially those dealing with womens issues, have tackled problems and ideas hardly ever aired in Arab media in the past. In addition, there were frank critiques of the new Arab TV outlets within the Arab world in the weeks following the Iraq war.
The need for informed, interactive debate on the airwaves of the Middle East has never been greater than today, and international broadcasters have the potential, still, of offering valuable perspectives from abroad. Last January, the US Broadcasting Board revived the former VOA Arabic website, which now receives more than 170,000 site visits a day and is linked to other websites in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It highlights the latest news and VOA reportage from the Middle East and other regions, provides English lessons in Arabic and American press roundups and historical vignettes. An editor of Egypts Al-Ahram daily e-mailed that it is the first site he visits every day.
This kind of crucible of thought is a vital service to users in the post Sept. 11 world. As US Librarian of Congress James Billington said a few years ago: Democracy is a fire in the minds of men. That fire feeds on constant communication, back and forth
a sharing of information, ideas, skills and experience.
Alan L. Heil Jr., former VOA deputy director, served as a foreign correspondent for the station in Beirut, Cairo and Athens from 1965-1971. His book, Voice of America: A History, was published by Columbia University Press this past summer. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/17_09_03_d.asp
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