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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, April 22, 2005

Bits and pieces

Are the Americans keeping a body count in Iraq? Despite denying the fact for years - and Tommy Franks, former head of US Central Command, once saying that the US army "don't do body counts", a requirement under the Geneva Conventions - murdered humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka claimed in a recent essay that the US are in fact keeping a secret tally of Iraqi dead.

Ruzicka: "The statistics demonstrate that the US military can and does track civilian casualties. Troops on the ground keep these records because they recognise they have a responsibility to review each action taken and that it is in their interest to minimise mistakes, especially since winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is a key component of their strategy."

***

CNN has a new President. Jonathan Klein is the man leading the once-mighty cable news network. Media moguls have long explained why progressive voices are so rarely heard on their stations or in their pages. In Australia, for example, there are no truly left commentators/talking heads on television during current affairs programs. We're constantly told that a liberal agenda is running rampant and yet centrists are frequently featured in lieu of progressive guests.

Anyway, back to Klein. During a recent interview on PBS's Charlie Rose Show, Klein explained why liberals are marginalised. Fox News was tapping into a largely "angry white man's" conservatism and then the clanger: "a quote/unquote, 'progressive' or liberal network probably couldn't reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And you know, they don't get too worked up about anything. And they're pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff."

Where to begin with this nonsense? Hundreds of thousands protested the Iraq war, voted against George W. Bush in 2004 (or indeed didn't vote for either Bush or John Kerry) and viewed any number of documentaries critiquing the current administration. Hundreds of campaigns continue across a wide area of activity, including against the "WOT" (War on Terror), Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting explains the hypocrisy: "As for progressives being "pretty morally relativistic," Klein's insult seems misapplied. One could argue that it's the right and not the left that tends to see the killing of civilians as important only if the civilians are of the right nationality, for example, and thinks that torture may be acceptable if the right people are torturing."

Klein's diatribe is yet another reason why the mainstream media is no longer the place to regularly provide perspectives questioning the establishment. Following orthodox doctrine is what most mainstream commentators engage in. It's not called journalism. It's called channelling government propaganda.

***

I'm off to Melbourne again for this Anzac Day long weekend. If you still accept the views of status-quo enforcer Gerard Henderson, who argues that Gallipoli was a noble adventure - "in 1914-18 Australia did not fight another nation's war - then facts will clearly never get in the way of a good yarn. Yet again, our colonial past is ignored or justified. Australia has a history of fighting the wars of the imperial powers. By all means remember the fallen soldiers, but ditch the romanticism. Until Australia forms an independent foreign policy and feels comfortable saying 'NO' to America or Britain, we will continue to be seen as a neo-colonial outpost.

Related to this, blogger Rex in the City explains the possible reason behind John Howard's hesitation in signing ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation:

"By signing this treaty, we would be acceding to the rules of the South East Asian Nuclear Free Zone. The US does not like this zone, and to sign the treaty would put us in a difficult position with the US. We’re a major ally, relying on their nuclear umbrella and we’re not going to upset the applecart."

As Rex rightly says, Australia's embedded journalists are caught asleep at the wheel yet again.

ANYWAY, have a good break and feel free to leave in comments any thoughts related to the following:

1) The day we can expect to see the rise and rise of a Prime Minister with no financial ties to big business and favours to repay when elected;

2) The day we can expect journalists to collectively rebel against the Howard government's increasing restrictions on press freedom (I know I'll waiting a long time for this one!);

3) The day we can expect more than a handful of Arab voices to appear in our mainstream media. After all, we have just invaded and occupied one of them (Iraq) and contributed to the continued occupation of another (Israel). Editors reading this, here are a few suggestions; and

4) The life and times of your long-weekend.

See you Tuesday.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rafe said...

Hello Antony, a few comments:
On 1, I look forward to the day when there is so little intrusion of government into the activities of business (apart from transparent rules and regulations) that it does not matter whether the PM has ties to big business, or to the trade unions or any other special interest group.

On 2, I anticipate the day when journalists report the facts to the best of their ability without fear or favour for any politcal factions.

On 3, I am not sure what this would entail, do we need some kind of affirmative action for Arabs? On the situation in Iraq and Israel, see (2).

On the link to the very intersting piece by Hala Mustafa. She mentioned "the rising trend of socialism associated with liberation movements throughout the world". Well, that turned out to be a bummer didn't it! Time to rediscover classical, non-socialist liberalism?

Saturday, April 23, 2005 9:13:00 am  
Blogger Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

1, 2, 3 and 4

There is only one certainty in life Death, Taxes and Underground Shaggish Political Humour ;-)

Now playing in bloggosphere everywhere: It wasn’t me: GBJab Making a Difference

Saturday, April 23, 2005 9:20:00 am  
Blogger Andjam said...

once saying that the US army "don't do body counts", a requirement under the Geneva Conventions

Care to quote where in the Geneva conventions it says that?

The only time I've heard of any combatant group counting civilian dead as a matter of policy is when the killing of civilians is deliberate.

Related to this, blogger Rex in the City explains the possible reason behind John Howard's hesitation in signing ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation:

C'mon, even the kiwis were reluctant about signing it, with the treaty mentioned in the media several months ago but NZ only signing it recently. Are they in on this nuclear conspiracy?

1) The day we can expect to see the rise and rise of a Prime Minister with no financial ties to big business and favours to repay when elected;

The day when
1a: Elections where the vast majority of funding comes from other sources (and would those sources be pulling strings?)
1b: The end of government regulation or boondoggling
1c: The destruction of capitalism

2) The day we can expect journalists to collectively rebel against the Howard government's increasing restrictions on press freedom (I know I'll waiting a long time for this one!);

If Labor comes into power before any collective revolution, do you expect the "increasing restrictions on press freedom" to decrease?

3) The day we can expect more than a handful of Arab voices to appear in our mainstream media. After all, we have just invaded and occupied one of them (Iraq) and contributed to the continued occupation of another (Israel)

Why just arab voices? What do you have against Kurds and Assyrians and Turkomen and Persians and ...?

Calling Israel an Arab country would be like calling Iraq a Kurdish country. And calling Iraq an arab country would be like calling Australia a White country.

But as far as (insert minority group X here) voices in the media, if possible I'd rather have people of that background becoming opinionators by dint of their own work rather than some sort of tokenism occurring.

That being said, I wouldn't mind Amir Taheri getting some columns in Aussie media.

Sunday, April 24, 2005 12:56:00 am  

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