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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Getting results

Just how does the Pentagon conduct its PR exercises? It takes skill and millions of dollars in the Middle East and Central Asia to contribute to a fall in America's international standing. Iraq, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, torture, Abu Ghraib and "rendition" may have something to do with it, as well.

Who ya gonna call? The Rendon Group is the answer.

19 Comments:

Blogger Pete's Blog said...

AL

Countries have used PR and waged politically conscious military operations since the Trrojan wars. What else is new?

The money received by Rendon is surprisingly small. You may have heard of the US Information Service, and the (CIA's) Voice of America whose budgets go into billions.

Re Afganistan (specifically). How do you expect the US should have responded to having 3,000+ of its people murdered in a day? Wasn't seeking out bin Laden and international trainee terrorists in Afghanistaan a good idea? Do you expect the US to await a peace committee decision?

Methinks you see the US as less than wonderful and I don't make that criticm lightly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:22:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Of course, govts have used PR to sell their message for ever. Nothing new there. It is, however, interesting to see how a rogue superpower tries to convince oppressed people in the Middle East that they come in peace etc, when evidence is huge to counter that view.
I didn't support the Afghan invasion. And I don't see the US as a liberated nation, sorry to disappoint.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:24:00 am  
Blogger boredinHK said...

AL,
Big call on supporting the Taliban .
This assumes you don't support them being attacked so what was going to happen to the Afghans who didn't agree with their rule?
Please don't suggest they had to wait for an election.
Did you support the Pakistani sercet services and their efforts to put the Taliban in power though?
It would be difficult to condemn the US and not Pakistan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:33:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Indeed...Ant, serious question: what do you think the US should have done post-9/11? The words, "thank you sir, may I have another!" come to mind...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:22:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"what do you think the US should have done post-9/11?"

How about: not engage in vengeful, mildlessly inhumane and totally unnecessary invasions on behalf of a bloodlusting electorate (oh, and for a certain oil pipeline)?

How about: go and get the terrorists the old fashioned ways (on-the-ground intelligence, which the US govt de-funded; 'go-in-and-grab' operations, and so on and so forth). And then bring them to an international court, try them for crimes against humanity, for all the world to see. You don't have to destroy an entire country and then install a former US oil company consultant as President to do THAT. ....Or do you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:49:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Oh Gawd, the oil pipeline thing...be real, al-Edward, if the US went going around and grabbing terrorists in other countries, you and Anty and the rest of the crew would be shrieking about violations of sovereignty, illegal kidnappings, "disappearings", etc.

And what international court are you suggesting they be brought up before? Something UN-based, where a vast majority of members are dictators who love to stick a thumb in the eye of the US? The crimes were committed on US soil, US federal court would be fine.

Of course, it was this sort of incrementalist law-enforcement approach to fighting terror through the Clinton years (WTC 1, Khobar Towers, African embassies, USS Cole, etc etc etc) that continued to embolden the enemy, who thought the US was too weak to fight back.

Also, you avoid BoredInHK's quite legitimate query re: the Taliban. Is it a case of elections for me, but not for thee?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 1:08:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

On the contrary Shab, I think the US's inability to control the uprising in Iraq has shown them to be pretty impotent.

The oil pipeline was definitely significant. The Taliban were being wooed in by Unocal. They were told that their future was a choice between a land paved with gold or paved with bombs, depending on how co-operative they woudl be with regard to the pipeline deal.

Much of this ties into Dick Cheney's energy taskforce, the documents of which he has kept classified. It's well known that Enron figured prominently in that taskforce and that the vability of their recently purchased power plant in India depended on cheap gas from piped in from the Caspian sea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 1:29:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Addamo, actually, many of the reports I see suggest that the situation with the insurgency is getting better, and that the Iraqis are more and more able to hold their own...but that's another debate...in the meantime, won't any brave soldiers of the left suggest an alternate way to handle the existence of a loathsome regime like the Taliban?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 1:47:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

That's become a diffciult topic. The US has got itself between a rock and a hard place. With the world watching, they have to allow the Iraqi's to choose their own leadership, while risking the country descending into Sharia law.

The only thing that can stop this, and keep the country from fragmenting, might be another strongman. Hardly ideal, but what's the option?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 1:55:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Addamo_01,
the pakistani secret service aided and supplied the Taliban. This is interference in another country and some suggest it was to exploit the afghans and use them as proxies to fight their war in Kashmir. Do you think this is acceptable ?
The Taliban was also given a period of time to surrender the followers of Bin Laden to the US but chose to give them a 2 finger salute.
To reply to Edward's " How about: go and get the terrorists the old fashioned ways (on-the-ground intelligence, which the US govt de-funded; 'go-in-and-grab' operations, and so on and so forth). And then bring them to an international court, try them for crimes against humanity, for all the world to see. " The Clinton era sowed this whirlwind . The use of clandestine forces had been wound back for years and it isn't surprising that some thought the US had gone soft. Big miscalculation.
My last question is regarding sharia law. After the upcoming elections in Iraq if the politicians support this as a valid part of the legal system why are you concerned ? The choice is for the Iraqis to make. The war was about regime change not domestic issues and why should outsiders be concerned about this particular issue?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 2:36:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Boredlink,

No I do not consider Pakistans conduct acceptable. This country has a lot to answer for AFAIK. Remember that the the of he Paksitan SS was in Washington the morning of 911, and it was he who arranged for US$100,000 to be wired to Attah prior to the attacks.

The US's use of clandestine operations is littered with a very dark history. The legacy they left behind in South Aemrica amoutns to genocide. Clandestine activity on the name of national defense is not the same as defense of US interests, which is the way it is largely utilised.

I have no personal issue with Sharia law in Iraq, though it wouldn't bode well for Iraqi unity. The Sunni and the Kurds would not accept it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 3:06:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Iraqi unity ?
Just doesn't roll of the tongue does it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 3:59:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Terrorism is asymetric war by other means.

In a situation where terrorists have pledged to fight to the death for a cause (eg by suicide bombing) shooting them first is a legitimate wartime response. They would do the same to the soldiers fighting for a state. Trials sound nice, but not in war, in a warzone.

This is well understood by those who govern, of most political shades - right and left.

While I think the invasion of Iraq was an unjust, oil grab, the invasion of Afghanistan was mainly to kill terrorists and in that country the US was justified.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 4:20:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Yes...while I think people can have honest disagreements about going into Iraq, Afghanistan seems a pretty open-and-shut case to me.

In terms of calling terrorism asymetric war by other means, though, I worry that you give it a bit of philosophical cover - morally legitimate war seeks to minimize civilian deaths and hit military targets; terrorism specifically seeks to kill ordinary folk.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 4:56:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, speak to a few Afghani-Aussies, mate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 10:42:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Shab

We seem to agree about Afghanistan.

But I'd say that so little war is morally legitimate that the distinction between state organised war fighting and terrorism for a cause is often blurred. Civilians are the main casualties of both.

This is not to say that I see any moral equivalency concerning would-be terrorists contemplating action in Australia. ASIO etc should hunt down the bastards and, as this is not a warzone, put them on trial.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:01:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Shab,

I don't know how anyone can call war morally legitimate and that it seeks to minimize civilian deaths and hit military targets; terrorism specifically seeks to kill ordinary folk.

Are terms like shock and awe or crative destruction meant to be social programs of some kind?

Aggressive wasr is state sponsored terrorism. The fact that we give it legitimacy goes to the heart of our sense of moral exceptionalism and sense of entitlement.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 12:27:00 am  
Blogger nick_yzf said...

My understanding of the 'negotiations' that took place after the attrocity of Sep 11 is that the U.S. demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban then asked for some evidence of Osama Bin Ladens involvement in the crime. That's where the negotiations ended. Obviously the audacity of asking for evidence before handing over suspects was too much for the U.S. administration. Would the Taliban have handed him over? We'll never know as 'negotiations' never got that far. But the invasion of afghanistan was definately a success in terms of the administration being seen to be doing something and killing uncounted numbers of afghanis. What a 'just' war....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 12:01:00 pm  
Blogger J F said...

Anheuser Busch spent over US$500 million on advertising in 2004, with over US$50 million spent on adverstising directed at Hispanics alone. Sort of makes the money given to Rendon seem like small peanuts, now don't it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 4:02:00 pm  

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