Sunday, November 27, 2005

The "plan" to bomb Al-Jazeera 

The British press published a story early in the week that claimed that but for Tony Blair's intervention, George Bush would have ordered the bombing of the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera. The story was based on a memo leaked in apparent violation of Britain's Official Secrets Act. According to the tabloid Daily Mirror, which first reported the story, one government source said the alleged threat was "humorous," while another claimed that Bush was "deadly serious." The White House, of course, has refused to respond on the grounds that to do so would "dignify" an "outlandish" accusation.

Hmmm. The old "refuse to respond so as not to dignify" dodge. I'm guessing that he said it, but knowing our Dubya it was almost certainly a joke.

At least some sensible people, even in the Arab press, agree. Al-Jazz, though, is doing what any media organization would do, which is milking the story all the way to the bank (calling for an investigation, asking to meet with Blair, describing the memo as "hugely damaging to Bush"). Given all the attention and audience Al-Jazeera is undoubtedly getting from this non-story, CBS News, no doubt, wishes that Bush would joke about bombing it. Joke, of course, being the critical nuance.

The Arab world, which will believe any depredation about the United States and has for forty years, is going wild. Here, via Sabbah, is but one delightful example of cartoonish blowback:

Various Al-Jazz staff members have started an English-language blog, "Don't Bomb Us - A blog by Al-Jazeera staff members". It is pulling down lots of comments, particularly from Western moonbats. The very first comment in the current top post comes from one "Richard":
To live with conscience in America during these days .. is to know what it was to live, as an appalled citizen under the Nazis in Germany during the holocaust.

America needs a psychiatrist and group therapy and the Bush Administration must be put on trial for war crimes.

Humanity is one family with one heart.

Next thing you know, Bush will be joking about bombing "Richard."

For more reaction from the left, a Daily Kos thread is here. Enjoy.

The issue here, of course, is that Al-Jazeera claims that it has been targeted by the United States before (American bombs allegedly hit Al-Jazz facilities in Afghanistan and Baghdad during the those two invasions). Both Al-Jazz and the Bush haters claim that this new report, if true, would "cast serious doubts" on the Bush administration's claims that those previous incidents were mistakes.

The very idea is absurd. Apart from the rank stupidity of the idea -- which does not entirely dispose of the question since there is rank stupidity done in every war -- anybody who has ever watched a Hollywood movie knows that the order would not come from the President. If the United States were going to bomb Al-Jazz on purpose, you can bet that the people behind the idea wouldn't even tell the President. That's the whole point of plausible deniability.

UPDATE: Just a thought before I head to the airport: This is but another example -- this time in Blair's government rather than Bush's -- of (presumably) unelected bureaucrats deliberately sabotaging the policies of the elected government. Oh, you will cry, this is whistle-blowing! False. Nothing happened here, even if you accept the fairly implausible idea that Bush would have ordered the bombing of Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar if Blair had not talked him out of it. There was no atrocity or outrage to blow the whistle on. So what if Bush had the idea? Every executive, and I daresay every President of the United States, has ideas that make no sense every single day. On discussion, they get talked out of them. Without such brainstorming, how else could an executive function?

But oh, you will cry again, this is such an atrocious idea that it proves that Bush is the incarnation of Hitler after all! False. Al-Jazeera may or may not be a force for good in the world in a net basis, but there is no doubt that it has worked tirelessly against the American effort to bring a representative government to Iraq, and that its coverage provides prestige and sheer audience for some of the most wicked men on Earth. Sure, if Bush's comment reflected a more developed idea than simply thinking out loud it was a bad one, but that does not make Al-Jazeera any less opposed to America and, more importantly, the mission of our soldiers.


By Blogger DV, at Sun Nov 27, 01:06:00 PM:

I'm looking forward to that "bombing Richard" joke!  

By Blogger sean, at Mon Nov 28, 01:59:00 AM:

Why is it so hard to believe that they would bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar if they did it in Iraq?  

By Blogger panther33, at Mon Nov 28, 06:38:00 AM:

"Why is it so hard to believe that they would bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar if they did it in Iraq?" Absurd. The undeniable pleasure of bombing Al-Jazz HQ to smithereens would not make up for the trouble it would cause to our operations at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. By the way, the cartoon isn't from "the Arab world" but rather from the Guardian, which is probably even more inclined to believe the worst of the U.S.  

By Blogger Kat, at Mon Nov 28, 02:48:00 PM:

Actually, I would not be surprised if on any peripheral, a discussion about taking out certain information conduits was discussed. We know for a fact that we took out the Iraq television stations and other communitication vehicles.

Knowing now AJ's propensity for taking money and gifts from Saddam for producing favorable pieces (does this make them free press?), I imagine some discussion about its usefulness to the enemy was had. However, the fact that it was not taken out along with these other information networks, indicates that, if it was discussed, it was determined not to be prudent.

As noted, there is the pain of their information war and the pain of having our troops based in Qatar, the damage to relations etc.

HOwever, it is my opinion that no sane person planning a war would have NOT considered Al Jazeera in a target package, whether it wound up being one or not.

For instance, had we gone to war with Russia, would or would not the target package include all Russian television stations?

When we attacked Serbia, did we or did we not take out the Serbian television stations?

Again, the question is, in calculating what target packages you acquire, politically and militarily, you must determine whether it is helpful or hindering the effort. Obviously, it would be considered hindering the effort so it wasn't done. However, I don't think that even television stations in the US should consider themselves protected from an opposing force.

That's just some ridiculous concept that reporters, trying to separate themselves from nation and citizenship and shore up their alleged "objectivity" have created. It's an illusion that wouldn't survive first contact.

And, while denying it might seem helpful, even by those of us who support the IRaq effort and are constantly fending off real untruths, it seems kind of ridiculous to pretend that we are affronted by the accusation when a serious student of war would understand the probability.

Speak truth to power. ;)

Yes, it was considered. No, they weren't targeted. Yes, they should feel lucky. No, we didn't intentionally kill other reporters. Yes, it is a fact of war that people die and reporters are just as likely as the next person when they are in a war zone.  

By Anonymous BIRDZILLA, at Tue Nov 29, 04:34:00 PM:

Their next targets should be HOLLYWOOD and SAN FRANCISCO  

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