By now you know the drill: The CIA or U.S. military forces unleash a drone strike or other aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or any other country that the United States claims the right to attack.
A US government spokesperson reports 5 or 7 or 17 or 25 or whatever number of “militants” killed – Taliban, or al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State fighters – according to its fill-in-the-blanks press release. Wire services, mainstream newspapers, television newscasters dutifully report in brief fashion on another successful drone or missile strike, fulfilling minimal journalistic standards by attributing it to the Pentagon, or intelligence or US government sources – sometimes even naming the spokesperson who issued the news release.
And then – usually nothing. Yes, sometimes someone with a little clout raises a stink – say the Afghan president, or some prominent local official who was an eyewitness to the attack, or Doctors without Borders after the US attack on their Afghanistan hospital in October. (*See footnote.) In such challenges to the Americans’ claims of killing only “militants,” these pesky eyewitnesses contend that many of those killed were actually noncombatants, even women and children.
From the horse’s mouth: For fear of upsetting readers, the paper silenced any commentary in the first days after the Paris attacks that might have suggested there was a causal relationship between western foreign policy in the Middle East and those events.
On the Opinion pages, one factor taken into consideration was timing – judging when readers would be willing to engage with an idea that in the first 24 hours after the attacks may have jarred. The idea that these horrific attacks have causes and that one of those causes may be the west’s policies is something that in the immediate aftermath might inspire anger. Three days later, it’s a point of view that should be heard.
In other words, the liberal Guardian held off offering a counter-narrative about the attacks, and a deeply plausible one at that, until popular opinion had hardened into a consensus manipulated by the rightwing media: “the terrorists hate us for our freedoms”, “we need to bomb them even harder”, “Islam is a religion of hatred” etc.
Excluding legitimate analyses of profoundly important events like those in Paris when they are most needed is not responsible, careful journalism. It is dangerous cowardice. It is most definitely not a politically neutral position. It provides room for hatred and bigotry to take root, and allows political elites to exploit those debased emotions to justify and advance their own, invariably destructive foreign policy agendas.
In the paragraph above, Elliott happily concedes that this is the default position of mainstream liberal media like the Guardian.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. This article is reprinted from his blog with permission.
Interviewed Thursday on Fox Business, Ron Paul predicted that there will be “a lot more” blowback along the lines of the killings in Paris last week if the US, France, and other nations do not cease their interventionist, militaristic foreign policies. In particular, Paul criticizes the United States government’s “foreign policy of constant occupation, bombing, and killing people, and eliciting this hatred toward us.” Terminating such a foreign policy, Paul explains, is the key to preventing violent retaliation.
With the recent passing of Veterans Day, social media, TV shows, and commercials were singing the praises of the brave men and women who defend America. Reading or listening to some of the praises heaped upon them, one would think that America would long ago have been overrun by barbaric hordes intent on enslaving and pillaging the entire country. Yet, such statements betray a lack of critical thinking on the part of those from whose lips such profuse praise pours forth.
When people thank soldiers for their service, does anyone stop and ask what the service being rendered is? Are the soldiers stopping hosts of invaders from sweeping in and destroying life as we know it? Are they repelling seaborne invaders making landfall on the East Coast? Clearly not.
Rather these soldiers are either on garrison duty domestically, deployed internationally to maintain the United States’ so-called strategic interests in places like Germany, Japan, Korea, Bahrain, and Italy, or they are fighting insurgencies in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen, in order to spread American global hegemony.
The story goes that the troops are hunting down dangerous terrorists and enemies of the United States, who would attack us here at home. Yet, why would people want to attack us? If confronted with this question, many people would simply reply that terrorists (communists, fascists, and whoever else needs to be fought) hate us for our freedoms and our ways of life.
Look, even authoritarian and totalitarian states can’t prevent domestic terrorism. What hope do relatively open societies have? Open societies abound with “soft targets,” that is, noncombatants going about their everyday lives. They are easy hits for those determined to inflict harm, especially if the assailants seek to die in the process.
We also know, as U.S. officials acknowledge, that NATO bombing of jihadis boosts recruitment.
So if Americans and Europeans want safer societies, they must discard the old, failed playbook, which has only one play – more violence – and adopt a new policy: nonintervention.
But how are we to pursue this saner policy in the face of a determined refusal to understand what happened in Paris?
All too typical was a recent discussion on CNN in which an American-Muslim leader and an English former jihadi debated whether the attacks in Paris are best explained by the marginalization of France’s Muslim population or by an “ideology.”
Social justice protests have been roiling American universities, even causing administrative heads to roll. To a significant degree, these campus uprisings have been characterized by an impulse to restrict speech and expression for the sake of creating “safe spaces” for marginalized groups. However, speech restriction is a double-edged sword that can just as easily injure the very people campus activists seek to help.
The turmoil at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in particular was sparked by racial incidents. And the protesters are closely aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, which combats police brutality against black Americans. However, cops themselves have recently sought to restrict speech and expression in order to insulate that very brutality from criticism.
“The NYPD has now added its name to the roster of Officially Protected Victims by filing ‘hate crimes’ charges against 36-year-old Rosella Best, who had tagged police vehicles and a public school with anti-NYPD graffiti. Among the entirely defensible sentiments inscribed by Best are ‘NYPD pick on the harmless,’ ‘NYPD pick on the innocent,’ and?—?in a display of familiar but increasingly justified hyperbole?—?‘NAZIS=NYPD.’ (Assuming that Ms. Best used only ‘public’ property as her canvas, it’s difficult to identify an actual victim in this case.)”
And earlier this year, the Fraternal Order of Police demanded that Congress extend such special protection to the federal level.