Friday 16 December 2011

Media in NATO follows the line (PO)

M D Nalapat
Although the media in most of the countries that comprise NATO claim to be free,the reality is that they follow a line set for them by the geopolitical establishments of the countries that they are located in. Thus,even to this day,they persist in repeating the untruth that Saddam Hussein and his officials “hid the fact that Iraq has no WMD”. As even a cursory check of the headlines of the period before the 2003 US/UK-Iraq war would show,both Saddam Hussein as well as his key officials kept on repeating the truth,that Iraq had destroyed its WMD stockpiles.Indeed,it was that action of theirs that ensured subsequent destruction at the hands of a collection of countries from North America,Europe and “civilisational cousins” of the two,such as Australia,all of whom participated in one way or the other in the occupation of a once-sovereign country,and thereafter systematically destroyed what was left of its infrastructure after a decade of UN-mandated sanctions (which killed off hundreds of thousands of civilians,without of course receiving any attention from NATO-located “human rights” brigades. The media in the NATO countries ignored the fact that Saddam Hussein presided over a secular regime,in which religious zealots were prevented from inflicting their preferences over the restof the population.

That Hussein was ungrateful in occupying Kuwait in 1990 was a fact. The State of Kuwait had generously funded his equally indefensible 1980 military attack on Iran, anoth act of folly that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. George H W Bush was morally justified in launching Operation Desert Storm in August 1990,although he was wrong in listening to those in his administration who advised him to do nothing while Kurds were massacred by Saddam Hussein immediately after the Iraqi defeat at the hands of the US.Rather than stand idly by while Kurds were targeted for obeying the suggestion of President Bush himself that they rise against Saddam,the US armed forces ought to have enforced a quarantine of the Kurdish region,something that took place only in 2003. However,coming back to the media, the steady drumbeat of reports in US and EU publications about Saddam Hussein backing religious zealots was the opposite of the truth.In fact,such elements were opposed to him,often violently,because of his secular nature.Indeed,it can be said that in this respect at least,Saddam Hussein was a good follower of the Prophet (PBUH). It has been forgotten even within much of the Ummah that the early - golden - period of Islam was precisely the time when those of other faiths were given dignity and protection,unlike in the present,where Christians and people of other faiths are discriminated against in a manner that flouts the explicit commands of the Prophet (PBUH) that they be treated with respect

Iraq under Saddam Hussein or Libya under Muammar Kaddafy were countries where people of all faiths were treated equally. In a travesty of the truth,the media in NATO countries painted a different picture,characterizing them as fanatics.This columnist has gone on record (in both this newspaper as well as in outlets such as www.gateway and in the early weeks of this year,pointing out the untruth behind such depictions. judging by their coverage,it would appear that a almost tribal,primal loyalty pervades media in the countries comprising NATO, forcing them into a straitjacket that directs their vision only onto “approved” paths. It is probably this tribal loyalty that has thus far prevented the media in either the US or the EU from reporting on the foreign relatives of the most powerful family in India, the trio of Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka. Not a word about the many relatives of the family that runs the government of India has appeared in media outlets abroad,including in the country where they spend a lot of their time,Italy. Indeed,coverage of Sonia Gandhi has usually been breathlessly fulsome in the media in NATO countries , with admiring depictions of the way in which a lady with only a middle-school education has been able to ensure the obedience of people such as Manmohan Singh,who have far greater qualifications in a multitude of ways,yet are dominated by the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance government in a way that must be the envy of President Zardari,who has nowhere near the same influence in Pakistan as Sonia Gandhi enjoys in India. Had President Zardari been of EU ethnicity,he may have escaped the numerous unflattering depictions of himself that appear in the media in that continent,which has given the world 99% of the saints whose lives are celebrated in Rome,to the exclusion of all other continents and peoples, each of which are presumably far less saintly than the tribes of Europe

Take the case of the terrorist Anders Breivik,who massacred 68 innocent people in Norway this year. Had he been of Afghan descent,or from another country outside the charmed civilisational circle of the “West”,he would - correctly - have been classified as a mass murderer. However,because he is Norwegian,Breivik cannot by definition be anything other than “civilized”.After all, Norway is a country that eases its conscience at making money from polluting the world through petroproducts by spending millions of euros “civilizing” barbarians in Asia and Africa. So it is hardly a surprise that Breivik has been found to be not a criminal but insane. Was Osama bin Laden merely a kind-hearted and ageing soul who had a few neural ganglia mixed up,or was he an international terrorist? Had the Yemeni been of the same ethnicity as Breivik, he woud have found many whi would have classified him too as being “unable to function in a responsible way”. Conversely,had Breivik been from Yemen, it is very unlikely that the medical team that so conveniently ( for the reputation of the civilized people of Norway) found him to be mad would have been as indulgent. Just as it is only the European relatives of Sonia Gandhi who deserve their privacy,and the exclusion of media snooping into their sources of wealth and their lifestyle,it is only “civilized” people who should be given the benefit of the doubt rather than be labelled as “terrorist”

Had the EU been less concerned about religion and ethnicity than it in fact is,the group would have welcomed Turkeyand Israel as members. Turkey is a country with very noble traditions and culture,and would be an adornment to the European ideal,once that concept gets divorced from the narrow parameters it has been pushed into by Germany and France. As for Israel,this is a country that was founded - in its modern avatar - by European Jews who sought to escapethe intense persecution that they suffered in their home countries. Israel is culturally a part of Europe that is located in Asia,even more so than Australia or New Zealand.Going back to Germany,the single most consequential mistake made by Adolf Hitler (who in modern Norway would probably get labelled a mere crank,on the Breivik model,rather than mass-murderer ) was to seek to eliminate people of the Jewish faith.The Jewish stratum was what had contributed the most to German arts and science,and its elimination weakened the ability to Germany to fight the war forced on it by Hitler and his party. Similarly,keeping at arm’s length the vibrant peoples of Israel and Turkey will also weaken Europe, which needs to go beyond its mono-faith identity and become a continent that includes countries with majorities other than Christian.Indeed, the profound teachings of Jesus Christ mandate such a universalist approach.The very word “catholic” means an individual who accepts different streams, a mindset that is not being followed by those who are totally opposed to even Turkey (a country substantially located in Europe) becoming a part of the EU,much less Israel

Rather than always looking outwards when being dismissive and hyper-critical,the media in NATO countries needs to escape from the tribal mindset that sees no evil in oneself but only in others. Unless the NATO powers have media that are objective,they will continue to land themselves in quagmire after quagmire because of misperceptions about their own capabilities and lack of knowledge about others. Being self-critical is to be truly civilized.This is what those in Europe (and to a much lesser extent in the US) who believe in a mono-ethnic and mono-faith spirit ought to accept and follow.

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