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June 23, 2005



bill frist's aide made a similar remark, and this is my response

sorry to plug my own site here. i can be shameless sometimes. but hey, it is related to what you're saying


hey, did you just add the reference to frist's aide, or am i a moron for missing it when i read your post 10 minutes ago?

the aardvark

No, it was me not you - I got the Frist remark via a trackback from Brad Plumer and added it after originally posting. Sorry about that. Everyone go read upyernoz's response!


So broadcasting critical comments from the US political spectrum is pernicious but critical voices from the Arab world are courageous...so much for spreading the culture of freedom.

Rumsfeld and Bush get a lot of play on Jazeera news bulletins when they make policy speeches or comments relevant to the Middle East...it's reported straight, translated into Arabic. Do Frist and Rove realize AJ is actually getting the American administration viewpoint across to the Arab world too?


Is anybody watching Al Arabiya right now? They are airing a clearly lefty-American documentary, subtitled in Arabic, about the influence of the neo-con think tanks and the "new military industrial complex" on the decision to go to war against Iraq. The intricacies of Washington court politics, presented to the Arab world.

the aardvark

I remember an interview with Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed where he defended al-Arabiya's pro-American slant by saying that they broadcast more documentaries critical of America than did other stations (which I thought at the time was an odd response - why didn't he just say "damn right!" which is more his usual style?)... maybe this is one of them. Interesting.


They are talking about news-management, the lessons of Vietnam, they have Dan Rather comparing it to a totalitarian regime, they are showing Army bands and Fourth of July parades...not bashing, but definitely very critical of US nationalism


broad·cast ( P ) Pronunciation Key (brôdkst)
v. broad·cast, or broad·cast·ed broad·cast·ing, broad·casts
v. tr.
To transmit (a radio or television program) for public or general use.
To send out or communicate, especially by radio or television: The agency broadcast an urgent appeal for medical supplies.
To make known over a wide area: broadcast rumors. See Synonyms at announce.
To sow (seed) over a wide area, especially by hand.

Nur al-Cubicle

Hmm...lefty documentaries and drama? I wonder how popular torrenting is among Arab digerati? I mean, they could get "The Power of Nightmares", "Milhaus", Oliver Stone's "Fidel", General Giap's address in Algiers, "Z", "State of Siege", "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", Gore Vidal's speeches, and even "The Lion of the Desert" and hundreds of files with subversive content. I wonder if Gene Sharp has produced a documentary?

What is with this taboo, anyway? You can't say "Nazi" or "moron" in the same breath as "Bush" if you are a public figure without having hell to pay and losing your job. Look what happened to German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin and Canadian Director of Communications Francoise Ducros. (Guess they are troop-killers, too) Who's doing the enforcing and why is the price so high? It's like when Paul Robeson was banished from the US airwaves.

Ronald Rutherford

I want to make one point only at this time and not discuss which is worse Durbin or Rove's comments.
But there is one factual point which is incorrect at:
And be sure to check comments here:
And his "more despicable lie" is correct at:
US senator regrets Nazi remark
Wednesday 22 June 2005, 19:44 Makka Time, 16:44 GMT
"US Senator Dick Durbin has apologised for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures."
I did read the original June 16 about his remarks and his refusal to apologize but could not bring it up today. I also remember the link from above as of yesterday.
But keep up the good work!
After I appologize for this with tears in my eyes, I will be back.
And be sure to check out AlsoAlso:

Riesz Fischer

Hey, Squeaky's here! I haven't seen his loathsome little self around for some time and I've been wondering if he was still lurking around the liberal blogs. Hey Squeaky, 'sup dude?


Ronald -

I don't know about that - I don't read the English language al-Jazeera site. If you say it's there, then it is. I was only looking at the Arabic site (which presumably is the one that matters for Arab public opinion).



As you already admitted: you haven't been paying enough attention to the broadcasts, or watching regularly enough, to know whether or not the story has been reported more heavily than this on the air - I'll defer to the White House until you can get a little more certain.

Brian C.B.

Well, if you think the White House knows that Durbin's comments were broadcast on al-Jazeera, they surely would be willing to tell you when they were, wouldn't they? Perhaps you'd email them and get back to us when they answer? Otherwise, we'll have to defer to Karl Rove making things up.


Unfortunately, Mr. Rove's secretary's just a little haranged since his direct phone # was posted on a bunch of leftist web sites. The White House has, however, already backed up Rove saying he was simply "telling it like it is" - you defer to whatever you'd like - I will do likewise C.B.


Here is the relevant portion of the press briefing:

"It was in New York, it was to the New York Conservative Party. So he was talking about the different philosophy between conservatives and liberals and different philosophy for approaching the war on terrorism. That is a very important priority for all Americans and it's very important that the American people know what we are doing to win that war on terrorism. And that's why he was talking about it and telling it like it is when it comes to the different approaches for winning the war on terrorism."


Shorter Charlie: 'I am a no-talent assclown.'

Nur al-Cubicle

Oh, speaking of Condoleezza's remarks, the correspondent for L'Orient-Le Jour has come back with...

Earlier in the week Condoleezza Rice addressed a select audience at the American University of Cairo on US foreign policy goals for the region. The audience sat in stone cold silence until applause erupted when a member of the audience shouted, Isn't it about time that someone apologize for profaning the Koran? Afterwards, during a joint press conference, the Egyptian Foreign Minister criticized the United States for prisoner abuse at its detention centers inside Iraq.

In a press conference following the visit of Condoleezza Rice to Saudi Arabia, Prince Saoud al-Faisal dryly told reporters that Saudi Arabia would not accept reforms imposed from abroad.


Ummm...I'm a bit lost here with the drift in the discussion. On the lefty documentary, I actually found it fascinating that dissent within US public opinion was being transmitted via Al Arabiya, and while some in the administration might think it makes the US look weak and divided and "helps the terrorists," I actually think this is one of the best PR jobs for US democracy - people in the Arab world can see Americans (in this case, former Pentagon officials, senior journalists, the likes of Richard Perle even) argue their cases for and against war, and even see someone like Cheney being questioned on Meet the Press. Of course you might also get the "see, even the Americans think the war was wrong but are being misled by their leaders" reaction, but I think Americans would get respect from Arab liberals for allowing such documentaries to be made and aired.

On another level, it's fascinating to think of the implications for liberal IR theory of a country at war with another country being able to see debates in latter's press and media about going to war...have Jazeera and Arabiya been allowed to broadcast in Iraq?


My Dear Father of Aardvarks (in the plural now), since you asked I have made comment on broadcasts....



"Deferring to the White House" is on principle a wonderful way to go about thinking. You do that. I'm afraid I'm not that sophisticated.

I think my methodology in the post above was about as transparent as it could possibly be. The AJ site search covers all the news stories selected for the web site and full transcripts of the talk shows. I watch al-Jazeera every day. I haven't been looking for Durbin remarks until this controversy hit, but I haven't noticed them either - if it had been getting heavy play, I would have noticed. But I also clearly stated the limits of my confidence in those findings. Can't do more than that.


SP -

Wow, this is getting confusing. On the documentaries, yes I agree completely - one of the things al-Hurra would ideally do is present America in all of its complexity and disagreement and pluralism. When al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera do so, I think it's an excellent thing. Pluralism and disagreement good... trying to control the message and the spin, bad. If you're trying to promote democratic values, that is.

Tom Scudder

I think the documentary in question was "The Power of Nightmares", which was a BBC thing from this January. I watched an Arabic version on Al Jazeera about a month ago (before realizing they were showing "The Maginificent Seven" on MBC-2 & quickly switching over). They were apparently going to have a panel discussion of it sometime later that week (this was on May 27 or 28). My google skillz are apparently too weak to find out if I've got the right documentary here or not, but it did talk a lot about Sayyid Qutb and Leo Strauss... and the Arabic title was something like Sulta al-khawf.

the aardvark

I remember seeing Sulta al-Khawf on al-Jazeera a few weeks ago.. it was really weird, wasn't sure I had the right channel at first! There's globalization for you: al-Jazeera running a British documentary about Islamist politics!

the aardvark

Collounsbury declined to include a link to his commentary, so here it is:

"I am not bothering to opine on what is largely a US domestic political spat of little interest to me (other than confirming the Know Nothing Ignoramuses continue to sputter on about al-Jazeerah), however since I (i) live in the region, (ii) am a regular al-Arabiyah and al-Jazeerah watcher (broadcasts) let me lend a hand since he seems to be getting much negative commentary.

"I can attest that I do not recall hearing anything about Durbin on al-Arabiyah or al-Jazeerah during the time period in question. While of course I do not watch either constantly, I should say that I consume enough that had it been a featured item of great impact I probably should have seen it. Thus, while the remarks may have been broadcast (and so what), they were not high profile. Rice's visit etc was rather more so."

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