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February 14, 2006


Paul Simon

I respect very much your point of view and agree with your conclusion, but I disagree with your argument on several points.

First, while most Arabs "are not seeking liberation from alien domination," many do live under authoritarian regimes that they dislike very much, such as in Egypt, for example. The problem for us there is that many in those countries see us as parties to and/or the main perpetrators of that domination. We do have a propaganda role to play there, mainly, to convince them otherwise.

Second, I do not know if most Arabs would find any Western, particularly American media credible. As you know, it is incredible to discuss media in Arab countries and hear CNN derided as government propaganda, equated to the state media which is, indeed government propaganda. Likewise, to look back at the Cold War, an argument commonly heard in many Western European countries was, "Yes, the Soviets are spreading propaganda, but so are you - to us they are all the same." I do not think it is so simple as to quote Holmes and hope that the truth prevails - ultimately, we are slaves to whatever the Arab media, which are the only media sources with credibility, will tell their citizens.

In this tack, I agree with the argument that Al Hurra has little worth, but I do not think that any American media, if it runs honest stories, has the possibility for the time being of occupying the Arab center or reaching the Arab masses. This is quite sad, because it means that we do not have a direct pipeline to the people whose "hearts and minds" we are supposed to be winning.

No Preference

Paul, in the runup to the Iraq war, CNN was broadcasting government propaganda, and little else. The same was true of every other major commercial media.

itwasnt me

If I recall correctly, Voice of America during the cold war was often listened to just for the good music they played. I think America should have it's hand in the media available in the MENA region, but think that it's impossible now since we're losing almost all media freedom here at home ourselves. Anybody willing to fund a good pirate station?

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