Friday, April 18, 2008

Weakness of the Times #1

A NY Time's subscriber’s frustration with the bias and propaganda of New York's most respected "news" source.

I have been contemplating a regular feature on my blog along this line ever since I subscribed to the NY Times a few weeks ago. (I simultaneously subscribed to The Economist and I am sure there will be reasons to discuss that publication as well)

The realization that objectivity is not possible has, in many ways, been a boon to the intellectual world, ridding it of invalid confidences and allowing for constant reassessment of old and new arguments. However, many news organizations continue to maintain a semblance of objectivity, giving them an aura of added credibility. The more ideologically-affiliated publications, like National Review or The Nation are not expected to keep up appearances. They have a clear agenda and those who log on to their websites or still read their printed copy don't expect anything more or less.

The Times needs to be consigned to this latter category of "news-punditry." A significant percentage of its articles are written with a demonstrable political agendas. Unfortunately, in many cases the agenda is at odds with the interests of the United States. I am sure that the editors, writers and many readers don't see it this way, but they are aligning themselves with a political and cultural movement that is destructive to our economic, political and geopolitical interests (not to mention this nation's political discourse) and undermines the intellect and integrity of readers as individuals and citizens.

That said, there are few if any alternative news sources available for those who are interested in expanding their knowledge of international and domestic affairs. For this reason I am continuing my subscription and have decided to use this blog to vent some of my frustrations.

Today I will keep it short.

Consider the following article:

Here, Eric Schmitt informs us (in different terms) that the United States does not have a broad-based strategic plan for enforcing its will on the sovereign state of Pakistan. Instead the various agencies of the federal government are working with an a uncoordinated jumble of approaches.

He writes:

"The Bush administration has failed to develop a governmentwide (spelling error in original ;) ) plan to combat terrorism in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas, even though top American officials concede that Al Qaeda has regenerated its ability to attack the United States and has established havens in that border region, government auditors said Thursday."

As one reads on, it becomes clear that a politically motivated congressional report that has more to do with Washington than Islamabad, is being interpreted as a fair assessment of the Bush administration's handling of Pakistan.

The blatant lack of respect for Pakistani sovereignty and the failure to acknowledge many of the ways in which it's government has attempted to deal with a very complex situation are all overlooked and the blame for "failings" is place squarely on the back of the administration.

In a very odd turn of logic, the Schmitt implies that employing a variety of strategies to address a single issue is problematic. (...the State Department, the Pentagon, the Agency for International Development and other agencies carrying out individual counterterrorism (again – spelling error maintained from the original) strategies for Pakistan, with little or no formal integration of the plans by the National Security Council and the National Counterterrorism Center. ) The implication here is that the National Security Council and the National Counter Terrorism Center have a mandate to direct the policies of various federal agencies.

Anyone who has been paying attention to Washington for any length of time is aware that this is not how the executive agencies function. There are a variety of political and ideological "cultures" fostered by these organizations, not to mention differing responsibilities and authorities. It is natural to assume that they would pursue the same policy goals through differing means and strategies - and this is in fact a sign that they are working toward the same goals.

Mr. Eric Schmitt needs to enhance his critical understanding and stop acting like an fawning operative in a democratic propaganda machine.

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