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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

skimming the surface of Baer

It would be nice if Australian papers were anywhere near as critical on Israel's politics as Israeli papers were. For some reason, we have blinders on in ways that we do not with other countries who have similar policies in place, and who commit similar actions.

Anyway, from Haaretz Sunday was the article Israel has lost its status as a country under threat; expansion of the idea being that You can't be perceived as a bully on one front and a righteous nation on the other, (though many try!).

Dialogue and negotiation in this area seems as if it is going to be the new American policy, though it (the U.S. - and its allies) are still in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Iraq, too, of course). Robert Baer, ex-CIA, who I saw yesterday as part of the Perth Writers' Festival, covered many concerns from the wider (Australian) community about the Middle East region. I assume other countries have similar concerns. It seems his book, the Devil you know, is worth reading. The George Clooney movie, Syriana, was based on his first autobiographical book, See no Evil. The podcast should be available on ABC 720 am (he had a few sessions, so it would be the one from Monday, March 2nd).

Baer, of course, will flatter his audience. Australians, I do not feel, are terribly well informed, though people attending writers' conferences might be slightly different creatures, even though I include myself in that not terribly well-informed group. However, he did say that with this tour in Australia, he had received more intelligent questions from journalists and members of the public than he generally had in the U.S. over the last seven years, from journalists, the public and politicians. That could also be a sign of the times.

He mentioned too of course, the world wide phenomenon, whether created or desired, of the general populous getting its news from Fox, and the fascination with celebrity (even this post is somewhat peppered with it) to the exclusion of all else. He spoke about the irresponsibility of papers in misrepresenting information, and in taking the Washington line in many political articles, even if it includes perpetuating falsehoods. He particularly mentions this in relation to the (not certain, probably false) claims of weapons of mass destruction, and the (false) linking of Iraq to Al Qaeda, which lead to the invasion of the country. Same as it ever was, I suppose. Though I think there was a time when, amongst journalists at least, some form of critical analysis was encouraged.

He claims that the attack on the Twin Towers should have been treated as a criminal matter, rather than one which led to war on the middle eastern region, and he also seems to think that Bin Laden is dead, the tapes we see being digitally manipulated. I need to read his works. The information he cites, is apparently readily available (except for maybe the last), as always seems to be the case. He seems to feel that the surge of terrorism, such as the twin towers, is a blip of history in the way that the Waco siege was, too. Not to say that many people have not suffered, and he did not mention Mumbai; though with Pakistan getting more and more destabilised by the day, maybe similar attacks on India will occur. I am not sure what I think of this point of view, but it definitely seems that every decade has had someone with a bomb in their hand, or has sat behind the controls of a F16 (excuse my historical inaccuracy) and they were not always from this region. He also mentions a progression from outright terror and anarchy to a more ordered and pragmatic approach, as is seen (from his point of view) in Lebanon nowadays. Groups do evolve. The IRA, nor the ANC were ever pretty (nor the events that brought about its existence). Read some of Patrick McCabe's works (especially, Call me the Breeze). Anyway, it is all food for thought.

The first article was originally referenced on Antony Loewenstein's blog.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr