The Iraq war’s defenders like to bash the press for pushing the bad news and ignoring the good. Maybe they’ll be happy to hear that the bad news doesn’t rate anymore. When a bomb killed at least 51 Iraqis at a Baghdad market on Tuesday, ending an extended run of relative calm, only one of the three network newscasts (NBC’s) even bothered to mention it.
The only problem is that no news from Iraq isn’t good news — it’s no news. The night of the Baghdad bombing the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan appeared as Jon Stewart’s guest on “The Daily Show” to lament the vanishing television coverage and the even steeper falloff in viewer interest. “Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier,” she said. After pointing out that more soldiers died in Afghanistan than Iraq last month, she asked, “Who’s paying attention to that?”
Her question was rhetorical, but there is an answer: Virtually no one. If you follow the nation’s op-ed pages and the presidential campaign, Iraq seems as contentious an issue as Vietnam was in 1968. But in the country itself, Cindy vs. Michelle, not Shiites vs. Sunnis, is the hotter battle. This isn’t the press’s fault, and it isn’t the public’s fault. It’s merely the way things are.
Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War.
Eight Marines were charged in the case, but in the intervening years, criminal charges have been dismissed against six. A seventh Marine was acquitted. The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed.
“We put our hopes in the law and in the courts and one after another they are found innocent,” said Yousef Aid Ahmed, the lone surviving brother in the family. “This is an organized crime.”
A report in The New York Times said: “Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
The report contributed to a sharp increase in the price of crude oil on Friday and a warning from International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamad ElBaradei that in the event of such an Israeli attack, he would be forced to resign. “A military strike, in my opinion, would be worse than anything possible. It would turn the region into a fireball,” he said.
The New York Times report said: “the scope of the Israeli exercise virtually guaranteed that it would be noticed by American and other foreign intelligence agencies. A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.
“One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.
“A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.”
A report in The Wall Street Journal, however, made it clear that the US did not need to rely on intelligence to learn about the Israeli exercise.
“At the Pentagon, a senior military official said that Israel gave the US ‘advance knowledge’ of the exercise, but only in general terms. The Pentagon official said that Israel didn’t explicitly link the manoeuvres to a possible strike against Iran.”
Israeli leaders and officials have recently intensified their campaign against nuclear Iran. The messages from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Ambassador to Washington Salai Meridor and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is clear: Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. Indeed Israel is very concerned by the likelihood that Iran, whose leadership has called for the Jewish state’s destruction, will be able to produce nuclear weapons.
These public statements, as well as closed talks between Israel’s leadership and leaders around the world, can be interpreted as “preparing the ground” for the possibility that Israel will attack Iran. It is also correct that all the bodies dealing with the “Iran case,” including the Mossad, Military Intelligence, Operations Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Air Force and the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, are planning for the worst-case scenario. This is their professional duty. But one cannot conclude, as many have following a report in The New York Times (June 19) that an Israeli attack is certainly around the corner. Not only has such a decision not been made in any relevant forum in Israel – the question has not even been discussed.
To travel through the West Bank and Gaza these days feels like traveling through Israeli colonies.
You whiz around the West Bank on new highways that in some cases are reserved for Israeli vehicles, catching glimpses of Palestinian vehicles lined up at checkpoints.
The security system that Israel is steadily establishing is nowhere more stifling than here in Hebron, the largest city in the southern part of the West Bank. In the heart of a city with 160,000 Palestinians, Israel maintains a Jewish settlement with 800 people. To protect them, the Israeli military has established a massive system of guard posts, checkpoints and road closures since 2001.
More than 1,800 Palestinian shops have closed, in some cases the doors welded shut, and several thousand people have been driven from their homes. The once flourishing gold market is now blocked with barbed wire and choked with weeds and garbage.
Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan has been living in official disgrace for more than four years, confined to his estate in Islamabad after confessing that he sold nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea. But his image as a national hero remains intact for most of his countrymen, who still regard him as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the man who brought pride to a downtrodden country.
Since the new coalition government took the reins in Pakistan this spring, momentum has been building to free Khan from house arrest and restore him to his former glory.
As an initial step, he was allowed in April to break his silence, and he has since given interviews to the Pakistani and international media. He has used the sessions to accuse President Pervez Musharraf of forcing him to confess to crimes he didn’t commit and blame Musharraf for turning Pakistan into a “banana republic.”
After a year of painful violence — Hamas rockets flying into Israeli communities, soldiers killed and wounded on forays into Gaza — one might have expected the start of a six-month cease-fire with Hamas to be hailed here as good news. Yet what was the front page headline in Maariv newspaper that day? “Fury and Fear.”
That says a great deal about the mood in Israel, a widely shared gloom that this nation is facing alarming threats both from without and within. Seen from far away, last week must have offered some hope that the region was finally at, or near, a turning point: the truce with Hamas, negotiated by Egypt, started on Thursday; other Palestinian-Israeli talks were taking place on numerous levels that both sides said were opening long-closed issues; there were also Turkish-mediated Israeli negotiations with Syria, and a new offer to yield territory to Lebanon along with a call for direct talks between Jerusalem and Beirut.
But it looked very different here. Most Israelis consider the truce with Hamas an admission of national failure, a victory for a radical group with a vicious ideology. As they look ahead, Israelis can’t decide which would be worse, for the truce to fall apart (as polls show most expect it to do), or for Hamas actually to make it last, thereby solidifying the movement’s authority in Palestinian politics over the more secular Fatah. Moreover, most think that Syria should not get back the Golan Heights — its ostensible aim in talking with Israel — and that the truces and negotiations amount to little without the return of captured Israeli soldiers held for the past two years.
Many observers attribute U.S. support for Israel to the financial and political clout of the American Jewish community. In fact that is only a small part of the story.
For the last 60 years, non-Jewish Americans have overwhelmingly sided with the Jewish state rather than its enemies. Washington’s pro-Israel stance in the Middle East reflects the wishes, above all, of American gentiles.
Israelis and American Jews seeking to drum up American support for the Jewish state are pushing on an open door; American gentiles were promoting the return of the Jews to the Holy Land long before Theodore Herzl’s 1896 book, “The Jewish State,” launched the modern Zionist movement among Jews.
As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Lingering racial bias affects the public’s assessments of the Democrat from Illinois, but offsetting advantages and Sen. John McCain’s age could be bigger factors in determining the next occupant of the White House.
Overall, 51 percent call the current state of race relations “excellent” or “good,” about the same as said so five years ago. That is a relative thaw from more negative ratings in the 1990s, but the gap between whites and blacks on the issue is now the widest it has been in polls dating to early 1992.
With the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate clinched, large sections of the white supremacist movement are adopting a surprising attitude: Electing America’s first black president would be a very good thing.
It’s not that the assortment of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, anti-Semites and others who make up this country’s radical right have suddenly discovered that a man should be judged based on the content of his character, not his skin. On the contrary. A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory.
Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, “Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.”
Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed 37-year-old Jason Furman to head his economic policy team. Furman is one of Wal-Mart’s most prominent defenders, anointing the company a “progressive success story.” On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged, “I won’t shop there.” For Furman, however, it’s Wal-Mart’s critics who are the real threat: the “efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits” are creating “collateral damage” that is “way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy more broadly for me to sit by idly and sing ‘Kum-Ba-Ya’ in the interests of progressive harmony.”
Obama’s love of markets and his desire for “change” are not inherently incompatible. “The market has gotten out of balance,” he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance back to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counterrevolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago economics department. And here there are more problems, because Obama–who taught law at the University of Chicago for a decade–is thoroughly embedded in the mind-set known as the Chicago School.
The Republican Party is in tatters, but conservatism shares no portion of the blame. Or so former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay wrote in a cheering column a few weeks ago.
The movement’s ideals of “reform” and “justice” did not fail, intoned this towering figure of virtue; conservatism just never got a proper shot in the first place. “To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton,” Mr. DeLay wrote, “conservatism has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Did Mr. DeLay’s head rotate on his shoulders, Linda Blair-like, when he wrote that line? I don’t know. But it sure made this liberal chuckle. Nothing in this world Tom DeLay has ever wanted has been left untried.
Bill Goldsmith has always been a maverick. As a radio disc jockey and program director in the 1970s and ’80s, he loved creating his own mixes of modern rock and introducing listeners to cutting-edge musicians. But in the ’90s, as large corporations bought up the stations he worked for, Goldsmith began to feel increasingly choked by the demands of commercial radio. Programming was becoming too formulaic; he was given less leeway. Working in radio just wasn’t fun anymore.
In 2000, with the rise of the Internet and streaming media, Goldsmith had an idea: Why not start his own station, one that would buck the constraints of corporate radio with innovative programming and no ads? Today, Radioparadise.com, which broadcasts an eclectic mix of modern, classic, and alternative rock, is commercial-free. It’s supported entirely by donations from its listeners, 15,000 of whom are logged onto the site at any given time. Goldsmith’s company, based in Paradise, Calif., has three employees and about $1 million in annual revenues. Rebecca Goldsmith, Bill’s wife, is the CFO and new music reviewer. Says Bill: “I hate advertising. There is this kind of organic sense of community that develops here that could not happen if this radio station’s sole reason for existence was to increase shareholder value for a large corporation.”
Meet the antipreneurs. Goldsmith is one of perhaps a few thousand business owners who have won both notice and profits by being overtly or covertly anti-big business and anti-advertising. Antipreneurs frequently choose each other as suppliers because they share similar philosophies. Their marketing strategy is targeted toward consumers who have grown cynical about buying products and services from larger companies, whose methods they deem irresponsible. “Cynical consumers perceive that most of the marketplace is bad, lacking in integrity, or not trustworthy, except for a few [often small or local] companies,” says Amanda Helm, a professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “But once they find a company they can trust, they are very motivated to stick with [it].”