[News] Whatever Happened to "Democracy Now?"
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 11 12:01:11 EDT 2008
June 11, 2008
When AIPAC Went Missing
Whatever Happened to "Democracy Now?"
By MUHAMMAD IDREES AHMAD
It is with some alarm and dismay that I watched Amy Goodman's
"Democracy Now" provide platform to right-wing Paksitani journalist
Ahmad Rashid, long an apologist for Bush's war-on-terror, to recycle
propaganda from British tabloid press and other discredited sources.
His tale about al-Qa'ida recruiting white converts for terrorist acts
in Europe originated with the British security services as part of
their fearmongering campaign to build support for the 42-day
detention without charge plan. No shred of evidence was ever offered.
Equally bogus are his claims of organized al-Qa'ida 'training camps',
where recruits are offered foreign language training etc. Once again,
these claims are the products of the vivid imaginations of the
terrorologists proliferating in the war on terror fear factory. I
suggest Goodman ask Rashid to substantiate claims, or issue a
retraction. (When he claims 'Iraq is an Arab problem' and that it
would be resolved when its neighbours 'stop interfering', I would
have liked Goodman to at least ask if he was aware the country is
under U.S. occupation.)
He suggests the truce negotiated by the Pakistani government is
tantamount to 'supporting the Taliban'. Quoting U.S. military
officials in Kabul he alleges that Pakistan is 'funding' the
'resurgence' of the Taliban. He faults Pakistan for not cooperating
more enthusiastically in Bush's war on terror. Rashid appears to be
living in a timeless world where the realities of 10 years past
substitute for the present. Pakistani military's intervention in the
FATA region has been brutal, now extending to the frontier heartland
of Swat. Tactics have included Israeli-style collective punishment;
wholesale demolition of recalcitrant villages; disappearing of
opponents (mostly of the tribal homines sacri, not wealthy media
figures of Rashid's stripe); bombing raids; extrajudicial killings.
The response of the tribesmen -- all swept under the handy label of
'the Taliban' by the government and hacks like Rashid -- is as brutal
as it is predictable. Only a few months back three rockets landed in
the very safe neighborhood where my sister resides in the frontier
city of Peshawar.
Kidnapping for ransom has become a common phenomenon. Suicide attacks
on the military have been frequent. The Pakistani military death toll
now numbers in the hundreds. So when a guest on Goodman's show starts
claiming that the Pakistani government is funding and encouraging the
slaughter of its own soldiers I am forced to demur despite my disdain
for the regime. When I hear Goodman's guest fault Pakistan for not
allowing US forces on its territory, and refusing CIA a base in the
tribal regions, its your judgment I must question Goodman for letting
this pass without challenge.
The government for some time has shown a preference for a negotiated
political settlement, only to be thwarted every time by unauthorized
US assaults renewing the conflict. Other times the government has
caved under pressure and resumed the assaults itself to fend off
accusations that it is 'not doing enough' in the fight against the
Taliban. This is the same twaddle Goodman has allowed Rashid to
recycle on her show.
There is no reason why Pakistan should be cooperating with the US
"war on terror". Under this rubric, the Musharraf regime has already
devastated much of the tribal belt and created enemies where there
were none. Contrary to Rashid's claim that the new government is
'willing to follow the US agenda', it has promised to open dialogue
with the tribals in order to end hostilities. This is a positive
development that makes the US apprehensive, as it does Uncle Toms
like Rashid who have wedded their careers to the 'war on terror' as
its sanctioned cheer leaders.
I hope Goodman shows more care in the future in vetting her guests.
She certainly could not have been unaware of the political leanings
of this guest as on her very show he had declared his preferred
outcome for the region's conflicts: a NATO 'victory' in Afghanistan.
This is the second time in a week where Goodman's editorial judgment
has left me deeply disappointed. First was the refusal to cover --
yet again -- the AIPAC conference, with all its implications for US
politics and the Middle East. In a year when even the mainstream
media was finally forced to take notice (with Jon Stewart of the
Daily Show going so far as to refer to the lobby group as the 'Elders
of Zion', Democracy Now appeared alone in missing the irony of three
presidential candidates pledging to fight the domination of lobbyists
in Washington genuflect to the most powerful of them all.
Amy, what happened to Democracy Now's promise to speak truth to
power? Did you not say once that your aim was to go where the silence
is? How is it that the Washington Post was able to break the silence
even as Democracy Now remained AWOL? Why did Democracy Now join MSM
in denying Mearsheimer and Walt a voice, instead allowing their views
to be misrepresented by critics without a chance of rebuttal? How
well placed are you to criticize the mainstream for refusing to stand
up to power when you can yourself be considered guilty of the same?
Muhammad Idrees Ahmad is at the Department of Geography and
Sociology, University of Strathclyde. He can be reached at
<mailto:m.idrees at gmail.com>m.idrees at gmail.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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