My affection for President Carter is endless

19 04 2008

From Egypt’s Daily Star. Don’t you just wish he was your grandpa?

Responding to criticism by a student member of the audience that he was talking to “terrorists” Carter responded, “Over a period of seven years 13 [Israeli] people have been killed which is bad, any person killed is bad and I consider that an act of terrorism because the rockets are fired not in physical combat with soldiers but likely to cause death among the civilians.”

“At the same time if you look in Gaza, you know that for every Israeli killed in any kind of combat, between 30 and 40 Palestinians are killed because of the military capability of Israel with their pinpoint accuracy or missiles and their F-16s and their helicopters with which they can attack Palestinians,” he continued.

“Israel commits acts of terrorism too, says Carter”

Many, many people are angry at Carter over here for speaking to Hamas, and he’s being represented in the U.S. press as some kind of crazy old coot who has taken to radicalism in his old age. The reality is that he’s actually a very moderate voice in this conversation. He is only radical if not following the talking points set by people who are lying is radical.

‘What is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is the impediment to peace?’ [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] asks.

Ynetnews: “Rice criticizes Carter over Hamas Plans”

Gee, Secretary Rice, when you put it like that, your objections totally make sense.

Something worth noting: the Daily Star article is about how former President Carter said he thinks what Israel does to Palestinians is terrorism, too, and I do have qualms with the definition of terrorism he’s using–essentially he’s equating it with violence against civilians. I think what Israel does to Palestinians is despotic and verging on genocidal, and in fact, much worse than most forms of terrorism. But as I’ve mentioned before, the definition of terrorism I find most useful excludes states as actors.


Return from a long, long break.

4 01 2008

First there were finals, and then there was laziness, but I’m back to talk more about why U.S. coverage of the Middle East is totally stupid.

I don’t watch television news very often because it is generally useless, but I’m knitting a scarf and can’t listen to NPR for another three hours, so I flipped on CNN. Your World Today was on, and in addition to some primary coverage and a story on Britney Spears’ latest breakdown, was running a rather perplexing piece on an English-language Saudi blogger who got arrested for supporting 10 reform advocates that the Saudi government has accused of being linked to terrorism.

This is not really news–the Saudi government is constantly arresting people for saying things it doesn’t like. They must have spent 15 minutes (a long time in television news) on this report, and the anchor kept saying, “Is individualism in danger in Saudi Arabia?” As if individualism was once highly prized in Saudi Arabia. It was all very weird.

I did a little (very little) investigating and discovered that the Bush administration is petitioning for this blogger’s release–a fact not mentioned in the televised CNN report. It seems to me as if the whole thing is a ploy to make it look like this is an aberration, when in fact it’s an extremely common occurrence.

The PKK and Turkey

24 10 2007

I apologize for my extended and unannounced hiatus. I was sick and also incredibly busy. If this were a real blog that people read I probably couldn’t get away with that, but fortunately it is not.

I’m going to start with the gigantic news that’s all over the U.S. press -that Turkey wants to cross its border with Iraq to take out the PKK.

This is not a real countryThe PKK is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. For the uninitiated, there is, in fact, no official Kurdistan – Kurds are spread out over Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and a little bit of Syria and Russia.

Kurds have been campaigning for their sovereignty since the early 20th century, and the PKK functions somewhat like the Irish Republican Army. Their activities are primarily focused on obtaining the independence of Kurdistan, and they sometimes engage in terrorism to that end.

As you can see on the map there, a significant portion of the Kurdish population lives in what is officially Turkey, and there has historically been a lot of tension between Turkey and Kurdish nationalists.

So, some Iraqi members of the PKK crossed the Iraq-Turkey border and killed several Turkish soldiers. I think it was 12. And Turkey wants to cross the border and retaliate.

The problem for the U.S. is that the Kurds are our only friends in Iraq, and we would prefer not to piss them off. It’s a pickle.


18 09 2007

I read the Washington Post for U.S. news. This is not because I think the Post is the best source for news but because of plain old brand loyalty, born out of the fact that D.C. was the first place I ever lived without my parents. Sometimes I like to read the Metro section and say to myself, “Oh, that place! I remember that place!”

But I have got to stop reading the Post. Check out this article – it was the third of the headlines in the daily e-mail today.

Hamas’s New Order Exacts Toll On Gazans
Party Cements Grip with Harsh Tactics

I don’t support Hamas. But the way the U.S. media represents Hamas is often sensationalist and misleading. One thing you should understand before you read anything about Palestine is that politics there are violent in the extreme, and the tactics this article describes Hamas as using are employed on all sides – by Israel, by Hamas, and recently by Fatah. Most effectively by Israel, which is obviously much better funded than anyone else.

So while the article is probably not factually inaccurate it is remarkably misleading – it leaves you with the impression that Hamas is singly responsible for all the misery in Palestine.

Look! This person wears different clothes than you!It starts out with a description of a beach club in Gaza, at which one once could wear a bikini, but which is now populated by people who wear “bushy beards” and burqas. So, you know, they look funny. In fact, the claim in the fifth paragraph, that “Hamas leaders are increasingly imposing harsh interpretations of Islamic law and using brute force to bolster their isolated administration,” is only supported by the fact that there are more beards and burqas floating around Gaza now than there were a couple of years ago.

But the worst thing about the article is that it ends with a description of a strike at a Gaza hospital, which is taking place because of medicine shortages and the prevention of hundreds of patients from continuing their treatment in Israel (due to the wall, you know. That Israel built.), and the writer tries to pin the whole thing on Hamas by using two quotes from Fatah supporters.