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May 18, 2005

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Comments

bmcburney

Not only that but she is obviously confusing Ari Fleisher with Donald Rumsfeld.

Cal Lanier

"the 17 dead as a result of careless journalism. "

That's simply untrue. If the story had been entirely accurate, there'd still be 17 dead.

You acknowledge that the "government controlled, ill-educated Middle East" will believe anything, so how can you then turn around and declare that the truth or falsity of the story has any impact on the outcome?

Newsweek Personality Quiz

John Burgess

By not noting that both Al-Riyadh newspaper and the Saudi government repudiated the blood libel story immediately, firing the writer in doing so, you're obfuscating that facts to make hyperbolic points as well.

But this debacle has many sources: not great journalism, paranoia in the region, and also the unfortunate fact that Americans, acting as though for the government, did commit atrocities.

Bill Rice

Cal,

I cannot say that I clearly follow your criticism. The story led to people dying. If there was no story that was incorrect about US actions at Gitmo lives may have been saved and soldiers lives not put at risk.

The story fueled the passion which led to the riots which led to the dead. I am not sure where you were going with if "it was accurate" there would still be the dead.

The hate and lies that are given out about the US in the Muslim world, which are allowed and encouraged by respressive, non-democratic governments lead to an increasing amount of further development setback for those nations as the people focus on mythical causes outside of their own government for the reason for their misery.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

Bill Rice

John,

Saudi Arabia doesn't have a free press like the US. Can you imagine that story being published by any Western press? Remember that all media is under the authority of the Saudi state. How the Saudi's responded after an international outcry isn't the point.

The fact that such dribble could be written in a two part series in a major Saudi paper is a disgrace.

I am not going for "hyperbolic points". I am arguing that governments that allow hate to be directed regularly at outsiders for their troubles rather than allowing real dialogue and critique of the existing regime is a reason for the root problems of many of the "anti-" problems that exist.

The blame the US mentality only removes temporarily the spotlight from the lack of democractic freedoms and progress in failing states, such as the lack of equal suffrage, property rights, religious freedoms etc.

America, by force of will, in an increasingly anti-American world, is bring about revolutionary and democratic change in the most self oppressed area in the world. America is not perfect. But the lack of moral clarity about America's goodness compared to corrupt regimes in the Middle East baffles me, unless we all assume a relativist viewpoint. And if we do that, nothing matters.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

M. Simon

So let me see here if I get this straight.

It is accepted that prison abuse is as common as rain in American prisions and the outrage is directed at either the Pentagon or the Muslim whack jobs.

If it is OK for Americans to be abused why not abuse Muslims with whom we are at war?

Or why not a crusade to clean up American prisons?

Where is the outrage?

John Burgess

Actually, the story in Al-Riyadh got cleaned up before there was an international outcry. I know because I was one of the ones who worked to clean it up. The article--not a two-parter, to the best of my recollection, but I won't bet on it--appeared on the eve of VP Cheney's visit to the KSA.

I was Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Riyadh at the time. When I saw the article, I was not very happy and figured it was run as an intentional provocation. It turned out that it wasn't.

Rather, the editor truly was on holiday in Beirut at the time and a sub-editor let the piece go.

As a result of the hell we raised, starting at 0300, the editor returned from Beirut, the writer was fired, and the Saudi government let all Saudi papers know that this crap had to stop. That was accomplished by 2000 on the same day.

I have seen that writer's byline in one paper since then. It was a reprint of another stupid--but not anti-Semitic--piece she'd written for a foreign (i.e., non-Saudi) paper.

No, the Saudi media is not as free as the US media. But neither is it a controlled media as, say, the Cuban or Chinese media. Or even the Syrian media.

There is no prior censorship of articles, though bad writing and editorial decisions can lead to getting fired. Sometimes, if it's particularly egregious--or the complainant is particularly powerful--it can lead to jail.

Not free, not captive.

Cal Lanier

"If there was no story that was incorrect about US actions at Gitmo lives may have been saved and soldiers lives not put at risk."

The riots didn't happen because the story was false. The riots happened because the story was published.

So here's the question: would you have blamed Newsweek for the deaths if the story had been true?

An Uncivil Response

Bill Rice

John,

Thank you for your follow up and also for your service to our nation in responding to the original article. With respect to your complaint that I didn't reference the outcome of the writer's article, I did not. However, my link to the incident does, so I am not sure that is completely fair criticism.

Nevertheless, while articles may not be censored prior to publishing, there is an expectation of approval or disapproval from the government which clearly stiffles free speech.

I am not attempting to single this article out as the basis for my case. Following many of the MEMRI translatons one can conclude that Middle Eastern news if often very anti-American often with very distorted truths or rumors being advanced as true.

Even in your example, it took you on behalf of the US to bring about change, not the Saudi government by itself.

The main thrust of my post was attempting to point out the lack of rational dialogue about US foreign policy.

Again, thank you for your time and thoughtful response to my post.

Best regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

Bill Rice

Cal,

I am not sure we are in disagreement. I am not excusing the riots and deaths. I am attempting to articulate what is wrong about militant thought in the Middle East and how it creates a culture that allows such thinking to escalate to violence.

That problem is not created by the US. America's efforts to bring democracy, hopefully over time through the spreading of liberty, will diffuse such radical thought. However, these changes could be a generation or more away.

However, without real reform of the political structures of the Middle East governments, we will never find security. Bad journalism, or blame America views in the West appear to be from a relativist viewpoint that treat all positions equally.

To equate how a protest in the US and a protest in the Middle East turn out is not equivalent.

Thank you for your clarification, and your comment on DEL.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

Ulrich Speck

"The story led to people dying."

No. Those people were not killed by a piece of paper. They were killed by fanatical islamists. It's dangerous to accept their excuses. That logic leads us to believe that, for example, 9/11 happened because the West is evil. If we accept that logic, we should ask our woman to wear the burka.

There is a relation between a critical American press and worldwide anti-Americanism, yes. But the most dangerous reaction is to fight the critical press instead of fighting anti-Americanism.

Newsweek has done it's job. The media has every right to critize the government, and in doing this it has every right to error.

To make Newsweek responsible for the reaction of fanatical islamists is an attack on the freedom of the press. It's an attack on our values.

Cal Lanier

"I am attempting to articulate what is wrong about militant thought in the Middle East and how it creates a culture that allows such thinking to escalate to violence."

On that, we agree. However, you aren't addressing militant thought in the Middle East when you say that "careless journalism" caused 17 deaths. So again, I'm wondering: would you still say that Newsweek had caused the deaths if the story were true?

Owen

Just a quick point, but you argue Ms Applebaum's point about plausability by saying that "I would counter that any argument made in the government-controlled, ill-educated Middle East that is anti-American or anti-Israel in nature would be believed, regardless of its "plausibility"." Weren't the main riots in Jalalabad, in the now democratic, now non-anti-American Afghanistan, or are we saying that President Bush's success in liberating and democratizing thay country wasn't quite as factual as has been heralded???

"the 17 dead as a result of careless journalism. "

That's simply untrue. If the story had been entirely accurate, there'd still be 17 dead.

You acknowledge that the "government controlled, ill-educated Middle East" will believe anything, so how can you then turn around and declare that the truth or falsity of the story has any impact on the outcome?


If the accuracy of the story had been of greater concern to Newsweek, they may not have published it, and NOONE would be dead. THAT's what makes those deaths the result of careless journalism.

Bill Rice

Cal,

I think we are in agreement in substance and arguing symantics. Let me rephrase so that I hope I can be in agreement with one of DEL's commentors (please read this as a joke).

"Newsweek's poor journalism" was a catalyst for militant Islamic protests to spark. I do believe strongly people are responsible for their own actions, and Newsweek didn't kill anyone directly, but their poor reporting inflammed hatreds that exist for the reasons I have articulated above.

Dawn's Early Light is very committed to seeing the War on Terror won, which requires a radical change of governments in the Middle East that will promote democratic values.

Sincerely,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

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