Here is another gem from Berlin Aspen Institute's Jeffrey Gedmin...the original English version of the article that was published in Tuesday's "Welt" in German. I had planned to publish the piece earlier, but then had to delay it because of Katrina. Katrina is still at the forefront of our thinking, but I think Jeffrey Gedmin's voice needs to be heard under any circumstances.
Journalists: Useful Idiots for Terrorists?
By Jeffrey Gedmin
I think media coverage of Iraq generally stinks. Televison is the
absolute worst. I have a simple theory. Lots of people at CNN, BBC and in
German media--in the last case it would be hard to find exceptions--were
against the war. Passionately against. I believe that today these same
folks allow their passions and prejudice to get in the way of fair and
objective reporting. I wonder what it would take to initiate an honest
and open debate about the subject in Germany? Or any debate at all for
By now, of course, the media has succeeded in reducing Iraq to a single
issue story: suicide bombings. Terrorist violence is an enormous
problem, to be sure. It could eventually plunge the country into chaos.
You'll get no argument here to play down the matter. But when a bomb goes
off and kills 35 Iraqis in the capital, I also want to know how the other
24, 999,965 are living, what they think, how they feel. Note: The
violence you see on television is concentrated in 4 to 6 of Iraq's 18
provinces, mostly in the center of the country, mostly in Baghdad. Ten of
Iraq's 18 provinces were nearly terror free when measured over a six month
period earlier this year. That is, they either had no attacks or what
did transpire represented less than one percent of violence country
For a change I would like to see a story on the Marsh Arabs, for
example. Saddam bombed their villages in the early 1990s, killing 30,000 to
60,000, diving nearly a half million from their homes. Saddam also mined
and poisened their whetlands--nearly 20,000 sq kilometres--to prevent
them from returning. The UN called this at the time the world's worst
environmental disaster. Today, with Japanese help, the marshes are being
restored, the water is being purified, the Marsh Arabs are coming home.
OK, these pictures are not as sexy as bombs and blood. But it’s sad
that media keeps selling short the progress.
It's also sad because the kind of reporting we do get supports the
terrorists' media strategy. The killers say explicitly that they stage
operations to increase pessimism in order to pressure the US and others to
leave the country. One told the Financial Times last week that he
watches Western television everyday to gauge their progress. I wonder
whether our journalists ever think about being the terrorist’s "useful
idiots." I also wonder whether some want the terrorists to win. Roland Heine
of the Berliner Zeitung has the courage to admit as much. He wrote in a
recent editorial column that the jihadists and their allies have the
moral and legal right to kill the “Besatzer” and their “ Einheimische
These last days we gets lots of dark reporting on the Iraqi
constitutional process. I am not expert, but I read the draft constitution and
checked with a few learned types. It seems that this Iraqi constitution
has stronger formulations about human rights than those found in the
recent Afghan constitution. It seems that the Iraqi constitution is more
liberal than the constitutions of moderate Arab states like Jordan and
Egypt. I also note that the Iraqis, despite immense pressure form the
terrorists and precious little moral support from Europe, have been
working hard to reach compromises and settle their differences peacefully.
That's new for Iraq and the Arab world. So the Iraq pessimists say, It
will all still all go to Hell! I say maybe. And maybe not. But then I
have my own bias. I want the Iraqis to succeed. (emphasis added)
What I like in particular about Jeffrey Gedmin's articles: he has the guts to actually name journalists who provide biased reporting.
They'll hate him for it... Which is a badge of honor, in my humble opinion.
(Hat tip Julian Knapp, who sent us the English version)
Update: As I wrote - German journalists hate him for this article. Proof: this comment from Eckhard Fuhr in Berliner Morgenpost. Fuhr tries to poke fun at Gedmin by implying that even at the end of WWII there were good news and regions unaffected by the war, but the media concentrated only on the bad stuff. Unintentionally, he compares Hitler to Saddam - a comparison that - among the German angry left - is usually reserved for George W. Bush.