Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baby Steps

I'd be curious to know what reactions others may have had to two reports on NPR today. The first one was an interview with Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. Hiltermann has been on NPR a little over a dozen times in the past 8 years, usually to talk about his work with Human Rights watch and Hussein gassing of the Kurds in the 1980s. (He has some really interesting recent comments on that history which I'd love to hear discussed on NPR).

Hiltermann is not the usual tool we get on NPR. He seems thoughtful and informed on the Iraq disaster. Ydstie asked Hiltermann, "Are you concerned that American politics is now going to speed forward and require the withdrawal of American troops on a relatively rapid basis?" To which Hiltermann answers, "Yeah, that is a concern I have. You know, I was against the war, but now I'm against a precipitous withdrawal of American forces...created a huge security vacuum and you have to fill it lest the country and the region descend into chaos."

The report ended there, which I found pretty frustrating. Isn't that's where the piece should have started. I couldn't help but feel that Ydstie framed the report to simply end on a note favorable to the continuing occupation, but I wanted to hear what Hiltermann proposes as a way forward: How does he address the unpopularity of the American occupation among Iraqis? How does he see the occupation ever ending? What would he say to the Bush administration? etc.

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The second piece was a report from John Burnett embedded with US forces in an outpost outside of Baghdad. I have to give credit to Ydstie and Burnett for discussing how the administration's claim that Iraq is all about fighting al-Qaeda is misleading and simplifies a far more complicated situation facing US troops on the ground. Being "embedded" it's a limited report, but it was refreshing to hear NPR willing to air contradiction to some of Bush's lies.


Porter Melmoth said...

Any change toward truth is welcome, but it could be that NPR is simply following the trickle of Republican senators who are now speaking up about the war. Baby steps perhaps, but following at a safe distance.

Michael Moore's outcry to Wolf Blitzer on CNN was directly-placed: where was the media when they should've been where they weren't?

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard any of the interviews with this guy, but before the war I did hear several with Peter Galbraith, all talking about the same subject: the gassings by Saddam Hussein. Only recently did Galbraith come clean and admit that he had been paid by the DoD to talk as he did, in order to build public support for Hussein's removal. So whether this guy was for or against the war initially, the important question to me is: was he paid by the gov't as a tool to gin support for the war?

Mytwords said...

I don't think he was. Unlike Galbraith, he wasn't pushing the Halabja case in concert with others, he was working with Human Rights Watch--take a look at his Harper's piece: its a scathing indictment of the US complicity in the chemical killings of Kurds.

(Oh, and the Michael Moore confrontation with Blitzer was amazing...what a breath of fresh air.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for responding so late, I've been on the road. I did read your links. What bothered me about the Harpers piece is that he called alternative explanations of the Halabja massacre "lies". I read one article, I don't know by whom, about a massacre of civilians by poison gas, I believe it was Halabja, but I am not certain. The explanation was logical and powerful, that the victims were in a "crossfire" zone, and did not show the horrible signs of mustard gas described so often by Galbraith. The possibility that the horrible casualties were a result of Iranian cyanide gas was proposed, not presented as certainty. Given the constant drumbeat of "even gassed his own citizens" from this extremely mendacious administration, I see no reason to uncritically accept the party line on this.