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October 31, 2007

But He’s Our Sonofabitch

Newsweek-Pakistan

In the way of visual analysis, I offer you the comment of one Zafar Sadik posted at SajaForum in response to last week’s Newsweek cover.  (His conversation between “trainees,” I believe, is keyed to the equally dramatic black-and-white photos inside the print edition.  I couldn’t find those images on-line, although I have linked below to the unrelated photo gallery that is running with the web version.)

Could Newsweek’s cover story have anything to do with the US’ new program (after all previous ones have failed) of installing Benazir Bhutto as the new savior of Pakistan. She went to Harvard don’t you know, she’s secular, she will save Pakistan. But wait didn’t we hear all this from the Bush administration about Parvez Musharraf only 6 years ago. Wasn’t Parvez so cute, he went on Jon Stewart and sipped tea during Ramadan. He’s so secular, we want that man.

But then it didn’t work out. But never mind let’s try out Benazir. She may be a “kleptocrat in hermes scarves” as one of the few newsmagazines with a knowledge of history+memory of Pakistan’s past (NOT Newsweek), but as Nixon once said “He may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” (about Suharto I think).

And as soon as the Benazir rescue mission is launched, along comes Newsweek with another ridiculous pandering story designed to assist the mission. No doubt most of the “facts” are true, but the slant, the angle, the positioning, the photos, all designed to evoke certain emotions in the American public– that will produce a phone call to their Congressman. Go nuke go. Go blitz go. This is not journalism (except in the Judith Miller brand of prostitution to Bush administration) ….

PS Here is day 1 of training camp at Pakistani “Jehadi camps.”

“When you see the western cameraman, throw your hands up like this and bare your teeth just so.”

(eager trainee): “Bhaisaab, what if it is a white lady, sometimes they also send those.”

“Then you try to personally intimidate her, that may even get you the cover.”

(eager trainee 2) “Shall we have sticks? Or Kalashnikovs?”

“For AP, sticks. For CNN, always Kalashnikovs. For Newsweek, always bring the jehadi child with you, with a headwrap (never mind that he is from Orangi Town, everyone must wear headwrap). Oh and make sure to always wear white salwar, photographs well…”

Newsweek article

Newsweek slideshow



(image: … working on it.)

  • tina

    I laughed at the “Day 1 of camp” spoof at the end. So true!
    It doesn’t hurt to remind people that there are several potential trouble spots in the world and we can’t just demonize and attack all of them. Pakistan IS a bigger problem than Iran. And what can we do about it? Practically nothin’. The government is already in our pocket. It can’t control the country. What are we going to do, declare war on them and install another pro-Western government that can’t defeat the fundamentalists? We need another strategy, and Bushco hasn’t got one.
    Everything can’t be solved with a big tough military and lots of weapons. Funny how that works.

  • tina

    A friend of mine in Karachi has just informed me that the cover and the article are making the rounds in his office and both are being soundly condemned for giving an unnecessarily scary image of Pakistan and for being inaccurate as well. Also the U.S. ambassador has been meeting almost every politician of importance in the last few days and the general feeling is that “something is up”.
    Conspiracy theories about the Jewish media are being floated as well ;)

  • Blake Incarnate

    tina – the title is that Pakistan is “more dangerous than Iraq”, not a bigger problem than Iran. Does that make a difference to you?

  • margaret

    The three articles referenced at the top of the cover: Staph infections, Hillary, and Cheney, are an interesting addition to the threatening aspect of the overall idea of “terrorism.” Why these juxtapositions with terrorism?

  • jtfromBC

    After eye balling these Global Goblins I’m primed for Halloween tonight.

  • tina

    Blake I.–my bad.
    Iraq is dangerous? In an international security sense, surely not. Who can they attack? They are at the receiving end of aggression currently. The notion that Iraq still represents a danger to the States is so stupid I didn’t even read it right…I assumed they had to be talking about Iran.
    Incredible/

  • David

    Tina, in the international security sense Iraq IS dangerous. It’s boardering on anarchy, which means that individuals, good or bad, can act with virtual impunity. It’s true that the actual Iraqi state apparatus is not powerful enough to attack another state, but it cannot even control the criminals, terrorists, thugs, and insurgants within their own country. Lawlessness sows criminal activities.
    The power vacuum in Iraq serves as a paradise for individuals who want to harm others. This lawlessness is not only a threat to Iraqis (to whom we have a great responsibility toward), but to the wider Western world (which is critical to our security and way of life) also.
    It is not the official policy of the Iraqi government to actively harbor terrorists like the now-defunct Taliban-run Afghanistan, but the conditions are ripe for terrorists and criminals to thrive. In an increasingly-globalized world, this DOES pose a danger. If bin-Ladin can successfully plan the most devestating terrorist attack half a world away in a remote camp in Afghanistan, why couldn’t that happen in Iraq?

  • Peter

    Dangerous to whom? To what? U.S. Hegemony?

  • http://home.comcast.net/~sfs73/index.html MonsieurGonzo

    fascinating, disturbing images of ‘ethnic’ brown-skinned men, women & children, presumably Muslim; quite evidently angry, or in agony; all, suffering apparent.
    there is nothing Pakistani telling in these images: the images say something else, thus.
    their story is the universal ‘ethnic’ = brown-skinned, presumably Muslim peoples’…
    possessive.
    They own it. It belongs to Them. It’s their story.
    Let’s give it back.

  • jtfromBC

    David its hard to know where to begin responding to your assessment about Iraq but from Andrew Tilghman an Iraq correspondent for the Stars and Stripes newspaper in 2005 and 2006 I offer a small sample of his observations.
    “In July, for instance, at Charleston Air Force Base, the president gave a speech about Iraq that mentioned al-Qaeda ninety-five times.”
    “..no one has more incentive to overstate the threat of AQI than President Bush….Pointing to al-Qaeda in Iraq helps the administration leverage Americans’ fears about terrorism and residual anger over the attacks of September 11. It is perhaps one of the last rhetorical crutches the president has left to lean on.
    “..Today multiple Iraqi insurgent groups target U.S. forces, with the aim of driving out the occupation. But once our troops withdraw, most Sunni resistance fighters will have no impetus to launch strikes on American soil.
    “..AQI’s presence is tolerated by the country’s Sunni Arabs, historically among the most secular in the Middle East, because they have a common enemy in the United States. Absent this shared cause, it’s not clear that native insurgents would still welcome AQI forces working to impose strict sharia.
    “..predicting future political dynamics in Iraq is uncertain, one thing is clear now: the continued American occupation of Iraq is al-Qaeda’s best recruitment tool, the lure to hook new recruits. As RAND’s Ali said, “What inspires jihadis today is Iraq.”
    “Five years ago, the American public was asked to support the invasion of Iraq based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to al-Qaeda. Today, the erroneous belief that al-Qaeda’s franchise in Iraq is a driving force behind the chaos in that country may be setting us up for a similar mistake.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0710.tilghman.html

  • tina

    David, your third sentence is what I was talking about. When we say “Iran is dangerous”, we presume that its official activities through its government are a threat to our own sovereign state. Iraq is not dangerous to any other country in this sense.
    As for calling any country “dangerous” that may have terrorists within its borders, please check out the FBI’s list of terrorist organizations. There are more U.S. Christian fundamentalist groups than Muslim ones. We have plenty of potential and real terrorists within our own borders as we saw at the Atlanta Olympics.
    When we see this cover paired with the words “Pakistan is dangerous”, it may as well read, “Pakistan wants to attack America”. That isn’t true, and the cover story is misleading.

  • http://tekel.wordpress.com tekel

    I don’t think that anyone will dispute that the most dangerous country in the world… is the United States.
    In the last 10 years, who else has invaded a soverign nation half-way around the globe, deposed that country’s government by military force, seen its leader grusomely executed, and maintained an occupation force on a scale never before seen in modern history, intent on enslaving the native population and stealing all of their mineral resources?
    Pakistan couldn’t fight its way out of a wet paper bag. We, on the other hand, are torturing innocent civilians and randomly murdering people without provocation every single day.
    USA – Still #1!

  • Lynn

    The only reason Pakistan is dangerous (and it’s HUGE reason) is the fact that they have nuclear weapons and terrorists. Very bad combination. It is where all our attention should be. Forget about Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, etc. They could all be defused with an intelligent, respectful foreign policy, but nuclear Pakistan run amok is truly scary.

  • jtfromBC

    Lynn, Pakistan will not disarm until India does. Of course that will only happen if China agrees with the USA,UK, Russia, France and the others, that nuclear weapons are scary everywhere, and they all get rid of them.

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