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How To Soft-Sell A Terrorist Takeover

The Boston Globe, that never-ending font of journalistic excellence (remember, they're owned by the New York Times), today offers us an object lesson in New Journalism 101: How To Downplay A Major Story When It's Inconvenient.

Step 1: Give It A Weak Headline.

Hezbollah steps up pressure on rivals

Sounds like the routine give-and-take of politics, doesn't it? It's the same language you'd expect to see in our presidential race: "Clinton steps up pressure on superdelegates to head off more defections to Obama."

Except in this case, the "pressure" has a body count. Hezbollah's idea of "stepped-up pressure" is to kill several people to intimidate the survivors.

Step 2: Play up the domestic politics angle, even at the expense of the important facts.

Here's the lead:

Hezbollah gunmen battled supporters of the government yesterday on the fifth day of a campaign by the Iranian-backed group that has dealt a severe blow to Washington's allies in Lebanon.

Don't mention that the Lebanese government is the duly-elected, legal government, and that Hezbollah is a terrorist group. Play down the Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah, and hold off mentioning Syria's involvement in keeping the Lebanese government weak by routinely assassinating Lebanese leaders who get too uppity and start making noises about independence from Syria. Hold off on mentioning that the UN has declared Hezbollah must be disarmed, and downplay it when you have no choice in bringing it up. Instead, make the point that the US backs the Lebanese government, and a blow against them is a blow against the Bush administration.

Step 3: Continue to play up Hezbollah's political nature, and minimize its terrorist status.

Jumblatt's call for his Druze rival Talal Arsalan to mediate was a sign of how big a blow the coalition has been dealt by Hezbollah, a political group with a powerful guerrilla army.

Hezbollah's political wing is simply the civil face on the terrorist body. They are the PR flacks, the talkative thugs who explain how important their "insurance" is to the business owner while the thugs trash the place in a tradtional protection racket. The Globe -- and I have to assume this is deliberate -- inverts the description: they are not "a political group with a powerful guerrilla army," they are a powerful terrorist group with a political aspect that serves only to carry out the same goals through alternate means -- but with the threat of force ever present.

Step 4: Omit key details that prove inconvenient to the preferred narrative.

Lebanon's political stalemate turned violent Wednesday after the government decided to try to move against a military communications network operated by Hezbollah, and fired the head of security at Beirut airport, who is close to the group.

Hezbollah called the move a declaration of war, saying the network had played a key role in its war with Israel in 2006.

For example, don't mention that the head of security had turned a blind eye to a Hezbollah operation that carefully monitored traffic in and out of Beirut airport. Gee, why would a terrorist group with a history of hijacking and assassination be so fascinated with the intimate workings of an airport?

And why would we bring up the fact that the UN -- through Security Council Resolution 1701 -- forcefully condemned Hezbollah for triggering that war with Israel and demanded that Hezbollah be disarmed completely? Why, if the Globe did that, then they would have to admit that the dismantling of Hezbollah's communication network is actually part and parcel of implementing that UN Resolution.

What is unfolding in Lebanon puts the shame to the cliche' of a "slow-motion train wreck." What is happening there is nothing less than the destruction of a nation and government. It is the removal of a legitimate government and its replacement by a terrorist organization that has sworn to wage a genocidal war against another nation. And that terrorist organization is nothing more than a proxy for two other nations -- Iran and Syria -- who have spent literally decades sponsoring terrorism around the world.

And the main reason why the Boston Globe and so many others refuse to see it that way is that they are so fixated on their own domestic political agendas that they can't bring themselves to speak the truth. Because if they did, they'd find themselves sounding uncomfortably like President George W. Bush talking about Iraq before we invaded -- and anything that smacks of that is utter anathema to them.

So because of that, the people of Lebanon suffer today. Because of that, the people of Israel will most likely suffer tomorrow. And because of that, far more people will suffer in the future.

The most appalling part of all of this is that it is so damned unnecessary. Bush hasn't said a damned thing about Lebanon, as far as I've noticed, so there's no reason for the knee-jerk anti-Bush people to pre-emptively throw Lebanon to the wolves. But because they've invested so much in downplaying the threat of terrorism, in accusing Bush of exaggerating the danger terrorist groups pose to the world, that they can't bring themselves to see the incredible danger Hezbollah poses.

Message to the Obama campaign and their backers: "Hope" is as shitty a foreign policy as it is a birth control method. And you aren't the ones who will pay the price for you to learn that lesson.


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Comments (10)

"the spectacle of Middle Ea... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

"the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure."
- John Derbyshire

I have to agree. If the upcoming Lebanese civil war is long, hot, and rife with casualties, the fewer assholes to bother the rest of us.

Unfortunately, SS, that mea... (Below threshold)
epador:

Unfortunately, SS, that means the few asshats left are the meanest, strongest and cruelest ones who hate us the most.

Great idea there.

"New Journalism 101: How To... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"New Journalism 101: How To Downplay A Major Story When It's Inconvenient."

The Boston Globe outed Bush's lost year from the Air National Guard and the BG harshed on Kerry's campaign while leaving plausible Outs for the candidates in both cases. Nothing new. Just more slightly-above-average American j-school reportage in low-fi. Buyer be thankful that the BG thinks it has important people reading its stuff. Otherwise you get "I survived male breast cancer" on the front page with a cautionary tale about gypsy roofers below the fold.

Your ding against the NYT-BG axis' failure to adequately call the plays at the latest cat herding contest seems to be ascribed by you to wrong-thinking, though, when BG-NYT is a neocon -to-pro-Israel stronghold in the MSM. The simpler answer is that the neoconservative A-list "talent" at NYT-BG must be safely confined to the opinion pages where their wonkish ineptitude for nasty detail work won't leave them too open to the cold douche of reality. No one wants to be the next Judith Miller after Judith Miller got caught.


Don't mention that the L... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Don't mention that the Lebanese government is the duly-elected, legal government, and that Hezbollah is a terrorist group.

You know Hezbollah has 14 members in the Lebanese legislature, and the "March 8 Alliance" of Shi'a groups to which they belong has 35, right? It's easy to say they're terrorists as opposed to the government, but they are actually both.

I understand the desire to simplify the situation to terrorists vs. legitimate government, but that ignores the complexities of the situation and serves no real purpose (other than self-assurance that you support "the good guys"). As much as this is a struggle between terrorists and government, it is also a struggle between Sunni and Shi'a (you know the majority in Lebanon's gov't is Sunni, right?), and a political struggle involving neighboring alliances (though you can only see this through a terrorism lens, naturally).

Aside from the fact that this conflict is in some ways motivated by international struggle against US influence in the region by Iran and Syria (we would have served the Lebanese better by not being so enthusiastically supportive of the current majority), it's clear that by proclaiming one group as nothing but terrorists who should not be recognized under any circumstance (even if they are part of elected government), you go down a road that we know all too well.

Luckily people of your mindset do not run things there. Hezbollah is not going away, no matter how many times you call them terrorists. Have you still not learned that the Bush foreign policy (Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, no exceptions) doesn't work to fix anything, but only provides for more and more destruction? You're a smart guy; you'll get it eventually.

The NYT a neocon stronghold... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

The NYT a neocon stronghold? Sheesh, that kind of conspiracy nut thinking will get you committed. Frankly, your implied definition of "neocon" is more than a bit suspicious.

Have you still not... (Below threshold)
SPQR:
Have you still not learned that the Bush foreign policy (Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, no exceptions) doesn't work to fix anything, but only provides for more and more destruction?

Yeah, that Jimmy Carteresque foreign policy is so famous for its success.

Jay Tea,---Don't m... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Jay Tea,

---Don't mention that the Lebanese government is the duly-elected, legal government, and that Hezbollah is a terrorist group. ---

I guess you don't want to mention that the "democratically elected" government of Lebanon is not allowing the Hizbollah political representatives who were voted into power to sit on the cabinet.

This is like how Hamas won the elections, and Fatah refused to let them take control of the government.

Your defense of democracy is very selective.

And let's not forget the reason Hizbollah is considered a terrorist group is because of pressure from Jewish groups like AIPAC

some lesser Mike:<bl... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

some lesser Mike:


And let's not forget the reason Hizbollah is considered a terrorist group is because of pressure from Jewish groups like AIPAC

And here I thought it was the kidnapping and targeting of civilians...

JT:"And you aren't the ones... (Below threshold)
jp2:

JT:"And you aren't the ones who will pay the price for you to learn that lesson."

Ummm...this coming from a guy who supported a war that killed up to 500K innocent people? Really? Staggering in its ignorance.

This one is about as misguided:

"Yeah, that Jimmy Carteresque foreign policy is so famous for its success."

Yeah, except for that whole Egypt / Israel peace accord which has remained intact since Carter nailed it in 79. Forgot about that one.

"And let's not forget th... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"And let's not forget the reason Hizbollah is considered a terrorist group is because of pressure from Jewish groups like AIPAC"

And let me add to _Mike_'s commentary: And the whole 'storing weapons under schools and hospitals' thing too.




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