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Friday, February 28, 2003


Matthew Yglesias has an interesting post up about the propaganda efforts headed up by Westwood One in the mid-east. He says:

You want to convince people that the United States is not determined to destroy their traditional values, and that democratic procedures and basic human rights are compatible with a variety of cultural forms, and this program sounds like it's doing the exact reverse.

The problem, of course, is that the only values the United States has been very interested in promoting are the values of capitalism. And those values, while fine as far as they go, without an equal emphasis on democracy, freedom and opportunity have helped to sow the resentment and hatred we are now seeing. Everytime we broadcast about our opulent way of life to a bunch of poor people with little hope living under a tyrannical despot, we are asking for their rage to be turned toward us.

The Westwood One executive is quoted as saying:

When we play a song by Jennifer Lopez, we talk about all the difficulties she has overcome," he says. "Those are great stories about the kind of things that can happen to you when you live in a democracy." As long as ratings are Pattiz's first and last concern ("don't lead with what makes us unpopular," he lectures me), METN will do little more than pander to the lowest common denominator in his trademark, Pepsi-Generation style.

Sad to say that because of their circumstances and experiences in life, the average youth in the mid-east is a much more serious person than that. And we should be much more serious about giving them something more than consumerism because they don't have the money or the inclination to buy if that's all we're selling.

Which brings me to this most disturbing article from today's LA Times. If this is any indication, Richard Perle is gonna have some splainin' to do when we are greeted with terrible hostility rather than a road to Baghdad strewn with rose petals.


Here, in the middle of the desert, closer to the Saudi Arabian border than to Amman, Jordan's relatively cosmopolitan capital, it is easier to hear the unvarnished sentiments and frustrations of this Arab country.

"Maan is a case study for Jordan. It reflects how we think in this country," said Taher Masri, an urbane former prime minister who remains close to the government. The confrontational statements, he says, are part of a complex philosophy common in this part of the world.

"Saddam is not liked for himself. He is liked, if he is liked, because he stands up to America and Israel -- and it has developed that the source of power for Israel is America and this is, of course, what" Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden has been saying.

"And what you will see in the streets is not support of Saddam, it's anti-American, anti-Israeli feeling," Masri said.

The confrontation in Maan also suggests how far even moderate Arab governments might go in responding to further unrest that could be ignited by a war in Iraq. It demonstrates that when moderate Arab countries repress the most vociferous Islamist voices, they run the risk of inflaming anti-American sentiments because the repression appears to be in the service of U.S. interests.


They love us. They really love us.

What a terrible, terrible mess.

3/4 - I apologize for the misspelling of Yglesias's name again. I know someone with the "I" spelling and it seems to be a block. But, I'm sure that a guy who occasionally makes a typo or two, as Mr. Yglesias does, won't hold it against me.