Monday, December 05, 2005

The Means Always Shape the Ends

It is a Western thing, and more specifically an American thing, to give sincerity undue weight in evaluating people's actions. Hitler and Stalin were sincere. They both thought that the future of humanity would be vastly improved by liquidating millions, and any mix-ups on the way were worth the price of future perfection.

When I was called to go on Fox's Neil Cavuto show, I had only just finished reading "Stalin andf his Hangmen," a recent book by Donald Rayfield, who charts the horrific results of the Bolsheviks' determination that ends will not be tainted by means. History has proven differently.

The thesis that I was called upon to rebut was that Europeans are ungrateful for the USA saving their lives from terrorists. Condoleezza Rice was going to read the riot act to the Europeans for suggesting that they disapproved of Secret Police kidnapping people, transporting them anonymously without trial in sealed airplains across Europe and then torturing them either in secret prisons run by the CIA, or by less scrupulous allied police forces in the Middle East.

Well, I mean, between ETA, the Red Brigades, Bader Meinhof and the rest, it is hardly as if the Europeans had to wait until September 11 2001 to discover terrorism.

If anyone can explain how what the CIA is doing is different from what the KGB or the Gestapo did, I would like to hear. If in doubt, remember that the administration has been trying to exclude the agency from Congressional strictures on torture, while backstopping that effort with an attempt to redefine torture. Mock drownings don't count it appears.

More potently, it shows that the US leadership is running mad. If there is one successful terrorist tactic, it is to provoke governments into repressive and unjust actions that unite populations against them. Levelling Fallujah is, perhaps, a localized example. But every time someone is kidnapped this way, it is almost proving Osama Bin Laden's point about the US.

Firstly, it mostly happens to Muslims, secondly it convinces billions that all the talk of democracy and rule of law is persiflage, covering up entirely different motives and thirdly, it sets a very ominous precedent for a government for dealing with other types of opposition.

The means shape the ends. Effectively abrogating the Geneva Conventions, violating internatonal conventions on torture, and breaking every constitutional guarantee of due process is a funny way to set an example to the world.

Below is the News Hounds version of the show. My heart goes out to these people. I cannot even watch TV, but wall to wall Fox --- these guys are on the line for us all.

News Hounds
We watch FOX so you don't have to.

December 05, 2005

Fox Turns CIA Rendition Issue into a Fairy Tale

Fox turned the issue of CIA kidnappings, secret prisons, and torture into a fairy tale about an ungrateful Europe today (December 5, 2005) on Your World w/Neil Cavuto.

Ian Williams, the UN correspondent for The Nation magazine was Cavuto's guest. The title of the segment, reflected in a chyron that repeatedly appeared on screen, was, "Are Europeans Ingrates When it Comes to the War on Terror?" Cavuto opened the segment by telling the audience that Condoleezza Rice would be in Europe this week where she "will be pressed by a number of EU leaders" about "those secret CIA prison allegations" (the full extent of the background given on the topic). Cavuto said that Rice claims the "people of Europe are safer because of the US war on terror and its intelligence gathering. So, we ask," he said, "instead of the questions from Europe, where is the thanks?"

Williams did a fantastic job of talking about the larger issue despite Cavuto's repeated attempts to make Europe's alleged lack of gratitude stay front and center, "whether we question these guys harshly or not." Williams repeatedly made the point that, "The worst thing the terrorists can do is provoke governments into behaving unreasonably. Once they've done that, they're succeeding and in this case, Osama bin Laden and all the others, they've provoked the United States into illegal detentions. They're kidnapping people. We are arresting the wrong people."

Comment: In the fall of 2004, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) released a study titled, "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters." The study showed that Fox News watchers had more misconceptions about the War on Terror and other national and international issues than those who got their news from other sources. Given the way the CIA torture matter morphed into one about an ever ungrateful Europe on Fox today, Fox's viewers undoubtedly continue to have misconceptions about what's going on in the world. And that, I'm sure, is precisely the objective.

Reported by Melanie at December 5, 2005 07:28 PM

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