Saturday, August 11, 2007

News, Truth, and the Big Picture

One of my history professors, who had family in Russia, said that back in the old country there was a saying, or joke, about the two major news services in the former Soviet Union: Tass (News) and Pravda (Truth). The joke ran, "there's not much Tass in Pravda, or Pravda in Tass."(1)

I don't think that the United States has that sort of problem, but I do think that the news isn't quite the truth.

Yes, what we read in the paper and hear on the news is factual. For example, "Militants Bomb Home of Anti-Al Qaeda Cleric in Iraq" is a headline. One we're quite accustomed to here in the United States. And I'm quite sure it's true. Other news from Iraq includes
  • Police found pieces of people in Dujail, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad that added up to four men - They'd been abducted a week ago
  • A roadside bomb killing one civilian and wounding another while they were driving on the highway south of Baghdad
  • Another roadside bomb killed the governor of Diwaniyah province in southern Iraq, the provincial police chief, their driver, and a bodyguard
All quite true, and very sad. However, without minimizing the tragedy of these deaths, that's not all that's going on.

The same article that started with the bombing of an anti-al Qaeda cleric mentioned a U.N. Security council resolution. The United States and the United Kingdom co-sponsored a resolution that the Security Council adopted Friday.

The United Nations, at the request of the Iraqi government, will "promote political talks among Iraqis and a regional dialogue on issues including border security, energy and refugees as well as help tackling the country's worsening humanitarian crisis which has spilled into neighboring countries."

The U.S. and the U.K. apparently hope that the image the U.N. has for being neutral will help factions in Iraq talk with each other.

It might work.

The same article quotes Salim Abdullah, spokesman for the biggest Sunni political bloc in parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front:

"The U.N. is a neutral party that can play a good role in Iraq. They have played good role previously and now, we need them to re-activate that role and expand it, so we welcome this renewed chance for them here in Iraq," and -

"Finding a third party, however, does not lift the responsibility from the shoulders of the American administration," he added. "It should be clear for the political powers inside Iraq that they cannot completely rely on the U.N., which should have a complementary role."

Another article led with news of the U.N. resolution, didn't mention Salim Abdullah, but did quote U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad: "This resolution underscores the widespread belief that what happens in Iraq has strategic implications not only for the region but for the entire world."

This is the sort of thing that I think is headline news: The U.S. and the U.K., major members of the "unilateral" action in Iraq, co-sponsor a resolution in the U.N. Security Council that calls for U.N.-promoted intra-Iraqi political talks. The resolution passes, and can be seen as recognition of the strategic importance of Iraq.

A hundred years from now, that may be at least as important that the tragic loss of life during the same period.

I realize that this is wishful thinking: but I'd appreciate it if the news put the 'big picture' points closer to the top.

(Yes, I know that Tass is a 1920s acronym, "Telegrafnoe Agentsvo Sovietskovo Soyuza," or "Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union." I gather that it became synonymous with "news" in about the same way "Kleenex" became synonymous with "facial tissue.")

1 comment:

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

That is news for you, news for consumptions sake. At least some can step back and pose compelling questions, as you have done in this post.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.