Sunday, September 23, 2007

General Petraeus, General Betray Us, and
Enlightened Self-Interest

Propaganda is generally accepted as a part of warfare. The enemy is routinely defamed.

The war on terror offers new angles on this traditional aspect of warfare, since different sides of the conflict are sometimes in the same country.

I'm not sure where The New York Times stands in this conflict.

On the one hand, enlightened self-interest, and proximity to one of the major targets in the jihad against the west, would suggest that The Times would support the side in this conflict that would permit its editors to live.

I'm sure that someone at The Times remembers the alternatively-free conditions imposed on Afghanis, during the Taliban's administration of that country.

Al Qaeda, and other Islamic organizations dedicated to stamping out the last millennium or so of changes in the social, legal, and political order, would probably not be quite as tolerant of the newspaper's editorial and advertising policies: at least, not as they are practiced.

The latest major incident involving The New York Times was the "General Betray Us" advertisement in September's paper.

I'm not so concerned about the price break got. They should have been charged $142,083 for placing the ad on a specific day. Instead, they got the $64,575 'standby' rate, which means the paper picks the day an ad runs. Apparently Rudy Giuliani got the same price break. It looks to me like sloppy bookkeeping, or maybe a courtesy extended to special customers.

What is impressive about the "General Betray Us" ad is that it violated an internal Times policy against accepting advertising that made personal attacks.

As CNN's "Political Ticker" blog put it, "Clark Hoyt, who analyzes the paper's coverage as the 'readers' representative,' wrote, 'I think the ad violated The Times's own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.'"

And, more to the point, Hoyt wrote, again quoting the CNN blog, "... the paper's standards on an 'an internal advertising acceptability manual' that he quoted as saying, 'We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.'"

World-class foul-up?

Political shenanigans?


I really don't know.

But I do know that, based on what fanatical Islamic groups have done in the past, if the fanatics win, The Times will change its editorial and advertising policy, or be destroyed.

For their sake, I hope that the people running The Times have been paying attention to what's at stake.

I've got fairly well-defined opinions about the MoveOn ad the paper that printed it, and the general who is trying to keep religious nut cases from killing them. Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

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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.