My feeling about the US news media is that it is essentially dead. What was once an enterprise about journalism in all its glory was purchased and packaged into a syrupy, sugary strain of actual information that is infotainment. When Twitter scoops the New York Times and ABC and NBC and CBS in Iran because not a one of them has anyone on the ground there, then you have to hear this as the last wheezing gasps of a dinosaur.
So when actual world news makes it through the rush hour traffic of Brittany Spears Shaved head and the latest American Idol, the ‘news” bureaus have to treat it just like a gossipy trash heap story like Caylee Anthony. A few weeks ago I was hearing about how the Pakistan government was on it’s last legs and Al Qaeda had taken over the Swat Valley. There were maps and “situation rooms” and interviews with people from the Mideast. But no real analysis came of it, just a sort of “stay tuned to this disaster” even though it never materialized. They made it look like Alaric at the gates of Rome.
I laughed for hours at the absurdity of it. Not a single foreign news bureau (thank God for the internet) was reporting it this way. Most of them, especially the German and British news bureaus, were rational assessments of the actual events.
Al Qaeda is about 20,000 men at most, and a fairly robust gossipy information network and some Internet based data networks. They ride around in 1980 Toyota pick up trucks and sport 30 to 40 year old AK 47s and more recent RPGs. They have no air power. They have no navy. Pakistan, on the other hand has a half million-man standing army and about 200,000 or 300,000 reserves. They have a modern army with modern equipment, satellite assets, a navy; a data linked air force, Special Forces etc. There is no way these Peshawar Valley Rednecks are ever going to overrun the Pakistani army.
As predicted, the army ripped through Swat like shit through a goose.
Now they are heading into the Waziri region and reports are coming from intelligence that Bin Ladin is asking for contributions.
You have to connect the dots here because no one else will. Al Qaeda is in trouble. The rub that caused them to appear hasn’t disappeared, the anti-western sentiment may have abated a bit, but as a fighting force, they may be in real trouble. You can’t be seriously threatening to turn all of Pakistan into Sharia and have your turban in hand at the same time.
So an increased military presence in the north from Afghanistan with US drone attacks, and the Pakistani army moving in from the south, we will see one half of the revolution that is sweeping through the mideast.
Another part of the revolution is the violent confrontation now unfolding in Iran. Iranians are not Americans. They will cover their faces and take to the streets when they feel threatened. Right now there are a half million protesters in the streets of Iranian cities demanding the end to the theocratic dictatorial rule.
This is a revolution not unlike the one that swept through Iran when the Shah was deposed. This is coming from the streets, these are the sons and daughters of the last revolution and it will not be stopped. Nathan Gonzalez writes:
“The supreme leader, however, decided to reestablish his importance in the most clumsy of ways: by handing Ahmadinejad nearly 63% of the vote, a blatantly exaggerated figure, given polling data, and given the groundbreaking 80-85% voter turnout, which by all indications was expected to favor Mousavi — the change candidate.
To be sure, Khamenei would not be the first Iranian leader to consolidate power in shortsighted fashion. Following the 1953 coup against democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, the last shah of Iran banned all but two handpicked political parties, forcing the opposition to adopt extra-legal and often violent means of confrontation with the monarchy. Peaceful and moderate coalitions like the National Front, which Mossadeq helped found, soon took a back seat to more extremist elements such as the Marxist Fedayeen, the People’s Mojahedeen, and Khomeini himself — groups that could more efficiently navigate the undercurrents of repressed political anger.”
The third leg of the revolution is a change in Israeli policy. Again, while US news media concentrated on the Israeli point of view, they ignored the Palestinian point of view. So the rest of the world is on board with a two state solution, a real one, not one where the West Bank is divided into series of occupied ghettoes. Obama is pressuring Israel like no other president has for decades to ease the living and working conditions that the Israelis have imposed. Israel will have to stop stealing land with settlements that are an obvious violation of treaty terms.
The most amazing part of the revolution is that much of it is being Tweeted. Simple social media tools are enabling protesters to defy authorities with armies. Once you needed a printing press to pamphleteer. Now you need a phone. Printing presses are rare. Phones are not.
Here is my prediction, by the end of the decade; the Mideast will look different than it does now. Iran might well morph into a real republic. Israel might sit next to a Palestinian state, and Al Qaeda might be footnote in history.