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Rumsfeld's Dilemma

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Message Larry Sakin
"Terrorists lie" said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a gathering of about 200 naval aviators in Nevada. He is troubled by the success of terrorist groups "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners. But what Rumsfeld and past American leaders neglect to mention is how often the media has been complicit in forwarding US interests in contentious regions.

Anyone who's paid attention to the news knows that both The New York Times and The Washington Post along with cable and network television and AM radio backed the false information used by The Bush Administration to justify the current War in Iraq. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg. The media has worked to glaze over US backed coups all over Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East in general.

In 2002, both the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times among others lent approval to the Bush Administration's attempted coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and no one in the mainstream media even questioned the Administration's role in bringing down the Jean-Bertrand Aristide government during two coups in Haiti, the first in 1991 and another in 2004. When Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was ousted from power in 1954, New York Times reporter Sydney Gruson was removed from the country at the behest of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who believed Gruson was not "sufficiently anti-Arbenz".

And the American media was certainly obsequious when the CIA overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh the year before. The media also hyped the gunboat diplomacy that lead to The Philippine-American War of the late 19th Century, and tacitly approved of attempts made on Fidel Castro's life by American intelligence agencies, and our involvement with removing Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from power in 1961. And you'd be hard-pressed to find an article in the Times or the Post denouncing the Gulf of Tonkin incident when it supposedly happened, which increased our military presence in Vietnam.

So for the most part, the media has been fairly tolerant of efforts to preserve American interests overseas. Of course, the media can swing the other way if it looks like a particular Administration's policies aren't working and therein lays Rumsfeld's dilemma.

Instead of trying to counteract policy, the media plays along with policy until it goes bad. Once the policy is initiated, there isn't much that can be done to reverse it, so the media appears to fulfill its role as a watchdog after the fact, when reversing the policy will have little affect on the area being decimated by those policies.

The media is also good at trying to reverse its own role in these historical matters. There are always post mortems of American backed coups of popular leaders, and how those coups changed the destiny of millions. Too bad the press didn't investigate these policies before they went into effect. Who knows how many lives would have been saved and retaliatory actions not taken.

Rumsfeld and others of his ilk want the media to continue trumpeting nationalistic calls for support of failing policies. That isn't news. What is news is that Rumsfeld and others believe that their policies are actually successful as long as no one points out what terrible failures they are. To quote a line from the film Three Days of the Condor, they believe that... "Not getting caught in a lie is the same as telling the truth."

The unfortunate truth is when it comes to promoting an agenda henchmen for a corrupt regime like Rumsfeld lie in order to obfuscate how they continually bungle their responsibilities to the American people. They lie because they want something, and they know the truth won't get it for them. And the media blithely goes along until the truth bites them on their collective asses.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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