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Thread: Voice of America v. Al Jazeera

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Voice of America v. Al Jazeera

    VAdmiral Norbert Ryan has kindly had the Military Officers Association of America do an article about me regarding my interest in seeing that portion of the 9/11 Commission Report more fully implemented to bring up in native dialects, 24/7 and use both in TV and radio format the Voice of America.

    It is my opinion (at age 68 now, looking back) that any war today has to have a proactive progadanda arm which in the case of SW Asia and the Middle East is Voice of America vs. Al Jazeera, which at the moment is eating our lunch out of the UAE.

    In Pakistan, out OF 166 million total population, around 46 million are illiterate. In Afghanistan out of a population of around 37 million, around 26.3 million are illiterate.

    Hundreds of millions of Muslims, in the aggregate, in SW Asia and the Middle East being illiterate they depend 100% on radio and TV, often in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan these are battery operated.

    We are badly ignoring the radio and TV broadcast mediums propaganda side of this war. Little ole ladies in tennis shoes are testifying in 2008 before House and Senate Appropriations Committees against using Voice of American in the War on Terrorism. Understand, since 1998 when the US Information Agency was abolished, VOA today is an integral part of the US Department of State.

    Here is the OFFICER MAGAZINE April, 2008 Internet site to look at the direct article, which you can comment on via the MOAA feedback website if a MOAA Member, or by an e-mail letter to the editor of the OFFICER MAGAZINE if not yet (I want you to join us!) a MOAA Member.

    http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/moaa/mo0408/

    GENERAL PETRAEUS IS ON THE COVER OF THE APRIL 2008 OFFICER MAG.

    Once you copy and paste onto your search site on your computer you will find the MOAA OFFICER MAGAZINE website. The magazine cover is a photo of General Petraeus. Then at the top of your screen go to and click on Search and enter Singleton which will get you to page 28 for a national article about me. There is an on-line discussion website you may want to read and post to, as well, provided you are MOAA members to have posting rights. You can read postings in any event.

    The Military Officers Association of America is one of the top 5 veterans organizations in the United States, as recognized by and advisory to both the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Department of Defense, and the U.S. State Department. The others of the top 5 veterans organizations nationally are the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Purple Heart Association, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    The focus of this article as far as I am concerned is getting more Congressional funding for VOICE OF AMERICA radio and TV broadcasts in the native dialects into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, in particular, in their native dialects, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week vs. the lies daily being put out by Al Jazeera radio and TV daily.

    Wartime success in all US history is practically accomplished by a very strong propaganda program.

    VOICE OF AMERICA since 1998 is a part of the US Department of State. Some of you will recall the success of VOA under the late Edward R. Morrow when it was a part of the United States Information Agency before the 1998 merger into the State Department.

    You can comment on the website at end of the magazine article if you want to give your opinion on uses of Voice of America (VOA) to better help fight the war on terrorism.

    George Singleton
    Hoover, Alabama
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 04-07-2008 at 02:09 PM.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
    The focus of this article as far as I am concerned is getting more Congressional funding for VOICE OF AMERICA radio and TV broadcasts in the native dialects into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, in particular, in their native dialects, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week vs. the lies daily being put out by Al Jazeera radio and TV daily.
    You may well be funding a completely futile exercise. The folks you are trying to influence are unlikely to be swayed by an alternative view point, however true or rational it might be.

    A great many 3rd world folks have their own narrative that it is completely isolated from reality. Telling them another story just does not work unless it supports a belief system they have already brought into. basically, the illiterate, do not do "duality."

    In fact my direct experience of Pakistan, Kuwait, Algeria, West Africa and a few other spots is that you basic non-secular thinker simply alters his reality to suit his story, regardless of facts. Facts are irrelevant. There is the story the majority want to hear, and then all else is lies. Mere words and images cannot do little.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default VOA vs. Al Jazeera is still badly needed

    Thanks for your feedback. I assume your read the interview with me in OFFICER MAGAZINE to know I have been there, both in the military, later as an international banker, and then in 1991 "dust up."

    Al Jazeera TV, in particular, is eating our lunch, using ex-BBC broadcasters in fact on air who speak Arabic.

    But, I do agree with you that most of the grassroots people over there are chronic liars to our understanding, and yes, they do change the facts to suit their purposes, but those doing such are above average not illiterate bumpkins.

    What today, and yesterday, works is direct source information. TV broadcasts by Voice of America will be most effective. The illiterate watcher identifies over time with the face, or talking head, on the screne, if that personality repeats on air over time.

    Your views of boots on ground only are historically sound but only in the winning sense when accompanied, based on history, not your or my opinion,s by effective propaganda program.

    Thanks for your input,
    George Singleton

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    You may well be funding a completely futile exercise. The folks you are trying to influence are unlikely to be swayed by an alternative view point, however true or rational it might be.

    A great many 3rd world folks have their own narrative that it is completely isolated from reality. Telling them another story just does not work unless it supports a belief system they have already brought into. basically, the illiterate, do not do "duality."
    This sort of thinking is hardly exclusive to the Third World. Many supposedly well-educated people in the First World have similarly fixed viewpoints, often about the Third World.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    This sort of thinking is hardly exclusive to the Third World. Many supposedly well-educated people in the First World have similarly fixed viewpoints, often about the Third World.
    Absolutely.

    I would also add that al-Jazeera and the other satellite TV stations in the Middle East are not the "enemy." Certainly, they play to their audience, and their audience is deeply suspicious and bitterly critical of US foreign policy. In this sense, they in the Arab context Arabs what Fox New's ultra patriotism is on the US media scene. But al-Jazeera and others are also a free media, and provide voice for reformers and democrats who were long stifled by authoritarian regimes.

    Frankly, it is hard for a US-branded media to make many inroads--the brand has been discredited, the policy is unpopular, and propaganda efforts look like, well, propaganda efforts. The dismal performance of (American) al-Hurra TV and Radio al-Sawa is a case in point.

    In my own view the US can do far better by engaging the Middle East media as it exists, and articulating different views on and through it, than trying to compete with it.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm deeply critical of American foreign policy

    and no one pays much attention to me either...

    You said:
    Frankly, it is hard for a US-branded media to make many inroads--the brand has been discredited, the policy is unpopular, and propaganda efforts look like, well, propaganda efforts. The dismal performance of (American) al-Hurra TV and Radio al-Sawa is a case in point.
    I'd suggest that the pathetic US Media is so very bad that they deserve little attention being paid them -- and that long pre-dates al-Hirra / al-Sawa. It will also unfortunately be true long after no one recalls those two failed efforts

    Our numerous errors in the ME over the last 60 years have come home to roost. Lick upon us. The fascinating thing to me is that the Arabists in academia and the government who should have kept us out of most of these messes are in fact those that contributed the most to us being where we are today.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Our numerous errors in the ME over the last 60 years have come home to roost. Lick upon us. The fascinating thing to me is that the Arabists in academia and the government who should have kept us out of most of these messes are in fact those that contributed the most to us being where we are today.
    Ken,

    While I completely agree our ME policy has been proked up for some time, let's be real. Number one please define the term "Arabist". Do you mean someone targeted toward ME policy? Or someone who speaks Arabic? Or someone who sympathizes with "Arabs," as usually defined by someone who does not?

    Second, when has academia been in charge of ME policy? And when have we depended on academia to set said policy?

    As for "Arabists" in government keeping us out of trouble, there are similar problems with that thesis. You yourself have said good luck changing the poilticians on current policy regarding US-Israeli relations. I would advise you that one might expect similar luck in changing political policy toward the Saudis, especially with a Republican Administration. The point being that "Arabists" or "Africanists" influence policy within boundaries set by politicians. If they screw it up, they certainly got help in doing so.

    Best
    Tom

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    This sort of thinking is hardly exclusive to the Third World. Many supposedly well-educated people in the First World have similarly fixed viewpoints, often about the Third World.
    Agreed but the target audience we are discussing are the ones in the developing world.

    If you want a parallel, then I see no clear blue water between the bigotry and racism present in Hezbollah, than in the Klu-Klux-Klan. Same sides of the same coin.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Second, when has academia been in charge of ME policy? And when have we depended on academia to set said policy?
    I agree with Tom, and would go a step further: until recently, it was not unusual for the policy and academic community to do their things in almost complete isolation from each other. Folks in the IC box rarely got out of that box to talk to academic experts. People in State and DoD were too busy on daily issues to have the time or inclination to engage scholars working on the region.

    The problem was equally severe on the academic side. In the US ME Studies community, distaste for US policy was so great that many scholars were pleased not to be engaged with policy makers. A great many scholars, moreover, have no real sense of how the policy process operates, or how to engage/influence it. Certainly the reward system in university settings places little value in doing so.

    Regarding ME issues, this has changed substantially since 9/11, and the interaction is much more extensive. It is still not what it could be (and it will be interesting to see whether the 2008 Middle East Studies Association annual conference, which will be in DC in November, will involve some policy-academic dialogue, or whether it will continue to be almost entirely academics talking to themselves).

    Moreover, whether the two sides really know what they can (and can't) get from each other, and how best to do so, is still a bit of an open question. It requires real strategizing to make it work. Also open for question is, as Tom notes, the actual influence of all this on policy.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Fair questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Ken,

    While I completely agree our ME policy has been proked up for some time, let's be real. Number one please define the term "Arabist". Do you mean someone targeted toward ME policy? Or someone who speaks Arabic? Or someone who sympathizes with "Arabs," as usually defined by someone who does not?
    I meant those who 'study' Arab culture and the region and who as a result become become at least mildly enamored of the culture and people and who then frequently, in my observation, have a tendency to favor Arab centric policies. They also in my observation do not truly understand the subtlety of Arab political maneuvering and do not seem to understand that what is said in English and what is said in Arabic -- and in private -- are frequently three quite different things. I can cite DS/DS and the 'diplomatic' efforts in the year or two before it, to include listening to what Saddam and Mubarak said as opposed to watching what he did as but one example. Syria's move into Lebanon, encouraged by us, is an earlier one. I won't even go into the total misreading of Arafat.

    Long way of saying one who sympathizes, I guess -- though I am not one who does not...
    Second, when has academia been in charge of ME policy? And when have we depended on academia to set said policy?
    You're kidding, right? They aren't in charge of policy -- but the folks who are were educated in those schools and under those people.
    As for "Arabists" in government keeping us out of trouble, there are similar problems with that thesis. You yourself have said good luck changing the poilticians on current policy regarding US-Israeli relations. I would advise you that one might expect similar luck in changing political policy toward the Saudis, especially with a Republican Administration. The point being that "Arabists" or "Africanists" influence policy within boundaries set by politicians. If they screw it up, they certainly got help in doing so.

    Best
    Tom
    We can disagree on much of that. The policy toward the Saudis has been very consistent from FDR forward under Admins from both parties; the Republicans just have more time on station.

    I wasn't talking about changing any policies; what I said was the Arabists ""who should have kept us out of most of these messes are in fact those that contributed the most to us being where we are today"" (emphasis added / kw). Many but certainly not all of those Arabists have consistently misinterpreted signals from the ME and operated in some cases under the delusion that the Arabs are like us -- or want to be -- and that they think pretty much like we do. Nothing could be further from the truth. Goes back to the 'rational actor' argument; the Arabs are quite rational actors, more so than we are in many cases and they're certainly generally more moral and honest -- but the rationality is quite different and honesty is very differently perceived in the two cultures. Neither is wrong, they're just different.

    That's all I said.

    I spent enough time in and did enough travel around the ME almost 40 years ago to know we were roundly despised even then, a borderline laughing stock because of out national naivete and that our media and culture were anathema to many. I was also told by a great many people in several nations that the quality of thought emanating from the US with respect to the ME was dangerously wrong and excessively western-centric. My belief is that any changes in that over the last 40 years have not been for the better. If that is true, then I suggest it sort of makes my case; the very people who should have contributed to keeping us out these pickles sort of inadvertently and with the best of intentions, helped put us in the jar.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    spent enough time in and did enough travel around the ME almost 40 years ago to know we were roundly despised even then, a borderline laughing stock because of out national naivete and that our media and culture were anathema to many. I was also told by a great many people in several nations that the quality of thought emanating from the US with respect to the ME was dangerously wrong and excessively western-centric. My belief is that any changes in that over the last 40 years have not been for the better. If that is true, then I suggest it sort of makes my case; the very people who should have contributed to keeping us out these pickles sort of inadvertently and with the best of intentions, helped put us in the jar.
    Ken

    I would agree that many have the wrong ideas about the Middle East and some of them have been associated with various institutions and branches of the government.

    I would not agree that anyone who studies the region becomes what you call an Arabist as in "Arab" sympathizer. Knowledge does not necessarily equate to sympathy.

    Tom

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Cool Exactly

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Ken

    I would agree that many have the wrong ideas about the Middle East and some of them have been associated with various institutions and branches of the government.

    I would not agree that anyone who studies the region becomes what you call an Arabist as in "Arab" sympathizer. Knowledge does not necessarily equate to sympathy.

    Tom
    I consider myself an equal opportunity sympathizer.
    I feel bad for anyone who isn't me
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with that

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I would not agree that anyone who studies the region becomes what you call an Arabist as in "Arab" sympathizer. Knowledge does not necessarily equate to sympathy.
    Not 'anyone' -- just some. Thus my caveats in the original in the sub thread that I emphasized above.

    My concern is not with those who truly understand the region -- but with those who purport to to do so but in actuality do not and thus, (as I also said) inadvertently give bad advice. They were the ones I targeted.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default As I pointed out to Tom, the policy folks

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    I agree with Tom, and would go a step further: until recently, it was not unusual for the policy and academic community to do their things in almost complete isolation from each other. Folks in the IC box rarely got out of that box to talk to academic experts. People in State and DoD were too busy on daily issues to have the time or inclination to engage scholars working on the region.
    were educated by those in the academic community. There were and are people in both communities that truly understand the ME and will look under the table to determine what's going on -- my observation has been that too many in both do not do so.
    The problem was equally severe on the academic side. In the US ME Studies community, distaste for US policy was so great that many scholars were pleased not to be engaged with policy makers.
    Also true and frankly, I'm not sure who that is an indictment of. Perhaps no one. Regardless, it is a significant problem but I also suggest that some nominal academic experts that make public statements fail to convince me that they really understand the subtleties of ME political machinations. Or the depth of that distaste I mentioned...

    Will also ackowledge the politeness that pervades the ME and the zahir / batin phenomenon can be confusing...

    I agree with most of the rest of your comment.
    ...Also open for question is, as Tom notes, the actual influence of all this on policy.
    True but I submit the evidence in the public domain is that the actual influence of those to whom I apply the tag in the Intel and Foreign Policy communities while not totally pervasive is indicative of enough influence -- and enough misreading no matter how well intentioned -- to have caused more than one of our many miscues in the region.

    That said, it an exceedingly difficult cultural divide to transcend and I fully understand that. That applies to both the Western - ME divide and the Academy - Policy divide...

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    Default Ken, don't give us educators

    so much credit - or blame. I don't know how many times my former students have disappointed me by doing things that I thought I had showed them had backfired in the past. On the other hand, I've talked with other former students - who did things things that followed logically from my courses - only to find that they had other reasons of their own for doing them!

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No real intent to do either.

    People are seeing an attack where none was intended -- or made.

    Your point is acknowledged -- more than and I can sure empathize; seen the same thing...

    It is just my perception that in the realm of ME studies and expertise in the west in general and in the US in particular, there happen to be a surprising number of practitioners who miss many of the undercurrents -- and I also have said that in that area of the world, that is very easy to understand. I am certainly no expert and don't claim to be. However, I have learned that in that part of the world little is as it seems and there are almost always hidden motives and to us westerners, hidden agendas. One 'interprets' the words and actions from there with considerable caution -- and ideally, very, very slowly. Unless one is overfilled with certitude or has an agenda, that is...

    I think it's a given that one can lead a student to water but cannot make him drink. There are others that will find the water on their own; still more that can be lead and will drink. Experts in any realm can and do err.

    If that realm entails the true understanding and accurate interpretation of a vastly different culture then the number of truly knowledgeable experts in the field from a given sized pool will be far smaller than will that of truly knowledgeable experts in the field from a similar sized pool of say, civil engineers. Engineering is essentially a science with firm rules.

    Interpreting the intent of humans, particularly humans who do not think like you do, is like warfare, it isn't a science -- it's an art. All the education in the world will not help those who aren't artists.
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-07-2008 at 09:54 PM. Reason: Typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    I consider myself an equal opportunity sympathizer.
    I feel bad for anyone who isn't me
    Then cry a river for me Ron.

    Fundamentally, if the mere appearance of Western media or IO efforts inspires more or less general loathing amongst the ME "audience", then any but the most minimal IO efforts on our part are almost certainly a waste of time. Instead, we have to be able to take quiet advantage of what domestic ME media or "IO" efforts by reformers and the like succeed against our more intractable opponents in the region.

    We can't make them "like" us (in both senses of "like") no matter what we do; we can, at best, make ourselves useful to them - and we must only make ourselves so when it is useful to us, too. Given the circumstances, when it comes to Western and especially US IO directed towards the ME, less is more.

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default I of course strongly disagree with your view, we need VOA now, better

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Absolutely.

    I would also add that al-Jazeera and the other satellite TV stations in the Middle East are not the "enemy." Certainly, they play to their audience, and their audience is deeply suspicious and bitterly critical of US foreign policy. In this sense, they in the Arab context Arabs what Fox New's ultra patriotism is on the US media scene. But al-Jazeera and others are also a free media, and provide voice for reformers and democrats who were long stifled by authoritarian regimes.

    Frankly, it is hard for a US-branded media to make many inroads--the brand has been discredited, the policy is unpopular, and propaganda efforts look like, well, propaganda efforts. The dismal performance of (American) al-Hurra TV and Radio al-Sawa is a case in point.

    In my own view the US can do far better by engaging the Middle East media as it exists, and articulating different views on and through it, than trying to compete with it.
    While I respect your different opinion, we need our own Voice of America TV and radio broadcasts into Afghanistan and Paksitan, now, not some muddle of untrusthworthy Middle East Arab broadcasts.

    Al Jazeera is owned and funded by a UAE Shiek, hardly a "democratic" fellow.
    [COLOR="red"]Since 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has ruled Qatar, seizing control of the country from his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani while the latter vacationed in Switzerland. Qatar ranks as the ninth richest country in the world per capita.

    Qatar served as the headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is noted to be objective in disagreeing with you.

    In 2005, a suicide-bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theatre, shocking a country that had not previously experienced few acts of terrorism.

    Afghanistan and the NWFP area of Paksitan, where I served for two years both speak Pashto. The rest of Pakistan depending on the Province involved speak: Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki, and Balochi.

    The key reason we disagree here is that VOA must be our propaganda arm for the next 100 years in the context of the long term ideological war with radical Islam. VOA is an within the US State Department, our official propaganda organ, VOA, which is why we cannot use local Arab media in lieu of VOA. In this war on terrorism we are mainly fighting an ideological war, extremist, terrorist, to my understanding heretical Islamic jiihadists, but many other Muslims without the balance of VOA in their native dialects are being brought into the terrorist thinking Muslim camp thanks in part to the pro-radical Islam Al Jazeera interviews, coverage, and release of terrorists messages to the world using Al Jazeera as their communications medium.

    Too, please note that Paks, Afghans, and Iranians, in the main, are not Arabs and few speak Arabic. Al Jazeera is just now expanding their pro-terrorist broadcasts, TV and radio, into Pakistani dialects and the in common Afghan-NWFP Pashto dialect. We must compete to deal in the long term, 100 years horizon, if not longer, in this religiously based ideological debate.

    Here are some illiteracy data on non-Arabic speaking poorest of the poor Muslims of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Quote: Of 166 million Pakistanis, 46 million are illiterate and depend solely on TV or radio for news, which Al Jazeera, the terrorist network out of the UAE currently provides to them.

    Out of a total Afghan population of 37 million, 26.3 million are illiterate. They, too depend on Al Jazeera for news.

    Voice of America needs to get correct dialect speaking on 24/7 TV and radio programming into Pakistan and Afghanistan, yesterday.

    Here is a bit of the 9/11 Commission Report which due to it's July, 2004 issue date and focus misses the point of non-Arabic speaking hot spots which are belatedly, now, to be fair, identified as Pakistan and Afghanistan, all over again.

    PARTIAL QUOTE FROM JULY 2004 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS:

    Recognizing that Arab and Muslim audiences rely on satellite television and radio, the government has begun some promising initiatives in television and radio broadcasting to the Arab world, Iran, and Afghanistan. These efforts are beginning to reach large audiences. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has asked for much larger resources. It should get them. (Page 377) The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was established under the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201). The BBG provides oversight and guidance to U.S. non-military international broadcast services, including Voice of America, Radio and TV Marti, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio Sawa, and the Middle East Television Network (METN). Radio Sawa is a region-wide Arabic language radio station that combines western and Arabic popular music with news broadcasts and specialized programming. METN is an Arabic language television station designed to bolster U.S. public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. See GAO, State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors Expand Post-9/11 Efforts but Challenges Remain , GAO-04-1061T, Aug. 23, 2004. The pending Commerce, Justice, and State Department Appropriations bill, H.R. 4754, FY 2005, provides 65 million for broadcasting in Arabic ($20 million increase over President's request). Contacts: Mark Speight, Assistant General Counsel, IAT; Ernie Jackson, Senior Attorney


    And here are some facts about Al Jazeera which on balance do not agree with your postive view that Al Jazeera "isn't all bad." It is against us, against the War on Terrorism, and is the "Voice" of al Qaida and the Taliban to the rest of the world, which I for one don't find either friendly or democratic.

    Al Jazeera is a television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar, UAE. The UAE and Pakistan prior to 9/11 were the only two nations in the world to recognize the Taliban governed, al Qaida infested old Afghanistan, lets be clear on these facts.

    Initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel with the same name, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty TV channels in multiple languages, and in several regions of the world.

    The original Al Jazeera channel's willingness to broadcast dissenting views, including on call-in shows, created controversies in Persian Gulf States. The station gained worldwide attention following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when it broadcast video statements by Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders.[/COLOR]

    History

    The original Al Jazeera channel was started in 1996 with a US$150 million grant from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa.

    In April 1996, the BBC World Service's Saudi-co-owned Arabic language TV station, faced with censorship demands by the Saudi Arabian government, shut down after two years of operation. Many former BBC World Service staff members joined Al Jazeera, which at the time was not yet on air. The channel began broadcasting in late 1996.

    Al Jazeera's availability (via satellite) throughout the Middle East changed the television landscape of the region. Prior to the arrival of Al Jazeera, many Middle Eastern citizens were unable to watch TV channels other than state-censored national TV stations. Al Jazeera introduced a level of freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in many of these countries. Al Jazeera presented controversial views regarding the governments of many Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar; it also presented controversial views about Syria's relationship with Lebanon, and the Egyptian judiciary. Critics accused Al Jazeera of sensationalism in order to increase its audience share.

    It wasn't until late 2001 that Al Jazeera achieved worldwide recognition, when it broadcast video statements by al-Qaeda leaders.
    The original Al Jazeera and today's Al Jazeera are quite different. Today Al Jazeera is clearly pro-terrorist in terms of public relations and communcations as the enabler of recordings, video tapings, and such of key al Qaida terrorists used to broadcast to and threaten the rest of the non-radical Muslim and all other faith systems world.

    Funding

    Further to the initial US$ 150 million grant from the Emir of Qatar, Al Jazeera had aimed to become self-sufficient through advertising by 2001, but when this failed to occur, the Emir agreed to continue subsidizing it on a year-by-year basis (US$30 million in 2004,according to Arnaud de Borchgrave). Other major sources of income include advertising, cable subscription fees, broadcasting deals with other companies, and sale of footage. In 2000, advertising accounted for 40% of the station's revenue.

    Remember the Emir is a potentate for life, hardly a democratic form of government for Qatar.

    Thanks for you views and for allowing me mine. Voice of America helped win the Cold War and we need a greatly expanded, better funded VOA in all the right linguistic dialects not in just the short run but for the next 100 years if not longer in our long term ideological war against terroristm and radical Islam.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 04-08-2008 at 02:37 AM.

  19. #19
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default 4/7/08 CBS-TV News clip on VOA -Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-AL

    A former Marine who is now a TV news journalist for one of our major TV stations in the Greater Birmingham, Alabama market did two interviews yesterday in support of increased in proper native dialects and better funded Voice of America vs. Al Jazeera TV and radio broadcasting as per the 9/11 Commission report, which reads in part from July, 2004:

    Recognizing that Arab and Muslim audiences rely on satellite television and radio, the government has begun some promising initiatives in television and radio broadcasting to the Arab world, Iran, and Afghanistan. These efforts are beginning to reach large audiences. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has asked for much larger resources. It should get them. (Page 377) The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was established under the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201). The BBG provides oversight and guidance to U.S. non-military international broadcast services, including Voice of America, Radio and TV Marti, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio Sawa, and the Middle East Television Network (METN). Radio Sawa is a region-wide Arabic language radio station that combines western and Arabic popular music with news broadcasts and specialized programming. METN is an Arabic language television station designed to bolster U.S. public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. See GAO, State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors Expand Post-9/11 Efforts but Challenges Remain , GAO-04-1061T, Aug. 23, 2004. The pending Commerce, Justice, and State Department Appropriations bill, H.R. 4754, FY 2005, provides 65 million for broadcasting in Arabic ($20 million increase over President's request). Contacts: Mark Speight, Assistant General Counsel, IAT; Ernie Jackson, Senior Attorney

    Hope this background info is helpful.

    Here is my feeble attempt to attach the 4/7/08 CBS-42 news clip, interview with Congressman Spencer Bachus, R-AL and me as the focus of the MOAA OFFICER MAGAZINE article in April, 2008 issue regarding Voice of America revival and increased funding/proper linguists:

    http://www.cbs42.com/news/local/17377219.html

    Then on this CBS42 local TV news sight go to box on right hand side of web page and click on "A war of words" to see the interviews regarding Voice of America's critical propaganda role as recommended by the 9/11 Commission Report with interviews with Colonel George Singleton (me) and US Congressman Spencer Bachus, R-AL who has made improved use and funding of VOA a plank in his re-election to Congress platform as of 4/7/08.

  20. #20
    Council Member MountainRunner's Avatar
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    Default When History Repeats

    Earlier this evening I put up a post that's relevant to the discussion here. I won't subject you to my blog, the entirety of the post is below.

    Sixty-two years ago, Congress was so troubled by the operations of the Voice of America that it slashed the appropriation for the State Department's Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs, known as OIC, in half. At the time, not only were broadcasts of dubious quality hitting the airwaves (including many from private media contractors), but to a lack of accountability of the personnel and content producers. Congress was not questioning the act or need to propagandize, it was responding to the extremely poor quality and haphazard nature of U.S. efforts in light of communist inroads into Western public opinion.

    Some Congressional Republicans feared a peacetime VOA would be bias towards a Democratic Administration. Others thought the "whispers" from State in the war of contemporary war of ideas at the beginning of the Cold War were symptomatic of a larger problem of communist sympathizers within State, a problem made worse by a rash of spy scandals. America's information systems were ill and the cure was the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, formally known as Public Law 402: The United States Information and Educations Exchange Act of 1948.

    In 2008, there is again trouble at VOA. Four days ago, Senator Tom Coburn, MD, sent a five-page letter to Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, detailing significant issues with the content of VOA's Farsi broadcasts. The Senator is troubled by not just the VOA but its oversight organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors. His three major concerns are:
    1. A lack of transparency in both VOA and BBG
    2. A lack of accountability in both VOA and BBG
    3. Absence of guidance and coordination from Key Policy-Making Agencies (State, Defense, Homeland Security, National Security Council, etc)
    The letter is factual and puts forward a strong case for significant change at VOA and at the BBG. Many of the complaints are, ironically, rooted in modern interpretations of Smith-Mundt. The lack of transparency, for example, can be traced to amendments to the Act in 1972 and 1985.

    For example, the Senator highlights the VOA's "terrorists are freedom fighters" policy posted on VOA's blog (Did you know VOA has a blog? and why is it hosted by Google?). The discussion of the use of the "t-word" is, well, interesting. See for yourself.

    However, while I agree with the Senator's criticism of VOA, the cure from the doctor from Kentucky is not holding up Jim Glassman's nomination. The position of Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (and, by the way, Public Affairs) should not be empty any longer.

    Instead, I urge the good Senator to instead convince his House colleagues (I understand from discussions last year that his colleagues in the Senate are already open to the idea) to revisit Smith-Mundt, especially the distorted modern perception that pervades not just our civilian information agencies but our military services as well. This Act, the fix for similar complaints nearly exactly sixty years ago, is the root of most of his complaints. Any promises the Senator extracts from the White House to satisfy his valid concerns laid out in his letter will be met, under current conditions, by artificial and false firewalls of modern interpretations of Smith-Mundt.

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