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January 13, 2006

The Boaden Methodology

Here in America we have Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. In England they have Media Lens.

One point Media Lens makes repeatedly is that while the British media is better than that of the U.S., it's often still horrible. And this sadly includes the U.K. "liberal" outfits that drive our right wing into a teeth-gnashing, pants-wetting frenzy, such as the BBC, Guardian, and Independent.

Recently Media Lens demonstrated how the BBC simply takes it as given that the U.S. and U.K. genuinely, no-crossies want to bring democracy to the mideast. When Media Lens asked the BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, what the evidence was for this, she replied that their "analysis of the underlying motivation of the coalition is borne out by many speeches and remarks made by both Mr Bush and Mr Blair."

So there you have it: government figures have said something. And as anyone familiar with history knows, that means IT MUST BE TRUE.

I don't know why everyone doesn't adopt this standard, because it makes everything so much easier. For instance, by using what I call the "Boaden Methodology," we can prove:

1. Napoleon's motivation for invading Egypt in 1798 was to liberate Egyptians. Why? Because that's what he said:

"I have not come to you except for the purpose of restoring your rights from the hands of the oppressors..."

2. England's motivation for occupying Iraq in 1917 was to liberate Iraqis. That's obvious, because that's what the commanding British general said:

"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators..."

3. Hitler's motive for supporting a 1941 coup in Baghdad? Duh. It was to liberate Iraqis! If it weren't, Hitler would never have said:

"The Arabian Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally...In this connection special importance is attached to the liberation of Iraq..."

Given all this, the real question is why Arabs are so skeptical about the obvious good intentions of Bush and Blair. My guess is, it has something to do with their primitive culture.

(Thanks to TG for the Hitler quote)

Posted at January 13, 2006 03:47 PM | TrackBack

Empires are funny things, they are only Empires when they are someone else's.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at January 14, 2006 02:25 AM

Didn't Noam Chomsky once say that if records existed from Atilla the Hun's campaigns they'd probably resemble the justifying rhetoric cobbled together by recent leaders? It would do wonders for the image of "Dear Leader" Kim of North Korea, if the beeb took him at his word also...

Posted by: sk at January 14, 2006 09:21 AM

Yup. "Almost every case of military intervention or coercion that you can think of is justified in humanitarian terms, including Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese fascists – and probably Attila the Hun, if we had the documents. So there’s nothing new about that." -N.C.
Although I doubt anyone has used and butchered the word 'freedom' as much as as our noble King George II.

Posted by: mk at January 14, 2006 11:13 AM

War is pizzaz, here and abroad.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at January 14, 2006 12:03 PM

You are so right on about this. I would also note that this unfortunate, but pervading tendency, blights academia as much as it does journalism. I write brief synopses of academic books for a catalogue that goes to university libraries for a living and I can't come close to telling you the number of books that I get that may or not be critical to US actions in Iraq, but are nevertheless totally accepting of the idea that Bush's motivation is to to "bring Democracy to the Middle East." Or Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon's motivation to "bring democracy to Vietnam" (those military dictatorships we supported, and 1954 elections we scuppered, being apparently steps on the road to democracy). Or Truman's support of the Greek military dictatorship as support of democracy. Or Carter/Reagan and the "freedom fighters" of Nicaragua. And so on ad nauseum.

Because, as you note, "they said so!"

I constantly wonder whether it's naivete versus dishonesty. Usually, I lean towards dishonesty, because other motivations, even for something as recent as W's war on Iraq, are in the public record. To be charitable, I guess, for some it must be an admixture of naivete and extreme laziness. For most, however, one can simply compare their writings on the motivations of other governments, which are never for such noble sentiments in their writings (nor in the real world), but for American academics, the US government gets a free pass.

Of course, this is how it was for Soviet academics writing about Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, British academics writing about India, French academics writing about Algeria, etc. etc.

When will we, the human race, free ourselves from accepting the recieved opinions of our journalistic and academic "experts?"

Posted by: Rojo at January 15, 2006 10:41 PM