Objectivity in Independent
There is a glaring contradiction between what Power and Interest News Report (PINR) professes to be in theory, and what it is in practice. This contradiction is not limited to ideological bias and communication of disinformation, but also extends to the choice of terminology with the purpose to spread propaganda and distorted facts.
Again, PINR, which proclaims itself “an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader,” is not that at all.
In an article entitled, The New York Times’ Search for Missing Friends, Petersen critiqued PINR’s use of specific derogatory descriptions of Iraqi cities revolting against the occupation from which we extract the following:
Even the self-proclaimed “objectivity” of the usually balanced and informative Power and Interest News Report (PINR) adduced elusive. It couldn’t refrain from referring to al-Sadr’s “rabid anti-Americanism,” “fiery anti-American rhetoric,” and his “anti-American tongue lashing.” Such inflammatory language is hardly in keeping with its stated goal of “leaving the moral judgments to the reader.” As for objectivity in this case, one wonders why the occupiers are never described as anti-Iraqi in any PINRs? A Google search comes up with 107 results for “PINR anti-American” and zero results for “PINR anti-Iraqi.
Petersen, however, acknowledged that subsequent to that correspondence, PINR did later amend the partial language in the PINR in question. But this is not the issue. Changing tone is not equivalent to changing substance. Indeed, the principle that guides PINR is a policy that camouflages insipid indoctrination with specious political analysis. The following observations in Sabri’s example support the authors’ contention.
In analyzing Erich Marquardt’s latest article, “Iraq’s Perilous Election and the Need for Exist Strategies,” Sabri tabulated a limited sampling of terms, phrases, and concepts that are in line with the themes and ideology of imperialism, colonialism, and the Bush Administration. Upon examining that sampling, the only distinct verdict that can be issued here is that PINR is not interested in informed debate nor does it cater to such a concept despite the vastness of subjects and areas it covers. To emphasize imperialist manipulation of meaning, italics are added to the quotations, and the effective meaning is expressed in brackets:
· “The lethal insurgent targeting of politicians and government figures;” [i.e., U.S.-appointed personnel]
· “A suicide car bomber drove…” [i.e., an Iraqi fighter conducting a military attack]
· “Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi” [i.e., interim prime minister [sic] appointed by the occupation, or quisling prime minister]
· “The Iraqi National Accord…” [i.e., an organization founded, named, and financed by the CIA in 1992]
· “The Green Zone, the most heavily fortified area of Iraq containing the headquarters of the Iraqi government and the U.S. embassy….” [i.e., the heavily fortified area of Baghdad containing the former presidential palace that has become the American Embassy, CIA offices, Iraq’s U.S. central command, military contingents, U.S. military contractors, and miscellaneous ransacked buildings for an appointed “Iraqi government” that does not govern or have portfolios. “In the midst of these incidents…” [i.e., in the midst of Iraqi resistance attacks]
· “Without a clear enemy to fight, U.S. forces have been thrust into a situation where they are targeted by unseen enemies who use explosives to strike at U.S. convoys covertly.” [i.e., the Iraqi people are not a clear enough enemy target for the occupation forces. The disinformation here is that the aggressors depicted themselves as if someone forced them into a situation not of their own making. As for unseen enemies, etc., Marquardt keeps repeating the term: enemy. If he were observant of forces and interests, he should have said, “elusive U.S. adversaries”; or when talking about the Iraqis, he could say, “the Iraqis and their invading enemies. To strike at U.S. convoys: i.e., guerrilla attacks against U.S. occupation forces and supply lines]
· “When these enemies are seen, it is often during a suicide mission where an insurgent drives a car bomb into a U.S. checkpoint.” [i.e., when the Iraqi resistance fighters are visible, it is often during courageous military attacks where an anti-occupation fighter sacrifices his life…]
· “Insurgency Creates Heightened Level of Instability” [i.e., Marquardt espouses the administration spin that it is the insurgency that heightens the level of instability -- not the occupation!]
· “Discredit the January 30 general elections.” [i.e., the illegal and illegitimate election the occupation designed so it could continue to exist]
· “Attacks against Shi’a power groups participating in the upcoming elections have been pervasive;” [What intelligence does Marquardt have to “prove” the responsibility of the anti-occupation resistance for those attacks? Did he see these acts and evaluate them in the chaotic context of Iraq and, therefore, he has no doubts on their origin or credibility? Given all the illicit “ends justify the means” actions of the aggressors, why could Mossad or American agents not have instigated the acts since they would stand to benefit the most from a sectarian war, including one more reason to stay and further exploit the situation?]
· “The motives behind these attacks lie in the interests of the Sunni Arab minority who aim to prevent Iraqi Shi'a from using their majority status in the country to consolidate political power in the upcoming elections.” [First, the rationale for the Iraqi resistance attacks has been insidiously shifted from an anti-occupation struggle to an internecine conflict motivated by religious prejudices. Second, if a confessional majority must rule in countries that the U.S. invades then this principle must apply domestically in the U.S., i.e., the faith that is the most numerous must rule in the U.S. be it Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Gnostic, atheist, etc… then comes the conundrum of which faction of a majority group must rule. Third, why stop at religious denomination? This rationale dangerously extends itself to ethnicity. Fourth, is there any validity for an Iraqi election or Shi’a power, if U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte and his 150,000 soldiers are de facto ruling Iraq?]
Without having to go through the entire report, we can put forward the following observation. (1) Marquardt’s report is not a coherent analysis of facts, but a mass of pre-conceived information. (2) His phraseology, terminology, and clichés are in line with Washington’s philosophy of the occupation and “war of civilization.” (3) Contrary to stated claim, his reports on powers and interests are biased.
Categorically, Marquardt wrote a one-sided report, and then he asked readers to believe that what they read is what exists.
In part four, the authors will conclude their review of PINR by discussing Marquardt’s definition of objectivity.
Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. B.J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American antiwar activist. Email: email@example.com.
Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen
* Progressivism and Free Speech for All
* The Progressive Paradox: Defining Viability
* The Shame
* The Wrong Direction
* The Pornography of War
* The Fairy
Tale of Liberation
Other Articles by B. J. Sabri
Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 2