Mardell Drones On

The New York Times has a big feature out about the President personally approving every single unmanned drone attack, and boy is the BBC’s US President editor distraught. It’s been making the rounds of the media today, lots of debate, and Mardell is not taking it well.

Is Obama’s drone doctrine counter-productive?

It doesn’t make the President look bad in the mainstream media, but it sure angers the anti-war crowd. The report features several high-ranking Administration figures, and even Mardell realizes that they’re talking with His approval. It was clearly coordinated with the New York Times as an opening move in the official election campaign now that the Republican race is finally settled. I’m not sure this is going to go over very well on either side, and I don’t think it’s going to give Him any kind of boost in approval. What I think may be going is that this was all going to be revealed in a book due out soon, and the White House coordinated with gave some interviews to the New York Times to give His side of the story in an attempt to head that off at the pass.

The President has to tread a very careful line on the war against Islamist military and terrorist action. On the one hand He needs to keep the anti-war crowd on side and withdraw the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other, He has to reassure the rest of the country that He’s still taking strong action to fight our enemies. So on one side He’s ending the official war business in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawing criticism from those who say it’s retreat and leaving a mess before our work is really done, but on the other side He gets to have Bin Laden’s head figuratively on the spike outside the Tower of London.

These drone attacks are supposed to help Him walk that line, and it’s pretty obvious from the NY Times piece that’s the message He’s trying to send. He’s telling the people whom Mardell loathes as wanting justice “from the barrell of a gun” that He’s still keeping us safe. He’s also telling the anti-war crowd that He’s really on top of things, and doing this to avoid civilian casualties and not to worry because He has the moral authority to make these decisions. I guess when you win the Nobel Prize for Peace, you get to choose your targets.

And it’s killing Mardell inside. So he spends most of his piece giving you different voices critical of the whole drone process, the usual journo trick for expressing views by proxy. Some say they’re murder, he writes. Some say they’re illegal, and other say the strategy doesn’t work. Then he frets that the President will find the “sci-fi” aspect too attractive anyway, which is him expressing his disapproval of the drone attacks. Not a single word from anyone holding the point of view that maybe killing Al-Alwaki or Zawahiri might have prevented more attacks on civilians or troops or anything of the sort. It’s all negative. Regardless of which side of the issue one is on, there can be no question that this isn’t a balanced or impartial take.

It’s not difficult to guess which side of the issue Mardell is on. One can almost hear him sighing as he types the words. This warmongering continues to be the only one of the President’s policies about which Mardell is critical or has written anything negative. He eventually had to figure out a way to spin Gaddafi’s death as vindication for the President’s supposed strategy of “leading from behind” on Libya. He’s even criticized the fact that troops will still be in Afghanistan for a while longer, until security is finally handed over to the Afghans, showing that he doesn’t know the difference between that and a cease-fire. Amusingly, even though this reads like an angry letter from a spurned worshiper, Mardell still can’t quite bring himself to remind you the very relevant fact that the President has killed more people with these drone attacks than Bush could ever have dreamed of. That would just be too much negative about Him in one place, and we can’t have that.

His piece isn’t journalism: it’s an op-ed disguised as a question. But I guess that’s what he’s really paid to do, isn’t it?

Mission Accomplished

And so we wake up this morning to news that Osama bin Laden is dead. Countless trees will die as newspapers bring us details and analysis but the BBCs instant reaction has been interesting – especially as they’ve had 9 years, 7 months and 21 days to prepare.

The BBC has a rolling obituary which better suits a head of state or great friend of the world which is…typical. Take this sentence as an example:

“‘To his supporters, Bin Laden was a fighter for freedom against the US and Israel, not, as he was to many in the West, a terrorist with the blood of thousands of people on his hands.‘”

One clip ends with the statement that ‘his ideas live on‘ solemnly intoned over a photograph of him smiling into the camera like a happy, bearded uncle.


So, just in case you are a slow learner and don’t realise that every war the US now fights is ‘Nam all over again, on the day that Obama will announce more US troops for the war in Afghanistan, Today runs an excerpt from Lyndon Johnson’s speech in 1965 announcing more US troops for…yes, you’ve guessed correctly, Viet Nam.

Hearts and Minds

Headline and soundbite from ex MI5 Dame Stella RimmingtonUsing Fear of Terror
Measures to combat terrorism are causing fear. (What, more fear than terrorism itself?) She says people in Britain feel as if they are living “under a police state because of the fear being spread by ministers.”

(She must have said that before she saw last night’s Panorama.)

So, what about the fear being spread by extremist Islam? What about fear being spread by the government’s delusion, heavily promoted by the BBC, that a moderate version of Islam can be set against an extreme version to bring about a multicultural paradise?

Frank Gardner now says Stella Rimmington rang the BBC to say that she had been slightly misreported. (Surely not!)
Frank Gardner thinks she meant something about winning hearts and minds.

Maybe, if we adopt some Sharia law as recommended by the Archbish, cover up our wimmin and confine them indoors, keep gays underground, wipe Israel off the map, and eradicate those annoying Jews, that would do the trick. Maybe those measures would win hearts and minds. Someone very clever indeed or very stupid might be able to argue that it would bring our civil liberties back. But would it stop all that violence and terror? It didn’t do Frank (Help me I’m a Muslim) all that much good, did it.

Not remembering the dead

There is an extraordinary omission from this BBC article on South Korean troops leaving Iraq. Plenty of figures are given, from the four years and three months spent there to the 18,000 troops who served in Iraq. One figure is missing though- only one Korean soldier died in Iraq according to icasualties, and he apparently has been forgotten. Don’t you think it would be appropriate to mention this loss, especially as it helps to contextualise the Iraq war for history?


I was on the local BBC this morning, having been invited to discuss the merits or otherwise of corporal punishment. There were three of us in the studio – one was a retired teacher (Opposed to it) , a Human Rights Lawyer (Opposed to it) and yours truly (In favour of it). I thought the discussion had balance and I was afforded the time to make my points, criticising the EU and UN to a presenter who had worked for the EU as it happens!

But earlier on this morning, I caught a debate on the BBC Radio 4 “Sunday” programme. There was an item on the war in Afghanistan and there were two guests discussing it. One opposed UK involvement in the war from the very beginning whilst the other opposed our involvement it following “the hideous mistakes” of Bush and Blair. There was a consensus that a criminal-prosecution based policy against Al Queda and the Taliban would have worked best. (The sort that led to /11) Unbelievable – poison dripping even in the religious hour.