January 20, 2010

Voice of Obama

The Voice of America is a propaganda factory so it’s hard to blame VOA for pumping out propaganda. And yet, VOA is so hard to ignore. Is the US taxpayer supposed to pay for a media outlet that sells President Obama back to them at a higher grade than currently valued?

The headline itself causes raises an eyebrow: President Obama Praised for Sticking to American Values on Counter-Terrorism.

Does anyone believe that? How about the wake of disenchanted Obama voters is leaving behind as his foreign policy sinks back to the Bush days? Even NPR and the New York Times are shifting in their seats.

Now the opening paragraph: “As President Obama completes his first year in office, security experts give him high marks for sticking to American values and trying to win the hearts of Muslims while taking steps to avert terrorist attacks. But they also say the U.S. must not wait to fix a weakness until after it is exposed by an attack.”

This statement sounds like it was written by a Neocon.

Aside from the end of torture, and no one knows whether this practice is truly over, it’s hard to find any area where Obama receives “high marks."

But to the VOA’s security experts, indiscriminate airport security in 13 Muslim countries isn’t a problem. Failure to close Guantánamo and legislate Bagram? Who cares? Drone strikes? Perfectly legal - moral too. Falling hearts and minds from Palestine to Pakistan? Who needs them. Why care, so long as Obama is allowing terrorists no respite?

Brilliant counterinsurgency from the VOA.

Few on the left believe Obama is “sticking to American values” while expanding US military operations and emphasizing counter-terrorism. VOA’s “two-source rule” requires two independent sources to confirm a story, but this seems to mean finding four sources who agree.

Three of the four sources aren’t particularly important, despite one being former CIA official Paul Pillar. Pillar has an axe to grind with Bush, and though possibly deserved, this makes for a questionable “expert” opinion on Obama. Typical propaganda though. Jacob Shapiro of Princeton adds a paragraph in defense of Obama,

Michael German of the American Civil Liberties Union’s neutrality shakes when he toes the line, “Our policies and procedures do express American values - tolerance, transparency, respect for rule of law and due process.”

His own organization isn’t so sure - mixed grades aren’t high grades.

It’s the first source we’re concerned with though. “Clark Irwin,” of the Aspen Institute, is placed at the top of the story and used as the lead source. The reason is clear.

"People don't realize that President Obama has really intensified the effort to go after al-Qaeda central in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Irwin says. “The drone strikes have really intensified under his tenure. He famously, after much deliberation, is increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan.”

This statement is jaw-dropping. The American people may have been fooled what Obama was planning to do in Afghanistan, but they’re starting to realize it. Irwin’s sound-bites are belittling.

Trying to wrap us in a contradiction, Obama has engaged in, "The struggle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim community here in the U.S. and around the world,” unlike Bush, according to Irwin.

We can’t dispute that Bush ignored the Muslim world. Obama, however, continues unilateral support of Israel, ignores Kashmir, and escalates Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Disappointment over Obama’s Cairo speech is mounting and his reaction to Abdulmutallab is fomenting additional opposition in targeted Muslim countries.

Mixing his foreign policy with “hearts and minds” is like oil and water.

Speaking of Abdulmutallab, Mr. Irwin happens to also believe, “The recent failed airplane bomb attack makes clear Mr. Obama's administration must do more to combat terrorism.”

We’re attending a complete propaganda workshop. Obama admirably avoids, “comparing the war on terrorism to conventional war between nations,” while taking “several steps to contain the threat” to keep Americans safe. Escalate wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan is the way to win over Muslim hearts and minds.

And by the way, do more counter-terrorism.

Mr. Irwin could float on by if this were the end of his story, but we’d be left stuck in the rabbit hole. We need to go all the way down.

Irwin works for the Aspen Institute, a powerful think-tank/lobbyist group. Walter Isaacson is the chairman of the Aspen Institute. He’s also the former chief of CNN and managing editor of Time, recently tapped by Obama for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates VOA.

Isaacson recently asked Obama to “reset” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and suggests what should be done, without one mention of why “things are a mess.”

Obama hires Isaacson, the former head of CNN, to direct America’s propaganda efforts abroad and at home. Isaacson taps a pro-Obama staff, many from Harvard and Yale, a mix of Democrats and pseudo-Democrat Republicans, at the Aspen Institute and Washington think tanks, for pro-Obama stories on VOA.

Obama is patting himself on the back through proxy “experts” on the US taxpayer payroll. Then again, people are used to him grading himself - maybe he can’t control his inner professor.

But “Clark Irwin” might not be Clark Irwin. When searching Aspen’s website Clark Irwin doesn’t come up. There is a Clark Ervin though, Director of the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Program.

Probably a simple editing error.

But just out of curiosity, Ervin is another former Bush employee that allegedly left dissatisfied, not unlike Pillar. A Bush employee none the less, he was appointed first Inspector General of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Ervin previously worked under Bush I, with Bush II during his governorship in Texas, and served on the Broadcasting Board of Governors himself.

A nice little circle of friends Obama has defending his hawkish foreign policy, one now frequently compared to Bush’s. One last relevant fact: Obama nominated former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino to the Board of Governors in November 2009.

Maybe he just wants Obama’s Voice to be fair and balanced.

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