Jazeera Meets Its Viewers


Some 2000 Iraqi-Americans danced in the streets of Dearborn, Michigan Wednesday, celebrating events in Baghdad. The spontaneous party was friendly and peaceful, until:

At one point the crowd turned on a three-person television crew from the Arab language news network Al-Jazeera, crowding around them and chanting "Down, down Al-Jazeera!" Many in the crowd waved their hands in the air—their thumbs pointed down—and accused the network of being in cahoots with Saddam's regime….

The protest grew tense as it dragged on for 45 minutes, with at least seven police officers having to protect the Al-Jazeera reporter, producer and cameraman. The police quietly suggested that the crew duck into a nearby satellite truck and they complied….

Al-Jazeera reporter, Nedam Mahdawi, told CNN, "We came here to cover a celebration here, and I am very surprised to see their anger."

NEXT: War Is Hell

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  1. At least these Al Jazeera crew aren’t in Basra. One Al Jazeera crew in Basra was chased out of the country by irate Shia mob who was convinced that the TV network was siding with Saddam. It was a 2 hour drive to Kuwait.

  2. This doesn’t deal with Al-Jazeera, just the Iraq War. But it is quite an interesting look at the Russian perspective. A teaser:

    “The worst possible outcome of the war in Iraq for the Russian military is a swift allied victory with relatively low casualties. Already many in Russia are beginning to ask why our forces are so ineffective compared to the Brits and Americans; and why the two battles to take Grozny in 1995 and 2000 each took more than a month to complete, with more that 5,000 Russian soldiers killed and tens of thousands wounded in both engagements, given that Grozny is one tenth the size of Baghdad.”


    Honestly, it’s worth a read.

  3. JDM,

    I don’t see where I contradicted myself. I wrote that the Russians have done poorly in Chechnya (in comparison impliedly to the US) because the Chechyns are actually supporting the “rebels” there. I also wrote that the US does well in war because it has superior firepower. The former deals with a specific subject (Chechnya v. Iraq), whereas the latter deals with a general subject (America’s ability to fight wars generally).

  4. And the next time news breaks in the middle east, they’ll be watching Al Jazeera minute-by-minute.

  5. Sean,

    Well, because the Chechyn population is actually behind the rebels. And the Russian butchery ain’t helping matter either. Of course that’s the way the Russians – under the Tsars, the commisars, and now the mafia – have always dealt with the “tartars.”

  6. The US committed horrific war crimes against Indian tribes, where we were pioneers in the use of biological attacks against civilians. But in that case, the soldiers and society really did hate the “enemy.”

    My understanding of American military psychology is that killing the enemy is not personal, just business. Can any of Reason’s vast active duty military readership dispute or support this theory?

  7. Gary,

    If you hadn’t made the statement about why the US does well in wars as a direct response to Maddog, you would have a point. But you did, so you don’t.

    If you were capable of seeing your own contradictions, you would probably not post so much irrational nonsense.

  8. JDM,

    Here was Madog’s post: “Gary, the Russians had similar problems under the Mongols, which is part of the problem. I think part of the reason the US does well in wars is that we never really hate our enemies, so we’re not tempted toward atrocities.”

    I’m not sure how this post creates a conflict. Clearly Madog is referring to “wars” that the US has been involved in, not this war in particular. My response was specifically directed to the second sentence in his statement. There is no contradiction, as I’ve already stated.

  9. Just for fun, I’ll go through this one time in detail. I realize you are not going to change your thinking:

    The statement that started the whole thing was:

    “Already many in Russia are beginning to ask why our forces are so ineffective compared to the Brits and Americans.”

    You (correctly) replied that the Russians are having more trouble with Chechnya than the US is having in Iraq because the people of Chechnya are not with the Russians. In order for your statement to be relevant to the post it was a response to, you would have to accept that the US had signifigantly more backing from the people of Iraq than the Russians had from the people of Chechnya. Try and digest that for a minute.

    Maddog agreed with you, saying that the US has less difficulty in wars in general, and so implicitly in Iraq, because of the fact that Americans tend not to commit atrocities, which means the people of Iraq, in this case, have not turned against them. So Maddog agreed with your premise that the US was doing better than the Russians because it had more support among the people who lived in the area where the war was being fought. So far so good.

    Then the contradiction occurs. You argue against Maddog’s point and, simultaneously (since Maddog agreed with you) against your own point, saying that the reason the US does better in wars is because of superior firepower. In case you are still foggy on why that constitutes a contradiction, take Maddog’s post out of the middle:

    Sean’s quote – The Russians don’t understand why they did so badly in Chechnya compared to the US in Iraq.

    Gary’s frontal lobe – It’s because they don’t have the support of the local population as the US does.

    Gary’s darker, wronger demons – Gary’s frontal lobe is wrong, it’s because the Americans have superior firepower. Also, they butchered each other in the Civil War 140 years ago.

    It is possible that this isn’t a contradiction, but only if you changed your mind between your posts.

  10. JDM – there really is no point arguing with Gary. I’ve become convinced that “he” is really a few lines of code used to generate strings of pointless non-sequiturs.

    I find it highly improbable that an actual human being could use so many words without every seeming to make a coherent argument. Fails the Turing Test, I’m afraid.

  11. PLC,

    I’m reminded of a time when a friend of mine was having trouble working through contrapositive logic questions on the LSATs. I tried once to help him with it, but he just never got it. He took the LSATs 6 times and never got in anywhere.

    Sometimes either the wires are connected or they aren’t.

  12. “Imagine a news station run by Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore; well-meaning, perhaps…”

    Michael Moore, well meaning? Phew. Al Jazeera looks like The Weekly Standard compared to Michael Moore.

  13. Gary, the Russians had similar problems under the Mongols, which is part of the problem. I think part of the reason the US does well in wars is that we never really hate our enemies, so we’re not tempted toward atrocities.

  14. Many Arabs have learned that Al Jazeera was providng a sub-par product (biased reporting or outright lies). I imagine the free market will ultimately decide its fate.

  15. PLC & JDM,

    The fallacious argumentum ad hominem is so apropos coming from the likes of you two. I noticed that both of you stuck your tale between your legs and ran with it.

  16. JDM,

    Its not a contradiction at all, as I have already explained. Simply because the US is doing better *in Iraq* since there is very little or no loyal civilian opposition for the Iraqi regime to depend upon (unlike in Chechnya), does not make that a general rule for why Americans do well in all wars. Madog tried to turn my statement concerning Chechnya, and how it implied the reverse in Iraq, into a more general rule. I argued contra to such. In other words, the point of my first post never was (and this is where your error lies) to say that the US does well in wars generally because the local population doesn’t oppose American advances in all or most of its military actions, but to juxtapose the experiences of two very specific events. What you are trying to claim is that my first statement was a general rule, when in fact it wasn’t. The general rule came with the second statement.

    In other words, the US has an advantage that the Russians lack, a far more docile population to deal with, and this has created two very different sets of experiences. However, generally, this is not the reason why the US does well in warfare. The US does well in warfare because of superior firepower.

  17. Madog,

    The US does well in wars because of superior firepower – though that may not always win the day.

    American soldiers have committed war crimes, though just how rampant that has been historically I can’t say. During the Civil War, a lot of very nasty shit was done by both sides, of course there was a lot of blood curdling hatred involved as well. If you’ve ever read civil war letters and diaries you can see this hatred shining through at times.

  18. War itself is made up of a series of events that would normally be considered crimes if not for government mandate. I think it can be credibly stated that American war crimes have been scattered and isolated compared with those of our historic enemies., who have often institutionalized said crimes.

    If soldiers at the grunt level weren’t convinced of the wrongness of their enemy at some level, war would be impossible altogether.

  19. can you spell sectarian? S-E-C-T oh nevermind! what an unruly bunch 😀

  20. Can’t we all just get along?

  21. Gary,

    So the reason the Russians did worse in Grozny than the US is doing in Iraq is that the population supports the Russians’ enemies, but the reason the US is doing better in Iraq than the Russians did in Grozny is that the US has superior firepower.

    You should wait at least 2 posts after making a statement before you contradict yourself.

  22. Imagine a news station run by Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore; well-meaning, perhaps, but clueless and tone-deaf. That’s what al-Jezeera is to Iraqi ex-patriots.

  23. Gary,

    One last time.

    A therefore B. If not B then not A. Think about it.

    Also, I don’t resort to ad hominum attacks as a fallacious line of reasoning. I do it in addition to or occasionally instead of reasoning for the sheer fun of it.

  24. JDM,

    Again, you are assuming that my first statement created a general or even universal rule. Clearly that was not the case. It was an observation about specific event, not an observation about the nature of American warmaking as a whole. What you want me to commit to is what is called an inductive fallacy.

    Premise: The US is doing better in Iraq than the Russians are in Chechnya because there is very little popular resistance in Iraq (which is the essence of my original statement).

    Conclusion: Therefore, the US does well in all wars because it faces very little popular resistance when it fights wars.

    And yes you do resort to such attacks for the reason I stated above.

  25. Gary,

    Didn’t think I’d look did you?

    Notice that you have inserted the word “all” in front of “wars” now in order to pretend you were making sense.

    The premise of your second statement is to refute that popular local support is in any way a cause for the US to do well in wars in general. If it is no part of the general case, it cannot be part of the specific case. The notion of inductive fallacy implies you cannot apply the particulars to *all* cases, or perhaps a generic case. But the word “all” was never in the exchange. If something applies to a specific instance, it applies in some way to the general idea.

    You keep skipping over the fact that the problem is that your second statement “The US does well in wars because of firepower” was used as a negation of “the US does well in wars because it gets popular support from not commiting atrocities.” Restated : “popular support plays no part in the US doing well in wars.”

    Which is a contradiction of your first statement “The US is doing better in this war because of popular support.”

  26. Here’s another example:

    You – “This cat has spots.”

    Maddog – “Cats have spots. It has something to do with genetics, I think.”
    ***Notice here that Maddog does not say all cats have spots.

    Also you – “You are wrong, they have fur.”
    ***Notice that you are implying none have spots, or “all do not have spots.”

    Is it clear now?

  27. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
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    DATE: 01/20/2004 07:43:21
    Genius hath electric power which earth can never tame.

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