Thursday, March 10, 2005

This Week's
Dan Rather
Courage Award

Your scrivener has been doling out weekly Backside Of The Bell Curve Awards to Fascist Fundie Rightwing Hate Spewing Throwbacks and their Braindead Kool Aid Guzzling Followers (aka Republicans) for almost a year now.

But, to reverse the old adage, with the sour must come the sweet.

Last night, Dan Rather signed off for the last time as our CBS Evening News anchor with a single word he made famous two decades ago:


"The greatest shortage on every beat, in every newsroom in America, is courage."
--Dan Rather speaking at the forty-eighth annual conference of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, September 29, 1993.

"What separated Ed Murrow from the rest of the pack was courage. I know what you're thinking. I've gotten in trouble before for using the word. Probably deserved it. Maybe I used it inappropriately. Maybe I'm a poor person to talk about it because I have little myself. But I want to hear the word. I want to hear it praised, and the men and women who have courage elevated."
--Dan Rather speaking at the forty-eighth annual conference of the Radio- Television News Directors Association, September 29, 1993

To honor the courage of Dan Rather and his ever-shrinking circle of real journalists and editors, who dare to speak truth to power, I plan to award weekly, if possible, The Dan Rather Courage Award.

This Week's Winner...

The UK Guardian's

Seumas Milne

It is not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East

Managed elections are the latest device to prop up pro-western regimes

Seumas Milne
Thursday March 10, 2005
The Guardian

For weeks a western chorus has been celebrating a new dawn of Middle Eastern freedom, allegedly triggered by the Iraq war. Tony Blair hailed a "ripple of change", encouraged by the US and Britain, that was bringing democracy to benighted Muslim lands. --snip--

The claim that democracy is on the march in the Middle East is a fraud. It is not democracy, but the US military, that is on the march. The Palestinian elections in January took place because of the death of Yasser Arafat - they would have taken place earlier if the US and Israel hadn't known that Arafat was certain to win them - and followed a 1996 precedent. The Iraqi elections may have looked good on TV and allowed Kurdish and Shia parties to improve their bargaining power, but millions of Iraqis were unable or unwilling to vote, key political forces were excluded, candidates' names were secret, alleged fraud widespread, the entire system designed to maintain US control and Iraqis unable to vote to end the occupation. They have no more brought democracy to Iraq than US-orchestrated elections did to south Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s. As for the cosmetic adjustments by regimes such as Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's, there is not the slightest sign that they will lead to free elections, which would be expected to bring anti-western governments to power.

What has actually taken place since 9/11 and the Iraq war is a relentless expansion of US control of the Middle East, of which the threats to Syria are a part. The Americans now have a military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar - and in not one of those countries did an elected government invite them in. Of course Arabs want an end to tyrannical regimes, most of which have been supported over the years by the US, Britain and France: that is the source of much anti-western Muslim anger. The dictators remain in place by US licence, which can be revoked at any time - and managed elections are being used as another mechanism for maintaining pro-western regimes rather than spreading democracy.

Jack Straw is right about one thing: there's no happy future in the regional status quo. His government could play a crucial role in helping to promote a real programme for liberty and democracy in the Middle East: it would need to include a commitment to allow independent media such as al-Jazeera to flourish; an end to military and financial support for despots; and a withdrawal of all foreign forces from the region. Now that would herald a real dawn of freedom. LINK

There are signs of courage all around us every day...

We simply have to seek them out.

And that, my friends, takes courage.


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