Does the Obama administration support the revolution sweeping the Middle East known as the Arab Spring? The New York Times seems to think so.
In a news article about Syria’s growing isolation over its brutal crackdown on Syrians, the Times reported that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait have recalled their ambassadors from Damascus for what Saudi King Abdullah called Bashar Al-Assad’s “killing machine,” which the Times correctly noted as “a remarkably sharp rebuke from one of the region’s most repressive countries.”
Good eye – for seeing through King Abdullah’s sudden concern for human rights. But good is the enemy of great, and the Times missed a great opportunity to set the record straight about Washington’s fake “concern” for human rights as well. As the paper reported:
“Most Arab leaders have tried to tighten their grip on power after revolutions swept through Tunisia and Egypt. Saudi Arabia in particular has tried to protect the general status quo, splitting from Washington over American support for Arab uprisings, shielding other monarchies, and dispatching its armed forces to help crush an uprising this spring in Bahrain — which itself relentlessly cracked down on its opposition.”
The Times is half-right; the Kingdom did send forces to back up a minority Sunni ruling family facing democratic demands from majority Shi’ites. The Times also got it half-wrong – the Saudi intervention wasn’t done in spite of Washington’s efforts, but because of a deal the Obama administration cut with the Kingdom in exchange for their support of U.S. efforts against Muammar Gaddafi.
In other words, the New York Times – the “newspaper of record” – mis-reported a key element of this story, essentially rewriting history. It’s possible the reporter Nada Bakri was lazy and/or incompetent, but if that’s the case, how come her editor didn’t catch that mistake? There’s no correction of this listed in the corrections section, meaning either her editor didn’t see the error – or didn’t think an error occurred. The only logical conclusion here is that this historical revision reflects a worldview in common with Washington, making the Times a propaganda mass medium. As Noam Chomsky put it back in 1992:
“The New York Times is certainly the most important newspaper in the United States, and one could argue the most important newspaper in the world. The New York Times plays an enormous role in shaping the perception of the current world on the part of the politically active, educated classes. Also The New York Times has a special role, and I believe its editors probably feel that they bear a heavy burden, in the sense that The New York Times creates history.
That is, history is what appears in The New York Times archives; the place where people will go to find out what happened is The New York Times. Therefore it’s extremely important if history is going to be shaped in an appropriate way, that certain things appear, certain things not appear, certain questions be asked, other questions be ignored, and that issues be framed in a particular fashion. Now in whose interests is history being so shaped? Well, I think that’s not very difficult to answer.”
It isn’t; the answer to that question is neocolonialism. Whether it’s backing dictatorships in supporting other dictatorships, murderous airstrikes to bring down a dictatorship or sanctions to bring down another, the end goal of American hegemony is the same. The idea that the United States is dedicated to democracy is just that – an idea, tailor-made for public consumption and distraction while the ugly business of neocolonialism goes on as usual; in part thanks to corporate media like the New York Times.