ZenPundit
Saturday, December 04, 2004
 
WHY ISLAMIST TERRORISM IS MORE IMPORTANT TO AMERICANS THAN NON-ISLAMIST TERRORISM

Juan Cole falls below his usual high standards of analysis today with his comments on the ETA bombings in Spain.

"I was struck at how little coverage US news organizations were giving this terrorist strike. If the Bush administration were serious about fighting terrorism, surely the FBI and CIA would be flying off to Madrid and trying to catch the perpetrators? There would be extensive consultations between Bush and Prime Minister Zapatero about cooperation in fighting these groups.

If these bombings had been carried out by al-Qaeda, it would be front-page news and something of concern to Washington.

That it isn't raises the question of anti-Muslimism. Is the difference in the way that the American press responds to ETA from the way it responds to al-Qaeda a form of racism? "

To answer Professor Cole's question, frankly, no it is not. The coverage of foreign news by MSM that does not directly impact American interests is typically, with the exception of very few media outlets like The Christian Science Monitor, exceedingly shallow. It's self-absorption and lack of curiousity, not racism. Any American who desires to know what is going on outside of the United States is best off regularly reading the direct wire reports of the AP and Reuters and the English editions of the better foreign newspapers.

For historical purposes compare the amount of space given to the terrorism of Italy's Red Brigades in their heyday with the coverage given to them when they kidnapped an American general, James L. Dozier. You would think that a group of Marxists that assassinated a sitting Prime Minister of a major NATO ally would have been better known to Americans prior to the Dozier incident but they were not.

Secondly, aside from the fact that Muslims are not a race ( nor are Arabs really, being a cultural-linguistic group. Somalis and light skinned Syrians alike consider themselves to be Arabs) a hierarchy of prioritization in the GWOT makes eminent rational sense. I'd say the Bush administration like the press follow the same scale of importance:

1. al-Qaida and it's direct affiliates/allied groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Taliban.

2. Other radical Islamist groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Call to Combat etc.

3. Non-Islamist Terror groups that plague our allies enough that they ask for American assistance - Colombia with FARC for example.

The ETA would be a Category III terror group and Prime Minister Zapatero, being an anti-American fool, probably does not have the sense to ask for help. Even if he did, the Bush administration should require that Zapatero ask formally for American aid so as to not further enable Zapatero's spitting in our eye as a political platform. If the request is a public one we should give Spain all asistance because it is a NATO ally, even if their current Prime Minister leaves much to be desired.
 
Comments:
Mark,

Thanks for posting this. What a beautiful example of ideological blinders screening out rational thought. And this guy is a Professor of History at a prestigious university? Unfortunately, he's one of many.
 
Well, I'd say that American newspapers and TV news outlets are showing a keen understanding of their audiences. For goodness sake the OJ trial dominated the news here for months after all. There were other news stories during that period.

Sure, Americans are self-centered. This differs from Spaniards, Brits, and Arabs how?
 
Marc,

In fairness to Cole, I can attest from having debated him in the past on H-Diplo that the post I was commenting on is not representative of his usual efforts - Cole is very sharp in fact and quite learned in his areas of expertise. Though I definitely agree with you that he let his sympathies run away him in that particular post.

Dave,

Well, there is a market factor operating here in news coverage when you remember 20 % of the population has an IQ of 90 or lower you only pull such ppl in with superficial and tabloidesque " news". Ratings are about numbers.

On the other hand, the popularity of cable news political debate shows like Crossfire, Hardball etc. NPR, Talk Radio and the Blogosphere are evidence of a solid niche market for weightier news coverage. You get a wealthier and better educated demographic too, I'm betting. If you are a media outlet already at the bottom of the ratings/circulation with standard MSM coverage you could hardly lose by moving to a higher -brow format
 
...Even if he did, the Bush administration should require that Zapatero ask formally for American aid so as to not further enable Zapatero's spitting in our eye as a political platform. If the request is a public one we should give Spain all asistance because it is a NATO ally, even if their current Prime Minister leaves much to be desired...

I couldn't agree more with the above assessment.

Zapatero has reaped what he has sown

Let's look at the timeline, shall we:

March 2004 Al-Qaeda bombings in Madrid

April 2004 - Rejection, by Spain electorate of Jose Maria Aznar's "pro pre-emption" government. Shortly afterwords, Zapatero vows Iraq troop pull-out.

June 2004 - Spain's newly elected government pulls troops out of Iraq as pledged.

Lesson to terrorists? Intimidation works in Spain.

Is any body really surprised that only six months later ETA is demonstrating that it understood this lesson?
 
As usual, it pays to actually listen to President Bush. The White House and President Bush personally have been saying for quite a long time that this was a war on terror groups of global reach. Terrorist groups like the ETA that don't get around much and don't have much of an ideological component that will lead them to spreading out across the globe are simply not on the radar screen and never have been as far as official US policy goes.

Certainly we mourn for the victims and we pray that Spain finally rids itself of its Basque terror problem. That doesn't make ETA part of the WOT.

Professor Cole is simply ignoring the plain statements of official US policy in order to formulate his attack on the administration. Ignoring evidence to further grind your ideological ax is always a bad sign in an academic.
 
Anti-Muslism?! That's a word?

Of course if the US media covered the ETA in depth Cole would be complaining about it not understanding the situation, etc. etc.

ETA shows the inabality to negotiate with terrorist groups that do not have realistic goals. (And not having realistic goals typically drives groups into terrorism).

Cole's bs comment shows his desire to maintain the critique (Americans are naturally anti-Muslim) by any means necessary. And he is now president of the Middle Eastern Studies Association. Expect much, much, much more of the same.
 
Lance wrote:

"ETA shows the inabality to negotiate with terrorist groups that do not have realistic goals. (And not having realistic goals typically drives groups into terrorism)."

A deft observation, IMHO.
 
Keep up the good work. Check out my groupo niche work here groupo niche
 
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