I'm constantly amazed at people like Daniel Johnson who occasionally manage to drag themselves out of the primordial slime, discover anew their opposable thumbs and tap away at the keyboard:
That shutting down Al Jazeera would be desirable from the Anglo-American point of view is obviously true. And if Qatar, a Gulf state that is nominally an ally of America (on which it relies for its independence), has allowed its capital to become Al Qaeda's principal propaganda base, it has no right to expect America automatically to refrain from punitive action on its territory.First off, Al-Jazeera isn't some dodgy cable access show you can only pick up with enough tinfoil and the right atmospheric conditions, it has a viewership of some 45 million people. They are the network who just signed Sir David Frost for their English language news channel set to launch next spring. They are also the network who recently hired ex-Marine Josh Rushing (above, he of The Control Room), who seems to have a bit more faith in the ultimate value of the message of democracy than some of his wingnuttier critics:
Rushing views Al-Jazeera's English-language channel as a forum for reaching millions of Muslims, many of whom may not understand the America he knows, and for reaching millions who he thinks know little about the Muslim world, including Americans.It's ironic that those who skulked into power in the US by taking control of the media seem to think that the only way to spread democracy in the Middle East is to bomb the fuck out of it, and that anyone who collaborates with indigenous media is a traitor:
"The gravity of it sets in all the time," he says during an interview in the dining room at the private Army and Navy Club, two blocks from the White House. "It puts me where the good fight is --— at a station that's going to bridge America and the rest of the world."
Rushing's response to such criticism: "I believe in America so dearly and the values that it stands for that I'm in no way threatened by the kind of information this station's going to put out.Over at the BooMan Tribune, BooMan himself has a really good article outlining the utter stupidity of bombing anything in Qatar (does Dubya even know where it is?) where the US military quite sensibly decided to relocate much of its munitions, equipment and communications gear out of Saudi Arabia following Bin Laden's fatwa of 1998:
"Besides," he explains, "once a Marine, always a Marine."
The one thing the Bush administration did to appease Bin-Laden was to move our airbase from Saudi Arabia to Qatar where, presumably, it would cause less resentment and violent resistance. Whatever the merits of that decision, they have been pretty well wiped out by the decision to invade Iraq. Nevertheless, our airbase in Qatar is absolutely critical for supporting our operations in Iraq, and is used for missions over Afghanistan as well.Meanwhile per Crooks & Liars, we learn that Al-Jazeera staffers have started a blog called Don't Bomb Us. And Mark Kleiman notes, " after his denial that Karl Rove or Scooter Libby had any role in revealing that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, a statement by Scott McClellan that an report is "outlandish" is tantamount to a confirmation.
If we had used the airbase in Qatar to bomb the capital of Qatar, where al-Jazeera's headquarters are located, it stands to reason that we would no longer be welcome to use that airbase for other purposes. And since we could not simply move our airbase back to Prince Sultan or negotiate a new location and build a new airbase overnight, it would have necessitated a complete takeover of the country to keep our air force operating over Iraq.
If Bush had ordered such a mission it would have been just cause for mutiny, or even a palace coup to prevent tremendous harm to our country and our military's operations. The idea that Tony Blair had to argue against this mission is truly frightening. It should have been dismissed by any number of Americans before it could be discussed with Blair. Andy Card, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and several others should have pointed out the lunacy of such a plan as soon as they heard of it.
It stands to reason that any attempt to blow up al-Jazeera would have to be done with plausible deniability. That means a truck bomb or something would need to be used. You can't use bomber aircraft launched from 20 miles away. Such a plan is triply insane.
Sometimes you have to throw up your hands and wonder if they are criminal, stupid, or criminally stupid.