Saturday, September 25, 2004

Whose Fault Is the Kidnapping of French Reporters? Why, That of Uncle Sam, of Course!

The campaign to put the blame for the kidnappings of two French reporters (Christian Chesnot et Georges Malbrunot) on Uncle Sam continues in the organ of official opinion and of the ruling class:
To not appreciate the means undertaken by the French authorities to free two of its countrymen is one thing. Putting spokes in their wheels is something else. One has the right to ask oneself questions: the offensive launched by the Iraqi and American forces against the strongholds of the Sunni rebellion, at the precise moment when negotiations with the kidnappers were just about to be successful, has not facilitated things. That's the least one can say… Is it a way to pay back in kind an ally who did not show up when called upon? That would be policy-making of the basest sort.
Elsewhere in their Le Monde piece, Robert Ménard and Pierre Veilletet mention Washington's "impatience" and "disapproval" and "the acerbic remarks" of the Iraqi prime minister. A choice of negative-sounding qualifiers, all of them.

We have already seen the beginnings of the campaign to put the blame on Uncle Sam. Notice how much is based on questions, on double-guessing, on the unknown, on wishful thinking, and on unproven statements ("That would be policy-making of the basest sort", "negotiations with the kidnappers were just about to be successful"). And notice what kind of images are brought up:

  • Americans (or their leaders) and their allies (or those of their leaders) are eternally belligerant, callous, treacherous, and without an iota of common sense. One should always wonder what those hypocrites are (really) up to, second-guess them, and put their motivations into doubt.

  • Everybody else — the French, the "insurgents", the kidnappers, and all the hand-wringing innocents behind them — displays nothing but rationality, reasonableness, sophistication, understanding, and the willingness to set down their weapons to discuss and negotiate in full peace and harmony. But then the uncouth Americans and their allies, deliberately or not — and in this case it is supposed to have been deliberate — butt in and cause total confusion and discord. (As usual. Vietnam, Chile, etc, etc, etc…)
This view of events might be understandable if the article had been written by Claire Tréan (although not forgivable, not by any means). What is worse here is that the authors are the secretary general and the president of the nominatively independent and objective group, Reporters Without Borders.

Now, of course, I will allow for some leeway, generally speaking, because the pro-journalist group is trying to win the release of their (and our) colleagues. But this article is simply more of the usual American-bashing coupled with its corollary, unlimited trust for the French government and its pro-Arab (dictators) policy.