Wretchard at Belmont Club gives an excerpt from Winds of Change "which quotes the selected recollections of Egyptian writer Tarek Heggy" a revealing incident about the television channel and news service Al Jazeera.
A strange man entered the tent where illuminaries were dining. Was he the Sheikh's secretary, the intelligence chief, the man "who whispered something in the Emir's ear, listen(ed) to the reply, and (to) leave - only to come back and repeat the same scenario"? No, the man allowed to disturb the dinner party was Waddah Khanfar, the director of Al Jazeera!
...I could only conclude that the TV channel, which costs the Emir of Qatar one billion dollars a year of his own money, is his number one priority. Moreover, the annual subsidy it receives from the Qatari treasury is equivalent to the military aid furnished by the United States to the largest Arab army.
So central is Al-Jazeera in the Emir’s scheme of things that Mr. Khanfar, a Palestinian who was formerly a member of Hamas, ranks as high in the country’s hierarchical structure as the prime minister, the grand chamberlain and the head of intelligence. Perhaps even higher, judging by the way he was allowed to barge into the Emir’s tent six times in the space of four hours. I heard later that a famous Egyptian writer whom the Emir consults regularly told him he should think of closing down Qatar before thinking of closing down Al-Jazeera (!), a backhanded compliment if ever there was one. Over dinner, Sheikh Hamad told me his foreign policy is based on the following simple principles. One, Qatar is small in both area and population. Two, it is surrounded by three thugs (the closest English translation to the Arabic word abadaya that he used). He decided to seek the protection of the biggest thug in the world, the United States, and invited its forces over, at his expense, to guard his tiny sheikhdom from its covetous neighbours.
I told him that while I understood what had driven him to take such a decision, I could not see where Al-Jazeera fitted into an equation based exclusively on interests. He launched into a long response the gist of which was that he enjoyed a game in which the number of heads of state who called him to complain about Al-Jazeera was far greater than those who called him for any other reason! However, I felt he was being disingenuous. I believe the calculations of the ruling Qatari triumvirate are taking into account some events that have already transpired, like the 1995 uprising, and others that are brewing under the surface but have yet to emerge in the open. However, I can guess what form these developments will take and the effects they will have. I can also bet that they will be far greater in scope than the 1995 uprising.
In a world where the basic peace is kept by "the biggest thug in the world" what is the best use of a foreign country's marginal defense dollar? Is it the purchase of more military hardware or an investment in information weaponry? Or is it the hire of the best Washington lobbyists that money can buy? And consider: there is no American equivalent of Al Jazeera. Or a BBC.
Equally interesting is the commentary provided by posters:
"What is 'Occupation' " said:
So central is Al-Jazeera in the Emir’s scheme of things that Mr. Khanfar, a Palestinian who was formerly a member of Hamas, ranks as high in the country’s hierarchical structure as the prime minister, the grand chamberlain and the head of intelligence. ah yes another wonderful tale of mr smith goes to washington, except this mr smith is a jew hating child murdering multi billionare criminal with a tv station
believe al Jazeera TV is a command and control apparatus on par with Hitler's High Command or any other major intelligence/propaganda/command service today. Al Jazeera certainly has the communications equipment and the stringers on the ground. But, al Jazeera has another advantage - its cover is a legit news agency. It can freely cross state lines, setup shop, send out stringers, and film gruesome beheadings or car bombings or plant slanted stories will. The MSM repackages those stories and passes them down the chain. It's no wonder why Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thany depends upon al Jazeera. They are an unfettered intelligence and field ops service with no equal. If the Sheik needs to know what's happening in Iraq he calls al Jazeera. If the Sheik needs some propaganda he calls al Jazeera. If the Sheik need to know where the next bombing will occur he calls al Jazeera. I would guess if the Sheik need somebody knocked-off he just might call al Jazeera. If there were one entity that the CIA could glean a lot of information from - I would bet it would be al Jazeera. They seem to know when and where the next "news event" will happen - and they usually have the cameras in place to film it.
And bringing it home to the U.S.:
And consider: there is no American equivalent of Al Jazeera. Or a BBC.(I added the emphasis)
True. I think this comes from the arrogance of America's "globalist" ruling class, with the assumption that America's principles are so self-evident and America's power is so overwhelming that there is no need to even try to convince other nations of anything. "We command, so we expect it to be done." If Thomas Friedman says the "world is flat", the rest of us are just supposed to agree with him because he said it. If President Bush (41) says "the Cold War is over", the rest of us are just supposed to agree with him because he said it. Meanwhile, foreign language programs flounder in our universities while "political correctness studies" classes flourish. This complacency is based upon assuming that the views of foreigners don't matter, unless perhaps it is the lunacy of Franz Fanon. America has great strengths, but its ruling class (both Democrat and Republican) is not one of them.
And here's a tidbit about World War II intelligence brought up to date and applied to Qatar and Al Jazeera:
In WWII the allies kept a ship in the North Atlantic to provide weather reports by radio. Eventually realizing that such reports were of as much military value to the Germans as the U.S. and U.K., higher command ordered the weather reports to be encrypted. Immediately after the encryption of the reports, the ship was sunk by a German U-boat. The meaning of this message was clear to everyone. Future reports were sent in the clear and the replacement ship was never molested again. Considering the neighborhood he lives in, Al Jazeera is clearly the Emir's version of an unencrypted weather report. Even with U.S. aircraft and ships using his country as a way station, he will never be torpedoed as long as he keeps those valuable transmissions going.
While at Belmont Club, read Wretchard's ideal for the blogsphere.