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The limits of U.S. propaganda

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  • The limits of U.S. propaganda

    "THE CRUSHING VICTORY of Hamas in the Palestinian elections has starkly revealed the bankruptcy of the Bush administration's strange strategy of trying to democratize Arabs while ignoring their feelings and opinions. Democracy is, obviously, representative. If the United States acts in ways that the great majority of Arabs see as hostile to their interests, Arab democracy will produce outcomes that are hostile to American interests.

    One of the chief means by which democracy was supposed to be preached to Arabs is the U.S. Arabic-language television station Al Hurra ("the Free One") and its sister station, Radio Sawa ("Together"). Instead, these government-funded stations represent everything that is wrong and misconceived about official U.S. ways of approaching the Arab world.

    Widespread Muslim fury at the European media's caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, and widespread Western incomprehension of that fury, illustrate the extent to which we are still talking past each other. Clearly there is an urgent need for media that will bridge this gap. But to be effective, they have to be credible with Muslims — which Al Hurra is not.

    "Still, President Bush has requested a 13% spending increase for Al Hurra. Yet, according to a recent Zogby poll, only 1% of Arab viewers watch it as their first choice. Al Hurra claims 21.3 million viewers, but it will not publish the Nielsen survey that supposedly supports this figure. The station is rightly regarded by most Arabs as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration....."

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