November 12, 2007

COIN and al-Jazeera

When al-Jazeera English first launched, Abu Muqawama's alter ego rapidly became one of their go-to guys for commentary on Iraq and Afghanistan. He was probably in their studio two or three times a week in the early months. Why? Well, probably because they couldn't get anyone else. Since al-Jazeera English launched, there has been a stigma following it around in the United States, and they often had trouble getting pundits and politicians in DC to come on their shows.

This is madness. We're talking about a network that reaches millions of English speakers around the globe. Don't you want to tell your side of the story to that audience? Apparently not. Most folks in Washington, DC would rather appear on Fox News and talk to ... other Americans. Roger Cohen describes this phenomenon in his New York Times column on al-Jazeera, remarking, vis a vis America's loss of prestige in a rapidly changing world...

In response to all this, America can say to heck with an ungrateful world. It can mutter about third, even fourth, world wars. Therein lies a downward spiral. Or it can try to grasp the new, multinetworked world as it is.

He continues, putting it all in a counterinsurgency framework (God Bless his little soul):

Counterinsurgency has been called armed social science. To win, you must understand the world you’re in.

Comparative courses in how Al Jazeera, CNN, the BBC and U.S. networks portray the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be taught in all U.S. high schools and colleges. Al Jazeera English should be widely available.

Yes. And if you are a straight, male DC pundit who doesn't have the time to sit down and chat with Ghida Fakhry, well, you're just beyond hope. Do you think a red-blooded French man would make that mistake? Hell no!

Update: The Nation has a good critique, meanwhile, of al-Jazeera Arabic's new Islamist bent. (Abu Muqawama's Shia friends complain about this a lot.)