May 17, 2011

Al Jazeera Gets It Right

Al Jazeera's "Inside Edition": North Korea and Iran Exchanging Nuclear and Missile Technology Through China

Now I am not a big fan of Al Jazeera, especially not their "Inside Edition" program which tends to feature social issues like adultery and thievery in the streets of Cairo. This morning, however, every western "news" media is fixated on Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child, Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland, and the massive flooding in Louisana. Of the three, the only real story is the ongoing flooding along the Mississippi River and it is getting so little television time anyone who relies on the television for their news might be tempted to think it has ended.

Naturally, the ongoing technology exchange between North Korea and Iran is of interest to Al Jazeera primarily because Iran has become one of the most powerful and pugnacious nations in their region. Nonetheless, both of these nations (Iran and North Korea) should be of interest to the entire world because both of them are dedicated to bringing down the modern industrialized west. The fact that China is helping both of them improve their missile and nuclear programs should be of great importance to the rest of us because China is both a major trade partner and a political powerhouse that would profit greatly from the disappearance of the United States, the European Union, or both. The Chinese also have an ancient history testifying to their reliance on extreme long-term planning and their ability to carry through on multi-generational political and military strategy. Their willingness to aid both North Korea and Iran must figure into some long-term strategy to restore themselves to political centrality. It would be naive to think otherwise.

An interesting aspect of the Al Jazeera report is the inclusion of a fellow from Norway named Bjornar Simonsen. He is billed as a representative of the "Korean Friendship Association" and fills in as a voice defending North Korea's drive to obtain better missile technology and more efficient production of weapon's grade plutonium. Although I find his position delusional, he does have a right to hold it and express it. It is also fitting that someone stand up and represent the North Korean position because they, like him, are certainly entitled to their paranoia and their desire to be seen as a major player on the world stage. As the half-hour program unfolds, the discussion is frank, civilized, and thankfully free of the name-calling and flaring tempers that have become the mainstay of morning news-centered talk shows on every major American network.

I still feel that more often than not Al Jazeera functions as little more than the propoganda arm for the Saudi and Jordanian royal families. I'm not saying that they are in fact nothing more than defenders of Arabian aristocracy, I'm only saying that from my perspective, that is the role they usually wind up fulfilling. It was refreshing to see them compile and broadcast such a thorough, indepth report on a very serious problem that is only getting worse as time goes on and is certainly far more important than the love child that caused the Schwarzenegger-Shriver divorce. I suppose the Queen's historic visit to Ireland is newsworthy, but I don't understand why it gets top billing over flooding in the American south, Denmark imposing immigration restrictions on other EU member nations, and Iran's ongoing quest to destroy Israel.