Monday, October 01, 2007

Pakistan, the USA and the news

Some final thoughts from my Karachi trip. While reading the local paper and surfing the channels on the hotel's 42 inch TV two thoughts came to me:

1) Divergence of the USA and the world

I noticed that there were a lot more channels on TV: from about 8 of which half were state run and the rest the likes of CNN there were now about 90. Of course that was partly because the it was a better hotel, but my local agent said it was also a more general trend. The interesting point was how many were local or from other countries in south-east Asia such as India and also how parochial US TV looked in comparison.

There is much talk about the danger that the US might become more isolationist and withdraw from the world post the next election. From the view point of Karachi it has already happened: the US is going its own way wrapped up in its own thing and the rest of the world doesn't mind as it has a thriving local culture. India can already see itself in a few years with GDP greater than America, pushing that country from first place down to fourth (after China, India and Europe).

The multi-polar world is already here but the US doesn't want to know, which leads me to.....

2) The poverty of American MSM news

Its not a new topic, but the US's main stream media is unable to tell Americans the truth about the world and what America does. Essential and important topics like the occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinians simply are not accurately or honestly reported in the US: the same narrow viewpoint on this subject is echoed from all sides of the political debate from Jon Stewart to Bill O'Reilly, and from all parts of the country from Washington DC to Washington State.

When the local Karachi paper had a diversity of views from a State Department spokewoman to Palestinian writers, Fox News (yes they have it in Karachi) was diverting its viewers from the truth by endless speculation about OJ Simpson.

It reminded me of a State Department report into why the US was hated that concluded that the solution was more information to explain what the US did -which just showed how they failed to understand the problem. For overwhelmingly the group that is ignorant of US foreign policy is not those in the Middle East, but those in the USA itself.

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