Sunday, February 22, 2009

New York Times Still Refuses To Question Illegal Action

The New York Times continues its running failure to contextualize illegal U.S. military aggression in foreign countries as a violation of international law, in this case referring to a bombing campaign inside Pakistan's borders as a breach of sovereignty. Of course performing covert bombing raids inside a foreign country is a breach of sovereignty, but absent UN Security Council resolutions authorizing such acts, they are also flagrantly illegal under the UN Charter, to which we are a signatory*.

Neglecting to place U.S. military acts within an international law context are only the beginnings of the failure of the Times to report on matters involving U.S. intervention, there is a routine failure to attempt to objectively measure claims regarding anti-American sentiment. In the same article, the Times reports (without attributing a named source) on the presence of an "increasingly powerful anti-American segment of the Pakistani population". The Times also more crucially fails to attempt to substantiate this claim with any objective means of measuring the size of this "segment" or to measure whether its size was actually, in fact, "increasing", say, with polling data, as they would when making any similar claim about sentiments of the U.S. population on any given issue.

It is somewhat of a tradition to report a rise in anti-American sentiment whenever U.S. military or paramilitary (C.I.A., etc) forces engage in actions that kill civilians, but the continuous failure to back such claims with actual statistical evidence or any real evidence at all is a stunning failure in journalism. Can world politics be reported on accurately when U.S. journalists report on the unsubstantiated hunches of unnamed officials about what any given set of untold millions of people in foreign nations may be thinking?

There are numerous polling companies engaging regularly in measuring the attitudes of populations in a variety of countries, including Pakistan. It's a shame that reporters don't dig deeper to find objective data to back their reporting on these sensitive issues.

* Students of history may recall Nixon's illegal "secret bombing campaign" in Cambodia. Although civilian casualties and U.S. military casualties in the Afghanistan/Pakistan military aggression are distinctly lower than the Vietnam/Cambodia military incursion by U.S. forces, several observers are beginning to make parallels.

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