Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A phrase that usually conceals disagreement

U.S. news accounts yesterday and today were full of wishful thinking about Gordon Brown's purported backing of George Bush concerning Iraq and counter-terror operations.

Yet, in the words of the London Times, "Brown chose to describe their talks as full and frank, a phrase that usually conceals disagreement."

Despite press hyperbole, the fact remains that Brown announced a major counter-terror initiative that in truth challenges Bush's leadership in this arena.

That shift was made more evident in his UN appearance, when he underscored his desire for a global war on poverty via a commitment to the economic uplift of poor nations. Such a commitment is in line with Brown's desire to dilute the appeal of extremists to oppressed youths.

Another point that should not be underestimated: Brown announced that British troops would end combat operations in Iraq, being withdrawn to "overwatch" status. Such withdrawal from combat to fortified bases has a great appeal to those Democrats whom Bush regularly castigates for weakening national security. Does that sound like support for Bush?

In addition, Brown's Darfur (I guess I'll go with this spelling) initiative is important on several levels. He believes in the use of military force for humanitarian purposes and such deployment is in stark contrast to the fiasco in Iraq. He, unlike Bush, has the credibility to get such an initiative off the ground. In fact, the London Times reports that this initiative is almost a done deal.

Then there is global warming. Laborites have in the past denounced Bush's inattention on this matter as far more dangerous to international peace and prosperity than the menace of al Qaeda and the jihadists. Brown's Washington Post article indicates that his foreign policy is intended more or less as a seamless garment in contrast to Bush's Rube Goldberg arrangement.

Bush tried to make the best of the photo and broadcast ops at Camp David. But the real story is in what Brown did not say, such as a refusal to answer a question as to what he saw as the major mistakes of the Iraq war. And, though Brown's Washington Post article is unsuited for sound bite theatrics, diplomats everywhere see a new paradigm in London.

Why is so much of the media anxious to play up bogus solidarity? Perhaps there is a fear that the system of news controls is in danger of unraveling.

A chink in the system?
Of course, the idea that news controls might unravel is counterpointed by Rupert Murdoch's takeover of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.

Yet it was Murdoch's London Times that highlighted the clash between Brown and Bush. Of course the Times has a restraining order in place to shield it from Murdoch's blandishments. And Dow Jones also is to be protected by such an order of restraint. Though such restraints are imperfect, they suffice to put in doubt the continuation of monolithic top-down news controls.

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