The State Department policy of putting U.S. officials on Al-Jazeera, a vicious anti-American propaganda vehicle, never made any sense. It’s like feeding Christians to the lions. Then we learned that one of those officials, Alberto Fernandez, went on the channel and declared in Arabic that U.S. Iraq policy was arrogant and stupid. At first, he denied saying those things. Then he admitted making those statements and apologized. This is a serious scandal that demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of the “public diplomacy” effort being waged by the State Department, supposedly on America’s behalf. Such diplomatic buffoonery imperils the prospect of military victory in Iraq.
Incredibly, some so-called “experts” on the Arab media have defended Fernandez, saying that attacks on U.S. foreign policy are necessary to establish his credibility with an Arab audience. Taken to its logical extreme, this view holds that U.S. foreign policy is to blame for our problems in the Middle East and the only way to get the terrorists on our side is to withdraw from Iraq (and much of the rest of the world).
Ironically, just a few weeks before Fernandez lied about his comments and disgraced himself and embarrassed America, Newsweek had run a sympathetic portrait of the official, calling him “sassy” and compassionate.
Marc Lynch, a professor at Williams College and author of Voices of the New Arab Public, a book about Al-Jazeera, was quoted as saying that “Alberto is good at going into heated, lively discussions, thinking on his feet. He’s not afraid to get emotional, he’ll even lose his temper a bit, which is good on these types of programs.”
Let’s hope Lynch is not in any position where he can influence official U.S. policy.
The story, by Zvika Krieger, noted that Fernandez did run into some criticism when he referred to “revivalist” Sunni Muslim scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi as “a respected scholar and religious leader worthy of the deepest respect.” Qaradawi, a regular fixture on Al-Jazeera, supports terrorism and was in the forefront of those criticizing the Pope for his comments about Islam’s record of violence.
“Fernandez gets praise from practically every other quarter,” the piece said.
This piece was almost as embarrassing as Fernandez’s performance. It’s beyond belief that Fernandez still has a job.
The outcome of the Vietnam War showed us that the U.S. cannot win on the military battlefield if it loses the information and media war. With people like Fernandez presenting the American point of view on Iraq, we seem prepared to lose this war, too.