Discussions of what the Obama White House should do in Iraq and Syria are dominated by hawks, military officials and former national security insiders.
NBC's Richard Engel report that "what we've been able to confirm" is that a Syrian convoy attacked by Israel "was packed with fairly sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missiles." It is highly doubtful that Engel could "confirm" any such thing–unless by "confirm" he means that NBC is confirming that government sources are claiming what they are claiming.
As a general rule, it'd be better if media accounts of war did not stress the surgical precision of the weapons being used. It's a fixture of U.S. reporting on U.S. wars, but the same rhetoric is used when U.S. allies are dropping bombs. According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (11/19/12): Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded. Aron Heller of the Associated Press (11/17/12) had this description of the Israeli military: Israel, […]
Surveying international reaction to Barack Obama's re-election, NBC Nightly News correspondent Richard Engel declared (11/7/12): In the Middle East, there is hope that President Obama will embrace the Israeli/Palestinian peace process in second term the way he embraced the Arab Spring in his first. This would be a surprising reaction to find among people in the Middle East, given that Obama did not really "embrace" the Arab Spring. Consider Egypt, arguably the most high-profile uprising; the original White House response was to stand by dictator Hosni Mubarak. The White House continues to support the regime in Bahrain. And it's likely […]
Richard Engel on NBC Nightly News (10/21/11), speaking about the end of the Iraq War: The training wheels off, Iraq will have to succeed or fail without American troops on the ground to guide the way. That's quite a metaphor–invading and occupying a country for eight years as "training wheels." Engel's report includes this reference to the death toll: Iraqi deaths, almost 150,000, but many Iraqis believe it's a million. Of course it's not just Iraqis who believe this–the British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB), which has worked for the BBC, the British Conservative Party and the International Republican […]
NBC Nightly News reporter Richard Engel held up a tear gas canister on the air to show that it was stamped "Made in the USA." But something else he said on the January 28, 2011 newscast struck me: But what's scattered on the streets of Cairo right now are these little canisters. These were the tear gas canisters that were fired by all those riot police today. And if you look at them closely, they say clearly in English, "Made in the USA." Egyptians have been picking them up, they've been looking them over. And from an Egyptian perspective, it […]