Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hearts and Minds

Apparently the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle-East can be fought without bullets. To paraphrase Victor Hugo "there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come." So listen-up NATO, ISAF, and all the military forces over there, protecting our freedom, and keeping us safe in the Great White Frigid North. Thanks to WikiLeaks (and published in the Guardian UK) we now know a better, cheaper way to bring freedom and tolerance to the Muslim masses. Just inundate them with American television programs, they watch, they listen, and most importantly they absorb (check out the link) US culture (such as it is). Bring the troops home and lets sell some popcorn!
Here is an excerpt from some US Embassy cables published in the Guardian:
//David Letterman, Agent of Influence//
11. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the American programming on channels 4 and 5 were proving the most popular among Saudis. A look at the December 17 programming menu for MBC channel 4 reveals a 24-hour solid block of such programs as CBS and ABC Evening News, David Letterman, Desperate Housewives, Friends and similar fare, all uncensored and with Arabic subtitles. Channel 5 features US films of all categories, also with Arabic subtitles. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that this programming is also very popular in remote, conservative corners of the country, where he said "you no longer see Bedouins, but kids in western dress" who are now interested in the outside world.
12. (S) Over coffee in a Jeddah Starbucks, XXXXXXXXXXXX, and XXXXXXXXXXXX elaborated on the changes in the Saudi media environment. "The government is pushing this new openness as a means of countering the extremists," XXXXXXXXXXXX told Riyadh press officer. "It's still all about the War of Ideas here, and the American programming on MBC and Rotana is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that 'Al Hurra' and other US propaganda never could. Saudis are now very interested in the outside world, and everybody wants to study in the US if they can. They are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before."

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