Scott Anderson speaks to Hans Lee as he continues to deliver the revelations, the challenges and the truth about The Middle East Enigma.
If you have not heard the first part, please use the link here: Scott Anderson: Part One
Interview Link: Scott Anderson Part Two: HAVE A LISTEN!
And welcome back to you all. Thank you for all your support and appreciative messages for the first half of the interview. For those who clicked on the interview particularly, you’ve made it one of the most clicked stories of the Friday Daily show last week!
This week, we delved into paranoia, Gaddafi and democratisation- but more on that as we go further into the interview. As like last week, I’ll be providing commentary of my own with each little part- sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing. But at least it’s healthy debate- and that’s all I expect of a viewer/listener/reader and I’ll just bet that’s what you bring to your senses when you join me on the news journey.
Our first question touched religious paranoia- a powerful and difficult point of contention that has no doubt forever reshaped human direction of events. In my own personal experience, because of events like the Royal Commission into the Catholic Church here in Australia or Islamic fundamentalism as has been the case in the Middle East- “no religion” is becoming an increasing necessity of desensitising a person to the news. Further, as a Catholic myself, it’s been increasingly difficult to see the “no religion” sect becoming some pride statement. So it’s no surprise that Scott said that religious paranoia is a huge factor in this crisis. It also didn’t surprise me then in that sense that people did not want to talk about politics in their own homes.
I say everytime I have written so far on this blog (and many times before in reference to journalism)- have courage. The courage to face the truth, to face the stories and to challenge what you know about what happens in our world. However, I admit this must feel different when you are in the conflict itself. To be outspoken in these conditions is to really gamble with not just your own life but your family’s too- and that’s what is most groundbreaking. When Scott said that we are feeling the “fall out” effects of this level of enforcement on populist opinion, I think he reflected a constant lesson of history. We saw it in the Bolshevik Revolution in early 20th-century Russia: the people had expressed enough dismay in the existing political structure with the Duma and the monarchial structure. Thus, we saw plenty of bloodshed and power struggling until Lenin beat them all to become the first ruler in the new Russia.
We also saw it in the Philippines under Marcos. Marcos ruled for 21 years as President and in that time- blew out the national debt 1400%, tortured thousands under martial law, silenced media channels and altered the Constitution for his personal benefit. What happened next? The People Power Revolution of EDSA in February 1986:
The power of what Scott called an “all seeing man” like Gaddafi made sure people could not make even the simplest decisions because every factor of life is controlled by fear. Or at least that’s what we were told in the Western media. However, a 2014 article from the Canadian Centre for Globalisation Research found that as of Gaddafi’s assassination that “less people lived below the poverty line [under Gaddafi and in Libya] than the Netherlands”. Further, the NATO intervention in 2011 sent the economy back into pre-Gaddafi “shambles”. Perhaps Scott did have a point then when he mentioned last week that citizens in Iraq and even in Libya did have reason to be irritated at the UN and the US- the decision for such interventions was just for puppetry and to remove a man who didn’t coincide with American liberalism principles.
To this I say- how shameful. How discouraging. How manipulative. (Additionally, this must suggest with further reason why I proposed my opinion last week that we should all of the Western powers should get out of this conflict now– this is their chance to set up the government they want to see so let it be.)
At another level though, Scott found it wasn’t too difficult to take his answers seriously. However, he really dropped the bombshell when Gaddafi said instantly that Al Qaeda will most benefit from an American invasion of Iraq- which did happen. The tight control through a police state like Libya perhaps reflected what Gaddafi was also doing behind the scenes- playing the political game as he sought after the extremism he was so familiar with while also creating the personality cult and cultural precedents he felt he deserved. On that basis alone, the BBC called his term “quixotic” and “brutal” but Scott offered something different- America under Bush told an “Orwellian lie”. Burn.
But here’s where it really kicks in- can you replace an autocracy with democracy as easily as it might have been in other countries like Burma? I mean- that wasn’t terribly easy either but the results were- to Western media at least- very approving. On that level, I agree to all extents. However, trying to instil democracy in these countries is equal of a difficulty to that of Khulood rescuing her family in the war and taking them to democratic safety- “an unconquerable will”.
Which leads me to this- can we all have a round of applause for Khulood? Like seriously. I kept saying it- “that’s amazing”. And it is. For her to rescue her family and to have the courage like she has to not give up makes her one hell of a leader. But what Scott says mirrors genuinely what I believe- we are a long way from any peace.
…but I hope we get there soon- how soon? Well. I think we’ll just leave that in “geological terms”.
That ends our story with Scott. I’d like to extend an immense thank you to Scott for being so gracious and all-knowing for the last two weeks. His answers were insightful, powerful and most of all, I hope you learnt something about the truth of the Middle East. There is a lot we are not exposed to because of the existing precedent in commenting the success of the West (or not) in the Middle East- and I think he was a perfect example of why being there makes all the difference in understanding the who’s who and what’s what of this never ending saga.
This also ends the 2016 journalism season.
Since April, I’ve published six stories for Hijacked, tens of stories for 2SER and this- the first ever major-length interview in my journalism repertoire. I’ve loved every minute and appreciated all of your support this season.
We’ll be starting Season 2016/17 journalism wise in November with another major length interview as well as some new stories for all of you to enjoy. Keep out on this blog for my photography work which will feature in compensation over the next few months- the first of which will be from Melbourne next week.
Have courage. Take care and God bless.
2SER: Fridays, 9am to 12pm, #TheDaily
Photo Credits: Reuters, RadixJournal, The Philippine Inquirer, Getty Images
Statistics and supplementary information provided by BBC News and The Canadian Centre for Research into Globalisation.
Scott appeared as a personal guest with the assistance of the New York Times Communications Center in New York. Facilities for interview provided by 2SER Radio Studios, Sydney.