Salam Pax audio is online

One of the Salam Pax talks in San Jose last month is now online as a Commonwealth Club podcast here. It looks like the audio will also be on KQED (88.5 FM in the Bay Area). You can find the story I wrote for the Daily on his talk at SJSU here.

An excerpt from the Daily:

Although it was hard for Pax, who studied architecture, to see some of his favorite buildings destroyed, he said there was a sort of “euphoria” in the air when the war started.
“I was one of the people that were convinced there was absolutely no way we could get rid of Saddam on our own,” Pax said. “We had to basically make a deal with the devil.”
Pax said accepting foreign intervention in Iraq meant accepting a violent conflict.
“All you can do is cross your fingers and hope you don’t die during that war,” he said.

Related: Jeff Jarvis is trying to raise money to send an Iraqi blogger to J-School at CUNY, where Jarvis heads the new graduate program.

Hey Iraq, mind if we write your newspapers for you? Thanks, Uncle Sam.

Today’s LA Times reports that “the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.”

Oh. Okay. So we talk and talk and talk about all the democracy we’re giving the Iraqis, but in the meantime, the usual propaganda routes aren’t enough — I mean, creating our own Arab-language television network just to report on all the happy-goodness going on in Iraq isn’t enough, right? — so now our military has taken the step of paying to place favorable stories written by Americans into Iraqi papers.

It gets worse. Check out the fifth paragraph of the LAT story:

The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.

What? Let me get this straight — our soldiers are writing the stories, and then we (US taxpayers) are paying a contractor to do the translation and then sneak the stories into the Iraqi paper by any means necessary.

Great. Message to Iraqis: You’ll think what we tell you to think, and you’ll write what we tell you to write, and you’ll read what we tell you to read.

Is this how democracy works?

[tags]Iraq, newspapers, journalism[/tags]