November 23, 2011 · 1 Comments
By Michael McGehee:
You would think a political party in a democracy using underhanded tactics to push through unpopular legislation would stir outrage from the New York Times. I mean, this is the “liberal media” in the Land of the Free—a country whose government routinely boasts about its support for democracy, freedom, human rights and justice.
But that’s not the case.
Around the same time that President Obama announced his jobs bill he signed a Free Trade agreement with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Of course, the New York Times has been silent on how Obama talks about creating jobs whileacts to send them to foreign countries—but not before they accept agreements that will be harmful for their workers.
And so it is that we read in today’s “paper of record” (Seoul Votes a Chaotic Yes to Free Trade With U.S.) about how “Lawmakers of the governing Grand National Party caught the opposition by surprise by calling a snap plenary session. Opposition legislators rushed in but were too late to prevent their rivals from putting the bill to a vote.” But not all “rushed in” because as we learn, “Glass doors were shattered as legislative aides from the opposition parties tried to barge in, and security guards formed a human barricade.”
Wait. It gets worse.
“The government had urged quick approval of the deal, first signed in 2007 but long unratified by either country, arguing that it would help the economy grow.” However, “The opposition argued that the deal would fatten the pockets of big export companies, which dominate the economy, while depriving farmers and small merchants of their livelihoods. Amid widespread distrust of big business and resentment of what is seen as increasing economic inequality, such fears have led thousands of farmers and labor activists to hold almost daily protest rallies outside the Parliament building. In occasional clashes, the police fired water cannons at protesters to stop them from entering Parliament.”
The comment “what is seen as increasing economic inequality” is very odd. It either is or isn’t (it is). Reducing it to “what is seen as” casts doubt, and, without ever addressing the reality, it’s left hanging in the air. This tactic of casting doubt on the opposition, but not doing so for the governing party, exposes a bias and is just as underhanded as the tactic the governing party used to ram through the bill.
A spokesperson for the governing party even had the audacity to say, “This was an inevitable action we had to take, because we could not make one step of progress in our talks with the opposition, which thought only about its partisan interest.” It is only caring about “partisan interest” if you’re sticking up for the working class. If you’re trying to “fatten the pockets of big export companies, which dominate the economy” then that’s the “national interest” and it becomes “inevitable” to be underhanded in imposing the unpopular bill.
While the article plays “objectivity” and gives space to counter claims, there is an eerie silence on the method used to handover the economy to U.S. businesses at the expense of the working class in South Korea. So while President Lee “faces declining popularity amid corruption scandals involving his former aides, concerns about deteriorating ties with North Korea and a widening wealth gap . . . he is proud of the closer ties with the United States under his government — a relationship he wanted to reaffirm by having Parliament pass the trade bill.” Who cares about the opinions of the masses? Let them eat cake.
Turning to another article in yesterday’s Times—United States and Its Allies Expand Sanctions on Iran—we read about how “Major Western powers took significant steps on Monday to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its central bank and commercial banks. The measures, a response to a recent United Nations report warning about Iran’s nuclear activities, tighten the vise on Iran but still fall short of a blanket cutoff.”
The problem with the article is that it ignores the problems of the “recent United Nations report warning about Iran’s nuclear activities” being a deeply flawed and politicized report (which I’ve already written about here). The closest we get is this: “Iran reacted angrily to the agency’s report, and renewed its display of displeasure on Monday by not attending a gathering of 97 countries at the Vienna headquarters of the atomic energy agency, which was called to discuss nuclear issues related to the Middle East. Tehran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes.”
Apparently the Times is unaware of Gareth Porter’s recent article which pointed out that “A former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repudiated its major new claim that Iran built an explosives chamber to test components of a nuclear weapon and carry out a simulated nuclear explosion.”
That the bogus report is being used by the West to punish Iran for other political motives does not even register at the Times. Instead, the piece aids the efforts of the West by ignoring the well-known criticisms of the report and being an echo chamber of Western powers who are posturing for a confrontation that has more to do with imperial ambitions than a noble stand against nuclear proliferation.