“When the people is master of the vote it becomes the master of the government.”
– ARISTOTLE Greek philosopher
Assuming Bashar Al-Assad runs for re-election as Syria’s president there will be three candidates for the 7-year term highest position. Little is known thus far on Assad’s opponents – current member of Parliament, 43 year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar, and ex-member Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri. Whether western governments like the United States and European Union nations, or regional states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey or Israel have endorsed any of these candidates is also unknown.
After the Syrian Parliament announced the presidential election slated for early June the United Nations, European Union and United States have criticized holding elections during the present situation where millions of Syrians are refugees who’ve left Syrian soil, with the view that such an event would lessen chances for dialogue and a potential peace agreement. The U.S. State Department through spokespersons have called a Syrian presidential election at this time a “parody of democracy.”
There are a few aspects to consider. Now that Syria has entered into a fourth year of what can only be described – and has been accurately described – as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, what rationale is there to oppose a presidential election in Syria? The death toll of men, women, and children has passed 150,000, and surrounding countries are unable to cope with millions of people who’ve fled Syria because of the overwhelming violence.
Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar and Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri are running for president of Syria against Bashar Al-Assad. Rational people have to believe that these men didn’t make such a major life choice for insignificant reasons. In every nation on Earth candidates for that nation’s highest leadership position have a belief in themselves that their ideas are the best ones for their citizens, which ideally, when understood and compared by voters, will result in the person with the most persuasive arguments becoming leader.
Another aspect to consider are the possible reasons for non-Syrians’ critical views toward an election. Perhaps the Syrian people will find the ideas of either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri preferable to Assad, cast more votes for one of them than Assad, and then Syria will have a new president – in effect the “regime change, Assad has to go” wish of some governments outside Syria. Instead of highly criticizing an election in Syria, one would think that politicians outside Syria who find Assad undesirable would welcome a democratic removal of him from office, seeing they “know” the Syrian people want Assad out of office as well.
Surely those politicians outside Syria played a part in convincing Maher Abdul-Hafir Haijar and/or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri to stand up and oppose Assad, certain that either would be better leaders for the people of Syria. Now, the essential question is whether those powers outside Syria who’ve been calling for the ouster of Assad back either of the men running against him. If so, then this should offer hope for the anti-Assad groups. If not, then people are left to ask: “where is your preferred candidate, and why haven’t they come forward and thrown their hat in the ring?”
Syria’s United Nations representative has said Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and certain western nations are arming, training and paying mercenaries from 83 nations, and that these mercenaries are the so-called “Syrian opposition.” To run for president in Syria, a candidate must provide proof they are a ten-year citizen. Perhaps non-Syrians financing and arming the opposition – for those who have no problem carrying out violent overthrows of nations – there are other agendas than bringing true democracy, which is what an election is all about.
As mentioned earlier, the situation in Syria is the most significant humanitarian crisis on Earth. With over 150 thousand lost lives, with millions of Syrians displaced after fleeing from their homes – a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions – how non-Syrian groups can look upon the potential of a better Syrian leader coming to power as a “parody of democracy” is beyond understanding. In other words, how is a presidential election going to make matters any worse?
Perhaps Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have already endorsed one of the two men who’ve challenged Assad, and will soon be found on the front pages in photographs shaking hands or videos sharing visions of a better future for Syria and her people. Both McCain and Graham, and Barack Obama and John Kerry, surely must have identified a more qualified person to lead Syria than Bashar Al-Assad. Is that person either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdulah al-Nouri? If so, then your man is certainly better qualified and able to receive more votes.
If Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and Lindsay Graham believe they’ve found a Syrian who would do a better job leading that nation than Bashar Al-Assad – but that person hasn’t entered the presidential race – then what has all this war, killing, violence, and deeply saddening last four years in Syria been all about?
After coming up with this writing”s title, the thought/question came to mind: “has any American television corporation ever – repeat ever – devoted any weekly program, or significant amount of air-time, to peace?” If there are any elders in the age range of their 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s reading this, please enter your answer or thoughts regarding that question below. Because peace on Earth is a really, really big deal for people all around the world, one would think that major media companies might consider – because peace is such a huge issue – the viewership they would garner from such a project.
Let’s just imagine if, say, CNN or ABC or CBS or NBC or FOX produced a two or three-hour Saturday or Sunday night prime-time program with the title “Search For Peace”, featuring guests from all nations and regions where war and violence were occurring. Now, these guests would consist of men and women who are actively involved in bringing about conditions to bring peace to their areas and, because the program is two or three hours, those men and women would represent the entire range of economic, political, and religious/spiritual viewpoints.
Now, let us think about what goes through the minds and hearts of those who have the literal power to make such a programming decision at these companies. We’re talking about John Smith or Susan Jones “Network Vice-President of Programming” or, even better, – Network Chief Executive Officer John Smith or CEO Susan Jones. Can we think about what has gone through all the minds of all the Vice Presidents of Programming and CEOs of every major television corporation since television first existed – regarding peace programming?
Can we imagine all of those separate corporate entities and their “deciders” of what shows to air and which become turned down – what went through their minds and hearts – when there were instances of men and women lower on the corporate hierarchy walking into their offices and proposing various formats for programs focusing on world peace? Evidently, because no such program has ever made the airwaves, those creative and idealistic underlings had their proposals kind of blown out of the water. Why?
Maybe the “deciders” came to conclude innocently enough that such a program “wouldn’t get any viewers”, and so the company’s profits would surely suffer, and then went back to the tried-and-true template many have called “if it bleeds, it leads”. But you’d think that, since television first became invented and came to the living rooms of more and more American homes since the 1950’s, at least one, just one, of those “deciders” would have gambled on such a TV program new genre. But, it’s never happened, with all those CEOs and VP’s of Programming over the decades even once. Again, why not?
It is very and extremely interesting that these mass media corporations have through the decades and all the wars devoted millions of hours to reporting on killing and violence occurring in nations and regions around the world, but have never devoted anything more than a miniscule – microscopic – fraction of that same air-time to ending or preventing war. No man or woman can deny that there have been an overwhelmingly large number of people on Earth all during the decades after television was born who’ve had legitimate ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. So, it’s not as if the “deciders” didn’t have any persons available to fill up the peace program(s) with talk and creative ideas.
For some very odd reason the men and women who had ideas to present on-air about war have through those decades been omnipresent on programming dealing with history’s wars, but those with ideas on peace have been virtually, and literally, absent. So in the history of television, on issues of war and peace, the voices of war have received air-time in a very unbalanced ratio – perhaps 1,000,000 to 1? No empirical studies/work has been done on this issue of war-speak and peace-speak TV time comparison, yet even without any scientific, mathematical analysis it could be said that there is essentially no – zero, nada, zilch – peace programming in the history of American television.
When one really thinks about this, it’s truly, truly amazing – no?
Peace programs are bad for television corporations’ business. Because the owners of those corporations profit from war.
From Ben H. Bagdikian’s book “The Media Monopoly” pages 22-28:
Louis Brandeis, before joining the Supreme Court wrote: “The practice of interlocking directorates is the root of many evils. It offends law human and divine… It tends to disloyalty and violation of the fundamental law that no man can serve two masters… It is undemocratic, for it rejects the platform: ‘A fair field and no favors’.
Members of corporate boards have impressive power over their corporations. They hire – and fire – the corporate leaders. They set corporate policy. They decide if the corporation will borrow money (or lend it) and for what purpose. They decide how the corporation will deal with the public and with the government.
In 1978 when the Department of Justice wanted to use its computer to show the number of interlocks among major American corporations, business leaders were powerful enough to prevent it. Through more tedious methods the department found that in 1976, of 130 major corporations, the largest interlocked through their directors with 70 percent of the others. Exxon, for example, interlocked with its leading competitors, Atlantic Richfield, Mobil, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of Indiana, and Texaco.
Brandeis called this the “endless chain”. The corporations from which Americans get most of their news and ideas have now entered the “endless chain”.
For example, Exxon, the world’s largest corporation, has two directors on the board of Citibank, alongside directors of Mobil and Standard Oil of California, General Electric, Westinghouse, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, DuPont, AT&T, IBM, and RCA. RCA and Westinghouse, two major media companies, are interlocked competitors and both are interlocked with Exxon, whose news they report.
Today the country’s major organs of public information are no longer local. Consequently, any conflict of interest is on a national or global scale, as are the consequences.
A 1979 study found Gannett, the largest seller of newspapers in the country, shared directors with Merrill Lynch (stockbrokers), Standard Oil of Ohio, 20th Century-Fox, Kerr-McGee (oil, gas, nuclear power, aerospace), McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, McGraw-Hill, Eastern Airlines, Phillips Petroleum, Kellogg Company, and New York Telephone Company.
Times Mirror of Los Angeles has on its board directors from Bank of America, Norton Simon, TRW, Rohr Corporation, Kaiser Steel, Ford Motor, American Airlines, Colgate-Palmolive, and Carter Hawley Hale Stores.
The New York Times interlocks with Merck, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Bristol Myers, Charter Oil, Johns Manville, American Express, Bethlehem Steel, IBM, Scott Paper, Sun Oil, Ford Motor, and First Boston Corporation.
The Washington Post interlocks with CBS, Allied Chemical, Blu Chip Stamps (which controls Berkshire Hathaway textiles, Buffalo Evening news, Pinkerton’s, and Munsingwear), IBM, Ford Motor, Levi-Strauss, TWA, Utah International, and Wells Fargo Bank.
Another study of interlocking directorates found that an even greater concentration of international industrial and financial figures dominates other media. American Broadcasting Co., for example, has on its board executives from the oil and gas industries, major banks, insurance companies, IBM, General Motors, and General Dynamics. CBS share directors with major international banks, Aerospace Corporation, Institute of Defense Analysis, Eastern Airlines, Gannett Co., Trilateral Commission, Memorex, Aluminum Company of America, Pan American Airways, and the Asia Society.
Almost every major industry whose activities dominate the news of the 1980s – the leading defense contractors and oil companies – sit on controlling boards of the leading media of the country.
There is hardly a major international bank or insurance company, or investment company, that is not represented on boards of directors of the major media that control most of what Americans learn about the economy.
It is not always easy to discover who, in reality, holds and votes on stock in media corporations. The law permits some shares to be held by “street name” firms whose real beneficiaries remain secret, an invisible hand with special significance when it has influence over the mass media.
The concentration of giant media firms that control American public information is troublesome by itself. The interlocking directorates with each other and with major industries and banks, insurance companies, and investment firms make it more troublesome still. The relationship of the news media and leading world bankers is corporate incest within corporate incest: The controllers control each other. A cluster of New York banks and life insurance companies held controlling shares in the New York Times; Newsday; McGraw-Hill; Dow Jones; Time, Inc.; ITT; CBS; ABC; Prentice-Hall; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; ABC; Doubleday; Knight-Ridder Publications; RCA; Thomson Newspapers; Westinghouse; Cox; Reader’s Digest; Harper&Row; the Washington Post; Xerox; and the Tribune Company.
The “summits of American business” now control or powerfully influence the major media that create American public opinion.
Since Ben Bagdikian wrote “The Media Monopoly” in 1983, media ownership has only concentrated, till in 2014 only a handful of media ultra-mega-conglomerates dominate the communications industry landscape around the Earth.
Interlocking directorates have only become more systemic and problematic an issue since 1983 as well, evidenced by the world’s extreme wealth inequality – the greatest inequality in history.
We can connect the dots now and fully understand why major media corporations, with their “summit of American business” controllers – and international markets to capture before they sleep – have “deciders” who feel peace-oriented programming may not make the men and women on the “board” too satisfied.
Connecting the dots helps men and women understand why people such as those talking here to George Galloway – Julian Assange’s father, Syrian peace activist Father Dave Smith, and a journalist critical of America and western nations’ actions in Ukraine – will not be seen any time soon – talking about peace on major media in America.
Marine Major General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) wrote a book titled “War Is A Racket”:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short I was a racketeer – a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking-house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American Fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated in three continents.”
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This blog is devoted to legal, historical and human rights matters, in which issues of general concern are addressed freely and spontaneously. It is intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others, in an effort to understand rather than condemn, to propose constructive solutions rather than grandstand. The perspective is both from inside and outside the box and the added value lies more in the questions than in the answers.