Boundaries to logic

While I care very much about what goes on around me, often I recognize there is very little I can realistically do.

To make a move in a proactive direction, I therefore need accurate information to help me in my decisions.

Hence, with the situation in Gaza, the quality of reporting and editorial has become very important to me.

Sadly, I am not feeling very well served by many broadcast and print outlets here, and frankly blogs, whilst in many ways more productive sources, are getting rather wearing as various 'sides' dig in, and especially when the discussion moves more to the existence, and rights and wrongs of such as 'ant-Semitism'. It is a term, along with 'Israel-lovers' or 'warmongers', that usually means the end of rational debate and a descent into name-calling that gets no one anywhere.

But even on a few, very few discussion boards where there does seem to be some attempt at reasoned debate, I am more often than not astounded by the contributions from theoretically impartial, objective, professional reporters, who seem to be trying establish what I can only deem 'boundaries to logic'.

In a very imperfect world, these fine folk seem to have predetermined ideals, and parameters they set by default around them. Hence, when circumstances, and the law of sod, kick in, as they will in any shooting war, they allow themselves to get to these points but if anything goes beyond this it doesn't seem to compute, and hence exist for them. Which means they have to try and bend what is going on to fit within their comfort zone.

There are too many to list them all, but to mention just a few there is the notion that when talk fails, the only solution is more talk. There is also the one where negotiation must work, based on the premise that all sides are dedicated to ending the killing first. This is especially complicated when it's hard (unlike Germany and Japan in WW2, Korea/China in that war and Vietnam subsequently - all vicious and protracted, but ultimately resolved), to deal with folk who are not for very much, but simply against anything and everything.

I don't propose to go into the fine details of who is doing, and saying what, save to say that expecting any war to fit into some neat tick-boxes of conduct is 'optimistic' at best. The nature of the (cramped and packed) terrain has been cited more often than not as a reason not to have chosen it by way of critiquing the IDF, but it is hard to see what else they were supposed to do. Sit in a nearby plain and ask Hamas to come out? You have to work with what you are presented with. Hence already I feel the impact on civilians was more predetermined by those who knew full well the consequences, and are allowing these to fall mainly on those with perhaps less choice to suit other agendas.

And as it keeps cropping up, there is this bizarre notion of proportionality and a level of score-keeping that could only work with the fevered minds of box-tickers everywhere. The death toll is very unbalanced and may well not be very 'fair'. But paraphrasing the words of Tommy Lee Jones' marshall character in The Fugitive, I can see why the IDF might not really care; they have a job to do and are setting about doing it: stopping the launches.

And when it comes to these, for the life of me I can't get to grips with the mindset at play here by those who would defend Hamas' actions. The very same folk who would be front of a 'Just say no' march for the sisterhood seem also to be advocating the notion of being just a little bit raped as OK on balance, as making a fuss about it, or worse acting to prevent it may just 'stir things up in the comfort zone'.

Mistakes, have, are and will be made. That the sad outcome of the fog of war. Civilians shouldn't be cheek by jowl with combatants, but they are. Equally, combatants should be in uniform but often aren't. And in a firefight it may not be front of mind if stuff is coming in your direction to check if some guys to the side are waving a press pass. I suspect the IDFs reluctance to allowing access to the media stems more from military common sense than much else (certainly the stories and imagery are not being better 'controlled' by the exclusion, to the detriment of their PR), but they safety issue is pertinent. It's not like one of their own getting hurt exactly results in the rest going 'oh well, stuff happens'. So maybe the best way of avoiding a media martyr is to avoid having them getting in the way.

I believe the IDF has the capability of bring much more force to bear, and in a much less targeted manner than it is currently doing (though expecting postcode accuracy in an urban firefight again seems an ideal they are being unfairly held to by some armchair warriors), but seem to be committing to a much more dangerous street by street approach using troops.

Even so, it's hard not to sympathize if they use what tools they have to put some distance (and hence introduce some inaccuracy) into their efforts. I seem to recall getting too up close and personal with Hamas does not really make for satisfactory Geneva convention-obeying prisoner-taking scenarios.

I don't know what's going to go down, or how long it will take, but again to counter individual reporters who claim 'world' opinion for their own, I am sensing much more ambivalence from a lot of individuals and countries to this presumption, to the extent that I have at least heard that 'Hamas' must not be allowed to emerge undiminished' more than once at senior level.

It's a mess. But cherry-picking of isolated aspects and trying to squeeze them into a narrative based on a naive view of human nature against all common sense or pragmatism is making many in the media professionals look at best silly or, worse, woefully compromised to be guardians of the information the public needs to understand what is going on.


There's a story I suspect will soon be filed and forgotten as the media circus moves on to its next 'scoop'.

I remain interested in it, especially as I do not yet have anything that I consider worthy reporting of facts to tie to some fairly hairy headlines and rather 'selective' top of the hour broadcast summaries, especially courtesy of a certain national broadcaster I am required to fund.

It is simply no excuse that others are doing it too, especially when it seems the MSM are shunting around any weak snippet another may have been given and spinning it up into whatever they feel like.

This seems to be yet another that reflects what the BBC carried yesterday, down to a headline that shouts something that 'is' with only a few paras later it all being something that 'has been told to':

Massacre of a family seeking sanctuary

I'm feeling there is definitely something there that might well equate to another tragic accident, but not a deliberate round-up and execution as gleefully portrayed 24 hrs ago. Funny how much can change in that time.

I also find the ordnance expertise (if slightly contradictory) of various shell-shocked grannies.. in hindsight... rather remarkable. The incoming fire seems to have been from artillery, F-16s and Apaches... apparently.

I am sensing very petulant payback for the IDF's decision not to allow any access: '"you don't let us in; we'll run with anything we get out as we can claim it's not possible to check."

The wisdom of that decision is for the Israelis to consider later, as in any conflict they must now know who they are fighting, with weapons and with words and images. Personally the blanket ban seems to be serving them poorly, but the other side to this is that the MSM, and especially those who pride themselves on being objective observers, need to reflect on how their responses have served the cause of truth, trust... and the best interests of those they seem to claim they are most concerned with.

It may be that Israelis shells are killing innocents, but in the way they are portraying this conflict it might just be they are providing much more valuable ammunition to such as Hamas to keep on sticking those they are 'defending' in the places these munitions are landing.

Even just to the editorial order of things, and I am sure those here can list many instances where the BBc is as complicit as here:

H/L: Massacre of a family seeking sanctuary

S/H: The Samounis claim they were guided to a safe haven by Israeli troops – only to be cut down by shells

Last para at end....: Ahmad is strongly critical of Hamas for keeping its leaders in hiding while civilians suffer .

It would seem in the fog of war reporting, when a soldier gets seconds to assess a threat in a smoke-filled alley, quite a lot of time is taken back in editorial suites to cooly and calmly assemble some very loose pieces and create a much sturdier narrative in ways that seldom seem to reflect... the truth, at least as known at the that time.

I'm not sure when the news professionals of the age decided on 'we don't know; so let's make it up as we'd like it to be'', but it stinks.

And I think it kills kids every bit as effectively as the hardware they rail against.

Pajamas Media - CNN Meet Joe the Plumber: PJTV Correspondent lands in Israel - An interesting development as to where the whole sorry circus is going. Mind you, there is a fair point to be made that the new protagonist's lack of 'professionalism' and 'experience' may be no bad thing in light of what the slick shills we have got so far have been and are serving up.

Whatever happened to who, what, where, how and why (with objective context and without emoting personal stories, and UN-verified video uploads to keep the gore factor at a ratings-friendly level)?

I might tune in. If Joe the Plumber sticks to facts and simply tries to get straight answers out of all sides to some pretty basic, key questions, then I'll keep on listening. If he ends up 'analysing' and 'interpreting events' as most in the MSM feel they need to do, then I'll peg him in the same slot I have dismissed most of these arrogant bozos to already.

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