I like the BBC, but not enough to pay them

March 22, 2011

I admit it: this conservative likes the BBC, in spite of its self-confessed left-liberal bias. Maybe it’s a nostalgic attachment to the Beeb’s role in World War II, when their overseas radio broadcasts would begin “This is London calling,” bringing a message of liberty, hope, and resistance to people trapped in the Nazis’ empire. Or maybe it’s just a natural reaction to the reassuring aura of authority that comes from a posh London accent — at least for the Anglophilic among us. (Another confession.)

But, much as I like Auntie Beeb, I don’t want to give her US taxpayer dollars:

BBC World Service to sign funding deal with US state department

The BBC World Service is to receive a “significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.

In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software.

The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services.

It is understood the US government has decided the reach of the World Service is such that it makes investment worthwhile.

In other words, we’re in a fiscal crisis with a looming entitlement crash and a massive deficit, we’re seriously thinking of defunding our own quasi-national broadcaster, and yet Foggy Bottom thinks it’s a good idea to give money to the British Broadcasting Corporation? Six figures may be chicken feed in DC, but spending even a dime of our money on this is nonsensical. Granted, London is massively cutting defense spending and is imposing what amounts to (for them) an austerity budget (including cuts to the BBC), but they can fund their own darned radio service, if they think it’s so worthwhile.

And may I remind State that we ourselves have a pretty well-respected overseas news service, the Voice of America? Sending the money their way would accomplish the same goal while directly serving American interests.

Oh, wait. I forgot. It’s the State Department we’re talking about. Never mind.

I’ll give Fausta the final word on this mini-farce:

Let me get this straight, the US is broke, borrowing money from China, and will be funding the BBC to broadcast in China?

I’m sure it makes perfect sense inside the Beltway.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Please tell me this is an oversight. The Taliban isn’t terrorist?

August 10, 2010

Otherwise, I really, really want to hear the reasons why the State Department left the Taliban off the list of terrorist groups:

A new State Department report designating terrorist organizations notably excludes one group: the Taliban. The U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for almost a decade aimed at “defeating the Taliban,” Taliban members repeatedly have threatened and killed American citizens and lawmakers have increased pressure on State to add the Taliban to the list.

Earlier this summer, a group of congressional Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging her to begin the process of categorizing the Taliban as a terrorist group. In June, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed legislation that would immediately add the Taliban to the terrorist list.

Yet the State Department’s report (due on April 30 but released last week), did not include the Taliban with groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas and the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). To qualify, an organization must meet only three criteria: It must be foreign, it must engage in terrorist activity and its activity must threaten the security of the U.S. or its citizens.

Well, let’s see:

  1. The Taliban is largely a Pashtun group that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and, last time I checked, that’s not in the United States, so it’s “foreign.” Check.
  2. Does it engage in terrorist activity? Oh, gee, just search the last 7-8 years of news records for suicide bombings, beheadings, and mutilations – you’ll get more than you can shake a stick at. Or, if you want just one, how about the Times Square bombing attempt? Check.
  3. Does it threaten our security? Well, we invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban were sheltering al Qaeda, who slaughtered thousands of us on September 11th. And they’ve tried to get in on the act themselves. (See the aforementioned Times Square plot.) Ergo… Check.

So, I have to ask: Just what is it that makes the Taliban not a terrorist organization, O Wise Ones of Foggy Bottom? I’d almost prefer to believe you just missed this while dashing off to the evening’s cocktail party, rather than that you were so cynical as to leave it off as part of a negotiating strategy with our sworn enemies, so your bosses in the Administration could find a way out of a war they’ve never really supported. Nah, it couldn’t be that.

And how weird is it that I find myself on the same side as Chuck Schumer?

Via Mitrebox.

ADDENDUM: And yes, I know Bush didn’t put them there, either. It was questionable then, and it’s just plain dumb now, after years of experience with them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)