In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: China pooh-poohs democracy, the BBC gets in the hacking business and Syria flexes its muscles. We begin in China.
Slow down, democratic reformers. Somebody's gonna get hurt! That about sums up a new column in China's state-owned newspaper The Global Times in reference to the latest sweep of democratic fervor spreading across the world. The paper's columnist Ding Gang has been known to caution against sweeping reforms in formerly autocratic countries like Burma and now he's doubling down.
This is what I call "democracy fever." Once people become zealous for democracy, it becomes something untouchable and sacred.
Should this be called democratic fundamentalism? Such a fever will shield society from a comprehensive understanding on democracy ... At such a critical moment, they should understand the importance of order.
In reference to Burma (aka Myanmar), Ding gives a specific reason to slow the process of reforms in that country. "Myanmar has 10 ethnic groups, over 100 language and dialects and also some groups that still haven't been officially recognized like the Rohingya people. Once order is lost, what will it mean?" That sounds like a reason you could swap in for China as well, which has a diverse array of ethnic minorities. But hey, maybe we're reading too much into it.
Iranian State Media vs. British State Media
It's a battle royale. It's not often you get to see these two state media powerhouses fight with each other but Wednesday saw Iran's state TV accusing the BBC of hacking its website to pervert the results of a poll about Iran's nuclear program, the AP reported:
The British broadcaster's Farsi language service reported that the poll showed 63 percent of those who took part favored halting uranium enrichment in exchange for an end to Western economic sanctions.
The TV report Wednesday said the actual figure was 24 percent, and the rest favored retaliation against the West with measures like closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key to exporting oil from the Gulf.
In a statement, the BBC said the claims were "both ludicrous and completely false, and the BBC Persian Service stands by its reporting."
It's perhaps revealing that the "new" poll results emphasize the popular support for retaliation against the West. As Emil Protalinski at Zero Day points out, one way of doing that is closing the Strait of Hormuz, "a key to exporting oil from the Gulf." For the sake of world oil prices, let's hope Iran wasn't telegraphing anything with its "refreshed" poll.
Syria Flexes Its Muscles
As talk of military intervention in Syria increases, Syrian state media sent a pretty clear message to the international community Sunday: We're capable of a large-scale war. The AP reports:
The Syrian military maneuvers began Saturday with naval forces in a scenario where they repelled an attack from the sea, and will include air and ground forces over the next few days, the state-run SANA news agency said. State TV broadcast footage of missiles being fired from launch vehicles and warships — an apparent warning to other countries not to intervene in the country’s crisis.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is basically brushing off the show of strength. She said President Bashar al-Assad's regime "could collapse" at any moment. Is the muscle flexing a failure? Not necessarily. Assad could just be diverting attention away from the leaks his vast e-mail archives.