The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tom Friedman's 8 rules for Middle East Reporting

It is handy to keep these in mind as the Iraqi elections approach:

Rule 1:
Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will
always be over by the time the next morning's paper is out.

Rule 2:
Never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person who is supposed
to be doing the conceding. If I had a dime for every time someone agreed to
recognize Israel on behalf of Yasser Arafat, I would be a wealthy man today.
Rule 3:
The Israelis will always win, and the Palestinians will always make sure that
they never enjoy it. Everything else is just commentary.
Rule 4:
In the Middle East, if you can't explain something with a conspiracy theory,
then don't try to explain it at all -- people there won't believe it.
Rule 5:
In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to
just go away -- unless the coast is completely clear.
Rule 6:
The most oft-used phrase of Mideast moderates is: "We were just about to stand
up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you
stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now
it's too late. It's all your fault for being so stupid."
Rule 7:
In Middle East politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak,
it will tell you, "How can I compromise?" And the minute it becomes strong, it
will tell you, "Why should I compromise?"
Rule 8:
What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant. All that
matters is what they will defend in public in Arabic, in Hebrew or in any other
local language. Anything said in English doesn't count.


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