Robert Fisk Has Had Enough

The British reporter, Robert Fisk, was not only a valuable source for me in researching and writing The You of My Song, but a significant moral support, as well, when it came to writing not just with honesty, but with conviction. Now, after spending more than three decades covering the most conflictive areas of Europe and the Middle East, always in the vanguard, Robert Fisk has announced his retirement in an interview on New Zealand Television’s ‘Campbell Live’. In the interview, which you can see here:

Fisk gives the reasons for his decision to leave active duty, and describes his sense of despair at how little positive impact he feels his work has had.What has made Fisk’s journalism unique is his personalized, combative reporting style, along with a notable disregard for personal danger. When he was in Pakistan covering the first days of the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001, he was beaten nearly to death by a crowd of Afghan refugees.The next article he wrote included these lines: “I couldn’t blame them for what they were doing…” and their “brutality was entirely the product of others, of us — of we who had armed their struggle against the Russians and ignored their pain and laughed at their civil war and then armed and paid them again for the ‘War for Civilisation’ just a few miles away and then bombed their homes and ripped up their families and called them ‘collateral damage.’”

American actor John Malkovich precipitated an international incident when he declared in 2002 at the British Cambridge Union Society, when asked whom he would most like to “fight to the death,” he replied that he would “rather just shoot” journalist Robert Fisk. Fisk’s reply to Malkovich, (published here: was eloquent and all inclusive. Continue reading


U.S. Resorts to Pistachio Diplomacy–Take Cover!

Pistachos on a plateI intended to introduce you Robert Fisk this morning, but this journalist who has given us the finest, most reliable Middle East coverage for decades will have to wait till next time. Breaking news demands our attention.

According to Madrid’s El Mundo newspaper this morning, Sal Emergui, their correspondent in Jerusalem, filed the following report yesterday: “The United States and Israel are daily forging an alliance to confront Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadineyad’s nuclear project, but the pistachio question has provoked certain differences. This is not a joke. The Bush government has protested to Israel through various channels accusing them of consuming large quantities of Iranian pistachios.” (My translation.) Continue reading

You Can’t Say That!

Speak no evilAfter years of simmering indignation with the direction the United States was taking, both at home and abroad, last year I finally started writing The You of My Song: Notes from a Voluntary Exile. Not that I thought I was going to add any new revelations to the story, as the facts are all there for anyone who wants to look them up. I did, however, think I could contribute one new element to the discussion: a fresh point of view, that of a person who rejected the American dream at the end of the sixties, and went looking for something better. I found that alternative in Spain. That’s a long story, which the book deals with in detail. Here, though, I want to remark on an interesting by product which came along with my move across the Atlantic and longtime residence abroad: a clearer view of the country which I left behind. Continue reading

And the Web Shall Make You Free

WWW means World Wide WebMost of us agree that free access to reliable information is essential for democratic societies. Until recently most of our information came from books, magazines, newspapers and radio and television news. Most of this news arrives late, in bits and pieces, and comes straight from “official spokespersons” via the mainstream media. Not only that, we only get it one day, and then it’s gone. It’s practically impossible to go back and find anything we’ve read or seen or heard. We’ve already wrapped the garbage in it and thrown it out.

The World Wide Web has changed all that, both for professional researchers and concerned citizens. I am convinced that, if anything is going to be done to rectify the current world situation, the Web will play a determinant role. It already does, but I think that role will become increasingly important. We need only look at the Web’s unique characteristics to see why:

  • It functions day and night, every day of the year.
  • It’s present in almost everyone’s homes.
  • It’s instantaneous. Just connect and you’re off.
  • It’s constantly updated, every minute of every hour of every day.
  • It’s permanent. It’s there waiting for you when you need it.
  • It presents all shades of opinion, so you can contrast them and make up your own mind.
  • It’s searchable, so you lose no time in getting to the topic you’re interested in.
  • It’s content comes in text, audio and video, making the information both more accessible and more convincing.
  • It’s interactive. You can even contribute your own content to the Web. Continue reading

Seymour Hersh, The Great Reporter

Seymour Hersh, the great investigative reporterI want to mention another honest, independent journalist, one whom some consider to be the finest investigative reporter of our time, and point you to a revealing video interview where you can very quickly take the measure of the man. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Pulitzer Prize winner, Seymour Hersh, contributes regularly to The New Yorker these days, but he has been researching and writing his muckraking books and articles for more than 30 years. Hersh was the reporter who, as a 30-year-old freelancer, uncovered the Mai Lai massacre and the ensuing Nixon-administration cover up in 1969. It was also Hersh who exposed the mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. His most recent work deals with the Bush administration’s plans to bomb Iran using nuclear weapons, a revelation which he first published in 2006. Continue reading