Douglas MacKinnon

In a time of war, how do democratic governments deal with allegedly unbiased news organizations that may slant their coverage in favor of those who mean to destroy said governments?

Recently, an Israeli air strike hit a vehicle belonging to the Reuters News Agency. Now, this would be the same Reuters "news" Agency that was putting out doctored photos from Lebanon. The same "news" agency that was continually accused by Israeli newspapers of siding with Hezbollah and Lebanon against the state of Israel and her civilians. And this would be the same "news" organization that regularly ridicules the Bush administration in picture and words.

Given that, is there even a remote chance that the Israelis targeted the Reuters vehicle on purpose? Is this how they would respond to slanted news? Hardly. Mistakes happen and the government of Israel has admitted as much by saying the "news" vehicle was moving in an erratic and suspicious manner near some of its troops before it was fired upon.

The same question can certainly be asked about "neutral" United Nations. Since 1978, the United Nations has had an interim force of "peace-keepers" in Lebanon to keep Israel, Lebanon and the terrorists honest. This would be the same peacekeeping force that in 2000, witnessed Hezbollah insurgents kidnap three Israeli soldiers within eyesight of their observation post, did nothing about it other than videotape the crime, and then deny to the government of Israel that they videotaped anything. The soldiers were soon executed by Hezbollah, with the United Nations merely shrugging its shoulders and saying "what could we do?"

Jump ahead to the just-completed war between Israel and Hezbollah. An article in the Weekly Standard says that the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon regularly reported Israeli troop movements on their Web site. They also recorded what kind of weapons the Israeli soldiers had and the location of their safety structures. And yet surprisingly, this same "neutral" organization never once posted a single item on Hezbollah.

Tragically, at the beginning of that same war, an Israeli bomb destroyed a U.N. observation post in southern Lebanon killing at least three U.N. observers. Did Israel target the U.N. post on purpose? Hardly. The Israeli military had discovered that Hezbollah was using the U.N. observation post as a shield from which to fire rockets into northern Israel. The military warned the U.N. of what was happening and advised them to move their people to safety. For whatever reason, that did not happen and the U.N. observers were killed by an Israeli act of self defense.


Douglas MacKinnon

Douglas MacKinnon is former White House and Pentagon official who spent three years working in a Joint Command.

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