Saturday, February 26, 2011

The space between the ads #2: Rendered Disconsulate

Praveen Swami is a fanboi of the Indian Security forces and recipient of numerous awards from the Indian government for services to PR and "Best positive spin outside of a cricket test". This makes him an ideally objective and discerning observer of Pakistani politics, as Diplomatic Editor for the Daily Torygraph.

Swami's latest exercise in polishing pigs and putting lipstick on turds tackles the capture in Lahore of a Blackwater mercenary working for the CIA, and it is so embarrassingly counterfactual that in contrast with earlier opinion pieces, the Com-Post -- Wellington's paper of record note -- appears to be alone in reprinting it. The opinion piece has been picked up by a few Breitbart-affiliated propaganda mills, and bots have cherry-picked it thence to provide hooks for automated advertising websites, but reputable newspapers are not touching it with tongs.

It begins promisingly enough, with reference to "a large supporting cast of bungling spies". Unfortunately this supporting cast is never itemised any further, nor are their bungles described in detail. One is left with the uncharitable suspicion that the size of the cast, their incompetence, and the word 'cast' itself lack any foundations in reality but were all mentioned to present the whole episode as a slapstick espionage farce directed by Blake Edwards (probably starring Peter Sellars).

The author provides this lighthearted gem:
Given that he holds a diplomatic passport, the next steps in Mr Davis’s story should have been predictable: adeclaration that he was persona non grata, and a ticket on the first flight home.
Suffice to say that previous cases of diplomats and diplomatic staff who committed manslaughter do not fit the inviting "free-flight-to-the-home-country" picture.

The suggestion would also have been more convincing if Mr Davis did actually hold a diplomatic passport, rather than entering Pakistan on a business visa. He appears to be employed at the US Consulate in Lahore rather than at the Embassy in Islamabad (bringing him under the aegis of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which provides less coverage than the 1961 Convention on Diplomatic Relations). The US has since applied for his status to be upgraded to a diplomatic visa but they did not get around to the application until January 28th, one day after the killings.

Less charitable observers might conclude that Praveen Swami's understanding of diplomatic procedures is based upon his well-thumbed collection of Retief stories.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Sounds like Praveen Swami might have a future at the Washington Post.

They eat this kind of spin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

"a large supporting cast of bungling spies"

More bungle-boys than a Darsh whip master.

Less charitable observers might conclude that Praveen Swami's understanding of diplomatic procedures is based upon his well-thumbed collection of Retief stories.

Well-thumbed, with greasy covers.

Smut Clyde said...

I only wish I had my own well-thumbed collection of Retief stories; some choice quotations from "Retief's Ransom" would go a long way to completing a half-written blogpost on marine worms. But copies of the book are nowhere to be found. And is it available on the Internizzle? Is it bogroll.

Substance McGravitas said...

Teh Great Gazoogle said...

Your search - - did not match any documents.

Smut Clyde said...

Getting back to the Davis story, the situation here is that he is screwed. As people have pointed out, if the US State Department had a valid diplomatic passport in his name -- or any other documents that proved he was covered by diplomatic immunity -- then they would be waving it around, rather than huffing and puffing. The State Department can try appealing to charitable instincts and bribable individuals within Pakistan's government, but with examples all around them of what happens to governments that ignore the popular will, they have little motivation to piss off the population. Davis can look forward to extraordinary rendition to an unknown destination, followed by forms of interrogation that various US administrations now deem to be legitimate.

So the Daily Torygraph told Praveen Swami to write a piece defending the American position and to promote the idea that "this is good news for India" when the State Department are inevitably given the bird. It was not an easy job, and required a general neglect of reality and a willingness to make up his own facts when the extant ones were not sufficient, but that's what hacks are paid for. I have no idea where this narrative of "The US is right / the Pakistanis will inevitably crumble" fits into the Torygraph's editorial policy; perhaps they just believe that ire among the readership (when the Pakistanis do not crumble) is a useful political source.

What really interests me is the fact that the Com-Post felt that Swami's bullshit was worth bringing to the attention of the New Zealand readership. From the perspective of Fairfax Media or the political causes they support, nothing is gained by convincing Kiwis of Davis' innocence. The editor's only concern was the 500 or so square centimetres to fill in the International section, and this article was cheap.

Substance McGravitas said...

Your search - - did not match any documents.

Really? Cuz I get like 300000.

The first two might be dead...

Smut Clyde said...

We suffer here under the heel of copyright censorship.

Substance McGravitas said...

I use an extension called Googlebar Lite in Firefox: sends me to instead of let you get around NZ Google.

mikey said...

I used to Love Keith Laumer with the big vicious invisible dogs and the medically enhanced human warriors and all, but in this case I think you're doing the wrong search.

Because I've been all through all the lingerie catalogs I can find online, and I find no evidence for anyone having exploited that particularly intriguing set of stockings and suspenders (what we call here in the US with MUCH less whimsy a "garter belt", which sounds like something you'd wear to repel snakes instead of attract them, if you get my meaning) featured on that particular Retief cover.

The bra with the open-top construction has been done to death, but it's the southern end of that ensemble that has captured my fancy. No, not for me. Nobody wants to see that. And perhaps there are practical or functional limitations that prevent it's actual deployment and use in the field, but surely there are great minds in the undergarment field that might find a way forward...