The debate about the planned bombings against Al Jazeera is amazing for the simple fact of surprising commentators. What would surprise me is that Mr. George W. Bush and Mr. Blair had not discussed how to reduce the damage caused by the Islamic propaganda, where Al Jazeera TV is the main media. Are they wrong, by any chance? I don’t think so. Considering the Anglo-American interests, eliminating Al Jazeera would be desirable and if Qatar, an independent kingdom of the Gulf that is a declared ally of the United States (and whose protection guarantees its independence), allows its capital to be the headquarter of Al-Qaeda propagandists, it has no right to prevent the United States from launching punitive actions in its territory.
But this debate is much deeper. First of all, for how long can the West tolerate the dissemination of propaganda aimed at poisoning Muslims’ minds against the Jews and the “Crusaders”? Second, up to what point are Western governments forced to be transparent giving information about the decisions made behind closed doors? Or can they forbid the publication of this sensitive information for the purpose of protecting Western interests –even if the press is penalized?
Being an important actor of the Arab press does not mean that Al Jazeera can disseminate information threatening British or American national securities directly. If in the Cold War we used interference methods against hostile propaganda, so today we should use all modern technologies available to pressurize Al Jazeera and its equals. We can discuss the objectivity of the programs but no debate is possible if it’s about our right to prevent the broadcasting of Al-Qaeda’s videos encouraging terrorism or the transmission of rumours about the so called atrocities committed by Western soldiers. In addition, we should impose financial sanctions against Al Jazeera journalists.
With regard to the debate about the British government’s prohibition on publishing the note related to the conversation between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, it’s something completely legitimate. No government is forced to reveal anything related to operative decisions made in wartime. In war time, you ask. Yes. And that’s the problem. Most Americans know that they are participating in a war against terror. Most Europeans don’t think so. Most Americans are determined to win this war. Most Europeans have already withdrawn and accepted defeat.

New York Sun (United States)

Should Bush and Blair Consider Bombing Al Jazeera?”, by Daniel Johnson, New York Sun, November 25, 2005.