From Bob's archive: Provocation/mini-skirts
At the every end of yesterday's Today programme, a nice lady, a journalist, I didn't catch her name, was asked why this is such a dangerous time for journalists (a propos of the welcome release of Alan Johnston). She answered (and these are not exact words): "Because of our foreign policy", followed immediately by: "journalists are not distinguished from their countries' governments". There are two problems with this.
The first is simply that most of the journalists who are in danger are not from "the West" (which is presumably the "us" she refers to). Just to take Iraq, over 100 journalists have been killed since 2003 (70 murdered, 38 caught in the crossfire), of whom 86 were Iraqi. Most of these were killde by insurgents (62 confirmed). (And this does not count the 39 media support workers killed - all Iraqi except for one Lebanese). The overwhelming majority, in fact, work for Iraqi news organisations (63 of the journalists, 23 of the support workers). In fact, one Western journalist has been killed in Iraq this year, Russian Dmitry Chebotayev, killed along with American soliders in a roadside attack. Prior to that, the last were Paul Douglas and James Brolan, killed in May '06, killed by an insurgent bomb.
Globally, 85% of journalists killed are local correspondents, not foreign correspondents. The second most dangerous place for journalists is Algeria, where in fact it is often Islamist journalists targeted by the government, then Russia, where government-backed thugs kill dissident journalists with impunity, then Colombia, where journalists are at risk from right and left. In other words, the idea that it is "our" journalists "they" are killing is predicated on an ethno-centric view of the world.
The second, and more important point is about that word "because". Concentrating solely on Western journalists killed by insurgents, the journo's second statement, that the killers don't distinguish between "good" Westerners and "bad" Westerners is surely the correct "reason". That is, the racist, murderous, anti-Western ideology of the insurgents is what drives them to kill, not "our" foreign policy. Blaming our foreign policy is like blaming a rape victim for wearing sexy clothes.