Authoritarian regimes dream through propaganda and so, to see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out.
China calls America's post-9/11 war on terror a failure
The Opinion section of China's state-run Xinhua news agency is often a place of crusades. Earlier this summer, op-eds railed against America's debt addiction. Now, as the 9/11 anniversary draws near, columnists are declaring the U.S. war on terror a failure and calling instead for a coordinated international response to the root causes of terrorism. A column today accuses the U.S. and its Western allies of impeding the global fight against terror by applying a "double-standard" to counterterrorism operations. Why, the op-ed asks, is the U.S. killing civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan while turning a "blind eye" to "extremists" in Russia's Chechnya and "separatist forces" in China's largely Muslim region of Xinjiang? Another column claims that America's "wars have tarnished the U.S. image and weakened its power," while yet another declares that "fighting violence with violence isn't going to bring security to either the United States or the world." China, of course, is blameless in Xinhua's eyes. A Foreign Ministry spokesman tells the news agency that China has "made great contributions to the international struggle against terrorism."
Other state-run outlets are finding different ways of expressing their displeasure with America's fight against terror. Global Times runs an op-ed by an American who claims that 9/11 attacks spawned "bloodshed, suspicion and fear-mongering" in the U.S., while experts tell China Daily that 9/11 "greatly weakened" America.
Syria: Flag size matters
When the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency isn't blaming the unrest in Syria on "armed terrorist groups," it's often talking about flags. And sometimes it's doing both. An article today notes that "hundreds of Syrian citizens participated in raising a 70-m long and 18-m wide Syrian flag" in Damascus to "express appreciation for the Syrian Army's sacrifices in confronting armed terrorist groups."
That pride in the dimensions and symbolism of a pro-regime flag–and the bizarre implication that lengthy flags denote widespread public support for the regime–is a hallmark of the news agency. Over the course of the Syrian uprising, SANA has carefully documented an 80-meter-long flag in Aleppo, a 230-meter-long flag in Safita, a 500-meter-long flag (with palm prints) in Homs, and a 1,700-meter-long flag in Sweida. In fact, SANA was enraged when foreign news outlets failed to cover a 2,300-meter-long flag in Damascus. "These channels, which couldn't spare any real time for the raising of the flag, didn't seem to have trouble with giving the people it labeled as 'eyewitnesses' plenty of time and space in service of their agenda against Syria," the news agency huffed. The picture on the right shows the longest pro-regime flag of all–a 16-kilometer-long flag in Lattakia that 20 tailors and seamstresses completed in three weeks at a cost of 2.5 million Syrian pounds, according to SANA.
Yemen forgets about a million protesters
Sometimes the blind spots of state-run news outlets tell you as much about their agenda as their coverage does. Today, the Yemen News Agency (SABA) boasts that "millions of Yemenis" fanned out across the country on Friday to affirm their support for the "constitutional legitimacy and political leadership represented by President Ali Abdullah Saleh" and to refuse "all forms of plots hatched by terrorists and saboteurs." The news agency even produces the picture on the left to squash any doubts about the protesters' patriotism. But what SABA fails to mention is that more than a million anti-government demonstrators took to the streets across Yemen today, according to CNN (pro-government protesters came out in "small numbers," CNN adds). In other words, massive gatherings like this one below in the southeastern city of Ibb today simply didn't happen, according to SABA:
North Korea celebrates its founding
The Korean Central News Agency is effusive with its praise for all things Kim Jong Il. So you can imagine what the coverage is like for today's military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung square in honor of the 63rd anniversary of the country's founding. Of particular note is the news agency's description of the youth "dancing parties" that took place across the country:
As song "My Country Holding the General in High Esteem" resounded forth, the participants enthusiastically danced to the tune of songs "My Country Is the Eternal Country of the Leader", "Let's Love My Motherland," etc. with unbounded reverence for President Kim Il Sung.
Amid the playing of songs including "Our General Is the Best", "Let's Sing of the Dear General of People" and "His Ideal" they presented pleasant dances, recollecting the immortal exploits Kim Jong Il has performed by demonstrating the dignity and might of Kim Il Sung's Korea.
We unfortunately can't tell you how to get a hold of those tracks. But we do have a picture of the dances:
And here's a great AP video showing Kim Jong Il taking in the military parade: