Michael Dobbs

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Edward Herman comments:

Michael Dobbs is a veteran Washington Post reporter who has received some modest attention recently with his Foreign Policy Blog, where he has covered (or rather obfuscated) the background and trial of Ratko Mladic and had some exchanges with critics of his undeviatingly establishment positions on the Balkans wars. I won’t deal now with his positions in that Mladic debate, but want to focus on a blog he put up on April 23, 2012 on “Obama, Samantha Power, and the ‘problem from hell’,” which gives in compact and convenient form a string of establishment truths from which Dobbs does not deviate.
This blog is built around a speech that President Obama gave at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on April 23, 2012, in which he announced new sanctions against perpetrators of mass atrocities. Predictably, the named villains in Obama’s speech were the Nazis (the Holocaust), Cambodia (presumably under the Khmer Rouge; the genocidal bombing under Nixon doesn’t exist in establishment thought), Rwanda (1994), Bosnia, Darfur, Iran, South Sudan, Côte D’Ivoire, Libya, Joseph Kony’s Lords’ Resistance Army, Ratko Mladic, and Syria and Assad. This selectivity, and the absence of Bahrain, Kagame and Rwanda (operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), or Israel, certainly don’t bother Dobbs in the least He adheres closely to the first principle of a dependable agent of a propaganda system: namely, his country is only a positive actor in the mass atrocities scene—it doesn’t commit atrocities, or support those that do; its official targets are the genuine villains needing condemnation and punishment, and it has a right and responsibility to set things straight. But Dobbs shows his independence by criticizing his leaders a bit—they have lagged in aggressiveness in pursuing their targeted villains!
A second principle of propaganda is to rely strictly on establishment sources. So Dobbs’s sources are Obama, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Elie Wiesel. Samantha Power ranks high with Dobbs, as the author of that great and Pulitzer Prize-winning establishment treatise “A Problem From Hell”: America in the Age of Genocide (2002), and Dobbs says that she “provided much of the intellectual heft for a growing genocide prevention movement that has sought to pressure the United States government to live up to the slogan ‘Never Again.’” Power, like the bold Dobbs, also feels that the United States has been laggardly in fighting against genocide, though it has apparently never occurred to her, or Dobbs, that its first order of business in opposing genocide should be to stop doing it.[1]


  1. Edward S. Herman, "Michael Dobbs on Genocide Prevention: The Propaganda System in Overdrive", Z Magazine, June 2012.