'Desperate Housewives': Our Secret Weapon in the War on Terrorism
by Harley W. Lond, posted Dec 9th 2010 12:44AM
What's the best weapon in the U.S. arsenal for fighting terrorism? Foreign aid? Military might? Propaganda?
The answer: American TV shows.
According to a report at the Guardian.co.uk titled "WikiLeaks cables: Jihad? Sorry, I don't want to miss 'Desperate Housewives'," satellite broadcasts of American TV shows are doing more to persuade Saudi Arabian youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government intervention.
This interesting cultural fact was told by informants to the American embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and revealed as part of the recent WikiLeaks of U.S. cables.
One such cable, "David Letterman: Agent of Influence," reported in May 2009, that such TV shows as 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Friends' and 'Late Show With David Letterman' have proved more effective than any other means at America's disposal to win over the hearts and minds of Saudi youth.
"It's still all about the war of ideas here, and the American programming on (Saudi Arabia's) MBC and Rotana (a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation) is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that ... other U.S. propaganda never could," two Saudi media executives told a U.S. official in a meeting at a Jeddah branch of Starbucks, according to the Guardian. "Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the U.S. if they can. They are fascinated by U.S. culture in a way they never were before," the cable read.
This doesn't surprise us much. Most of the world has yearned after American pop culture, whether it's Pepsi in China or Levis in the former Soviet Union. (And let's not forget the influence of rock 'n' roll, from the Czech Plastic People of the Universe butting heads with the Communist government in the 1970s to Pink Floyd performing 'The Wall' at the site of the former Berlin Wall in July, 1990).
What better way to fight a "war of ideas" against extremist elements than with Jennifer Aniston or Eva Longoria?