Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Piecing Together the Story From Iran

I spent much of the past weekend at the Truman National Security Project's mid-annual conference (yes, two major conferences in one week). As part of the conference we had a tabletop exercise where we played members of the National Security Council debating ways to work toward President Obama's stated goal of getting to zero nuclear weapons. The event included fictional, though realistic, news inputs, such as an announcement that Kim Jong-Il had had another stroke, but this being a modern age people were also able to get real news, like the announcement that Iranian President Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of Friday's elections. A bit surreal to mix real and fake news like that.
I mention the experience because of the different sources of news flowing in from Iran. I was sufficiently dissatisfied by the mainstream media reports (this video is one of the best) to join Twitter (@robinjwalker) in hopes of some more news from different sources.
The only large-scale protests I've been in the middle of that turned violent was the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, in what was essentially the communications stone age. I remember how scary and disorienting the whole experience was, not knowing if anarchists, riot police with tear gas, or just a wall of protesters running from one of the above was coming around any given corner. I wonder if Twitter, YouTube and the like make it any less confusing, or if the fire hose of information, some good and some bad, makes it just as confusing.

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