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A Sense of Proportion

By Mav | 21 Apr 2012 | 15 Comments | 1,509 views

Should Formula One be in Bahrain? Many fans are going as far as boycotting the event (including those with a Sky subscription). Cynically, the same media that is now queuing up to berate Formula One has been conspicuously quiet on the subject of Bahrain for the eleven months in between this year’s race and last year’s aborted event. Inevitably, the ensuing media frenzy meant that politicians then jumped on the bandwagon – with British politicians suggesting that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button should not be in Bahrain (poor Paul di Resta, seems everyone is ignoring Force India.) However, what damage is Formula One doing to Bahrain in real terms?

Some argue that Formula One’s presence is seen as supporting the incumbent rulers. However, Formula One’s presence certainly hasn’t improved the government’s image by any stretch of the imagination. Instead the opposition has been able to voice their grievances to a global media that was barely listening before.

That’s led to growing frustration in the paddock about how Formula One has been represented. This is one occasion that Bernie Ecclestone has let such annoyances get the better of him with several misjudged comments. However, as Ross Brawn said “I find it very frustrating that politicians in the UK were saying that we should withdraw once we got here. Why didn’t they say anything beforehand?” It’s true, but more disappointing is that in reality, politicians should actually be looking in their own backyard.

Britain continues to arm Bahrain. According to The Guardian, the British government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices.

The business secretary, Vince Cable admitted that “We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records … We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that.” Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that human rights concerns needed to be balanced against “the United Kingdom’s security concerns when making these judgements”. So there we go, it’s in our interests to arm the Bahraini government but having a motor race is apparently wrong.

Not that it’s just Britain of course. The USA, France and Canada have all been recently highlighted as supplying arms to Bahrain as demonstrated by images of the Bahraini military using armed Humvees to suppress civilian protesters. And all this despite them readily condemning Russia for doing likewise in Syria. There have been reports that rather than the US delaying its $53 million arms sale to Bahrain, the US government has been exploiting loopholes to push the sale through.

The reality is that NATO governments are on good terms with Bahrain because it’s not Iran and with a US airbase on the island, Bahrain is of strategic importance to Washington.

Holding a Grand Prix or not won’t change that stance.

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15 Comments »

  • Bec

    Read what Joe Saward has to say on his blog ‘A reflection’.

    “This morning I read a report from a supposedly respectable international newsagency which was giving details of the riots in Bahrain. It spoke of “dozens of armoured vehicles” being deployed on the roads leading to Sakhir. This is simply not true.”

    “This is not a war zone and it is shameful that this is the message being sent out to the world.

    It makes me wonder how I will read the news about other countries in the future…”

    The main problem is the media want something to happen, and are actually fanning the fires, and that a large number of Bandwagon Jumpers are supporting the lies … Incidentally Fox news actually won a court case in the USA which allows them to lie in news broadcasts, but then who’s surprised about that.

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  • Kimster

    That article rather underestimates the value of Bahrain in arms sales. It runs into the billions.

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  • saltire

    Bec,

    I read that article by Joe Saward too and whilst I thought it was very good I also thought it was a bit disingenuous given his previous blog posts on the subject.

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  • Bec

    I read that article by Joe Saward too and whilst I thought it was very good I also thought it was a bit disingenuous given his previous blog posts on the subject.

    His previous blog posts were made before he got to Bahrain and saw the reality, it’s a shame so many ‘internet warriors’ have just jumped on the ‘protester’s’ bandwagon without having the any real insight.

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  • Kimster

    Bec,

    Joe Saward is an “internet warrior”.

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  • Mav (author)

    Kimster,

    Now, now. Joe has now taken the red pill and he should be welcomed.

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  • Kimster

    Mav,

    Unfortunately he’s had a bit too much of the green pill.

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  • Bec

    Another good piece by Saward today, it’s very long but has a wealth of information in it … Having said that it’s probably too long for the usual bandwagon jumpers to read, they like Daily Mail and Sun sound bites.

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  • Mav (author)

    Bec,

    Blown away by that piece.

    Impressed by this one from Adam Hay-Nicholls
    http://mag.gpweek.com/#folio=18

    It’s a shame that the people actually in Bahrain haven’t been allowed to voice an opinion as loudly as those journalists sat at home. I accept that The Daily Mail and The Sun are going to be like that but I did think the BBC was a bit better. Apparently not.

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  • Kimster

    Mav,

    BBC get their info straight from government spokespeople.

    I know similar stories about the Libyan conflict. The Russian intelligence agencies were saying completely contradictory things to western media.

    Good on Saward. Enjoyed reading that. As well as the Hay-Nicholls one. Not surprised by either. Anyone who reads what I say on the forum would know my opinion on mainstream media.

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  • Shone V

    That is what I was trying to tell you.

    Since ‘99 bombing of my country, and watching CNN and BBC (as most reliable news sources), I am always cautious about what media say. And on a serious matter like this one, it is better to find multiple sources, or someone on the spot that you trust.

    The greatest disappointment in media for me was admitting lies that directly lead to ‘99 bombing of Serbia. Although it helped us get rid of Milosevic (dictator), maybe we could do it ourselves without so many wictimes.

    For those who want to know more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_NATO_bombing_of_Yugoslavia#Aftermath

    Just wanted to say that first hand experience helps A LOT in understanding the media.

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  • Kimster

    Just wanted to say that first hand experience helps A LOT in understanding the media.

    Sometimes that isn’t possible. But there is another way. Vary your news sources.

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  • Mav (author)

    That is what I was trying to tell you.

    This was before the final decision was made and I very much took the point on board. I believe I replied that the reality didn’t necessarily matter as the media would be happy to paint F1 as the bad guys in all this. I think both our points were proved.

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  • Shone V

    Mav,

    Agreed.

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  • Shone V

    Sometimes that isn’t possible. But there is another way. Vary your news sources.

    It was possible in my case. I was watching BBC and CNN to escape local propaganda. But they were all pulling their own way.

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