What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Hungarian media and "security politicians"

Don't ask me who "security politicians" are, the Hungarian media guys are the ones using this term. To do justice to them, they are not alone in using it, I see with horror that even the Hungarian Ministry of Defence is using it. For some reason it has become a common term here in Hungary. The word "reseacher" in this country has come to have connotations of being superficial, dealing in l'art pour l'art etc. So when somebody like buddy of mine Péter Wagner says something about Afghanistan to a journalist's question, the journalist will then say that Péter Wagner said what he said as a security politician - to give the quote a context of seriousness.
Of course "security politician" is an awkward term. Péter Wagner is more interested in analysing politics, not in making them. Somebody who is involved in making security politics, I first thought when I heard this linguistic creation, is someone belonging to, say, the top circle in an authoritarian regime. Then I relaxed my resistance a bit, and decided that it's a fair term for any "securitising agent," i.e. even supposedly neutral experts, even in democracies - for people who influence the discourse on security issues in any meaningful way. That is a fair way to use the term in critical, normative discourse, indeed.
But in the media? As an official label for Péter Wagner's profession?
That's not the worst of the treatment Péter Wagner recently got from the media. He was asked by the Hungarian news agency MTI about whether a withdrawal of Hungarian EOD combat engineers ("bomb experts" in the media) would be acceptable to NATO? The question came after two Hungarian combat engineers have died within a month in Afghanistan. Péter said he doesn't think this would make a difference as to NATO's opinion of Hungary's role in Afghanistan.
Since then his statement has been taken out of context and even distorted all over the Hungarian media. It was stated that according to him NATO's "POSITIVE" impression of Hungary wouldn't be affected if the EOD team would be recalled. It was also said he "URGED" a withdrawal of the Hungarian EOD personnel. Even while the original question by MTI was clearly a hypothetical one. Even while Péter doesn't think that the Hungarian PRT in Baghlan province could do without the EOD team and that they should be withdrawn.
The good news for Péter is that once your name is circulating in the Hungarian media, it almost doesn't matter what you say or what is attributed to you. Your name will be remembered and most likely you will be asked more and more questions - even if you may not like the answers you will supposedly have given to them.
If you can read Hungarian, you can read Péter's thoughts on his most recent media adventures at his blog.

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