Posts tagged us foreign policy
Posts tagged us foreign policy
Historical context for the US/Iranian conflict.
More than fifty people were murdered [last week] in what is now the most violent episode in the ongoing Mexican Drug War. Most of the victims were women, some were pregnant. The massacre happened only 140 miles south of Texas in one of the largest metropolitan areasin North America. Yet, as Nancy Baym put it, the American twittersphere was mum. Why? In part, I think, because most of the news websites in the US were ignoring the event.
I generated a ranking of the number of pixels per victim each news website devoted to the massacre. Yes, this issue is much more nuanced than pixels per victim, and I am not a journalism expert but I hope it can help start a discussion (or continue an existing one). If my calculations are correct, CNN devoted 38 pixels per victim, 76 times less than the LA Times which gave 2,920 pixels per victim. (via Social Media Collective)
The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius, recently announced that the glorifying term “Arab Spring” is no longer being used by senior intelligence officials to describe democratic revolutions in the Middle East. It has been replaced by the more “neutral” term “Arab transition,” which, as Ignatius put it, “conveys the essential truth that nobody can predict just where this upheaval is heading.” Note that what was until very recently celebrated in American media circles as a joyous, inspirational awakening of ”democratic birth and freedom” has now been downgraded to an “upheaval” whose outcome may be odious and threatening.
That’s not surprising. As I’ve written about several times, public opinion in those nations is so strongly opposed to the policies the U.S. has long demanded — and is quite hostile (more so than ever) to the U.S. itself and especially Israel — that allowing any form of democracy would necessarily be adverse to American and Israeli interests in that region (at least as those two nations have long perceived of their “interests”). That’s precisely why the U.S. worked so hard and expended so many resources for decades to ensure that brutal dictators ruled those nations and suppressed public opinion to the point of complete irrelevance (behavior which, predictably and understandably, exacerbated anti-American sentiments among the populace)…
[T]hat phrase — “authoritarian but dependably loyal” — captures the essence of (ongoing) American behavior in that region for decades: propping up the most heinous, tyrannical rulers who disregard and crush the views of their own people while remaining supremely “loyal” to foreign powers: the U.S. and Israel. Consider this equally revealing passage from The Guardian:
Israel fears that the post-Mubarak regime will be more sympathetic to Hamas and could even revoke the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. “They feel the need to respond to the [Arab] street,” said an Israeli government official. “Instead of calming things down, they are being dragged.” The Egyptian statement was “a very dismal development”, he said.
“Arab street”: the derogatory term long used to degrade public opinion in those nations as some wild animal that needs to be suppressed and silenced rather than heeded. That’s why this Israeli official talks about “the need to respond” to Egyptian public opinion — also known as “democracy” — as though it’s some sort of bizarre, dangerous state of affairs: because nothing has been as important to the U.S. and Israel than ensuring the suppression of democracy in that region, ensuring that millions upon millions of people are consigned to brutal tyranny so that their interests are trampled upon in favor of “loyalty” to the interests of those two foreign nations.
This is why American media coverage of the Arab Spring produced one of the most severe cases of cognitive dissonance one can recall. The packaged morality narrative was that despots like Mubarak — and those in Tunisia, Bahrain and elsewhere — are unambiguous, cruel villains whom we’re all supposed to hate, while the democracy protesters are noble and to be cheered. But whitewashed from that storyline was that it was the Freedom-loving United States that played such a vital role in empowering those despots and crushing the very democracy we are now supposed to cheer. Throughout all the media hate sessions spewed toward the former Egyptian dictator — including as he’s tried for crimes against his own people — how often was it mentioned that Hillary Clinton, as recently as two years ago, was saying things such as: ”I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family” (or that John McCain, around the same time, was tweeting: “Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his ‘ranch’ in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.”)? Almost never: because the central U.S. role played in that mass oppression was simply ignored once the oppression could no longer be sustained.
Our media approvingly allowed the notion of revolution to be expressed as a good thing, but as the revolutionaries move closer to enacting real change, we’re seeing the public discourse shift to allow continued subjugation and oppression by the United States and it’s allies against those same revolutionaries. We long propped up dictators and monarchs in the Arab world in order to shape their domestic policies- with our puppets out of the way and anti-American sentiment running high, we now see our political leaders searching for an excuse to deny democratic rights to the people who rose and fought for them.