There seems to be a collective failure on the part of the American public, reflected in the media, to come to terms with their place in a world where their country is no longer the sole superpower.The current political crisis in Syria has received international attention. Media based in different places have different points of view, however the American media sticks out as being particularly closed minded.
For example, The New York Times recently ran an article which mentioned the Syrian Press ‘mocking’ president Barack Obama and claiming that asking for congressional approval for a strike on Syria was a sign of weakness. In contrast, Canadian newspaper,The Daily Star covered Syria’s plea to the United Nations as a mean to “prevent any aggression” from the United States.
Paris based newspaper Presseurop referenced European council president Herman Van Rompuy’s speech in which he stated “Everyone has come to realise that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.” Conversely, the American media has barely mentioned the reasoning behind the United Nations insistence on finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
There’s so much emphasis placed on the intervention that the logistics of a successful one are neglected. Indeed, the definition of success has been skewed to mean the show of military and political force by the United States rather than the well being of the Syrian people.
In a speech on Tuesday Sept. 10, Obama “laid out his most extensive and detailed case for an attack to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons,” according to The New York Times. In the same speech, he claimed that the United States had a moral imperative to attack Syria, that the United States was an anchor of global security, that it is their duty to enforce international agreements, and that the ideals and principles of the United States were at stake.
Media in the United States does nothing to dissipate this widespread idea that the country is the globe’s savior. American news outlets reported on Obama’s speech, where he stated that the American military was going to “keep the pressure on (Syrian head of state Bashar al-) Assad” and “be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.” However, they failed to make the link between such threatening words and the arrival of more than 500 American commandos as well as helicopters and other military equipment in Bulgaria.
Presseurop’s Sept. 6 article detailed the aforementioned event which, according to the Bulgarian weekly newspaper Sega, coincides with the growing refugee flow from Syria. The presence of the United States military in Bulgaria was a sign of an increased likelihood of a strike, according to Sega. However, their presence in Bulgaria received minimal press coverage in the United States.
Russia’s proposal at the recent G20 summit in St. Petersburg, that Syria’s chemical weapons be put under international control and eventually dismantled, was tentatively accepted by Obama. While the international community breathed a collective sigh of relief, American media stirred restlessly with what could be described as pent-up aggression.
As if to push its readers to support military action, a Sept. 14 New York Times article ended with a quote from a commander of a Syrian rebel group saying that because the United States didn’t go through with an air strike, it must be due to diminished military and intelligence capacities.
Will the American media ever allow for a more moderate point of view on foreign affairs? It remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can only hope for as peaceful a resolution to the conflict in Syria as possible, and be thankful that the global balance of power is shifting.