- Who actually shapes foreign policy?
- What are their goals?
- How much influence does the public really have?
He adds: “In our society, as we have noted, defence issues are barely mentioned at election time, while foreign policy options among the major parties are limited to pro-war choices”.
Turning for help to the official record – released government documents – he quotes a passage revealing the thinking behind the mid-twentieth century wars in Vietnam and Korea, Southeast Asia:
“The UK, the US and France agreed that it was ‘important for the economy of Western Europe that Western Europe trading and business interests in Southeast Asia should be maintained’, since it was ‘rich in natural resources and certain countries in the area at present produce surplus foodstuffs’. (Quoted, Ibid, p.20).”
The Pew Research Journalism Project found last September that ‘the No.1 message’ on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera, was ‘that the U.S. should get involved in the conflict’ in Syria.
The ruinous consequences of military action
Edwards comments: “The surprise failure to achieve that war has been a festering wound in the psyches of cruise missile liberals everywhere ever since”. One such, Michael Ignatieff, is said to portray himself as a man of peace reluctantly forced to endorse war as a last resort. In March 2003, he wrote in the Guardian:
“Bush is right when he says Iraq would be better off if Saddam were disarmed and, if necessary, replaced by force . . . The problem is not that overthrowing Saddam by force is “morally unjustified”. Who seriously believes that 25 million Iraqis would not be better off if Saddam were overthrown?” Edwards disagrees: “No rational person can doubt (that 25 million Iraqis are not better off) after one million post-invasion deaths”.
Another journalist, Paul Mason, in his Channel 4 News blog last month, ‘How the west slipped into powerlessness,’ wrote: ‘When the USA decided, last summer, it could not sell military intervention in Syria – either to its parliaments, its people or its military – it sent a signal to every dictator, torturer and autocrat in the world . . . “. Media Lens challenged Mason who failed to reply. Points made included:
- It is simply wrong to claim that the US is not intervening in Syria.
- What right the US has to act as world policeman?
The US case for waging war without UN approval was clear: the alleged Syrian government use of chemical weapons. Given that this claim has been seriously challenged, Media Lens asked Mason what other basis he had in mind for waging war.
Finally, they asked him if the utterly horrific death toll resulting from the US-UK wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya caused him to question his view that the obstruction of a US attack was a ‘disaster’ for Syria.
They quoted epidemiologist Les Roberts, co-author of the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies on the Iraq death toll: ‘There are a series of surveys now implying 1/2 million deaths is a low side estimate… I think the 650,000 estimate in the second Lancet study was low…Thus, I think there is little doubt 1/2 million died violently. I suspect the direct and indirect deaths exceeded 1,000,000…’ (Email to Media Lens, Les Roberts, January 11, 2014)
Western and regional governments share responsibility for Libya imploding into chaos and violence – and so should the media
Patrick Cockburn notes in the Independent: “’Western and regional governments share responsibility for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported as a simple-minded clash between good and evil”. But Edwards describes the assault on Libya as “a major war crime, a blatant abuse of UN resolution 1973 in pursuit of regime change – illegal under international law”.
Media Lens puts these issues into perspective: “Spare a thought for people struggling to survive in Afghanistan. Or people dying under drone attack in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Or people dying under the tyrannies ‘we’ arm and support in Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and so on.