Media Follies 2012: International!
2012′s Most Over-Hyped International Stories
The free market will fix Europe’s financial problems: The free market has been playing hell with Europe for over four years now. It’s past time for other solutions to be tried, ones that don’t use the word or principles of “austerity,” but our media and politicians keep talking about yet another “bailout” that secretly turns out to be a bailout for hedge fund investors and big banks.
Victory for the forces of democracy in Libya: The “government” of Libya doesn’t really exist as 2012 ends. Militias run the country, and many areas remain outside of even their control. But you have to read European news outlets to find this out.
US victory in Iraq: Iraq is the eighth most corrupt nation in the world according to Transparency International, but we’re supposed to claim it as a victory. We’re not buying it…except that we have, with hundreds of billions in US taxpayer money. And it’s still for sale.
The Iranian nuclear threat might as well take out a mortgage on this list; it’s been a perennial for a decade now. Remember in 2002, when Iran was only three years or one year or a few months or weeks from The Bomb, which could only be stopped by decimating the lives of countless ordinary Iranians? Iran’s mythical nuclear weapons program – for which, after all this time, no independent evidence yet exists – is still just as “imminent,” and the same warmakers are wanting to use the same pretext to make the same profits on the same, er, another Middle East war.
Evil China news stories: Can we hear some truth about the US relationship to China? For example, a news story about the fact that China is our main banker and is keeping the US government afloat with low interest loans? Or a story explaining that we could never make war on China because the Chinese would never lend us the money to do it? No, it’s safer to report environmental or business scandals in China than to report on our own here at home.
2012′s Most Underreported International Stories:
The LIBOR scandal proved that US banks are not alone in their dirty dealings. Barclays and other international as well as American banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate, which is used to calculate the interest rates for everything from mortgages to business loans to student debt. Banks jointly reported falsely low interest rates from 2005 to 2009 in order to make everyone think the banking industry was more stable that it really was. We might have avoided the worst excesses of 2006 and 2007 if Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Barclay’s, and the Royal Bank of Scotland had reported honest rates, or if a government agency had overseen LIBOR. Instead, banks were able to overcharge on an estimated $800 trillion in contracts. Has LIBOR been reformed as a result? Well, no.
The Arab Spring happened because of the United States, but not the way you think: American media just about fell over themselves patting Our Ideals, and Our Support For Those Brave Young Demonstrators Who Want To Be Like Us, all throughout the Arab Spring and its aftermaths in various countries. But the reason demonstations were region-wide in the first place is that the United States provided economic, political, and military power to all of the dictators they were protesting – even, in his final years, Qaddafi. During the demonstrations, the Obama administration worked behind the scenes to retain as much power as possible for the Old Guard. And in countries still controlled by despots, from Bahrain to Yemen to Saudi Arabia, the repression that has kept Arab Spring-inspired youth at bay has been supported this year – and in many cases orchestrated – by Washington.
Israel continues to quietly ensure the impossibility of Palestinian statehood: Palestine can’t have an independent state if it doesn’t have any land. This is why, while the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and (in all but name) Gaza is a legal and human rights atrocity, it’s the steady Israeli expansion of its civilian population onto these lands that is far more important long-term, because it guarantees the conflict will be intractable. These land thefts are obediently called “settlements” in American media, as if the land had never belonged to anyone before. Which is exactly what the Israeli government would like you to think – that the additional land it’s continuing to steal is uninhabited, and that Palestinians don’t exist. Palestinians are Asia’s 19th Century Native Americans.
US cyberwarfare against Iran and Syria continues unabated, with a new attack just last week. Whether it’s Duqu, Stuxnet, Flame, Wiper, the Gauss Virus, or the Olympic Games cyberwarfare program, the list of attacks just keeps growing. These acts of war are as unprecedented and beyond the pale as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in 1945; this time, however, the rest of the world will need a lot less time to catch up. And the risk of blowback keeps growing, too.
Afghanistan is a total, but forgotten, clusterfuck: The national army of Afghanistan is the Taliban. Green on blue attacks are so frequent now that no one knows who’s a loyal member of the Afghan National Army and who’s a Taliban infiltrator. Meanwhile, aerial drone attacks have alienated most of the countryside, which never supported the American-imposed puppet government in Kabul. That government, which we’re pouring billions into each year, is now the third most corrupt government in the world, according to Transparency International.
US aerial drones now target first responders and civilians rushing in to help the victims of first strikes. Yes, our boys in the CIA have taken a page from Al Qaeda’s playbook. That’ll win their hearts and minds! America’s tactics have won universal international human rights condemnation, criticism that has also been roundly ignored in US media.
Want to know what will happen when we “leave” Afghanistan? The flip side of the overhyped “success” of Iraqi democracy (see above) is that in actuality Iraq is still in shambles and its government is becoming increasingly authoritarian. But it’s “not our problem now,” even though we still have 60,000 or so “non-combat” soldiers and an untold number of private contractors still there.
Rewind to Afghanistan in the 1980s and you have the current US strategy in Syria: to help Saudi Arabia and Qatar arm the anti-government rebels, who also happen to be Muslim jihadists. So in about 15 years, can we expect another September 11 attack? You betcha!
The Fukushima nuclear plants are supposed to be subcritical and nearing a state of cold shutdown, but they’re still leaking tens of billions of becquerels of radioactive cesium into nearby rivers, ground water, and the Pacific Ocean. And Tepco, the private company that’s retained control of the damaged nuclear plants, still can’t tell us why.
Economically, the world is shifting to the East. China holds most of the US government’s debt. Growth in Asian nations is the engine driving the world economy. China, Japan, Australia, India, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and other Asian countries are uniting into a powerful trade bloc that doesn’t include the US or Europe. The western media needs to start acknowledging these facts.
This year, Greenland’s ice sheet saw record surface melting. Typically, between 25 and 40 percent of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melts during the summer. In 2012, 97 percent of the surface sheet melted. When the surface melts, the ice sheet reflects less heat back into space, and the whole ice sheet grows warmer. Deep pits and melted pockets form in the sheet, increasing the risk that it will break up and that large portions will slide into the sea. As a result, rising ocean levels may come a lot sooner than worst-case scenarios have predicted.
Violent storms caused by global warming could destroy the ozone layer. Scientists are beginning to see a disturbing phenomenon: huge storms caused by global warming can punch holes in the tropopause and send CFC’s and heat into the upper atmosphere where they destroy ozone. This is happening all over the globe, including over the continental United States, not just over the North and South Poles. It’s a global warming double whammy that could have a major impact on plant and animal life on our planet and, again, that impact could come a lot sooner that we thought.
And, on that cheerful note, get out and make your own news in 2013. If these compilations suggest anything, it’s that Americans can’t rely on corporate media to push for change, or even to tell us when change is desperately needed. We’ll have to do both ourselves.