The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

The New Brumaire: Media Warhawks

By Jenkin Benson ’17

It is harrowingly American to fawn over and exalt war. For most my life, the United States has been engaged in several neo-imperialist military conflicts, escalations and occupations across the Middle East that have all been guised as an expression of America’s strive to foster international liberal democracy and quell the spread of jihadist terrorism. While the American public’s approval of ground troops and invasions fluctuates, Americans are either content or unaware of the United States’ aggressive, neoliberal international economic policy and drone warfare.

With the post-modernity following WWII came a near full desensitization to war. The Cold War and its ideological descendent, The War on Terror, have accustomed the American people to a state of political being aptly deemed by Gore Vidal’s “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace,” as a policy of continuous military activity and public exposure to said activity through mediums like television and the internet. America’s reserved acceptance of militarism did not just form of its own accord; state apparatuses aligned with the political elite have long be a major tool of justifying and, in turn, valorizing America’s gruesome imperial presence, most notably through news media.

History repeats itself. News programming helped to validate America’s post-9/11 crusade and once more the media class has already begun to sell the American public another conflict in Syria. Just last week Brian Williams, a man so enamored with the concept of on-the-ground war reporting that he lied about being violently engaged in Iraq, invoked Leonard Cohen and described the firing of over 50 tomahawk missiles as “the beauty of our weapons.” The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and many others have already published pieces both implicitly and explicitly calling for American military intervention into Syria, a decision that as history proves in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq would only be disastrous and further destabilizing. In an era of exaggerated fear of “fake news,” the real pressing issue seems to be warmongering assessments from news outfits that fiercely want to preserve America’s hegemonic façade of moral high ground.

All these publications and news programs, the purported resistance to Trumpism, pivoted immediately as Trump reverted into a typical federal warhawk, sickeningly praising his stalwart condemnation of the Assad regime’s possible usage of chemical weaponry. In an instant, President Trump went from a Putin-puppet fascist to a true American executive moved by his sympathy for the Syrian people. In America apparently, one is not ‘presidential’ until they use missiles to kill people. Center-left American popular media, despite their proclaimed allegiance to facts, is in no way the resistance to Trump’s horrendous policies. If anything, The New York Times, MSNBC and others need Trump – they need the success story of his transformation into a presidential figure, and they will have no qualms with portraying a war as just and necessary to construct that narrative.

The American center-left establishment and its media arms pride themselves as the enlightened and progressive alternative to the GOP’s draconian ideals, but both sides of the aisle remain tyrannically in sync in regards to their distressing foreign policy. What the Democratic Party cannot seem to grasp is that war precludes progress. How can wealth and power be distributed to the marginalized if billions upon billions are being funneled into cluster bombs and botched drone strikes? If the editors of the Huffington Post and Vox and etc. want to truly resist hard right ideology and its refuting of fact, they should reject falsely legitimized wars and take an absolute stance in opposition to militarism. Anything less is insufficient.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *