Close allies Theresa May and Donald Trump are currently trying their best to create the kind of tough image that’s usually the preserve of military dictators. That means threatening war and global destruction in the interests of looking strong. But perhaps the most worrying thing is that media outlets appear to be beating the war drums for them.
Nuclear war on the horizon?
On 24 April, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said he would not hesitate to fire nuclear weapons in a first strike. That means the Tories won’t wait until the UK is under attack before starting a global nuclear war. They’ll just start firing at will. And as The Canary previously explained, such a stance could end up with the UK being completely destroyed.
There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.
Considering that both North Korea and its Chinese allies are nuclear powers, there’s a significant possibility that this “major, major conflict” Trump talks about would turn nuclear very quickly.
So the governments in both the US and the UK are presenting themselves as powers that are unafraid to unleash nuclear mayhem on the world. And given this context, we might expect media outlets to have stepped up their levels of journalistic scrutiny. But no such luck.
Media outlets beat the war drums for the May/Trump coalition
Not only did many mainstream media outlets let us down recently regarding Syria, essentially acting as cheerleaders for Trump’s recent attacks. They have also failed us regarding the May/Trump coalition’s apparent march towards nuclear war.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray, for example, reacted to Fallon’s ‘first strike’ comments as follows:
Michael Fallon actually argued for first use of nuclear weapons and pre-emptive nuclear war on Radio 4. The media tell us Corbyn dangerous.
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) April 24, 2017
Fallon argues for "pre-emptive" nuclear first strike. This is how the Blairite Guardian reports it. pic.twitter.com/egY3jgbcB0
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) April 24, 2017
In all fairness, The Guardian did cover Fallon’s comments. But it appears the best it could do was to have a sub-heading (not an article) reading Fallon says Tories would not rule out nuclear first strike and calls Corbyn ‘security risk’ as part of its daily general election stream.
Murray later penned a piece on his website criticising how the media had chosen to “spend the last 24 hours telling us that Jeremy Corbyn is mad because he won’t commit to destroying mankind”.
Media Lens, meanwhile, looked at mainstream press coverage of Trump’s march to war with North Korea. In particular, it accused the BBC of ‘massively hyping’ the North Korean threat to the US. One article, it said, stated that “North Korea has long been seen to use provocation and brinkmanship to raise tension for its own strategic advantage”. But there was little focus on the fact that the US itself has long been the master of such “provocation and brinkmanship” (along with coups and invasions, of course). Especially in its turbulent history with North Korea.
Context badly needed regarding North Korea
The context in which North Korea’s repressive, cult-like, and monarchical political model was born tells us all we need to know about the reasons for longstanding US-North Korean tensions. But as Media Lens writes:
Current news coverage about North Korea omits significant history. The fact that the United States devastated the Korean peninsula in the 1950s is regularly buried.
We burned down just about every city in North Korea and South Korea… we killed off over a million civilians and drove several million more from their homes, with the inevitable additional tragedies bound to ensue.
But today, the BBC leads with headlines like Trump fears ‘major, major conflict’ with North Korea. As if the conflict was black and white. And as if the US was the victim and North Korea the aggressor. Even though, as Noam Chomsky recently argued, North Korea has actually been “following a pretty rational tit-for-tat policy” in recent years.
And it’s precisely in cases like these where we hear media outlets beating the drums of war – intentionally or not – for military superpowers like the US.
The real dangers to the world
One Russian senator responded to Michael Fallon’s comments about a nuclear ‘first strike’ by saying that such action could see the UK “literally wiped off from the face of the earth” in a counter-strike. And indeed, it’s unlikely that any first strike (against anyone) would go unanswered. But that doesn’t seem to concern Fallon or Theresa May. They want us to know that they’re willing to kill. Even if that has deadly consequences for their own citizens.
Craig Murray, meanwhile, says that Donald Trump “appears to be crazy enough” to really consider attacking North Korea; or at least “crazy enough to think that this kind of crude threatening posture is the way to get China to take serious action”. Even though, as the former ambassador insists:
China would never accept a military attack on its ally, and Trump would be risking a nuclear conflict which ruins us all.
In short, both the May and Trump regimes are a menace to the world at large. And the media outlets which keep beating the drums of war on their behalf are almost as bad.
We need to boot them all out, before it’s too late.
– Join or support the Stop the War Coalition. Show your support for Veterans for Peace, who are fighting for peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. And take action with the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
– The Tories are the real danger to Britain and the world. To stop them, register to vote in the 8 June general election.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?