In the waning days of 2017, a close look at the events of the year in international affairs brings to the fore how deceptive practices by our state institutions, foreign policy elite, and dominant media outlets resulted in their loss of legitimacy and a string of powerful pushbacks by the public.
Throughout the year, the world public opinion was witness to how one after another, many arguments in international affairs were PR stunts by biased news organizations and pundits who were influenced by foreign powers and deeply ideological think tanks.
Remarkable about this public opinion machinery was the homogeneity of the narrative that it peddled via an army of so-called experts. But 2017 put on display the agenda-driven nature of those arguments and brought their subsequent collapse. Here is a look at those arguments:
The myth of moderate rebels in the Middle East
For over six years major media outlets marketed the war in Syria and Libya as a conflict between brutal regimes ( Qaddafi’s and Assad’s) and well-intentioned, brave rebels who espoused a moderate version of Islam. According to them, rebels sought the ouster of dictatorial regimes and establishment of a new, peaceful order based on democratic values!
However, as the civil wars dragged, reports of unimaginable savagery and brutality by “moderate” rebels against civilian populations, Christian and other religious minorities, in particular, raged on. Independent observers and alternative media outlets showed to the world that the so-called moderate rebels were largely members of Al-Qaeda and other violent groups supported, funded, and sent to Syria en masse by a now-defunct alliance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey (SAQT).
Thanks to alternative media it became clear that the same Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels—similar to their ideological brethren from ISIS—raped, killed, and decapitated women and children while the flow of funds and arms continued from SAQT.
It takes several decades to defeat ISIS
When in 2014 the long convoys of ISIS marched through the Syrian desert under a global media coverage, toward western Iraq and captured Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, America’s destructive and massive airpower was peculiarly absent from the scene. This was followed by the non-stop appearance of military pundits from think tanks on major news networks who claimed that the fight against ISIS is a long game and it takes several decades to defeat them. Here we are in December 2017 today and in less than three years, thanks to determination of Iran in both Syria and Iraq, the Russian intervention in Syria, and a revised American military determination under Trump, ISIS is now a thing of the past, though remnants of it have the ability to strike terror with much lower potency.
China’s BRI is a threat and exploits developing countries
It is true that China’s ultra-ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a vast infrastructure project that spans over 60 countries, is a direct challenge to the geostrategic status quo enjoyed by the West since the end of Second World War.
By investing in large infrastructure projects, China is leveraging its financial muscles to secure its economic growth and vitality. China’s growth could slow down as a result of its massive excess capacity in construction and industrial manufacturing. BRI projects raise the living standards of consumers in target counties and ensure these markets consume Chinese products and services for years to come.
However, mainstream media has insisted that China is exploiting the resources and the workforce of countries it invests in and imposes its will on their leadership.
While it is true that through BRI China is advancing its strategic interests abroad, 2017 has made it crystal clear that a growing number of developing countries are seeking either new or continued Chinese investment for a much-needed upgrade of their infrastructure and socio-economic development that can hardly come from the West. Chinese investment does not come with strings attached to a country’s political system and human rights conditions. China regards those issues as strictly internal affairs of a country unless those policies, as in the case of Pakistan, can impact Chinese national security. For the period of 2015 to late 2017 Chinese investment in foreign countries reached a whopping $627 billion.
Erosion of public trust in state institutions has been a key implication of selling the above defunct propaganda and regime change marketing to the masses. This erosion started long before Trump took office. We need to come to terms with the new multi-polar nature of global affairs. Our state institutions and powerful media outlets need to drop the ideological advocacy that they are badly addicted to.