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Minyan Mailbag - American Perception (cont)


Thanks Greg!


Note: Our goal in Minyanville is to remove intimidation from the financial markets and encourage an interactive dialogue among the Minyanship. We share this next column with that very intent.

Editor's note: The following is a response from Prof. McGuirk's younger brother that offers another unique Aussie perspective on today's earlier mailbag.

G'day Laurie and other strangers.

Yes I saw the story too.....

I saw a documentary recently on the media role in the War in Iraq where a U.S. Defense Force man described 5 wars being waged simultaneously.

the actual combat on the ground
the media war/public perception in Iraq
the media war/public perception in the USA
the media war/public perception in Europe
the media war/public perception in the "rest of the world"

He was of the opinion that only one of those wars has been a success so far. Guess which one. Australia being in a privileged position in the world being both sceptical and an ally, yet we are small and peripheral and we speak English, gives us a special perspective watching the US media machine from an outside perspective.

I remember with a smile a trip to New York in 1995 and finding it incredibly hard to find news of any place else in the world but New York or the USA. The Sydney Morning Herald World news section suddenly had a new status in my mind. For instance I knew great detail about the origins and long progress of the wars in the Balkans including the siege of Sarajevo. But it was only just starting to enter news bulletins in the USA - because there was talk that U.S. troops might be sent there. Suddenly there was a story.

For all our parochialism, I am continually amazed at SMH, ABC and SBS news services here for the habit of pursing stories about countries far away with which Australia has no direct relationship, simply because the story is important within the world on its own merit. And these are main stream media here, the major morning newspaper and two free to air TV stations, not indie web sites or cable services.

This awareness of the goings on out in the world tends to breed a sense that you are just one of many others in the world together. I'd say that both of those perceptions are lacking in the U.S. media's self-image at the moment. A timid, complicit or lazy media is dangerous to democracy.

The fact that the U.S. media could not dare ask the obvious question that was being asked around the world a couple of years ago - Won't invading an Arabic country without provocation just encourage religious extremism, increase terrorism and justify a sense of cultural persecution? We are seeing the answers now. All because the administration could not perceive a world where an American leadership is not welcome. Or because the other reasons (oil, Israel...) for going to war outweighed all the risks and costs. Or all of the above.

Yes that lack of perception, or lack of care for consequences to others, has lead to the point where most of the world fears the current administration of the USA more than any other country because they apparently don't fear what others will think or do in response. And there seems to be nothing that they won't do, given an end worth doing it for. Very Scary.


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