CommonDreams August 6 2013
Americans are shielded from the ugly consequences of US military power by our journalists’ self-censorship
Former Guatemalan special forces soldier Pedro Pimentel Rios at his trial for his role in the Dos Erres massacre, one of the worst genocides of the post-war era. (Photograph: Moises Castillo/AP)
The US still has military spending that is higher in real, inflation-adjusted terms than it was during the peak of the Reagan cold war build-up, the Vietnam war and the Korean war. We seem to be in a state of permanent warfare, and – we have recently learned – massive government spying and surveillance of our own citizens. This is despite an ever-receding threat to the actual physical security of Americans. Only 19 people have been killed by acts of terrorism in the US since 11 September 2001, and none or almost none of these was connected to foreign terrorists. Also, there are no “enemy states” that pose a significant military threat to the US – if any governments can be called “enemy states” at all.
One of the reasons for this disconnect is that most of the mass media provide a grossly distorted view of US foreign policy. It presents an American foreign policy that is far more benign and justifiable than the reality of empire that most of the world knows. In a well-researched and thoroughly documented article published by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Keane Bhatt provides an excellent case study of how this happens.
Bhatt focuses on a popular and interesting National Public Radio (NPR) show, “This American Life” and, most importantly, an episode that won the Peabody Award. The Peabody Award, for distinguished achievement in electronic journalism, is a prestigious prize. So, it makes the example even more relevant.