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Samantha Power in Bosnia: A Poster Child for Toxic Advocacy Journalism

January 1, 2020 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The adverse consequences flowing from Yugoslavia’s slow-motion disintegration in the 1990s impacted the entire country, but the turmoil and human tragedy was especially pronounced in Bosnia. Three major ethno-religious groups there—Catholic Croats, Eastern Orthodox Serbs, and Muslims—all maneuvered for advantage in a brass knuckles political, and ultimately a military, struggle. All three factions engaged in ethnic cleansing—attempting to expel all ethnic groups other than their own—whenever they gained control of a geographic region. Fighters in all three armies also committed various atrocities. Serb forces seemed somewhat more inclined to engage in such conduct, but the scope of their offenses, both in numbers and severity, was not hugely disproportionate.

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The picture that most Western journalists painted was far from balanced, however. In the overwhelming majority of media accounts, Bosnia’s murky, multisided struggle became a straight-forward war of Serbian aggression aimed at innocent Croat, and especially Muslim, civilians. The goal of those portrayals was to shame U.S. and NATO leaders into launching a military intervention to support the Muslim cause. Such melodramatic lobbying masquerading as journalism became the template for media coverage of subsequent conflicts in such places as Kosovo, Libya and Syria.

One idealistic young American epitomizing the commitment to shrill advocacy journalism in Bosnia was Samantha Power, who in a few more years would achieve fame covering the genocide in Rwanda and publishing a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on that tragedy and the overall issue of genocide. Power was a rising star who eventually would be a high-level foreign policy adviser (culminating with her service as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) in Barack Obama’s administration.

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She showed noticeable tenacity in seeking an opportunity to go to Bosnia to cover the burgeoning armed conflict there. As Power relates in her 2019 memoirThe Education of an Idealist, she was merely an intern at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who lacked press credentials from the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Kim Jong-un Hedges His Bets. How Will Trump Respond?

January 1, 2020 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

A great deal of apprehension existed throughout the world in anticipation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s annual New Year’s Day address. In mid-December, Kim had promised an ominous “Christmas surprise” because negotiations with the United States about North Korea’s nuclear program had stalled. Although that threat failed to materialize, observers still worried about what Pyongyang might be planning. Concerns mounted when Kim spoke to the Central Committee of the ruling Workers Party at the end of December and declared that his country was no longer bound by its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests. Worse, he vowed that his country would soon unveil a “new strategic weapon” to the world.

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But that address, outlining Pyongyang’s policy for 2020, still proved to be somewhat anti-climactic. New York Times reporter Choe Sang-Hun notes correctly that Kim “moderated those threats by leaving out the specifics. Mr. Kim did not explicitly say that he was formally lifting the test moratorium or that he was terminating diplomacy. Instead, he said his efforts to expand his nuclear weapons capabilities could be adjusted “depending on the U.S. future attitude. It’s a wait-and-see approach that leaves room for more negotiations.”

The bottom line is that we have not yet returned to the alarmingly confrontational situation that existed during President Donald Trump’s first year in office. At the same time, we are apparently no closer to a solution to the problem of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Moreover, although the fragile bilateral détente has not collapsed, the process of trying to normalize relations between the United States and North Korea clearly has stalled. Such an impasse cannot continue indefinitely, and when it ends it could do so catastrophically

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One underlying problem is that Kim cannot be certain even about the identity of the U.S. president after January 20, 2021. Therefore, the durability of any agreements reached with the Trump administration in the coming year is open to question. That risk is even greater given the hostility that …read more

Source: OP-EDS