On January 13th, an article by Glenn Greenwald appeared on The Intercept. The article gives various examples of the chauvinistic reaction by the US mainstream media to the detaining of two US Navy ships by the Iranian government after the ships entered Iranian territorial waters, which is rightfully criticized by Greenwald.
The article makes an intriguing conclusion from the fact that the US media began to propagandize the event despite the US government itself not considering it aggression, “The U.S. does not officially have state TV; it has something much better and more effective: journalists who are nominally independent, legally free to say what they want, and voluntarily even more nationalistic and jingoistic and government-defending than U.S. government spokespeople themselves.”¹ It is almost impossible to argue with this conclusion. Greenwald, however, does not ask why this is the case. The article is primarily an observation of the US mainstream and does not inquire into the potential causes.
Presence of nationalism and national-chauvinism among Americans is certainly true. Public support within the US for imperialist intervention has increased in the last year, with the majority of the population now supporting Western armed intervention in Iraq, despite a majority of opposition in the previous years.² The media, at least in part, can be given credit for this. The media that Greenwald identified as voluntarily promoting nationalism. Why is it that Iran must have state television while the imperialist US has private television which in essence acts as a state television?
For an institution that is not legally bound to the US government – and the capitalist-imperialist system which it governs – to act voluntarily on its part, it must have a community of interests. Such a community exists in the US, where the median per capita income is nearly 30 times that of the global median, and average consumption that would require the resources of four to five Earths if replicated on a global scale.3,4 Having occupied two countries on opposite sides of Iran for more than a decade, extracting oil and other resources which regularly comes back to Americans in the form of incredibly low gas prices and such high consumption, the US maintains the loyal support of the majority of its population.5,6
Iran, on the other hand, a country that has faced imperialist economic sanctions since 1979 led by the US, and has seen two of its neighbors invaded and occupied, finds itself in a vulnerable position against American imperialism.7 Although ownership of personal property has increased in Iran between 2006 and 2011, the cost of food and necessities has increased significantly due to sanctions renewed regularly, decreasing living standards for many.8 Under the weight of imperialism, Iran finds itself in a very different position from the wealthy First World. While the US has privately-owned media which nevertheless is loyal to US imperialism with the presence of wealth and cheap commodities, Iran often finds itself under attack for having official state media.
This is one of the more apparent symptoms of global divide. While countries on the receiving end of bullets and bombs struggle to maintain support and to relay their message, countries on the other end do not need to be as disposed to use compulsion. As a result, it is highly important to analyze any given contrast to understand its essence.
- Greenwald, Glenn. “U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” in Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships — in Iranian Waters.” The Intercept., 13 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- Tilghman, Andrew. “Public Support Grows for U.S. Combat Troops in Iraq.”Military Times., 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- Gye, Hugo. “America IS the 1%: You Need Just $34,000 Annual Income to Be in the Global Elite… and HALF the World’s Richest People Live in the U.S.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 5 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- “Use It and Lose It: The Outsize Effect of U.S. Consumption on the Environment.” Scientific American., 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- Juhasz, Antonia. “Why the War in Iraq Was Fought for Big Oil.” CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- Shapiro, Emily. “Gas Price Hits 47 Cents a Gallon in Michigan After Price War.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 18 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- Levs, Josh. “A Summary of Sanctions against Iran.” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
- “Iran in Numbers: How Cost of Living Has Soared under Sanctions.” BBC News. BBC, 7 June 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.