In the Shadow of A Scandal
Although important, the FBI and Russia scandal should not detract from the Trump Administration’s egregious actions abroad
Anyone who has been even remotely keyed in to recent events will doubtless agree that a major scandal is unraveling before our eyes. As more and more revelations come to light and startling actions such as the firing of FBI Director James Comey begin to feel like business as usual for the Trump Administration, news focus is dominated by the growing scandal in the White House..
While the story of Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump administration is tremendously worrying and certainly deserves intense scrutiny, the sensational nature of the 24-hour news cycle means that many other realities of the Trump administration are consequently left in the shadow of this scandal.
Trump and the “Manufacture of Consent”
As the scandal grows and morphs, new developments are shared with the public nearly 24/7, which makes it all too easy for “lesser” news items to go unreported. Pairing this focus on the Russian scandal with the “manufacture of consent” (which refers to the media’s reluctance to critique the United States government) many of the actions of the Trump administration go unmentioned in the mainstream media- particularly those relating to the American role in foreign affairs. What the manufacture of consent has been proven to create is a media environment that refuses to speak out when the United States is actively involved in human rights atrocities.
Consequently, in the Trump era, a situation has been created where the average American is totally blinded to the realities of many elements of the Trump administration’s role in foreign affairs. Some of the most egregious examples of this hidden agenda of the Trump administration are seen in the current role of the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
The Administration’s Role in Iraq and Afghanistan
In a seemingly eternal war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States, especially under the Trump Administration, has continually ramped up efforts to assert American control over the region. Despite the fact that the region is tremendously resistant to Western efforts, and that American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have “failed abysmally”, Trump is nevertheless escalating the war in the region.
In April, as a result of increased military action in the region, the civilian death toll in Mosul was estimated to be as high as 3,500 and has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the entirety of this war’s duration. The stunning destruction of the region was put on example on May 4th, 2017, when just one American-backed strike on Mosul killed 81 civilians and injured 86 others.
In addition to the increasing violence and tension in Iraq, Afghanistan has also been a recently renewed focus of military action that has gone nearly completely ignored in the mainstream media. In 2016, a record number of civilians were killed and displaced as a result of military action and recent attacks. Examples such as the recent brutal attack killing 140 unarmed soldiers at an army base have become all too common in recent months, and yet have gone all but entirely ignored.
Yet, this record-setting violence is evidently not enough for the Trump administration, who recently took the brash move of dropping the biggest non-nuclear bomb in history. Meanwhile, potentially even more threatening, the Pentagon has recently begun urging the deployment of 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Much of this has been all but hidden from the public mind and thought. Apparently, the question of how much longer a hopeless, deadly war will persist is entirely unmentionable in the American mainstream media.
The Administration’s Role in Yemen and Syria
A further example of the violence being perpetrated under the Trump administration and kept out of the public view can be found in Yemen. In one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in decades, cholera and famine, coupled with an ongoing civil war, continue to devastate the Middle Eastern nation. The death toll in the conflict has been driven well past 10,000, 3.11 million people have been displaced, and 14.1 million people currently struggle to find enough food to survive.
The majority of this violence against civilians in Yemen is being perpetrated by Saudi Arabia, which has long enjoyed partnership with the American military. What this partnership means is that when these devastating Saudi-led and American-backed attacks are launched against the already-decimated nation of Yemen, civilians are killed with American weapons and by extension, American approval.
However the American role in the Yemeni crisis is not confined solely to the use of American weapons and resources. As the violence and devastation in Yemen escalate, America’s involvement seems to escalate in turn. The U.S., in addition to supporting the Saudis with military equipment, also employs an active military offensive in Yemen, as evidenced by the launching of more strikes in a few weeks than were launched in all of last year. Following this intense military offensive in Yemen, the Trump administration continues to applaud Saudi Arabia, will announce $110 billion more in arms sales to the nation during Trump’s visit, and has steadily increased bombings in the devastated nation. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., life continues undisturbed for the average American, who because of the relative media blackout, remains blind to the role of the United States in the escalation of this unthinkable tragedy.
Similar to the Yemeni catastrophe is the terrible tragedy taking place in Syria. The crisis in Syria has been much more widely reported and as a result we must consider not only the terrible tragedy, but also the role of the manufacture of consent. These two tragedies offer a shocking example of the manufacture of consent. When the U.S. and a major ally are perpetuating crimes against humanity, we, as the general public, will be left in the dark. However, when an atrocity coincides with the U.S. agenda, such as the catastrophe is Syria, its images and headlines will be projected nationwide.
Yet, despite a much more nuanced media presence, many of the elements of American action in Syria have been drowned out in the shadow of the Russia scandal. Syria has been a target of American drone strikes for years and this American military presence continues on in the new administration. Take, for example, the most recent airstrike on May 16, 2017, which killed 30 civilians, including a dozen children, but slipped under the radar of most Americans due to a lack of media coverage.
As further evidence collusion with the Russians is unveiled, Donald Trump continues his attacks on authority and eliminates any faint vestiges of dissent in his administration. Meanwhile, mediafocus on any issue but the Russian scandal has been minimal. The result is an extremely dangerous moment in both American and world history.
Without an educated populace, we stand no chance at ending deadly, costly wars and terrible humanitarian disasters. Furthermore, even beyond this crushing reality, is the fact any democracy will inevitably crumble without an engaged and informed citizenry. And with attacks and threats on any independent coming directly from the President and his administration, the potential for authoritarian control becomes a frightening reality. We can not afford to be silenced as the Trump Administration enacts and enables terrible violence. If we remain voiceless and unaware, we allow the actions of a deadly administration to continue on unabated and with terrifying consequences for humanity.