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Public Agenda and U.S. Politics

Qasim Raza

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The group of Iranian students attacked the United States embassy in Tehran and more than 60 United States nationals were made hostages on 04th November, 1979. The incident was the reaction to Jimmy Carter’s decision of providing shelter to deportee Raza Shah of Iran, who was present at that time in United States for the treatment of cancer. Those hostages were released by Iran after deadlock of 444 days, when President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural speech.

The hostage crisis is believed to be the main reason of Jimmy Carter’s defeat. The opinion polls before some days of Presidential Elections between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan reflected very close competition. But, exactly two days before the Election, media broke the news that hostages in Iran might be released. Later on, it turned out that they were not. Impact of this news raised more propagation in public, and which also overshadowed the main public agendas. That news produced more curiosity among the public about the hostage crisis.

Before the news about hostage crisis the public of United States categorize their agendas in the following sequence:

  1. Inflation
  2. Crime
  3. Unemployment
  4. Pollution
  5. Hostage Crisis

But, after the news of hostage crisis the sequence of public agenda changed with the following categorization:

  1. Hostage Crisis
  2. Inflation
  3. Crime
  4. Unemployment
  5. Pollution

Media news created perception among masses that Jimmy Carter’s administration has failed to tackle the hostage crisis, and it was / is also believed that the same crisis resulted in the victory of Ronald Reagan as President of United States. Although there were also unverified charges on Regan’s campaign officials that they have conducted secret deal with an Iranian cleric to stop the release of hostages until after the elections. Mr. Gary Sick stated in New York Times that secret deal regarding hostages was started on July 1980 at Madrid hotel between William J. Casey and Iranian Cleric.

Media considered the hostage crisis as mania, which changed the general public perception of the people of United States. Walter Cronkite was a famous news anchor, he used to aware public on daily basis about the real time and days of the captivity of hostages at the end of the broadcast on the CBS network. Jimmy Carter tried all resources to communicate with Iran. Carter’s early secret approach to contact Ayatollah Khomeini wasted, because it was disclosed to the US media. After that, Carter delivered a negotiated hand written letter to Ayatollah Khomeini with the help of William Miller and Attorney General Ramsey Clark to release the hostages and promote the bilateral relations. Khomeini rejected the proposal and prohibited the Iranian authorities to speak to the US authorities.

Daily dramatized and prompt coverage of the hostage crisis on the national media of  United States created more difficulties for the administration of Jimmy Carter. Hence, it can be analyzed that media has ability to place an agenda, which is on the third or fourth priority into first number in the eyes of public. Media also has the capability to divert the focus of public from the basic agendas towards the desires of unknowns. In this pertinent scenario, policy agenda became media agenda, which was successfully transformed into public agenda.

Murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its implication on the future of the United States as policy agenda, media agenda and public agenda would now be discussed. Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy of Istanbul on 2nd October, 2018. He was a famous journalist and used to criticize Saudi Arabian policies. He had good relations with Saudi Royal Family and also worked as an adviser for the Saudi government. Last year, he lost the favor of Saudis and got into exile in the United States. He criticized Crown Suleiman Prince through articles from United States, in a monthly column in Washington Post.

Before 3 days to disappear, Jamal Khashoggi quoted that:

“The people being arrested are not even being dissidents; they just have an independent mind”

He criticized the Saudi crackdown on different scholars and predicted no place for democracy under the rule of Muhammad bin Suleiman. According to some schools of thought, Jamal Khashoggi was murdered because he was going to break the news of unproved chemical attack by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Mr. Khashoggi’s close friend exposed that Khashoggi was near to get the documentary proof of the chemical attack by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

He revealed that:

“I met him a week before his death. He was unhappy and he was worried” said the Middle Eastern academic, who did not wish to be named.

“When I asked him why he was worried, he didn’t really want to reply, but eventually he told me he was getting proof that Saudi Arabia had used chemical weapons.” He said he hoped he be getting documentary evidence.

“All I can tell you is that the next thing I heard, he was missing.”

The main concern of Mr. Khashoggi was phosphorus. Earlier, it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had used US supplied white phosphorous as weapon against civilians and opponents in Yemen.

“If Khashoggi did, in fact, have proof that Saudi Arabia was deliberately misusing phosphorous for this purpose, it would be highly embarrassing for the regime and provides the nearest motive yet as to why Riyadh may have acted when they did against him.”

The CIA has reported on 17th November 2018 that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman strategized the lethal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This report directly contradicts the Saudi government’s claim that Muhammad Bin Suleiman was not involved in the murder, not to mention the US president’s inclination to believe Riyadh. The State Department also responded Saturday afternoon, distancing itself from the CIA’s reported assessment.

History testifies the fact that midterm elections of United States frequently change the dynamics of power between congress and white house, and which has resultantly insisted the US administration to alter their strategy for foreign policy. For example, the Democrats’ sweeping victory in congressional vote in 2006, forced the Bush administration to modify its approach in Iraq and to appease Iran regime. After that, the revival of Republicans in US midterm elections of 2010 compelled President Obama to back military intervention in Libya, which, later on, resulted in “the worst mistake” of his presidency. The US midterm elections of 2018 are going to place several consequences for US foreign policy especially for Middle-East, doesn’t matter what are results.

The timing of the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi really matters, because he was murdered some weeks before the midterm elections of United States. There is a perception of close relationship among Donald Trump, His Son in law Jared Khushner and Saudia Royal Family.The media campaign by neoliberals for seeking justice for Jamal Khashoggi in the context of Donald Trump having allegedly strong relations with Saudi Arabia is also viewed as character assassination movement to tackle conservative political base of Donald trump and this campaign has also showed its effects on the results of midterm elections of United States.

The complicated political scenario in USA, vicious contemporary issues of the world and war of words between the trump administration and the media could repeat the episode of Jimmy Carter of 1980s election. If one policy failure and the extreme media coverage on that issue can topple the Jimmy Carter’s administration, then in the 2018 in a globalised world, where social media is also very active, it seems very difficult for the Trump administration to survive, especially in upcoming General elections of USA.

The trump administration have to take strong and true measures for the Jamal Khashoggi issue, otherwise it’s position for upcoming General elections could be as weak as Jimmy Crater’s in 1980, because media emphasize on Jamal Khashoggi murder has just started and it could become severe public agenda from media agenda.

Point to Remember: Jimmy Carter’s administration never provoked the media directly and they faced the defeat due to media trail of one issue in 1980, on the other side Trump administration is provoking US media aggressively on several issues especially Jamal Khashoggi murder, now the question is that how the US media would wish the Trump administration on Khashoggi’s issue and other such matters.

Qasim Raza holds a Master's degree in Mass Communication from the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad. Currently, he is an M. Phil scholar at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad. His area of research includes human rights, media theories, nuclear safety and security, Arms Control & Disarmament and global contemporary affairs. He can be reached at qasim.raza6891[at]gmail.com

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Americas

A self-inflicted wound: Trump surrenders the West’s moral high ground

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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For the better part of a century, the United States could claim the moral high ground despite allegations of hypocrisy because its policies continuously contradicted its proclaimed propagation of democracy and human rights. Under President Donald J. Trump, the US has lost that moral high ground.

This week’s US sanctioning of 28 Chinese government entities and companies for their involvement in China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the first such measure by any country since the crackdown began, is a case in point.

So is the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention and human rights abuses of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.

The irony is that the Trump administration has for the first time elevated human rights to a US foreign policy goal in export control policy despite its overall lack of concern for such rights.

The sanctions should put the Muslim world, always the first to ring the alarm bell when Muslims rights are trampled upon, on the spot.

It probably won’t even though Muslim nations are out on a limb, having remained conspicuously silent in a bid not to damage relations with China, and in some cases even having endorsed the Chinese campaign, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history.

This week’s seeming endorsement by Mr. Trump of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds, who backed by the United States, fought the Islamic State and were guarding its captured fighters and their families drove the final nail into the coffin of US moral claims.

The endorsement came on the back of Mr. Trump’s transactional approach towards foreign policy and relations with America’s allies, his hesitancy to respond robustly to last month’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, his refusal to ensure Saudi transparency on the killing a year ago of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his perceived empathy for illiberals and authoritarians symbolized by his reference to Egyptian field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”

Rejecting Saudi and Egyptian criticism of his intervention in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the United States and Mr. Trump a blunt preview of what they can expect next time they come calling, whether it is for support of their holding China to account for its actions in Xinjiang, issues of religious freedom that are dear to the Trump administration’s heart, or specific infractions on human rights that the US opportunistically wishes to emphasize.

“Let me start with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Erdogan said in blistering remarks to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Look in the mirror first. Who brought Yemen to this state? Did tens of thousands of people not die in Yemen?” he asked, referring to the kingdom’s disastrous military intervention in Yemen’s ruinous civil war.

Addressing Mr. Al-Sisi, Mr. Erdogan charged: “Egypt, you can’t talk at all. You are a country with a democracy killer.” The Turkish leader asserted that Mr. Al-Sisi had “held a meeting with some others and condemned the (Turkish) operation – so what if you do?”

The fact that the United States is likely to encounter similar responses, even if they are less belligerent in tone, as well as the fact that Mr. Trump’s sanctioning of Chinese entities is unlikely to shame the Muslim world into action, signals a far more fundamental paradigm shift:  the loss of the US and Western moral high ground that gave them an undisputed advantage in the battle of ideas, a key battleground in the struggle to shape a new world order.

China, Russia, Middle Eastern autocrats and other authoritarians and illiberals have no credible response to notions of personal and political freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

As a result, they countered the ideational appeal of greater freedoms by going through the motions. They often maintained or erected democratic facades and payed lip service to democratic concepts while cloaking their repression in terms employed by the West like the fight against terrorism.

By surrendering the West’s ideological edge, Mr. Trump reduced the shaping of the new world order to a competition in which the power with the deeper pockets had the upper hand.

Former US national security advisor John Bolton admitted as much when he identified in late 2018 Africa as a new battleground and unveiled a new strategy focused on commercial ties, counterterrorism, and better-targeted U.S. foreign aid.

Said international affairs scholar Keren Yarhi-Milo: “The United States has already paid a significant price for Trump’s behaviour: the president is no longer considered the ultimate voice on foreign policy. Foreign leaders are turning elsewhere to gauge American intentions… With Trump’s reputation compromised, the price tag on U.S. deterrence, coercion, and reassurance has risen, along with the probability of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”

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Trump’s effects on diplomacy

Irfan Khan

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No longer has Trump’s haphazard behaviour persisted, more will be easy for his administration to enact actions against China, Iran and Taliban. The state department is in a quandary because of it, on each front. Trump’s entrenched eagerness to remain “great” and “first” on the chessboard of International power, could damage the world more ahead than before.

Following the Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia’s oil infrastructure, US wanted to deploy troops to the Kingdom. It is primarily a justification for why the US has been imposing sanctions over Iran. Is troops deployment a solution? Or will it provide safe horizon to Kingdom oil’s installation? Or will it be revolutionary in oil diplomacy? Or is it the only target retaliated on, by Iran. However, such kind of engagement has short term beneficiary spots, while in broader perspective it has consequential effects for all stakeholders. The episode of nuclear deal has, as a factor of quid-pro-quo, been further dramatised by the state department, withdrawing from. Notwithstanding, the deal has advantageous prospects for the Middle East, and an exemplary for rest of nations, has been further dramatised by the US, in order to seek its diplomatic wins. What significant at this point, is an agreement to reback to the deal.

Embracing a different economic model, China, is plausibly on a runner-up position to the US. Whether it’s 5G tech. Or leading status of green energy, or ultra-scales exports or its leading developments for the nations having indigent economies, is a source of chaos for US administration. The current trade war is an antidoting tool for the whole scenario. The US should, I assume, eye China’s hegemony a piece of cake, and welcome its come out while securing its interests under the umbrella of cooperation. This logic, while posing no threat, seems to be long term functional. Is it?

Trump, according to many native writers, is psychologically unfit, unstable and fickle, however have had strong narrative to prevent America’s engagement into “useless wars” and end “endless” wars. Following this token, Trump announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan put the world politics and even his administration into chaos. This divided strategists and Washington security officials, which was underpinned by the resignation of James Mattis and recently John Bolton. The ten months of peace process which followed the US’s announcement of troop withdrawal, precipitously ended, putting once again the international and national politics into chaos. Trump, grandiloquently fired a tweet that talks with Taliban are dead and futile. The argument he contended was the Attack in Kabil, where one American soldier with 12 other people were lost. The policymakers and high officials in Washington who already negated the policy of troop withdrawal and then after peace deal. They, of course are winner in this policy discourse, have staunch beliefs in their opinion, who may make Trump’s change of heart. The Kabil attack was given, probably, an agent of resurgent for Obama’s approach. However, Trump’s administration had already scripted their policy framework for the region, and pretending Kabul attack was perhaps a way of redemption from the peace talk.

Trump’s factor in US foreign policy was chaotic to his subordinates for which, he attempted to compensate by cancelling peace deal with Taliban. However , on the domestic front, it is likely to be more pluses than on diplomatic front given to Trump in next year’s presidential election. Let’s see which side the wind blow. 

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Trump Cannot Be Impeached Over Ukrainegate, But Pelosi and Schiff Can Be Charged Criminally

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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Pursuant to United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unmistakable clear edict concerning the foreign affairs powers of the President of the United States.

In its majority opinion, the Court held that the President, as the nation’s “sole organ” in international relations, is innately vested with significant powers over foreign affairs, far exceeding the powers permitted in domestic matters or accorded to the U.S. Congress.

The Court reasoned that these powers are implicit in the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch.

Curtiss-Wright was the first decision to establish that the President’s plenary power was independent of Congressional permission, and consequently it is credited with providing the legal precedent for further expansions of executive power in the foreign sphere.

In a 7–1 decision authored by Justice George Sutherland, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government, through the President, is categorically allowed great foreign affairs powers independent of the U.S. Constitution, by declaring that “the powers of the federal government in respect of foreign or external affairs and those in respect of domestic or internal affairs are different, both in respect of their origin and their nature…the broad statement that the federal government can exercise no powers except those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and such implied powers as are necessary and proper to carry into effect the enumerated powers, is categorically true only in respect of our internal affairs.”

While the Constitution does not explicitly state that all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President, the Court concluded that such power is nonetheless given implicitly, since the executive of a sovereign nation is, by its very nature, empowered to conduct foreign affairs.

The Court found “sufficient warrant for the broad discretion vested in the President to determine whether the enforcement of the statute will have a beneficial effect upon the reestablishment of peace in the affected countries.”

In other words, the President was better suited for determining which actions and policies best serve the nation’s interests abroad.

Period.

It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution.

Separation of Powers Doctrine

In other words, neither the U.S. Congress nor the U.S. Senate can say or do very much of anything to prevent or interfere with this power, and if they do, they can in fact be held responsible for violating the Separation of Powers doctrine pursuant to the U.S. Constitution wherein the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate.

This is also known as the system of checks and balances, because each branch is given certain powers so as to check and balance the other branches.

Each branch has separate powers, and generally each branch is not allowed to exercise the powers of the other branches.

The Legislative Branch exercises congressional power, the Executive Branch exercises executive power, and the Judicial Branch exercises judicial review.

National Security and Foreign Affairs

The Curtiss-Wright case established the broader principle of executive Presidential supremacy in national security and foreign affairs, one of the reasons advanced in the 1950s for the near success of the attempt to add the Bricker Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would have placed a “check” on said Presidential power by Congress, but that never passed, or became law.

If Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats really wanted to interfere with or prevent President Donald Trump from engaging in the activity that they are trying to prevent vis-a-vis Ukraine, China, and Joseph Biden’s alleged corruption and its effect on National Security, they would have to first draft, propose, enact, and pass sweeping legislation, and this could take years and would most probably never pass.

Even so, it could not affect President Donald Trump’s actions already occurred, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto criminal laws.

Turning This All Against Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff

To that end if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff persist in pushing said “impeachment proceedings” against President Donald Trump, it is actually they who could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, with formal and actual charges of Treason, Sedition or Coup D’ Etat being levied upon them by the U.S. Government.

The consequences of that occurring, are truly horrific indeed.

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