On Friday, the Grand Rapids Press ran an Associated Press story titled, “Obama criticizes McCain for ‘naive’ foreign policy.” The article quoted Senator Barack Obama saying, “He blamed Bush for policies that enhance the strength of terrorist groups such as Hamas and the fact that al-Qaida’s leadership is stronger than ever because we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan.” The AP reporter cites Obama later in the story as well as Senator John McCain, in a back-and-forth style story on US foreign policy.
This article typifies how issues are covered in a presidential race, particularly foreign policy where claims are made from candidates, with no verification by the reporter, and no non-partisan perspectives provided. For example, in this AP article both President Bush and McCain claim that Obama is not a strong enough supporter of Israel. The fact is that Obama has won the support of the Israel Lobby and has taken a strong stance in support of Israel, even rejecting his minister’s critical comments about Israel during his so-called speech on race in Philadelphia. In that speech, Obama refered to Israel as a “stalwart ally” and blamed the violence in the Middle East on “the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.”
Another issue that is raised in the article is Senator Obama’s statement that he is in favor of a bipartisan approach to foreign policy that will engage countries with whom the US is in conflict. Obama says that “former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan” all accomplished this. Unfortunately for readers, the AP reporter never questions this claim and continues to present the Democratic position and the Republican position on foreign policy as polar opposites. Here is where an independent, non-partisan perspective would be useful since it would provide the public with a different way of viewing US foreign policy. Noam Chomsky, Bill Blum, and other analysts would argue that US foreign policy is fundamentally the same from administration to administration, with the only differences being tactical differences.
It will be extremely important between now and the November election for the public to have a clear understanding of the major candidate’s positions, particularly on foreign policy. The US is nearing its seventh year of a military occupation of Afghanistan and is beginning its sixth year of occupying Iraq. How the US media frames the so-called differences between Senator Obama and Senator McCain could be key in determining how people vote. Mediamouse.org feels it is important to not only critique the mainstream media’s coverage on these issues, but to provide independent analysis of the candidate’s positions on major issues, such as the US occupation of Iraq. From time to time, we will also highlight other sources for non-partisan, independent analysis of the candidate’s positions on international issues. One such source is Foreign Policy in Focus.