The mainstream media has widely been opposed to President Donald Trump, but they cheer him on and encourage him to escalate military conflicts. Since his decision to strike a Syrian government airfield in April 2017, mainstream media outlets have lauded his administration for military interventionism. They have rarely criticized Trump when it comes to the foreign policy actions of his administration—a stark contrast to their constant criticism of the rest of his actions. It appears that the media wants war and is willing to admonish praise on Trump when he gives it to them.
“Is war really the next step? Perhaps so, if for no other reason than the Kim regime has looked unstable for some time,” wrote Gordon C. Chang for the Daily Beast on June 21, providing a minimal argument for military conflict. War hawks frequently cite potential war with North Korea as an imminent threat. In May 2017, an article from a small news outlet theorized that newly spotted islands off the coast of North Korea were being used for military purposes, and the story reverberated throughout the mainstream media. Stories speculating North Korea’s military capabilities are constantly published, thereby perpetuating the narrative that war with North Korea is imminent. Of course, diplomacy remains the most attractive means to contain the Hermit Kingdom.
FAIR’s Adam Johnson cited that The New York Times, Slate, CNN, Rolling Stone, Vox, The and several other media outlets have referred to the United States’ increased involvement in Syria as an “accident” or a “stumble” or that the U.S. was “dragged” into it. However, Trump has increased the amount of ground troops in the region since he took office, and the mainstream media has allowed him to quietly do so. Alternet’s Ben Norton reported on June 22, “The tensions in Syria erupted May 18 and carried through to June 20. In this month, the Trump administration carried out three attacks on Syrian government-allied forces, destroyed two Iran-made drones and shot down a Syrian army warplane—the U.S. Air Force’s first air-to-air engagement in 18 years.” Russia threatened to view U.S. planes as “targets” in response to the U.S. shooting down a Syrian plane. Shortly after, a Russian and U.S. plane nearly collided, evidence of increasing tension between the two super powers.
In tandem with increased U.S. military involvement in Syria, Trump seems to be pushing for direct military conflict with Iran, an ally of the Syrian regime and member nation of George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil.” A recent report by the Carnegie Middle East Center noted the United States is deprioritizing the fight against ISIS to focus on a proxy war with Iran. “[The U.S.] seeks to expand its sway along the Syrian-Iraqi border, which is unacceptable to Iran. No wonder. The standoff in southeastern Syria only really makes sense if we assume that Washington also intends to hinder Iranian moves and gain leverage that potentially allows it to shape a political endgame in the Syrian conflict.” Sanctions on Iran were included in a bill in early June 2017 that imposed sanctions on Russia. The legislation received almost unanimous support in the Senate, with only Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul voting against it. Sanders cited that the Iranian sanctions threatened the nuclear deal achieved under the Obama administration.
In Afghanistan, the Trump administration recently approved increasing troop numbers by 3,000 to 5,000, thereby perpetuating an endless war in the country. Obama left office with 8,400 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan and about three times as many contractors, failing to follow through on his promise for a full withdrawal from the country. Now the Trump administration is intent on re-escalating U.S. involvement in the country.
Trump’s unpopularity has been a long running theme in the mainstream media since he announced his presidential campaign. In spite of his various scandals, abhorrent behavior, and disastrous policies, mainstream media outlets have largely given him a free pass in regards to diplomacy. Instead, they cheer on missile strikes, encourage troop surges, and speculate what war front the Trump administration might open up or expand next. Their support is hypocritical to the image of Trump purveyed by these outlets, but it’s in line with their fear mongering and support for the Iraq War and subsequent military conflicts since.