by Arnaud Bertrand
Something interesting I’ve noticed.
It all starts with my genuine surprise that there seems to be a rather refreshing amount of honesty by a great number of Western media and multilateral organizations and NGOs as to what’s actually going on in Gaza.
The BBC has been shockingly even-handed so far, the FT has had stories after stories calling for a ceasefire, same thing for the Washinton Post and we even have Piers Morgan (Piers Morgan!) now writing daily tweets to denounce the ongoing massacre. I’m not even mentioning the various UN bodies, the WHO, the red cross, etc. all screaming outrage at Israel’s blatant disregard for human life.
That’s very much new. There were very few periods in history with such an immense disconnect between official foreign policy and the media, except maybe late in the Vietnam war; but this was really confined to America and it was after years of tiring war. By contrast this occurs almost throughout the entire globe and it started immediately.
Of course, you still have some of the usual suspects pandering shameless propaganda but all in all the “narrative environnement” is worlds apart from, say, how the Ukraine war was covered, where you virtually couldn’t find a single media source covering things even remotely fairly. Maybe it is in fact the media learning from that latest experience, who knows?
Anyhow we end up in quite a unique situation where Western politicians find themselves very much alone against the entire world really, including much of their own media and their public opinions. Again as always this isn’t a strict rule, there are some exceptions. For instance Irish politicians have almost unanimously been calling the massacre for what it is. But all in all this is the general situation.
Which finally leads me to my interesting observation. Which is that we’re in the probably unprecedented situation where the political representation of what the overwhelming majority of the planet believes – including in the West – can today mostly be found in the global South. With again a few exceptions (like India) it is leaders of the global South who undeniably speak for the world with regards to THE most important topic of the day. And leaders of the West are largely completely out of touch. I find this absolutely remarkable!
What’s also remarkable, in a very sad way, is that the global South might have moral legitimacy today but the balance of power still lies with those Western leaders almost no-one agrees with. A recent vote in the UN had the immense majority of the world’s nations voting for a ceasefire but if Biden says no (and he did say no), it’s no. This is clearly unsustainable and illustrates how badly we need to reform the global order in order to distribute power more fairly. It also, by the way, really calls into question what “democracy” means in countries like America where a president can act in total opposition to what his own population wants (66% of all Americans want a ceasefire, including 80% of Democrats).
Who knows how this will all evolve… What’s pretty damn clear is that a world where what the immense majority of countries wants doesn’t matter is unsustainable, and countries where what the immense majority of the population wants doesn’t matter isn’t sustainable either. So it’s fair to say we can (and should!) expect to see rather dramatic change.