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10-21_Hans Dembowski - Blog - Außenberichterstattung

E+Z - 19. Oktober 2022 - 8:25
Why it is outdated for media to focus on which government is leading the international community

According to Barbie Zelizer, who teaches journalism at the University of Pennsylvania, US media have a pattern of covering international affairs in terms of “us and them”. One of their core concerns is whether the US is leading the international community or not. The implication is that journalism in the USA only pays little attention to whether US foreign policy is justified and what impacts it has. In the professor’s eyes, this attitude dates back to the Cold War and is clearly outdated.

She made the case in her keynote address at this year’s annual FOME conference, which was hosted by the Interlink Academy in Hamburg last month and attended by participants from around the world. FOME is a network of 31 organisations that support independent media in developing countries. The acronym stands for “Forum Medien und Entwickung“ (Forum Media and Development).

Zelizer makes sense. The polarising “us and them” approach only fits very few international issues. While Cold War thinking is somewhat relevant regarding the Ukraine war, it has limits even in this context. Zelizer argues, for example, that US media are downplaying Ukraine’s interest in negotiations. On the other hand, the Kremlin, so far, has shown very little serious interest in talks. The policy it is implementing, however, is more aggressive and brutal policy than what the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.

Just consider inflation

In regard to most other international issues, polarised coverage pitting supposedly good governments against bad ones is misleading. Consider, for example, the growing tensions between Beijing and Washington. They have been getting worse in the past 10 years, but that does not mean that the international community has an interest in one side prevailing. Even the people of the two superpowers themselves have such an interest. The point is that both China and the USA have benefited from an integrated global economy. Disintegration will cause hardship everywhere.

An obvious consequence of fragmenting global trade is high inflation. We are feeling that pain already. Media pundits typically tell us that central banks’ interest rates keep price rises in check, but that is only one part of a rather complex picture. An important reason prices were comparatively stable in western nations in the past 30 years were the low prices of imported Chinese goods. Accordingly, supply-chain snags in the course of the coronavirus pandemic have triggered inflation, which was made worse this year by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving up world-market prices for commodities. 

As D+C/E+Z has argued for a long time, humanity is facing a host of global problems that nation states cannot manage on their own (see for example this recent comment on The list of those problems is long. Among other things, it includes macroeconomic stability, global heating,  disease control, food security and organised crime.

Our species urgently needs global solutions. The big question is not which government is leading. It is  whether we are moving towards or away from those solutions. All nations must cooperate. Journalists that want to do their job properly should assess to what extent any initiative taken by any national government is useful or harmful in terms of achieving the global common good. Peace, which also requires international cooperation, is itself an essential precondition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (see Anna-Katharina Hornidge on

All sovereign nations have endorsed this agenda. It spells out their shared vision of the global common good.

More nuanced picture

Once we adopt the global-common-goods perspective, the picture of global relations becomes more nuanced. Not everything Beijing does is evil, and not everything Washington does is good.

There still are obvious villains, however. The global-public-good perspective clearly shows Russia to be doing massive harm. Its war on Ukraine only serves a narrowly understood national interest, but makes global problems worse.

The rhetoric of a multipolar world order, which both Beijing and Moscow rely on, is actually only the mirror image of US media’s obsession with global leadership. Simply opposing everything the White House does is equally distorting as endorsing it. President Vladimir Putin’s lie that a US-led west wants to destroy Russia, is worse, of course.

Concern for the global interest, moreover, is often disparaged by right-wing populists. Former US President Donald Trump and others have a pattern of claiming to represent “the people” against evil “globalist elites”. Such propaganda does not make sense because it denies global interdependencies and pretends that nation states can do whatever their leaders want.

In spite of their populist rhetoric, moreover, right-wing authoritarians typically promote the economic interests of oligarchs and plutocrats (see a previous comment of mine on The full truth is that not only foreign affairs need to be covered from the global-public-goods perspective, but domestic politics as well. Ultimately, undermining the global public good only makes it harder to achieve the global good at any level.

Hans Dembowski is the editor in chief of D+C/E+Z.

Kategorien: Ticker

Sicherheit im Indo-Pazifik

SWP - 19. Oktober 2022 - 2:00

Seit dem Koreakrieg 1950–53 basierte die Sicherheitsarchitektur der lange Zeit als »Asien-Pazifik« bezeichneten Region auf einem US-geführten System bilateraler Allianzen, dem sogenannten Nabe-und-Speichen-System. Ein multilaterales System kollektiver Verteidigung, ähnlich der Nato in Europa, gab es in der Region bislang nicht. 2014 begann die Volksrepublik China unter Xi Jinping, eigene Ideen zur Neugestaltung des regionalen Sicherheitssystems zu entwickeln. Xi nannte das Nabe-und-Speichen-System ein Relikt des Kalten Krieges und forderte eine regionale Sicherheitsarchitektur »von Asiaten für Asiaten«. Das Konzept »Indo-Pazifik« gilt weithin als strategischer Gegenentwurf zu einer sinozentristischen Neustrukturierung der Region. Dabei wird die Sicherheitsarchitektur mehrheitlich als antagonistische Ordnung verstanden, in der Sicherheit gegen und nicht mit China hergestellt wird. Diese Architektur ist stärker als bisher »asianisiert«: Nicht nur wächst die Bedeutung der US-Alliierten in der Region im Verhältnis zu Washington. Immer wichtiger werden auch bi- und minilaterale Partnerschaften außerhalb des Nabe-und-Speichen-Systems, etwa diejenigen mit Beteiligung von Staaten wie Indien oder Indonesien. Strukturell dominieren bilaterale Allianzen und Partnerschaften, die zunehmend um minilaterale Formate wie AUKUS oder Quad ergänzt werden. Für die EU und ihre Mitgliedstaaten bedeutet all dies, dass die Verwirk­lichung der Idee eines inklusiv ausgerichteten Indo-Pazifik in weite Ferne gerückt ist. Auch der effektive Multilateralismus, den die EU propagiert, gerät zusehends ins Hintertreffen, da die regionale Sicherheitsarchitektur sich mehr und mehr zu einem Nebeneinander bi- und minilateraler Kooperationsformate wandelt.

Kategorien: Ticker

Sea Change in EU Trade Policy

SWP - 19. Oktober 2022 - 2:00

Europe’s trade policy is heading for a sea change. But it is not Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine that is the main reason for this development. Rather, there are long-term influencing factors at work here: the WTO-centred multilateral trade order is visibly eroding. Protectionism is on the rise around the globe. World trade is grow­ing only marginally or is even stagnating. Globalization is undergoing a transforma­tion whose outcome is uncertain. And international trade is increasingly being instrumentalized for political purposes. In February 2021, the European Commission responded to these structural upheavals by announcing an “open, sustainable and assertive trade policy”. However, there has so far been uneven progress towards im­plementing the objectives included in the new trade policy strategy. While the EU’s intention to strengthen both Europe’s assertiveness and the sustainability of trade is being realized through numerous new instruments and measures, its promise of openness and liberalization remains unfulfilled for the time being. In particular, the Indo-Pacific region beyond China would offer the German and European economies significant opportunities to tap new sources of raw materials and access reliable sup­plier networks and growing sales markets.

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