Media Representations of the War on Terrorism Essay

In recent years the world community has faced a very serious problem it is currently attempting to cope with, the problem of terrorism. In fact nowadays the terror war is gradually become the main form of struggle of weaker states or some organizations against oppression and dominance of the leading countries of the world, including the only superpower the US. This is why, in the current situation the terror war and war on terror are getting to be the main threat to the stability of the development of the global society, since due to the process of globalization national borders tend to disappear to the extent that it is possible to speak about the solid world community that have to solve global problems like terrorism. At the same time, it is obvious that media play an extremely important role in the representation of the war on terror and, to a significant extent, they define the public opinion in relation to this war.

In fact, the opposition between media supporting and opposing war on terror is another front which is not always evident but the victory in this front means practically half a success in the war at large.

Before analyzing the media representation of the war on terror, it is necessary to briefly discuss the problem of terrorism and essence of the war on terror in order to create an objective view on the current events regardless the impact of media. First of all, it should be said that the roots of terrorism may be found in the far past of socio-political and economical development of the world and human society but in the 21st century it acquires global features. Unfortunately, globalization deteriorates the general situation in relations between rich and poor because regardless all positive trends that this process may give to the world economy but some specialists defines its general effect as the deterioration of the position of poor countries and improvement and prosperity of rich countries.

Consequently, poor countries become poorer and rich become richer as a result the opposition between them growth and naturally it engenders a great tension between two polar parts of the world but if in the past the countries which felt being deprived could directly oppose their oppressors in an open war conflict now they cannot really counteract to more powerful and rich countries that makes them to look for different ways to achieve their goals and improve their position in the world. Obviously, this is one of the main cause of terror war, i.e. the polarization of the world and growing gap between rich and poor.

In general terrorism a systemic use of violence, traditionally by some illegal organization, groups, or even some individuals that aim at the creation of a general climate of fear among the population which is supposed to become more obedient to the demands of terrorists. Usually terrorists try to achieve a definite political goal and for its sake they are ready to kill not only other innocent people but even themselves. However, it would be a mistake to think that only terrorist groups or organization support terrorism. Our history, particularly the history of the 20th century can give us a lot of examples when governments of different countries provide the policy of terror. Terrorism has really become a global problem at the end of the 20th at the beginning of the 21st centuries when organized terror attacks shaken the world and after which some politicians had started to speak about a new world order.

Since the main cause of terrorism is the polarization of the world and the division of countries in poor and rich it is a really global problem that involves many countries. It is noteworthy that the main source of ”˜human material’ for terrorist acts are poor Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Sri-Lanka, or Pakistan, numerous African countries, some countries of Latin America and others. For instance, one of the most notorious terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiah recruit poor Indonesian because the country is overwhelmed by powerlessness of ordinary people, injustice and poverty. As a result “for many poor Indonesian children”¦ the only opportunity to learn to read and write is found within the network of Muslim schools funded by Saudi Arabian organizations preaching an intolerant form of Islam”[1].

In general, among the causes of terrorism may be named: a) on the organizational level the gap between well-developed countries and countries of the third world, the consequences of the cold war; b) on the personal level, individual peculiarities of character, psychology, social and economic conditions of life of individuals.

In response to the growing threat of terror attacks the US declared the War on Terror. Extremist Arab terrorist and their followers became the enemy number one for Americans as the terrorist organization Al Qaeda was declared to be the main organizer of the terror attacks.

Objectively speaking, such measures are insufficient since in order to prevent terrorism it is necessary to prevent its causes, notably to prevent the polarization of the society and the world at large. Certainly, some military operations are necessary but they should be accompanied by real attempts to deprive terrorists from their basis, from support of not only extremists-millionaires but also from the support of average people all over the world, particularly in poor country where terrorists have quite strong positions. The terrorism may be defeated only when the gap, the frontier that divides rich, well-developed countries and poor countries, which are often exploited by richer ones, disappears.

Naturally, media opposing to the war on terror treat this war as the mean to pursue American aggressive policies. As a result, these media attempt to convince people that the effectiveness of the war on terror is low because violence breeds violence and probably. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the authors of Human Rights Watch Report 2004 who estimate that “governments and armed groups have launched a war on global values, destroying the human rights of ordinary people” and furthermore “Amnesty International strongly condemned armed groups responsible for atrocities such as the March 11 bombing in Madrid and the bomb attack on the United Nations building in Iraq on 19 August 2003”¦ But it also frightening that the principles of international law and the tools of multilateral action which could protect us from these attacks are being undermined, marginalized or destroyed by powerful governments”[2] (Parker and Fellner 2004:32; 41-42). In order to convey their ideas to wide public they use different media from traditional press and television to Internet. The more radical position is the position of non-American and, especially, Arab media which underline the unjust nature of the war.

Moreover, media of the direct participants of the conflict, i.e. terrorist organizations and anti-terrorist coalition headed by the US are more radical. On the one hand, terrorists who have their own media and, in this respect, Internet remains probably the most popular one by means of which they can their ideas, attempt to convince the public that they struggle for their freedom, rights, and well-being against American oppression.

In stark contrast, American media as well as media of countries that suffered from terror attacks rather tend to condemn terrorism and attempt to convey audience that the war is the only effective means of struggle against terrorism and the guarantee of national security in the future.

However, it is necessary to underline that, as a rule, the radical position of media of opposing parties undermines the stability in the world and leads to no-way, a dead end since people, being bombarded with general and often superficial information about the real state of things cannot analyze in depth the current situation and clearly define what is right and what is wrong. Thus, in the current situation the radical representation of the war on terror can have disastrous consequences for society leading to its radicalization. Instead, it is necessary to provide possibly more objective and more analytical view on the problem of terrorism and public discuss all variety of means of its solution.

[1] Kortunov, A. Sources of International Crises After the End of the Cold War. New York: New Publishers, 1994, p.224.


[2] Parker, A. and Fellner, J. “Above the Law: Executive Power after September 11 in the United States.” World Report 2004, Human Rights Watch, Jan. 2004, pp.41-42.


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