Every major newspaper has an opinion section and while it may be easy to label these articles as “propaganda” they serve the role of giving dissenting or other opinions on matters of public interest. Straight facts are not the news in themselves and opinion pieces give a means to understand the background and consequences of issues.
During the recent transition period after the presidential election the New York Times printed an opinion piece by Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini. The Italian described how to oppose the newly elected Donald Trump in the newspapers on the basis of his direct experience with the international politician with whom Trump has most in common; former and now disgraced Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The article described the many similarities between the two businessmen become politicians. While this part was easy, Severgnini also described the mistakes by Italy’s opposition parties that led to the Italian tycoon being able to remain in power for much longer than his power base should have allowed him.
Role and honest
It would be easy for supporters of the man now occupying the Oval Office to dismiss such articles as useless and undermining #Donald Trump the article made a point that is often missed by supporters of politicians, especially those whose behaviour tends to be authoritarian rather than authoritative.
There is a legitimate role for opposition in any government because winning an election does not automatically entitle the winning politician to enact every promise and piece of legislation with no control on its legality or whether or not the treasury has the means to pay for the expenses.
Many years ago in Australia a political party was born with the aim of becoming the third force in Australian politics. The founder of the Australian Democrats, Don Chipp, was a former Minister of a national Liberal (centre right) government.
The aim of the movement, which would go on to make changes in Australian politics before disappearing due to internal divisions, was summarized by a comment from Senator Chipp that their intention was “to keep the bastards honest.”
Controls and foreign powers
The halls of power, as Donald Trump is now discovering, are strange and complicated places where many interests come together and, as we saw in the case of the Freedom Caucus on the issue of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, where individual beliefs often have more priority than to the political party.
Added to this is also the issue of the “checks and balances” within any modern democracy that ensures that the country’s leader does not over step his bounds.
Opinion pieces allow the public to hear the other side of issues and to understand the issues and consequences of any specific action.
All this is just and proper for normal countries but the #United States is not a normal country and there are other considerations that must be made.
The United States of America is the world’s biggest superpower and thus is the leader of one side of the quasi permanent diplomatic conflict known as the Cold War as well as being the world’s biggest economy. For these reasons any decision made in America is felt around the world.
A paper signed in Washington can start a trade war and another signed in the Oval Office can see bombs and missiles launched in other continents. Thus it is also fair and correct that the views of those affected overseas by American policies are published in the American newspapers, television programmes and news sites, just as American political writers such as Edward Luttwak are regularly interviewed by newspapers and televisions stations overseas.
Just as President Donald Trump meets with world leaders, so does his counterpart on the other side of the #cold war, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Just as America now gives worldwide news coverage on numerous sites, so too do Russia and her allies.
To these two superpowers must now be added China who is taking a greater role in world politics and eventually also the European Union that is still seeking its own identity but which will eventually become the fourth great international player on a regular basis.
In between these are their respective allies who plan their own foreign and economic policies to complement those of their leaders. Therefore it is right and proper that the views of all the important players on the international diplomatic and economic playing fields are understood in America and the other superpowers.
As a consequence, American newspapers, television programmes and news sites must give the opinions of those from other countries to inform the American public not only of the impact of American policies on these countries but also and especially of how the United States and its Leaders are seen as overseas.
Failure to provide such information is also the failure to inform the public which should be the first priority of any news organization. It can only be hoped that such contributions are encouraged to give readers the full range of views on issues of importance.