The media will never quit warmongering: How a refugee crisis became another excuse for militarism

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing across Europe. The only answer? More American war, of course!

Published September 9, 2015 1:00PM (EDT)

It happens every time something bad starts brewing in the Middle East. Hawkish pundits immediately begin calling for more bombing and war to defeat whatever threat has popped up on the horizon.

So it has been with the refugee crisis currently taking place in Europe. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people moving through the continent are fleeing Syria, where the combination of civil war and ISIS have turned the country into a slaughterhouse.

The West is funding rebels in Syria and bombing ISIS targets right this second, though the lack of success in dislodging both Assad and ISIS should tell people something. No matter. There will always be those who want more. Take the Sun newspaper in Britain, which, in a notably revolting gesture, put a picture of Aylan Kurdi—the little boy whose death shocked the world—on its front page next to a graphic urging the UK to "bomb Syria now." "For Aylan," the paper urged.

Closer to home, the response has been somewhat more muted—perhaps since the US is already bombing Syria. Nevertheless, some people are trying. CNN's Christiane Amanpour, for instance, told John Kerry last week that "a huge and important strategy session in Aspen, Colorado, recently concluded that the only way to defeat ISIS is through a ground force." Then there's the Washington Post, whose editorial board called on Congress to authorize the war against ISIS in Syria so that the U.S. could expand the scope of that war. (The paper's Fred Hiatt and Michael Gerson also each published columns castigating President Obama for not more aggressively intervening militarily in Syria.)

It's all too familiar. ISIS's move through Iraq in 2014 prompted similar thunderous calls from the sidelines. Hawkishness is the default mode of the elite media.

Always left unsaid in these calls for further war are certain small details. Like the detail about how ISIS first emerged as a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq, something that could only happen because of the American invasion of that country. Or how our invasion of Libya was a similarly destabilizing disaster, one that's contributing directly to the scale of the refugee crisis. Or the reams of evidence showing that American intervention has been a key factor in the radicalization of so many across the Middle East.

There's no doubt that a humanitarian catastrophe is taking place in Syria. But our endless wars both created a part of that catastrophe and are exacerbating it every single day. Each war lays the foundation for the next war, and the next, and the next. Doesn't it have to stop at some point?

That's not something you'll hear too often in many of our top media outlets, though. For them, war is almost always the answer.

Even worse, some of them are promoting deranged scare stories about the refugees currently provoking this latest round of war talk. On Tuesday, Wolf Blitzer was speaking to State Department spokesperson John Kirby about the refugee crisis. After asking whether the U.S. would be accepting more than the pittance of Syrian refugees it's taken in so far, Blitzer told Kirby that he'd recently spoken with extremely trigger-happy congressman Peter King, who'd raised an important question about these refugees.

What if, Blitzer asked, some of them were really terrorists, disguising themselves as refugees?

Ladies and gentlemen, your mainstream media.

By Jack Mirkinson

Jack Mirkinson is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @jackmirkinson.

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Foreign Policy Media Criticism Refugee Crisis The Middle East