Media Portray Obama as Reaganesque

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

President Obama is being portrayed as a “peace through strength” Ronald Reagan Republican as he travels abroad. “With the Obama administration’s high-profile pivot toward Asia this week—pushing for a new free-trade agreement with at least eight other countries and securing military basing rights in Australia—China is feeling at once isolated, criticized, encircled and increasingly like a target of U.S. moves.” So says Keith B. Richburg of The Washington Post.

This propaganda has the effect of playing down China’s military build-up and aggressive moves in the region, while making it seem as though Obama is standing up to the communists.

Before he arrived in Australia, Obama encouraged American business leaders to invest in communist China, telling them, “We should be rooting for China to grow.” This statement was reported by Jackie Calmes of The New York Times but not portrayed as a gaffe in any way.

AP played the same game as the Post, reporting, “Signaling a determination to counter a rising China, President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to expand U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region and ‘project power and deter threats to peace’ in that part of the world even as he reduces defense spending and winds down two wars.”

In fact, there was no determination to counter China. And the defense cuts are massive. $450 billion is already being cut from national defense and a deadlock in the congressional “super committee” could lead to an additional reduction of $500 billion.

Rather than being anti-China in any way, Obama’s speech to the Australian Parliament was full of praise for the communist regime. He said, “…the United States will continue our effort to build a cooperative relationship with China. All of our nations—Australia, the United States—all of our nations have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China. That’s why the United States welcomes it. We’ve seen that China can be a partner, from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to preventing proliferation. And we’ll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation. We will do this, even as we continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people.”

The latter statement was the only perceived criticism of China, and it was extremely mild and non-specific. He said nothing about China’s military build-up, including a new aircraft carrier, stealth jets, ICBMs, and cyber warfare, and its excessive territorial claims.

Media coverage forgot to mention that Obama’s statement that “We’ve seen that China can be a partner, from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to preventing proliferation” was blatantly false.

On November 16, the day before Obama’s speech to the Australian Parliament, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission issued its 2011 Report to Congress, citing evidence that “China has continued over the past year to support North Korea despite North Korea’s destabilizing actions.” What’s more, it says, “China has also sought to protect North Korea in light of its continued proliferation attempts over the past year.”

On what basis, therefore, does Obama claim that China is “a partner” in “reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula?”

In his speech to the Australian Parliament, Obama mentioned North Korea’s proliferation efforts but took China completely off the hook. Our media ignored this curious aspect of his performance.

He said, “…we also reiterate our resolve to act firmly against any proliferation activities by North Korea. The transfer of nuclear materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.”

There was no stated intention to hold China accountable.

The introduction to the China commission report summed up many problems in the U.S.-China relationship: “For the last ten years the Commission has documented Chinese export subsidies; weapons proliferation; military modernization; resource acquisition strategies; expansion of Chinese foreign policy interests; the Chinese military threat to Taiwan; espionage; and information control, among other issues.”

This year alone, according to commission chairman William A. Reinsch, China has achieved several military “firsts”—flight-testing its first stealth fighter, conducting a sea trial of its first aircraft carrier, and progress toward developing the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile.

Though it has a reputation for liberal bias, PBS’s Ray Suarez was more accurate in discussing Obama’s approach to China, saying that more than 2,000 American troops are heading to Australia under a new security agreement but that Obama “stopped short of saying that the move is meant as a message to China.”

Suarez went on to note that Obama “refused to make a direct link between Chinese actions and his announcement today.” He noted that Obama said, “I think the notion that we fear China is mistaken. The notion that we’re looking to exclude China is mistaken.”

Indeed, the 2,500 or so troops pose no threat to China. (Only 250 are scheduled to arrive next year and the rest would arrive by 2016.)

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose Australian Labor Party is a member of the Socialist International, relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella but forbids American nuclear weapons on Australian territory. Her party has campaigned for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Australia is now faced with a country, China, which has nuclear weapons that can strike Australia and this threat is growing. North Korea, assisted by China, is also developing nuclear weapons which could strike Australia.

But Obama does not want to single China out for criticism. Such an approach should make the U.S. and Australia nervous. It is the complete opposite of what the Post’s Richburg depicted in his story headlined “U.S. pivot to Asia makes China nervous.”

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.


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