We might be witnessing the power of the people in Hong Kong, but if we compare our coverage of a protest in a friendly country, a noticeable pattern emerges.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has published an article titled “Australian expat living in Hong Kong throws off business suit to join protest movement”.
The entire story is in the headline: some random guy, who ABC keeps anonymous but for the name “Daniel”, has joined the protests in Hong Kong. That’s it. That’s the whole entire bombshell newsworthy news story. “In Australia, we have proper democracy but in Hong Kong, democracy is being slowly eroded away and I’ll try to do whatever I can to try and help the cause,” the anonymous guy told ABC.
This sort of enthusiastic empty non-story cheerleading is typical for western media coverage of the Hong Kong protests so far, while these same media outlets consistently ignore or downplay protests against the government of France, Israel, Honduras, India, Indonesia and any other region that happens to fall within the grasp of the US or its allies.
It’s an amazingly reliable pattern: the entire western political/media class finds protests and uprisings endlessly fascinating when they are in opposition to governments which haven’t yet been absorbed like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, pre-collapse Libya, or then-Moscow-aligned Ukraine, but any protests or uprisings within that empire are ignored at best, or demonised at worst.
If dissidents in the United States began donning yellow vests and holding aggressive demonstrations in the current media environment, you could safely bet your bottom dollar that they would be ignored for as long as possible and then smeared as fascists, antisemites and/or Russian pawns thereafter.
Corporate media’s interest in foreign protests dovetails perfectly with State Department & Corporate America’s agenda. Protests against rival regimes get amplified; protests against US-friendly regimes get blackout. https://t.co/m2iouAjS8G
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) August 26, 2019
This very reliable trend in the western media is very interesting, because it also happens to be the known position of the US State Department.
In 2017 a memo was leaked to Politico, Brian Hook explained to DC neophyte Rex Tillerson how to perform his job as Secretary of State with regard to human rights violations. Hook explained that the US government must downplay and ignore the human rights violations of US allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Philippines while aggressively targeting unabsorbed governments like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea for any allegations of human rights violations on their part.
“In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a variety of important reasons, including counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights,” Hook explained in the memo.
“One useful guideline for a realistic and successful foreign policy is that allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries…otherwise, we end up with more adversaries and fewer allies. The classic dilemma of balancing ideals and interests is with regard to America’s allies. In relation to our competitors, there is far less of a dilemma. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmanoeuvre them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran,” Hook wrote.
Today: Hong Kong publisher and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai met National Security Adviser John Bolton in DC. After meetings with @SecPompeo and @VP, this is meant to send a signal to Beijing. Very unusual for a nongovt visitor to get that kind of access. pic.twitter.com/6rvqsGJzru
— Nicholas Wadhams (@nwadhams) July 10, 2019
Understand this basic concept and you can understand all the hot topic foreign policy issues of any given day: there is an alliance of nations, centralised around US military and economic power, which effectively functions as a single empire. This empire works tirelessly to either absorb unabsorbed governments into its blob, or at least to undermine and marginalise them so they can’t impede the empire’s growth.
I see some voicing confusion about the protests in Hong Kong, but this is really no different from the protests and uprisings we’ve seen in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Libya and Ukraine: the western political/media class are backing an uprising which benefits the imperial blob and undermines an unabsorbed government.
This doesn’t mean that the protesters don’t have grievances or that none of those grievances are legitimate, it just means that you’re being told to cheerlead for an agenda by empire narrative managers solely because your doing so benefits that empire.
The Great Propaganda War on China now turns on the “uprising” in Hong Kong. Forget that China is surrounded by 400 US bases, described in Washington as “the perfect noose”. This report from the excellent Grayzone investigates the illusions of Hong Kong.https://t.co/CPWIju42Li
— John Pilger (@johnpilger) August 22, 2019
People who don’t get this sometimes tell me that we should “support” the protesters in a given unabsorbed region, but they’re always very reluctant to say what they mean by “support”. Do they mean simply joining the western mass media in uncritically cheerleading for an uprising which benefits western power structures? Do they mean to send them money? Weapons? An emotional thumbs-up? Prayers?
Right-wing empire loyalists sometimes do it a little differently, actively conflating the Yellow Vests protests with protests in places like Hong Kong despite the very different forces that are at play in those two situations.
But in both cases, they’re effectively mirroring the same State Department posture that Brian Hook tried to educate into Rex Tillerson in 2017.