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How Does the "cnn Effect's" Broad Ability of Delivering Images to Western Political Consciousness Relate to Conducting Particular Forms of Foreign Policy?

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How does the "CNN effect's" broad ability of delivering images to Western political consciousness relate to conducting particular forms of foreign policy?

In a world where the proliferation of modern technology, particularly in communication and information is at a rapid increase and has been for the past two decades, the role of real time media in people's lives has, as a result become crucially intensified. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the "CNN effect". The beginnings of this phenomenon could be seen by the end of the 1980's with events such as the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, as well as other uprisings of the masses such as the Tiananmen Square massacre being widely televised and reported in places which one deemed impossible to tap into objectively just a few years before. The widespread ability for the general public to have access to first hand information from such previously obscure places can be said to have had a direct impact on the conduct of foreign policy among the Western superpowers. In other terms, the availability of vast amounts of information has the tendency to affect political consciousness of the populace as well as the governments that are in charge of foreign policy conduct in those western nations. The implications on particular foreign policy conduct by the governments arises either due to the governments' own moral imperatives and strategic interests in those regions or due to political pressures being mounted by the general public on the governments to act through foreign policy, as a result of being exposed to the images delivered via real time media. However, due to the well established significant impact on public awareness on issues abroad, the western governments may also be using this "CNN effect" for their own political gains and purposes by manufacturing consent. This is particularly evident with cases such as the passivity on intervention in Rwanda and particular elements in Bosnia in the 1990's compared to the overly proactive approaches during the Iraq war of 2003 and most recently Libya in 2011. Some may argue that after manufacturing consent, the governments choose to act on those issues abroad but this has been in a way offset recently by the availability of media with even greater information on issues and in a way more reliable due to being less biased and more objective, as seen with the wiki leaks phenomenon, YouTube and so further, where ordinary citizens in those nations as well as people in power may broadcast information to the west and ultimately it's political consciousness. However those new mediums tend to be less competitive with the already set up giants of real time media and more people in the west rely on those real time giants to obtain information from. This was evident due to the recent wiki leaks on the immoral conducts of western governments in their foreign policy having had no effect as no governments were forced to step down as no significant dissent among the public was present anyway. But many studies do show, if there is significant domestic dissent among the public which actually elects those governments is present due to their foreign policy engagements, matters tend to change drastically. In other terms dissent makes the ruling elite in the governments uncertain and thus forces them to act or intervene abroad in order to stay in power by guaranteeing support by the voting populations.

The idea of a viable "CNN effect" has been born soon after real time media such as CNN and its competitors were able to inform the public with more depth and widespread information on situations abroad. This has led to the birth of a new foreign policy theory, regarding interventions abroad by western governments whether it is for humanitarian relief or military engagements to several types of crises. In other words, foreign policy theorists hold the view that "public support for foreign relief activities is directly in proportion to the amount of media coverage given to specific emergencies" . This can also be quite explicitly summarized with the words of Bernard Kouchner, former French minister of foreign affairs and diplomat who used to say, "Where there is no camera, there is no humanitarian intervention" . Sometimes this phenomenon is regarded even more radically by many and especially Boutros Boutros Ghali referring to CNN as the "Sixteenth member of the UN Security Council" which argues that intense coverage of issues abroad by real time media significantly influences the actions of the ones who have the capacity to intervene and possibly resolve the crises in question. Sometimes such actions may have positive effects and the public opinion favours the western government which is intervening and thus it is hailed as a foreign policy success, however when adverse effects take hold and dissent within the public grows on the foreign policy actions, the western government in question will also tend to act accordingly in order to please public opinion. This was particularly evident during the humanitarian crises in Somalia in 1992 where a great famine took hold . The initial deployment of humanitarian aid has been seen as a favourable action by the US government, however that aid deployment soon turned into a "War lord chase, resulting in the death of 18 American soldiers, with 78 wounded" . This was primarily attributed to the "lack of knowledge of historical contexts and the situation on the ground" and instead of studying the conditions more closely, intervention seemed to have been based on mere images produced by real time media. Nevertheless, with the emergence of more real time mediums such as wiki leaks and YouTube, one is able to receive more information, coming from more angles, which ultimately paint a clearer picture, but this shall be discussed later in more detail. However, had there been no real time media covering the American deaths and the downing of the Black Hawk helicopter and that infamous image of a "dead American soldier being dragged across the streets of Mogadishu, President Clinton would not have called for an end to the US military mission in Somalia" . In other words, had there been no immense real time media coverage of events to the US public, there would have been no pressure on withdrawing from this particular military engagement, which could have led to possibly more deaths and thus the events would be rebranded from a foreign policy disaster to a catastrophe. Some would hence argue that wherever CNN decides to send its cameras, there is a degree of intervention.

According to Professor Steven Livingston, a clear rationale and purpose is needed even before public opinion becomes a crucial factor and thus there are comparisons between the events in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Angola and

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