Washington Square News

Pay Attention to Foreign Affairs

By Paola Nagovitch, Deputy Opinion Editor

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Torn between revelations of sexual assault in Hollywood, the investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration and Russia, the crisis in Puerto Rico and a disastrous new tax plan, news consumers in the United States can easily be discouraged from following local and national news. Furthermore, an American dumbfounded by what is happening domestically might not be inclined to keep up with foreign affairs. While it is understandable to only follow international coverage that explicitly correlates to American news, we cannot simply ignore what else is going on in the world. The U.S. government draws on international events to construct narratives about certain groups that influence domestic policy, while many Americans remain ignorant to the facts surrounding these events. These opportunistic narratives are then perpetuated by public discourses, further devaluing the truth.

The Pew Research Center observed a decrease in American interest in foreign news from 2011 to 2012. According to the findings, events directly involving the U.S., such as the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 and the murder of civilians by an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2011, garnered more attention from Americans than the ongoing violence in Libya, Syria and Egypt, none of which the U.S. was directly involved in. The clear preference to news that explicitly connects the U.S. to foreign countries stems from Americans’ intrinsic underestimation of the implicit ways their country is connected to events abroad.

While some of these events are a direct result of American interference, impact and manipulation, others serve to advance political and social agendas. This is exemplified by two recent news stories: on Nov. 19, Germany’s reliable political stability crumbled following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unsuccessful attempt to create a new coalition between four parties, and on Nov. 24, at least 305 people were massacred by Islamist militants at a Sinai mosque in Egypt. These events remained largely on the sidelines of American news coverage because of the current political turmoil the Trump administration installed in the U.S. However, the failure of the German coalition threatens the Western democratic values that have progressed in Germany under Merkel’s leadership. The crisis in Germany is, in part, a result of the rise of conservatism in the West, which was affirmed by Trump winning the presidential election. Therefore, Americans should be invested in what unfolds in Germany, as it relates to our current political situation. Moreover, the terrorist attack in Egypt should be cautiously and thoroughly understood. While the event is politicized in the U.S., as news consumers, we must remain vigilant about the narrative that follows this tragedy.

Americans should be more invested in international news because ignoring the truth enables false narratives to circulate our discourses. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of Americans followed local and national news, while only 65 percent claimed they followed international news. It is crucial that Americans recognize the way international incidents and American events are interconnected because staying informed about local, national and international news allows us to hold governments accountable.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email Isaac Oseas at [email protected]nyunews.com.

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