International media as a foreign policy tool of the west: case study of Somali
During the 1980s the proliferation of new technologies transformed the potential of the news media to provide a constant flow of global real-time news. Tiananmen Square and the collapse of communism symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall became major media events communicated to Western Audiences instantaneously via TV news media. By the end of the decade the question was being asked as to what extent this ‘media pervasiveness’ had impacted upon government—particularly the process of foreign policy making. The new technologies appeared to reduce the scope for calm deliberation over policy, forcing policy-makers to respond to whatever issue journalists focused on. The phrase ‘CNN effect’ encapsulated the idea that real-time communications technology could provoke major responses from domestic audiences and political elites to global events. At the beginning of 1992, civil war and starvation gripped Somalia in the wake of the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre, who had ruled the country for two decades as many as 1.5 million of an estimated Somali population of 6 million were threatened with starvation, with approximately 300,000 Somalis already having died, including roughly 25% of all children under the age of five. On 26 November, the Bush administration announced that the United States would send troops to Somalia. This study examines whether the media played any role in making the US government to intervene in Somalia. This study finds starts from the premise that media is obtrusive to the point of forcing people and governments react to issues in the media desired way. The study was guided by three objectives: to examine the extent to which the West uses the international media as a tool for its foreign policy; to appraise the extent to which the media determines the foreign policy of the West and to evaluate the effects of the international media to propagate its foreign policy in Somalia. The study departs on the theory of agenda setting by the media. It is a qualitative study using mapping aspects where the various variables are categorized on an ordinal scale. The analysis of the final data makes it possible for the themes to be identified and the findings presented descriptively. The study found that though the media does have the potential to set agenda and shape opinion in the Somalia case the media didn’t really prompt the US government to intervene rather at the time it came to focus on Somalia policy makers had begun to plan action. The Medias focus coincidentally converged with that of government. What the media did in length was to fast track an idea that government operatives actually had.