Superpower Syndrome: The Enduring Debate on Pro-Americanism and Anti-Americanism in Foreign Media

Article excerpt

Abstract

The media inclination towards pro-Americanism and anti-Americanism is not a new phenomenon because being a superpower, the United States is one of those nations who has been facing acute image problem since World War II. It is the media which plays an influential role in constructing and depicting the foreign images. So, this paper aims at analyzing the images of the United States that is largely constructed and represented by foreign media. It was observed that the image of the United States has been changed from positive to negative and vice versa with changing its foreign relations, political polices and audience preferences. This paper further discussed the image of the United States as 'unilateralist', 'imperialist' and 'ethnocentric' superpower in European media with reference to scenarios of post World War II and Cold War based on the ideological, cultural and political differences and clash of civilization with Europe. It further analyzed the role of the United States as 'hegemonic', 'aggressive', 'barbaric', 'peace destructor', 'biased', 'deceitful' and 'hypocrite' after 9/11 not only in Middle East and Asian countries but also in the most of the countries of the world.

Keywords: foreign media images, political communication, international communication, foreign relations

1. Introduction

The images of the most influential nations and their political players in the world have been one of the major interests of the scholars since World War II. World War II was the combination of the series of events that changed the global distribution of power. There were six world's great powers before World War II i.e. Great Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan and the United States but after World War II, the status of the great powers almost changed. Finally, the United States and the Soviet Union arose as major powers (see Table 1).

The United States entered the post war era with a great and unique position because its rivals got defeated and its allies got exhausted. Approximately 410,000 US citizens were killed during World War II but the farms, factories, mines and transportation networks of the US escaped unharmed (Painter, 1999). During the war time, the US economy got doubled and covered almost the half world's manufactures and productions including food surpluses and technology for modern warfare. The United States was in the position to possess the extensive domestic energy supplies and vast oil reserves from Latin America and Middle East in 1947. It was also recognized as the country of possessing "mightiest military machine". It was the time when the US was known as the prestigious superpower because

The US Navy controlled the sea, US airpower dominated the skies, and the United States alone possessed atomic weapons and the means to deliver them. In addition, the US role in the defeat of fascism and the US espousal of such principles as the four freedoms (freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear) had earned tremendous international prestige for the United States. (Painter, 1999, p. 5)

In the result of World War II, the bipolar world system emerged and divided the world in two major powers yet the Soviet Union got almost devastated. Around 20-27 million Soviet citizens were dead. The Soviets did not have any long range air defense system. Its military capacity was also lagged behind the United States. These two major powers were not only different from each other on the basis of the military and defense capacities but also on ideologies.

The United States introduced the vision of large amount of modern technology, material goods, individual freedom, consumer society and system of capitalism. On the other hand, the Soviet Union emphasized on a society with common and shared goals, and a system of collectivism and communism. The bipolar system of world (1945-1989) ended with cold war. Though, it was comparatively peaceful period where there was no war between major powers rather superpowers supported different countries in different conflicts. …