For Middle East correspondents, war reporters and, in general, journalists specializing in international information, covers the war in Iraq (of which almost 19 years have passed and which is still so valid) was an additional challenge to any other international conflict: that warlike confrontation has become a (sour) matter of internal politics. Every title, every fight, every direct entry was received by public opinion and, even worse, analyzed by the political parties and their ‘spin doctors’ with the same interest and fangs with which information on political matters is followed. Unlike colleagues who specialize in politics, for whom the art of triangulation is an intrinsic part of their work, foreign correspondents were not used to to fight inch by inch, inch by inch, for approaching a starter or for starting color in battle.
You are not as tough on the US occupation of Iraq as you are on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. A volunteer who was relocated to the area told me about my chronicles of the first year after the war in Iraq. “I tell you what I see,” I replied, though I could not convince him. Then there was already a trend that later became more pronounced that the journalist is required to be an activist, just as many sports journalists need to know what team they are from. Activists of any cause, because in the eyes of those who militate, all causes are just, morally blameless, always correct. Almost twenty years later we are living in a public, social and political conversation based on moral superiority in which the equal, or simply the one who does not adhere without thinking, is the object of the great contest.
Interests and opinions
The general place says that international relations do not know of feelings, but only of interests. This is true when it comes to rulers: a serious country begins to be recognized by the fact that its foreign policy remains unchanged regardless of the identity and ideology of those who govern. But when you do not govern, when you are in opposition, when you rule but you do not have to make decisions on foreign affairs, or when you give your opinion from afar, the glass through which international politics is analyzed is the ideological one. Those on the left are against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the American occupation of Iraq, the legal process against Assange and the blockade of Cuba; those who are right-wing, pro-Israeli and pro-American, are against paper for all, deny Bolivarianism and worship the great German coalitions.
These are ideological clichés that occur everywhere, but in Spain they are becoming more acute because neither the media nor their public opinion has the maturity with regard to international information of other Western societies. Clichés that are now being repeated now, with the escalation of tensions on the border between Russia and Ukraine, in some cases with an embarrassment of comparisons and outdated worldviews.
Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian leader which suppresses rights and freedoms within Russia and does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors or international law beyond its borders. The fact that he faces the US does not make him a defender of freedoms and rights. Opposing American imperialism and domination is not a guarantee of progressivism or freedom. Fleeing from Washington to fall in Moscow is a journey to nowhere.
If the ruler’s view of international reality is based on interests, those of the observers should not be based on ideology, but on very clear basic concepts: who respects, and who does not, human rights, freedoms and international law. The ideological faith does not matter. Less moral superiority and more coherence in appearance.