America cannot call itself the champion of free press

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

Three cheers for the red, white and blue, just be sure you don’t say something askew.

One of the myths of American excellence is that the country upholds freedom of the press.

Well…

According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, the U.S. is ranked 45th out of 180 nations, trailing such seemingly stalwart open countries as Uruguay (ranked 19th), Namibia (23rd), Slovenia (32nd) and Botswana (39th). The Index suggests

Press freedom in the United States continued to suffer during President Donald Trump’s third year in office. Arrests, physical assaults, public denigration and the harassment of journalists continued in 2019, though the numbers of journalists arrested and assaulted were slightly lower than the year prior. Much of that ire has come from President Trump and his associates in the federal government, who have demonstrated the United States is no longer a champion of press freedom at home or abroad.

The U.S. also seems determined to identify international news agencies as foreign missions. This week it added more Chinese agencies to its list, drawing a sharp rebuke from Beijing.

Remember, the onus is on the American government and the American people to uphold the idea of freedom of the press. At least one data point would indicate we are failing to do that.

Why Palau is at the center of the latest U.S.-China saber rattling

Wikipedia
Public Domain image

Like most people, you probably missed the recent news that Palau has invited the United States to build a military base there.

Chances are you have no clue where Palau is, and you also likely have no clue why the announcement is news.

Here’s the simple answer: Palau has chosen to side with the U.S., and not China, as it seeks long term safety.

Mind you, neither the U.S. nor China has any designs on invading Palau; if either nation did, it would make mince meat of the land and its roughly 18,000 residents in mere hours. However, Washington and Beijing know Palau is one of the many island nations in the Pacific that could define the 21st century military relationship between the world’s two superpowers.

The U.S. eyes locations like Palau as opportunities to limit any hopes China might have of expanding its military reach. China sees islands like Palau as necessary to ensure something akin to parity with the U.S. in the region. Put more bluntly, Washington doesn’t trust Beijing, and Beijing doesn’t trust Washington; as a result, a military game of chess plays out in locations that are mere dots on a world map.

By itself, the decision by the Palau government means little. However, much like the game of dominoes, once one falls, the pressure increases on the others to withstand the tide working against it.