The military has been traditionally painted by the media as the source of protection against state to state aggression. However, the changing notions of security have caused the military in many countries to be used to deal with domestic sources of insecurity. This would include dealing with the individual. This paper seeks to sensitize its readers the changing securitization of the state and therefore the role of the military. This paper does this by looking and how the tradition notions created by the media regarding the military has been challenged by the changing notions of security. Some of the changes that have caused a different portrayal of the military include the shifting of security threats from the state to non-state actors which include transnational criminal and terrorist organizations and individuals. In addition, this paper explains the shift of security threats from the cold war nuclear threats and arms race to the post-cold war concept of weapons of dual capability. In a nutshell, this paper will be looking at how the deepening and widening of the notion of security has over time changed how the media portrays the military
Many theories have been formulated over the years over the structure of the international system. Among the theories the dominant theories that have been formulated to describe the behavior of states within the international system is realism. Realism argues that the international system lacks a central authority that governs the behavior of state. This means that states are in competition to further their interests. Dominance of any given state is determined by the strength of the military. The media has capitalized in this idea by painting the military as the tool not only protects the state from external aggression but also the means through which the state is able to further the interests of a given state in the international system. These transitions to the second idea that the media tends to portray the military as not having the responsibility of taking care of internal security threats. Most media houses and the press, in both the East and the West, present the military as a security tool that is used in external affairs. This has caused many people to attribute the military to international politics and not domestic affairs. This notion created by the media is based on the patterns and trends that have been evident in previous decades. For instance, the military in the United States was used in external excursions like the World Wars and, the Cold war era to contain the spreads of communism. This leads us to the idea that the military has been painted by the media as a tool through which states are able to spread their ideology to other states or jurisdictions.
The media has painted the military as a tool for the spread of ideology in a couple of ways. Looking at the case of the United States, the US military was used to combat the spread of communism in states like Vietnam and Cuba and replace it with the ideology of democracy and market capitalism (Hammond, 1998, p.47). Even in contemporary times, the US military has been used to spread US ideologies around the world. For instance, the United States in 2003 invaded Iraq on the grounds that the Iraqi government was in possession of biological weapons that posed a global threat. Even after thoroughly investigating and traversing of the country in search of the biological weapons, the United States was not able to trace any weapons. The United States did not exit the Iraq war without changing the political ideology of the country. Evidently, the United States ousted Saddam Hussein, on the grounds of his record of violating human rights. The US military also aided the Iraq people to transition from its authoritarian system of governance to a democracy. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to say that in this case the United States used its military to spread democracy and market capitalism as an ideology. This notion that the military can be used in the furthering of a given ideology seems to resonate within the public within many countries. Many people around felt that the use of NATO to oust Libyan dictator Murmur Gaddafi, was worthwhile. This is because the media in many countries has instilled the idea within the general public that the military has the ability of not only changing governance with a given country, but the military can also be used in the coercive spread of a given ideology.
The military is a source of security, in the traditional notion, against external aggressors of the state. Traditionally, external aggressors of the state are other enemy states. However, threats to the state in the contemporary times have changed. Security threats of the state are not only other states, but also non-state actors. Initially, the military was used to protect the individual which is the fundamental segment of society.
However, over time the very individual that the state has sought to protect has become a threat to the state. Recent terrorist activities and other criminal organizations around the world have been initiated by individuals. Individuals do not have the capacity to use large weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons. Instead, individuals as security threats today use small weapons that have come to be referred to as weapons of dual capability (Maltby & Keeble, 2007, p.28). Due to the fact that individuals reside within the state, the military has found itself in a position whereby they are involvement in domestic affairs as they seek to counter individuals as security threats to the state. As individuals continue to be a major threat to the security of the state, the media has taken an active role in portraying military expeditions as being worthwhile in maintain state security in an effort to enhance more counter measures against individual actions of criminality and terrorism. The media is working against an already existent dominant paradigm that paints the military as not being involved with domestic issues within the state. Deconstructing this dominant paradigm is difficult because it goes against core political cultures and individual beliefs and expectations that many members of society have had regarding the military.
In conclusion, the media has traditionally portrayed the military as the source of protection of the state form external aggression. This traditional notion is built on International Relations theories and social paradigms that views the military as the tool through which state scan further their interests within the international system. Some of the ways that the media has portrayed the military as tool of furthering state interests abroad includes military expeditions in enemy states that have resulted in spread of different ideologies like democracy and the art of market capitalism. In addition, the deepening and widening of security threats, from state to state to the involvement of non-state actors has resulted in the increased portrayal of military activities within the state by the media as being necessary for state security.
Hammond, W. M. (1998). Reporting Vietnam: media and military at war. Ann Harbor,
MI: University Press of Michigan.
Maltby, S., & Keeble, R. (2007). Communicating War: Memory, Media & Military.
New York, NY: Arima Publishing.