July 21, 2014

If Jon Karl is to be believed, the sky is falling and the world has never been deeper in a handbasket than it is right now.

Is it possible that journalism school includes no working knowledge of world history? Either Jon Karl hasn't bothered to look back in time, or he's got the memory of a flea. Neither is worthy of a journalist reporting on world affairs for a major news outlet.

On This Week With George Stephanopoulis, Karl said " It looked a little like the week the world came undone. Continuing with the "sky is falling" outcry, Karl informed the audience that both crises "came after the front page story in the Wall Street Journal saying a raft of foreign policy crises has brought global instability not seen since 1979."

Shorter Jon Karl: The sky is falling, and what are we doing about it?

Turning to a former CIA director because we all know how reliable former CIA directors are when it comes to media storylines, Karl quoted him as saying, "2014 looks a lot like 1914, the year the assassination of an Archduke is Sarajevo touched off the war to end all wars."

They ache for war, don't they? It practically oozes off Karl along with his fear, which he would helpfully like his audience to experience with him.

Let's go back in time, and not even as far back in time as 1914. Fareed Zakaria, writing for the Washington Post, reminds that 1973 was a very bad year, too. The Vietnam war left several hundred thousand dead, thousands died in the Yom Kippur War, OPEC declared an oil embargo on the United States, the Cold War was raging on, and everyone lived under the threat of a nuclear holocaust.

But the sky is falling, cries Jon Karl.

Then there was 1979, the year the Wall Street Journal used as their benchmark. What was happening then? Well, we had the embassy takeover in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, China invading Vietnam, a Nicaraguan coup putting the Sandinistas in power, and the overthrow of the Shah. Despite Carter and Brezhnev bringing the SALT II talks to a satisfactory conclusion, the world still lived under the specter of a nuclear holocaust.

Again, history instructs as to outcomes. Covert United States operations in Afghanistan to supply weapons to the rebels fighting the Soviets began the downward spiral leading to the rise of the Taliban and harboring of Osama bin Laden. One could argue that the reason so many surface to air missiles are in the hands of rebel forces around the world could be traced back to the decision to support Afghan rebels. And that's before we ever get to the chapter where Ronald Reagan leverages Iran's hostage-taking spree to arm the Nicaraguan Contras, more commonly known as the "Iran-Contra scandal."

Yes, there is global instability. What is missing from Karl's and every other media outlet's narrative is the reason. When people are forced to live without anything -- even knowing their children are safe -- they get angry. When they get angry, they fight back. Rebellions do not come about because everyone has access to decent food, water and living circumstances, after all.

If Karl really wanted to do something that looked like journalism, he'd quit talking to the CIA and the Wall Street Journal, work a little, and try to understand why there is so much instability.

Instead he takes the feckless route. His summary of today's world situation was banal, snarky and wrong.

KARL: It was five years ago that President Obama, after less than a year in office, received the Nobel Peace Prize and envisioned a different kind of world.

OBAMA: For if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something.

KARL: Today, the words of the international community don't seem to mean all that much, and a lasting peace is as elusive as ever.

See? It's Obama's fault. We could have just turned on Glenn Beck for that stunning revelation.

History is a funny thing. It provides a roadmap for the future. Karl wants the one where the "You-Knighted" States of America fixes it all. I want the one where we let other countries work it out on their own and deal with the issues facing us here.

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