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The Media and Africa: The Portrayal of Africa in the New York Times (1955–1995)

  • Peter J. Schraeder and Brian Endless

Eighteen U.S. soldiers were killed and dozens were wounded in a fierce battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 3–4, 1993. Their deaths were a direct outgrowth of the Clinton administration’s handling of a series of United Nations (UN)-sanctioned military interventions in Somalia, which are popularly referred to as Operation Restore Hope. With the Cable News Network (CNN) providing almost instantaneous transmission to audiences in the United States and abroad, the victorious Somali forces not only paraded a captured U.S. helicopter pilot, Corporal William Durant, through the streets of Mogadishu, but also dragged the naked corpse of a U.S. soldier past mobs of Somali citizens who vented their anger by spitting on, stoning, and kicking the body.

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1. For a discussion of this battle and its implications, see Bowden, Mark, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999).

2. Thomas L. Freidman, “U.S. Pays Dearly for an Education in Somalia,” New York Times, October 10, 1993, sec. 4, p. 1.

3. Quoted in B. Drummond Ayres, Jr., “A Common Cry Across the U.S.: It’s Time to Exit,” New York Times, October 9, 1993, Al.

4. Clark, Jeffrey, “Debacle in Somalia,” Foreign Affairs 72, no. 1 (1992/93): 109123 .

5. For an introduction to this literature, see Hawk, Beverly G., ed., Africa’s Media Image (New York: Praeger, 1992). See also Issue: A Journal of Opinion, 22, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 1994), a special issue edited by Hawk, and devoted to the topic of the media and Africa.

6. See Schraeder, Peter J., United States Foreign Policy Toward Africa: Incrementalism, Crisis, and Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), ch. 2, passim.

7. Powell, Colin (with Persico, Joseph E.), My American Journey (New York: Random House, 1995), 588 .

8. See Logan, Carolyn J., “U.S. Public Opinion and the Intervention in Somalia: Lessons for the Future of Military-Humanitarian Interventions,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 20, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 1996): 158 .

9. Johnston, Harry and Dagne, Ted, “Congress and the Somali Crisis,” in Learning from Somalia: The Lessons of Armed Humanitarian Intervention, eds. Clarke, Walter S. and Herbst, Jeffrey (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1997).

10. Ibid., p. 14.

11. Logan, “U.S. Public Opinion and the Intervention in Somalia,” p. 156.

12. Ayres, Jr., “A Common Cry,” p. 6.

13. Clifford Krauss, “White House Tries to Calm Congress,” New York Times, October 6, 1993, A6.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. See Stech, Frank J., “Winning CNN Wars,” Parameter: U.S. Army War College Quarterly 24, no. 3 (Autumn 1994): 3756.

17. Logan, “U.S. Public Opinion and the Intervention in Somalia,” p. 161.

18. Ayres, “A Common Cry,” p. A6.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 1548-4505
  • EISSN: -
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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