You have to love the twisted system of propaganda and moral hypocrisy that reigns in the United States today.
For almost a year the mainstream corporate media have demonized Russia, Putin, and Donald Trump. Putin was the devil and Trump was his sidekick. They operated some secret cabal that had insidiously infiltrated American consciousness through a few hundred alternative news sites that were part of the Russian propaganda apparatus. They operated in cahoots to steal the election from angelic Hillary. They released documents and emails as part of their ruse. Walking beside them and chuckling as they went, was Bashar al-Assad, the third member of this trinity of diabolical tricksters. Trump was going to sell the country down the river to the evil Russians. He was going to abandon the good fight to overthrow Assad, who had started a “civil war” by attacking innocent Syrians who just wanted freedom and democracy, like in the U.S. He was going to sell out the good neo-Nazi Ukrainians who had risen up on their own initiative to overthrow a despotic Russian-linked government. He was going to build Trump hotels and casinos in Moscow, open a beach resort in Crimea, raking in the dough that he would share with his buddy Putin. They would laugh together as the good old American tradition of foreign aggression was abandoned and Russia annexed the U.S.
In this Obama had been the good guy, the man in the white hat, who had kept the Russians at bay, even if he were not able to defeat them totally in Syria, he had made sure to surround Russia with American military forces. Maybe he should have reacted more forcefully when Assad “used chemical weapons against his own people in 2013,” even though Assad hadn’t. At least he accused Assad and waged a war. But Obama was a “statesman” and was trying to use American force judiciously. After all, he had won the Nobel Prize for Peace. But he knew Putin was the enemy and never wavered on that. Hillary Clinton would, if she could, follow in his footsteps, but more aggressively. Trump — he was a Russian appeaser and would abandon the good fight for freedom and democracy.
Then a few weeks ago, when the Trump administration was accused of killing 200-300 innocent civilians in Mosul, Iraq, the same media covered for him. So he killed scores of children; let’s move past that accusation since it may be a good sign that the wayward Donald is returning to his senses. The news of the slaughter was buried and forgotten.
Could it be that the prodigal son had returned to his father’s house? What a glorious possibility!
Then the perfectly timed chemical “attacks” in Syria earlier this week. The American killings in Mosul disappeared further, if that were possible. So too did those in Yemen and throughout the region. The mainstream media immediately jumped on the latest tragedy: without any evidence, they immediately knew that “Assad has gassed his own people” and was guilty of crimes against humanity. The White Hats – I mean, the White Helmets – said so, as did the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, those impartial stalwarts of objective journalism. Then the good Donald confirmed it. What was happening? Was he turning in his fellow traveler card and abandoning his buddy Putin? What about those Crimean resorts with their golf courses and all the fun to be had there?
No doubt Raytheon, the number three defense contractor, rejoiced upon awakening to hear that the good Donald had launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield. That’s 94 million up in smoke and the pantry will have to be restocked. Raytheon is probably already hard at work doing that. All the defense contractors will probably be toasting their good fortunes at Happy Hour. The neo-cons should be delighted, as well the many “liberal” demonizers of Russia and cheerleaders for an expanded U.S. attack on Syria – e.g. National Public Radio, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Democracy Now, etc. – who have waged a no-stop propaganda campaign to push Trump to abandon his best friend Vlad.
The New York Times unashamedly headlined the attack as follows:
“The United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week that killed more than 80 civilians.”
Who needs evidence for the paper of record? Why even wait for an investigation? Or the Washington Post:
“Trump administration retaliates for chemical attack in Syria.”
National Public Radio chimes in with a totally self-serving interview with Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and its usual anti-Russian bias. Kaine has long argued for the U.S. to bomb Syria, but says Trump should have come to Congress for authorization first. He’s glad for the bombing, but please, let’s follow procedures. That’s the Democratic and democratic way of bombing a sovereign country.
Now that Trump has made crystal clear his willingness to risk a much wider war throughout the Middle-East and a more frightening clash with Russia, we can expect a slight easing of the media’s characterization of him as the Bad Don.
After all, hasn’t the anti-Russian propaganda succeeded in its goal of inflaming the new “cold” war?
Wasn’t the Hate Russia campaign always aimed at bringing the “Russian spy,” Donald Trump, in from the cold?
Now that he’s come over to our side, his foreign policy belligerence should bring him some praise. If not the Good Don, at least he might now be characterized as the Not-Bad Don.
After all, he has assumed his traditional role as President. We can therefore expect a much wider war.
Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/
The West and Its Allies Seek to Install the “Black Flag of Terrorism” Over Syria
The recent false flag terror attack in Idlib Syria recalls an earlier massacre by NATO forces on September 17, 2016 when Coalition warplanes attacked Syria Arab Army positions at al-Tharda Mountain in the region of Deir ez-Zor.
Each attack was for the benefit of ISIS terrorists. The direct attack on SAA soldiers at al-Tharda Mountain allowed ISIS terrorists to quickly occupy the strategic location, and the recent false flag attack provided a fake pretext for the U.S to launch a (poorly planned and executed) attack on the Shayrat air base — a facility used by the SAA to attack ISIS positions.
In fact, the entire terrorist infrastructure is strengthened with each and every initiative taken by the West and its extremist allies against the legitimate, elected, secular, socially-oriented, Syrian government.
Illegal sanctions, described recently by U.S Congressman Dennis Kucinich at the EuroCSE conference, as “war by other means”, also serve to advance terrorist capabilities.
U.S Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Dr. Sen (another participant) explains in an interview that,
In the case of Syria, they (sanctions) have compounded the deteriorating context by strengthening economies of plunder and acting as a bonus for groups such as ISIS, among other Islamists. These groups successfully recruit from unemployed youth, many of whom are from destitute families, where the main breadwinner has been killed or injured. The experience of Syria over the past five years is well documented in a series of reports from the United Nations Development Programme and the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR).
Refugee camps, another direct result of the West’s illegal war on Syria also provide fertile recruiting grounds for terrorists. The Zataari refugee camp in neighbouring Jordan reportedly serves this function.
The legitimate Syrian government, on the other hand, not only opposes terrorism, but also has an effective apparatus of “reconciliation” that addresses and remediates the cancer of Western terrorism.
Dr. Issa Chaer reports in “Syria’s Local Reconciliation and Peace Building” that
(t)he work of reconciliation groups is evident from the many successful treaties secured between the government and armed groups. Although many treaties only resulted in a temporary halt of violence, some secured longer term peace in specific areas, such as the Homs old city and Al-Waar treaties, which were a joint effort between local and national reconciliation groups. Many more treaties were negotiated in Damascus, Daraa, Aleppo and Hama. Overall – More than 8500 deals treaties were discussed during the last 5 years across Syria. – Over 1220 resulted in signed treaties with varied degrees of success! – Some were UN approved! – In the area between Homs and Rastan- more than 20 SMEs returned to work (Tailoring, Sweet and Chocolate factories, metal factories- metal melting factories – 5500 prisoners released – Over 8000 Abducted people have been freed, through facilitated prisoners’ swaps. – humanitarian aid supplies allowed, evacuation of civilians from conflict zones made possible, and disarmament of local fighters peacefully achieved. – An archive for missing people has been established. Approx. 90,000 total missing cases have been recorded for both side.
Dr. Issa Chaer
All of this underscores the reality that whereas Syria and its allies are on the front lines in the fight against international terrorism, U.S-led NATO and its allies are on the front lines supporting international terrorism and its manifold causes.
Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment
Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime’s guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield.
Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8.
There is also an internal dispute over the intelligence. On Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a “high degree of confidence” that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.
But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid.
One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek “regime change” in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces.
The source said the Trump national security team split between the President’s close personal advisers, such as nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner, on one side and old-line neocons who have regrouped under National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army general who was a protégé of neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus.
White House Infighting
In this telling, the earlier ouster of retired Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and this week’s removal of Bannon from the National Security Council were key steps in the reassertion of neocon influence inside the Trump presidency. The strange personalities and ideological extremism of Flynn and Bannon made their ousters easier, but they were obstacles that the neocons wanted removed.
Though Bannon and Kushner are often presented as rivals, the source said, they shared the belief that Trump should tell the truth about Syria, revealing the Obama administration’s CIA analysis that a fatal sarin gas attack in 2013 was a “false-flag” operation intended to sucker President Obama into fully joining the Syrian war on the side of the rebels — and the intelligence analysts’ similar beliefs about Tuesday’s incident.
Instead, Trump went along with the idea of embracing the initial rush to judgment blaming Assad for the Idlib poison-gas event. The source added that Trump saw Thursday night’s missile assault as a way to change the conversation in Washington, where his administration has been under fierce attack from Democrats claiming that his election resulted from a Russian covert operation.
If changing the narrative was Trump’s goal, it achieved some initial success with several of Trump’s fiercest neocon critics, such as neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, praising the missile strike, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The neocons and Israel have long sought “regime change” in Damascus even if the ouster of Assad might lead to a victory by Islamic extremists associated with Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State.
Wagging the Dog
Trump employing a “wag the dog” strategy, in which he highlights his leadership on an international crisis to divert attention from domestic political problems, is reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s decision to attack Serbia in 1999 as impeachment clouds were building around his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Trump’s advisers, in briefing the press on Thursday night, went to great lengths to highlight Trump’s compassion toward the victims of the poison gas and his decisiveness in bombing Assad’s military in contrast to Obama’s willingness to allow the intelligence community to conduct a serious review of the evidence surrounding the 2013 sarin-gas case.
Ultimately, Obama listened to his intelligence advisers who told him there was no “slam-dunk” evidence implicating Assad’s regime and he pulled back from a military strike at the last minute – while publicly maintaining the fiction that the U.S. government was certain of Assad’s guilt.
In both cases – 2013 and 2017 – there were strong reasons to doubt Assad’s responsibility. In 2013, he had just invited United Nations inspectors into Syria to investigate cases of alleged rebel use of chemical weapons and thus it made no sense that he would launch a sarin attack in the Damascus suburbs, guaranteeing that the U.N. inspectors would be diverted to that case.
Similarly, now, Assad’s military has gained a decisive advantage over the rebels and he had just scored a major diplomatic victory with the Trump administration’s announcement that the U.S. was no longer seeking “regime change” in Syria. The savvy Assad would know that a chemical weapon attack now would likely result in U.S. retaliation and jeopardize the gains that his military has achieved with Russian and Iranian help.
The counter-argument to this logic – made by The New York Times and other neocon-oriented news outlets – essentially maintains that Assad is a crazed barbarian who was testing out his newfound position of strength by baiting President Trump. Of course, if that were the case, it would have made sense that Assad would have boasted of his act, rather than deny it.
But logic and respect for facts no longer prevail inside Official Washington, nor inside the mainstream U.S. news media.
Alarm within the U.S. intelligence community about Trump’s hasty decision to attack Syria reverberated from the Middle East back to Washington, where former CIA officer Philip Giraldi reported hearing from his intelligence contacts in the field that they were shocked at how the new poison-gas story was being distorted by Trump and the mainstream U.S. news media.
Giraldi told Scott Horton’s Webcast:
“I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.”
Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.
“The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving … which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels – now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda – where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.”
Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump’s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public.
“People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known – but maybe he didn’t – and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,” Giraldi said before Thursday night’s missile strike. “They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.”
The mainstream U.S. media has presented the current crisis with the same profound neocon bias that has infected the coverage of Syria and the larger Middle East for decades. For instance, The New York Times on Friday published a lead story by Michael R. Gordon and Michael D. Shear that treated the Syrian government’s responsibility for the poison-gas incident as flat-fact. The lengthy story did not even deign to include the denials from Syria and Russia that they were responsible for any intentional deployment of poison gas.
The article also fit with Trump’s desire that he be portrayed as a decisive and forceful leader. He is depicted as presiding over intense deliberations of war or peace and displaying a deep humanitarianism regarding the poison-gas victims, one of the rare moments when the Times, which has become a reliable neocon propaganda sheet, has written anything favorable about Trump at all.
According to Syrian reports on Friday, the U.S. attack killed 13 people, including five soldiers at the airbase.
Gordon, whose service to the neocon cause is notorious, was the lead author with Judith Miller of the Times’ bogus “aluminum tube” story in 2002 which falsely claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting a nuclear-weapons program, an article that was then cited by President George W. Bush’s aides as a key argument for invading Iraq in 2003.
Regarding this week’s events, Trump’s desperation to reverse his negative media coverage and the dubious evidence blaming Assad for the Idlib incident could fit with the “Wag the Dog” movie from 1997 in which an embattled president creates a phony foreign crisis in Albania.
In the movie, the White House operation is a cynical psychological operation to convince the American people that innocent Albanian children, including an attractive girl carrying a cat, are in danger when, In reality, the girl was an actor posing before a green screen that allowed scenes of fiery ruins to be inserted as background.
Today, because Trump and his administration are now committed to convincing Americans that Assad really was responsible for Tuesday’s poison-gas tragedy, the prospects for a full and open investigation are effectively ended. We may never know if there is truth to those allegations or whether we are being manipulated by another “wag the dog” psyop.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).