On April 23rd, the U.S. mega-corporate and government-funded National Public Radio network, NPR, interviewed voters about their views on President Trump’s achievements so far; and a typical respondent, the 33-year-old Jamie Ruppert, of White Haven, Pennsylvania, said, “I don’t think he’s been terrible. I mean, he definitely stepped up when the people of Syria kind of needed some help”. She was referring actually to this, though she wasn’t even aware of it; she believed instead the U.S. government’s lies about Syria’s government, just like the Americans who had supported the lies that produced the destruction of Iraq by the psychopathic American government had done, back then in 2003.
Polls show that highly prejudiced (i.e., misinformed) Americans tend to be especially supportive of the jihadists’ war to overthrow and replace Syria’s secular Russian-backed government. (The jihadists in Syria are backed by the U.S. government, which however opposes ISIS jihadists, which are too extreme for even the rulers of Saudi Arabia to trust. But the U.S. and Saudi governments have been backing in Syria every jihadist group that accepts Al Qaeda’s leadership, because Al Qaeda was created to hate Russia, which fact was even captured on video at the time, but is effectively denied by U.S. ‘news’media, after-the-fact, and America’s ‘history’-books also generally hide the actual cause of what today’s U.S. President refers to as “radical Islamic terrorism”, a joint U.S.-Saudi operation. Such realities would be called ‘fake news’ by America’s ‘news’media, if they reported these truths at all, which their censors or ‘editors’ occasionally do — they occasionally slip-up, and allow such facts through, and some reporters and ‘news’room managers even lose their jobs for doing that.)
For example, the polls by ABC News and Washington Post have indicated that whereas Republicans strongly opposed the Democratic President, Barack Obama’s, bombing of Syria as a U.S. response to the U.S.-backed jihadists’ sarin gas attack in 2013, which the U.S. blamed against Bashar al-Assad‘s government (and Britain’s MI6 found that Obama was lying, so UK refused to join Obama’s planned invasion, and it was called-off), the similar set-up-job jihadist-produced gas-attack in Syria, occurring now under the Republican President Donald Trump, is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, and mildly opposed by Democrats — indeed,
“The sharpest change has been among Republicans, among whom 22 percent supported missile strikes [in 2013] compared with 86 percent today”.
By contrast, among Democrats today, “37 percent support, while 59 percent are opposed”, to the Republican Trump’s bombing of Syria on April 7th. So: Party-affiliation is a big determinant of whether a given American citizen favors an American invasion of a foreign country. (America’s ‘independent’ voters tend to be between the two types of prejudice, but a few of them are simply unprejudiced. However, even a few Republicans and Democrats are also unprejudiced.)
The ABC-WP poll also found that (partly because of the incessant U.S. propaganda against Assad, in media such as NYT, WP, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, The Atlantic, etc.) there has been a great increase in the percentage of Americans who favor America’s invasions of Syria: as the WP says in that article,
“The slight majority support for missile strikes last week is markedly higher than in September 2013, when President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve a military operation in response to U.S. government conclusions that Assad used chemical weapons on his own citizens [Obama actually lied there]. A Post-ABC poll at the time found 61 percent [of all Americans] opposed to launching missile strikes, including 45 percent who opposed them ‘strongly’”.
However, the reason for that rise in support for invading Syria is more complex than simply because the American ‘news’media reflect their owners’ and advertisers’ widespread hatred and demonization of any sovereign and independent Russian government (and of any foreign leader such as Assad who allies with it) — oppose a country that’s not controlled by America’s billionaires — but is also a reflection of another fact: conservative voters (such as Republicans) tend to be exceptionally prejudiced, far more so than progressive voters are — and, whereas some progressive Democrats exist, no progressive Republicans still exist (though there are still some liberal Republicans).
This fact, of Democrats being less-partisan than Republicans are, was indicated, for example, in that same ABC-WP poll back on 28 August to 1 September 2013, showing Republicans and Democrats to be at that time both equally opposed to the Democratic President’s bombing Syria — each of the two electorates exhibited the same 12% net margin of overall opposition to it, at that time.
Whereas Republicans almost knee-jerk-support Republican leaders, Democrats are somewhat more skeptical about theirs. Ignorance and misinformation are far more common amongst conservatives than amongst progressives (that’s to say, conservatives are far easier to dupe), but each political party has a different ideological mix, and this varying degree of gullibility (high among Republicans, but only moderate among Democrats) will largely determine the extent to which a given party will be net-harmful, both to the given nation, and to the world-at-large. A nation’s aristocracy basically controls the beliefs of its conservative voters, but not of its progressive ones, who are the essential foundation for any authentic democracy that exists, anywhere — or even for democacy to exist, at all.
The U.S. government’s war to overthrow Syria’s government has been going on ever since in 1949 the CIA first tried to overthrow it for favoring the Soviet Union over Western imperialists. (The progressive Democratic President, FDR, who passionately opposed imperialism, was dead; Truman was now the U.S. President.) Then, after the U.S. under President George Herbert Walker Bush promised the Soviet, subsequently Russian, President, Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1990, that if the USSR and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance all ended, then NATO would not move “one inch to the east” — and then the Cold War quickly ended on the Russian side — the U.S. continued the Cold War by moving NATO right up to Russia’s borders, and now the U.S. continues trying to overthrow and replace any national head-of-state who is at all friendly towards Russia.
Thus, Saddam Hussein was murdered in 2003, and Muammar Gaddafi was murdered in 2011, and the U.S. regime continues trying to murder Bashar al-Assad, even while claiming that it’s “against radical Islamic terrorism”, which the U.S and Sauds actually started in 1979, under Zbigniew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter, and escalated under Reagan — all first in order to conquer the USSR, and then, after 1991, to strip Russia of its allies and finally go in for the kill, perhaps to occur soon under Trump.
Americans who believe that the country that invaded Vietnam, and that invaded Iraq, and that invaded Syria, and that Invaded Libya, and that perpetrated coups in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1953), Ukraine (2014), etc., and basically destroyed each one of those countries, should invade a country, tend to be extremely prejudiced in favor of whatever the leadership of their party, ethnicity, or religion, want. For example, on April 19th, Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report — a site that opposes all bigotry, by anyone against anyone — headlined “Maxine Waters Loses Her Mind to ‘Anti-Russia Dementia’ – Like the Rest of the Black Caucus“, and he wrote:
“When Maxine Waters goes gung-ho crazy for the War Party, it tells us that the Black political class — overwhelmingly Democrats — are utterly useless to any movement for peace and social justice. In the throes of a terminal case of ‘Anti-Russia Dementia,’ otherwise known as ‘Putin Derangement Syndrome,’ the California congresswoman told a Tax March crowd in front of the U.S. Capitol that President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin somehow conspired to arrange both the chemical event that killed dozens in northern Syria and the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian military airfield that followed”.
Of course, similarly, most American Jews are prejudiced in favor of “the Jewish state” — the apartheid ‘democracy’ Israel — which likewise is trying to replace the non-sectarian pro-Russian Syrian leader by a pro-Saud jihadist leader. (The Israeli regime and the Sauds have been secretly allies for quite some time now; and both of those aristocracies are allied with the U.S. regime — notwithstanding that the Sauds were behind the 9/11 attacks, and the Israeli regime militarily attacked the U.S. in 1967, and the U.S. regime covered-up both.)
So, it doesn’t make much difference what type of bigotry an American happens to have, but practically all of America’s bigots hate Russians. It’s what they’re taught, every time they open a ‘news’paper, or watch the ‘news’ propaganda on television, or read ‘think’-magazines such as The Atlantic. The regime’s propaganda-tentacles reach everywhere, to pollute Americans’ minds, in the same way, regardless of party — they’re all controlled by the same aristocracy. (It’s done mainly by agents hired by the roughly 1,500 billionaires that constitute the U.S. aristocracy and its vassal-aristocracies abroad — the people who have been running the U.S. empire, especially during recent decades. Their behind-the-scenes influence — shown in wikileaks etc. — is so powerful that they effectively control the U.S. government, and not just the mega-banks, the mega-oil-companies, the mega-propaganda-organizations, etc.)
This is the real-world version of George Orwell’s dystopic classic novel 1984, which was symbolically prophetic — a symbolically remarkably accurate version of the real thing. On the deeper level, that novel’s portrayal of today’s international relations is far more accurate than are today’s mainstream U.S.-and-empire ‘news’ ‘reports’ about the government’s foreign policies. If it hadn’t been merely symbolic, it probably would not have found a publisher at all, but in that fictional form it became a best-seller. Some truths are too deep to be published in a self-described-but-false ‘democracy’, except in a fictionalized form; and, even at the end of World War II, Britain was still being controlled by its aristocracy. But, after Tony Blair’s regime and the conquest of Iraq, even a fictionalized account that might be published today of such reality, would likely be suppressed by the UK’s ruling class.
A fiction-book like 1984 that’s published today would probably be too clearly relevant to what’s occurring in the world, so that even the regime itself cannot deny the allegory’s reference to the regime. Ways could be found to stop its publication, or else to discredit its author. Similarly, the U.S. government has been very successful at making its public hostile toward such heroic champions of democracy as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange. When the same aristocracy controls the government as controls the press, it’s fairly easy to do. And, of course, the more misinformed a citizen is, the likelier that citizen will be to think of a whistleblower as being instead a ‘traitor’. This is how an advanced, modern, police-state functions.
And, this way, far fewer people need to be physically imprisoned. The more that the mental means succeeds, the less there needs to be usage of the far costlier cement type. Deceit (coercion against the mind) is much more efficient than violence (coercion against the body). Every aristocracy, throughout the ages, has thus preferred fraud, as its modus operandum, over violence; and has, consequently, sought to make as difficult as possible, any prosecutions for fraud (the aristocracy’s predominant form for coercions), and as easy as possible, prosecutions for violence (the public’s predominant form for coercions).
This is also why the worst criminals are likelier to be found in the White House, than in the big house. And, in any case, partisan prejudices are likelier to decide ‘criminal’ verdicts, than the facts will.
However, if Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal standards were to be applied today, most recent American Presidents would be behind bars, if not executed. Only the aristocracy prevents that from happening. And, after the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy for starting to buck the aristocracy, no subsequent U.S. President has done likewise. That ended that.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
Let’s Call Western Media Coverage of Syria by Its Real Name: Propaganda
In his essential study of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, University of Kent Professor Richard Sakwa writes that, somewhere down the road, Western media’s reductive, ideological coverage of the conflict “will undoubtedly become the subject of many an intriguing academic study.” That’s if the human race isn’t wiped out by environmental catastrophe or nuclear holocaust first—far from a sure thing, especially with the Trump regime running amok, lobbing cruise missiles and sending armadas (or not) and dropping MOABs, and all of it to quell suspicions that the president’s undersized hands might reflect a certain priapic compactness.
But while, as Sakwa says, the reportage of Ukraine’s civil war by our renowned newspapers has been abysmal and embarrassing, it doesn’t hold a candle to that of Syria, where any pretense of real journalism was done away with long ago. Syria is proof of how low mainstream Western media are prepared to sink in the service of state power; it’s where journalistic standards, like global jihadists, go to die. Rank propaganda is the order of the day. Honest observers are appalled. Stephen Kinzer wrote that
“coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press,”
while Robert Fisk described the war as
“the most poorly reported conflict in the world.”
Patrick Cockburn registered a similar concern, writing that
“Western media has allowed itself to become a conduit for propaganda for one side in this savage conflict.”
This has grave implications:
News organizations have ended up being spoon-fed by jihadis and their sympathizers who make it impossible for independent observers to visit areas they control. By regurgitating information from such tainted sources, the media gives al-Qaeda type groups every incentive to go on killing and abducting journalists in order to create and benefit from a news vacuum they can fill themselves.
So the ideology-driven Western media, in allying themselves with the armed opposition in Syria, have helped to create a situation in which it pays to kidnap and murder people who seek to report the truth. Ergo, they have violated the canons of their profession in the most egregious manner possible. And you’ll have noticed that they’re totally shameless about it. None of this gives them a moment of pause. They keep pumping out the propaganda, day in, day out, never stopping to reflect on the potential consequences. When one story falls apart, they move on to the next one. The most, or perhaps only, important thing is to manipulate public opinion so that it corresponds to government policy. Beyond that, who cares?
The list of media half-truths and outright lies in the context of Syria is endless. Take chemical weapons. Numerous incidents have been cited in the news, most of them small-time (meaning crude attacks with no casualties), all of them blamed on the government. And yet the UN has documented numerous cases in which terrorist outfits, including ISIS, used chemical weapons against civilians and Syrian soldiers. It also heard testimony from witnesses on the ground that opposition fighters were staging chemical attacks with the goal of framing the Syrian military. And contrary to every major media outlet in the West, the UN did not blame Assad for the infamous sarin attack of August 2013, stating after an investigation that “surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used” by one of “the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The culprit was not identified. But all of this is irrelevant. We want Assad to be responsible for every chemical incident; therefore, he is. See Trump’s Tomahawk salvo.
Then there’s the so-called White Helmets, the subject of an Academy Award-winning Netflix documentary. Billed as a volunteer, nonpartisan rescue organization, the White Helmets have become a symbol of heroic resistance to the Syrian government’s barbarism. But appearances can be deceiving, and they most certainly are in this case. Some salient facts: the White Helmets program was put together not in Syria but in Turkey, by James Le Mesurier, a former British military contractor; the White Helmets operate exclusively in “rebel”-held territory, meaning they’re embedded with groups like al-Nusra (al-Qaeda); the White Helmets are paid tens of millions of dollars by the US, UK and other Western governments; the White Helmets have repeatedly called for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Syria (think Libya); the White Helmets rail against the United Nations for recognizing the legitimacy of the Syrian government. Curious work for a neutral NGO. It should be noted that the White Helmets have been accused of staging rescue videos for propaganda purposes. Naturally, they deny this indignantly. And yet a video exists in which the White Helmets quite literally do stage a rescue as part of the “mannequin challenge,” whatever the hell that is. Take from that what you wish.
In any case, it’s plain to see that the White Helmets are not exactly who they purport to be. The Oscar-winning Netflix “documentary” is nothing more than a glossy advertisement, or “contrived infomercial,” as investigative journalist Rick Sterling put it. The film is shot in Turkey, not Syria, and it contains no useful information whatsoever, unless you count the fact that one of the White Helmets admits to having been a rebel fighter for a period of three months, and thus can hardly be regarded as neutral. It’s also a very boring documentary, but that’s beside the point. That such a thinly-veiled propaganda film about such a thinly-veiled propaganda organization won an Academy Award should, by rights, engender a minor scandal. But we’re living in the era of fake news, as The New York Times ironically insists.
For a good, comprehensive look at the White Helmets, see Max Blumenthal’s recent article for Alternet.
What else? There was the notorious “Caesar” hoax, in which a self-described defector from the Syrian army—a former army photographer with the codename “Caesar”—claimed to have photographic evidence that the Syrian government had tortured to death 11,000 political prisoners. As it happens, something like half of the 55,000 images depict dead and mutilated Syrian soldiers and pro-government militia. They’re war photos. Tons of dead bodies from both sides of the conflict, some of them blown apart by car bombs, others beaten and emaciated, were photographed for documentary evidence. As Rick Sterling wrote last year,
“The photographs show a wide range of deceased persons, from Syrian soldiers to Syrian militia members to opposition fighters to civilians trapped in conflict zones to regular deaths in the military hospital.”
Had some been tortured by Assad’s security forces? No doubt. But the story was grossly misrepresented in the Western press, leading us to believe that the 55,000 images proved the existence of a network of Nazi-style death camps run by the Syrian government. They didn’t.
Speaking of atrocity propaganda—very chic these days—the eminent BBC joined the club in 2013, throwing journalistic integrity to the wind with its broadcast of Saving Syria’s Children, a documentary that ostensibly showed the aftermath of an incendiary bomb raid. According to the report, the Syrian government used either napalm or thermite to attack schoolchildren in a remote district of Aleppo. The resulting footage, filmed in a nearby hospital, is bizarre in the extreme, with the alleged burn victims clearly taking stage directions from people off-camera. The story was dissected and ultimately exposed as a sham by journalist Robert Stuart, at which point the BBC began removing all traces of the film from YouTube, citing copyright issues. No formal retraction was ever made, to the BBC’s everlasting shame. But perhaps I shouldn’t fault them for exercising prudence. After all, if the BBC began retracting every false and/or inaccurate report on the Syrian conflict there would be very little left.
The fake news reached its acme toward the end of last year as the Syrian military, backed by Russian air support, closed in on eastern Aleppo, then occupied by al-Nusra and some other Wahhabi gangs. Fresh war crimes were being reported almost daily. The “last hospital in Aleppo” was destroyed twelve different times. Women were committing suicide en bloc to avoid being raped (source: “rebel” commander). Assad and Putin were starving and/or bombing to death 250,000 civilians. We heard that figure over and over again: a quarter of a million people trapped in the jihadist enclave. It was drilled into our heads like a religious precept. Nobody seemed to care very much when the real number turned out to be something like 100,000 (or perhaps only 40,000). Presumably the old amnesia kicked in. As they say in the psychology world, motivated forgetting: America’s go-to defense mechanism.
Our memory is very selective indeed. There does appear to be at least one aspect of the battle we haven’t quite forgot: Bana Alabed, aka The Face (or Voice) of Aleppo. The seven-year-old earned that moniker by narrating the city’s gradual “fall” via Twitter. It mattered not that she was being cynically exploited as an instrument of pathos by her mother, who obviously controlled the account and who evidently forgot on occasion that she was tweeting on behalf of a seven-year-old girl (at one point, in a tweet that has since been taken down, she explicitly lobbied for World War Three). Bana, or the idea of Bana, served a useful propaganda function. You see, people in the West need to be shown dead or suffering children before they can, on the one hand, apprehend how despicable war is and, on the other, support another bloody US military adventure in the name of humanitarianism. Because you’d have to be a monster to look at the child and not feel motivated to “do something.”
That’s the way it works. Hence the image of the dead three-year-old refugee who washed up on a beach, or the one of the dust-covered boy sitting in the back of an ambulance, or Trump’s talk of “beautiful babies.” Of course, the effects of the humanitarian escalation, should it come to pass, are duly sanitized.
We didn’t, for instance, see any pictures of dead Iraqi children that were killed as a result of the US invasion. Nor do we keep up with the Twitter account of some seven-year-old child living under siege in Mosul, where American bombs continue to rain down on civilian sites. That would be bad for business. But Bana is good for business. So good, in fact, that she now has a book deal with Simon & Schuster. You’ve just crossed over into The Twilight Zone.