Amy Goodman – Democracy Now Runs Interference for Imperialism in SyriaDemocracy Now Runs Interference for Imperialism in Syria

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One of the most peculiar features of the United States is the presence of a rabidly pro-war leftism that poses as “independent” politics. Ever since the Obama Administration made it fashionable for so-called liberals to strike a “Grand Bargain” with the GOP, anti-war politics have been non-existent in public life. The non-profit industrial complex hasn’t helped the situation. Democracy Now, as the best known non-profit “independent news” organ, is the perfect example of pro-war leftism in motion. The organization’s recent coverage of Syria has only encouraged imperialism’s war narrative despite the presence of a GOP-led Administration, House, and Senate.

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On May 3rd, Democracy Now interviewed Anand Gopal, former fellow at the New America Foundation from 2012-2014. That Democracy Now describes itself as “independent media” yet associates with figures such as Gopal raises question marks about the source’s credibility on the issue of war and peace. The New America Foundation can hardly be considered an impartial source. As is the case for most think-tanks in the US and West, the foundation receives patronage from sources directly invested in war. Such sources include the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and a consortium of corporate-backedfoundationsassociated with the Wall Street firms CitiGroup and JP Morgan Chase.

Gopal received his political training from the primary benefactors of war, that being the profiteers of finance and monopoly capital. He spent a number of years in Afghanistan embedded in the Taliban and now specializes as the journalistic mouthpiece for terrorists in Syria. His efforts have won him a Pulitzer prize and numerous work opportunities in the NGO industry. According to a recent report in the Moon of Alabama, Gopal has been caught on social media distributing ISIS documents on how to join the organization. His interview with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh verifies his allegiance to US imperialism’s proxies currently wreaking havoc in Syria and the region at large.

Gopal’s claims paint Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as the cause of all suffering in Syria. He cites “conversations” had with ISIS fighters who reported that they turned to terrorism in response to Bashar Al-Assad’s brutality. Syria and Russia are not only failing to fight terrorism, he claims, but the US also possesses no plan for regime change in the region. The YPG is the only force fighting ISIS.  Of course, none of Gopal’s assertions were supported with concrete evidence beyond talking points.

Yet facts on the ground suggest that Gopal is nothing but a peddler of lies. The “Assad brutality” narrative has been disproven countless times by independent journalists, especially in relation to allegations of the Syrian government’s use of chemical agents. Journalist Seymour Hersh traced the chemical weapons used to attack Ghouta, Syria in 2013 back to Turkish and Saudi rebel stations and supply chains.  The 2017 chemical weapons attack occurred when the UN had already confirmed three years earlier that the Syrian government had given up all of its chemical weapons in the deal brokered by the US and Russia. If Gopal and his think-tank employers lie about allegations as serious as those involved in chemical weapons disputes, what makes them reliable sources of information about Syria at large?

A bigger question is why Democracy Now would host Gopal on its program at all. Why would Democracy Now allow Gopal to run interference by painting Russia and Syria as mass murdering nations and the US as an arbiter of peace? It has been well-documented since 2011 that US involvement in Syria has always been about overthrowing the Syrian government. Defense Intelligence Agency documents confirm that the US willingly aided ISIS in Syria and created the conditions for its rise during the occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003. It is public record that the US and its allies funded and armed the original “revolutionaries” in Syria with the explicit aim to rid of Assad. These foreign, sectarian fighters number in the tens of thousands and have come from places as close as Turkey and as far as the European mainland. All of them are guilty of committing head-chopping crimesin the name of “democracy.”

Gopal and Democracy Now do not mention the numerous examples that show the Syrian government’s broad support among the people. In 2012, amidst the proxy invasion, the Syrian government amended the national constitution. It was approved by nearly ninety percent of the Syrian population. In 2014, Bashar Al-Assad was reelected as President with 88.7 percent of the vote. Reputable polls show that the Syrian government is the most popular force in the country. Meanwhile, the likes of Gopal and Democracy Now  continuously fail to mention the atrocities committed by the invading terrorist forces and the aid that they have received from imperialist countries.

Democracy Now runs interference for imperialism because it is beholden to funding sources, as are all non-profits and non-governmental organizations. Just as Gopal is a product of the New America Foundation, so too is Democracy Now a product of the Pacifica Foundation’s benefactors. An analysis conducted in Critical Sociology found that the Pacifica Foundation received upwards of 148,000 USD between the years of 1996-1998 from the Ford, Carnegie, and other foundations to launch Democracy Now. The Lannan Foundation gave Democracy Now an additional 375,000 USD packaged in a number of grants, according to the foundation’s IRS 990 forms since 2008.Patrick Lannan, the capitalist mogul who founded the organization, sat on the board of ITT corporation in the late 70s and early 80s. The ITT corporation was instrumental in the CIA-backed fascist coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende in 1973.

So-called international non-profits such as the Ford Foundation have a long history of receiving enormous donations from the wealthiest individuals and corporations to achieve imperialism’s objectives around the world. Foundations wield a form of “soft power” on behalf of US imperialism. Their main purpose is to provide a “civil society” infrastructure in targeted nations capable of fomenting conditions of regime change. This has been a general condition throughout Latin America. Foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the Ford Foundation have been caught supporting right-wing opposition groups waging destabilization campaigns against Left governments in VenezuelaEcuador, and Bolivia.

So it should come as no surprise that Democracy Now lends legitimacy to the imperialist narrative in Syria. Democracy Now is “independent” in name only. Democracy Now’s staff is beholden to funding sources that hold a large stake in the creation of a humanitarian face to imperialism. So while the outlet may present news and facts on US domestic issues largely left out of the corporate press, it remains a dangerous source of misinformation on the international front. Only a distorted worldview can arise from the lies presented by Amy Goodman’s coverage of Syria.

Real independent journalists based in the US exist, but have little financial or political support. Journalism and media must be placed in the context of the generalized struggle against US imperialism. Independent media thrives in periods where peoples’ movements are vibrant and strong. When movements are weak, so too is independent journalism. The corporate media landscape in the US will remain dominant as long as the alternative is conceived within the bowels of corporate foundations. These are radical times, and they requirea radical break from the levers of control wielded by both “hard power” and “soft power” mechanisms of imperialism. That includes challenging the narratives put forward by Democracy Now.

*(Amy Goodman is the author and the host of Democracy Now! Image credit: Aditya Ganapathiraju/ flickr).

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is known for making incredibly bizarre statements. Prior to the United States invasion of Iraq, he said this: “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region”. We all know how that prediction turned out. Yet on April 19, he once again delighted his Zionist audience, with more amazing statements, when discussing a February, 2017 internal report on the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in 2014. This report was highly critical of the Israeli government.

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We will look at just a few of the very interesting statements he made during this special committee meeting.

“We didn’t want war in the south.”

There are many ways to avoid any war; in this case, Israeli adherence to international law would certainly have been a big help. But one must consider if this was, in fact, a ‘war’. Israel bombed Palestine with the most deadly and sophisticated weaponry available on the planet, supplied by the United States. Palestine has no army, navy or air force. Palestinian freedom fighters are sometime able to cobble together supplies to build ‘rockets’ that they fire into Israel. Professor Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, has described those rockets as ‘enhanced fireworks’. No one describes U.S.-provided Israeli bombs in such terms.

And it is worth pointing out that during 54 days in the summer of 2014, the number of bombs Israel dropped on the Gaza Strip exceeded the number of ‘rockets’ that Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

So perhaps the word ‘genocide’ isn’t too strong to use here.

“We tried to avoid war all along.”

According to the report, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the members of the inner security cabinet did not consider taking diplomatic action regarding Gaza in an effort to halt the escalation in the year before the 2014” assault on Gaza. No, this was simply the periodic ‘mowing of the lawn’ that Israel performs periodically, destroying the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians, and testing new weaponry on human victims, weapons that it can then sell to the highest bidder.

‘War’ with Palestine could easily have been avoided. Again, all Israel needs to do is adhere to international law, which would mean ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and removing the 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers from the West Bank.

“We are facing a very hard, vicious enemy.”

One sometimes hesitates to make any comparison between the Israeli Prime Minister, and Adolph Hitler, the author of the Holocaust, but if the comparison is fitting, is should be made. Hitler defined ‘The Big Lie’, and Netanyahu exemplifies it. Hitler described ‘The Big Lie’, partly, as follows: “… in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation … more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Let’s look at the resources of this ‘hard, vicious enemy’. As stated above, Palestine has no army, navy or air force. The blockade of the Gaza Strip prevents basic necessities from entering; such ‘dangerous’ products as crayons and pasta have been banned. Cement, absolutely required for rebuilding, is occasionally allowed in, although in very limited amounts.

The ‘victim’ of this ‘hard, vicious enemy’ receives $4 billion dollars annually from the U.S., which also protects it from any accountability for its barbaric actions. The United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of Israel than it has of all other nations combined, which is incredible in itself, but more so considering the U.S.’s fervent opposition to such action. The U.S. allots about $300 million annually to Palestine, but seldom pays it; Congress withholds it, at Israel’s direction.

Israel proclaims the need for this funding, because it sees any opposition to its barbaric human rights violations as an ‘existential threat’.  Yet between September 29, 2000, and April 24, 2017, a total of 1,213 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, while 9,478 Palestinians have been killed by Israel. Among this number were 134 Israeli children, and 2,154 Palestinian children. And the Palestinian death toll rises almost every day. This represents U.S. tax dollars at work.

As Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said, “The Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.”

“As far I’m concerned, the option of reaching a political agreement with Hamas is insane. There can be no political possibilities with Hamas as long as it is dedicated to our destruction.”

Israel has, since 1967, stolen more and more Palestinian land. The 500,000 settlers living in the West Bank are all there illegally, according to international law, and Netanyahu has stated clearly that not one of them will ever be removed. It is Israel that is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, and has the means to do it, and is, in fact, in the process of doing just that. Yet Netanyahu claims that he cannot reach an agreement with Hamas, because that organization is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

For decades, the U.S. has fostered the farce of negotiations. It is, of course, clear to those who push forward this sham, that negotiations can only occur between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity.

U.S. government officials also choose to ignore the fact that negotiations aren’t necessary; adherence to international law is. If someone robs a bank and is caught, he or she is not asked to negotiate with the bank manager, to come to an agreement of how much of the money should be returned, and how much the robber can keep. The entire amount is restored, and the robber punished, as directed by law.

What happens next? What’s in store for Palestine, when Israel is in the grasp of a radical rightwing government that doesn’t recognize the humanity of the Palestinian people? What will happen, with the U.S. government in chaos, headed by the bumbling, egotistical, incompetent but extremely dangerous President Donald Trump, with Vice President Michael Pence, a far-right, Zionist Christian, as second in command?

In 2014, during and after the brutal and indiscriminate Israeli assault on Gaza, Israel experienced harsher criticism than ever before. This was because, while the corporate-owned media reported on Israel’s ‘defense’ from ‘rocket’ fire from Gaza, and the U.S. Congress voted unanimously to support the Israeli bombardment, social media enabled people around the world to see the truth. The U.S. is hardly a representative democracy, despite what its public-relations machine proclaims to a skeptical world. Support for Israel among U.S. citizens continues to decrease, and social media plays a major role in this progress. It is a people’s movement that will eventually bring peace and justice to the Palestinians; decent people around the world must continue their efforts to end the unspeakably barbaric treatment of the Palestinian people by Israel.

WRITER

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