Robert Bridge — Strategic Culture April 11, 2018
Americans desperate for news from the Syrian front, where an alleged chemical attack has prompted the Trump administration to consider a military strike against Damascus, are in for a real disappointment. Any balanced discussion of a possible military offensive against Syria, which Moscow has warned would have “grave consequences,” has been swept clean from the news slate.
On Wednesday morning, in an apparent state of wishful thinking mixed with a dash of masochism, I consulted multiple US news sites to see how the Syrian crisis was being reported. Expecting to find large-font headlines warning of a possible military offensive, not to mention World War 3, I was greeted instead with multi-layered stories on former porn star, Stormy Daniels, and her 10-year old affair with Donald Trump. I’m guessing there was a Russian connection to that salacious story somewhere, but exactly where I could not immediately say.
The lead story in the Bezos-owned Washington Post, for example, was headlined, “Investigators sought Trump lawyer’s records on two women who alleged affairs with president.” Next to that salacious piece of bozo journalism was another nothing burger, at least as far as the Syrian crisis is concerned, which discussed the current trials and tribulations of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (“Zuckerberg apologizes, promises reform during hours-long Senate grilling over Facebook’s failings”). While that may seem like important news to some, it pales in comparison with the prospect of the US launching an attack on the Syrian government.
Buried deep below that media debris and detritus was a single story devoted to Syria, headlined: “Nerve gas in Syria attack, leaving victims ‘foaming at the mouth,’ evidence suggests.” This glaringly one-sided narrative, much like the one used last month in the Salisbury ‘chemical attack’ that allegedly sickened Sergey Skripal and his daughter, is tenuous at best, a bald-faced lie at worst. Indeed, judging by an examination of the site carried out by Russian experts and the Syrian Red Cross, no trace of chemical weapons could be found.
A switch to CNN provided a near duplicate of The Post’s paucity of pickings, albeit with a slightly different twist. “Trump considering firing Rosenstein, sources say,” was the headline of the main story, which shows that the ‘Russiagate’ show trial is beginning to eat its tail, yet the media – after almost two years – just can’t resist reporting on it. Next, to that show-stopper, US media consumers are provided yet another cure for insomnia with riveting details on Zuckerberg’s 5-hour grilling by the US Senate.
Finally, a CNN article on Syria. Yet the headline says everything we need to know as far as what the American consumer of mainstream media fare is permitted to think: “Haley says Russia chose ‘protecting a monster’ over Syrian people” (Incidentally, this is same way US political elections are carried out. There is freedom, but only a severely limited freedom that allows the populace to ‘freely’ choose between candidates that have already been carefully selected by the powers-that-be).
Below that gratuitous bugle blast for war is an open letter to the US leader, entitled, “President Trump, now is not the time for half-baked military action.” Translation: “President Trump, now is the time for full-blown military action”
Here is CNN opinionator Sam Kiley inveighing against the Syrian government, using cheap emotional imagery as a substitute for hardnosed facts: “Outrage over the images of children frozen in death, their mouths gagged with foam as the alleged victims of another Syrian government gas attack on its own people, has led Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, to call the perpetrator behind the attack “a monster.”
“Such passionate intensity is understandable,” Kiley continues, building up momentum for a hysterical Hitler analogy. “There’s something visceral about killing with gas. It recalls the Holocaust. It conjures up almost identical photographs of Saddam Hussein’s attack on the Kurds of Halabja.”
Ah, yes. The sweet sound of impartial journalism. What is so deplorable about this brand of so-called reporting is that it refuses to consider the very high probability that it was not the Syrian government that resorted to chemical weapons in Douma, but rather the rebel forces, who were suffering on every military front up until that point. Would President Bashar Assad really be so reckless to risk a chemical attack at the very moment he was bringing to an end an 8-year struggle against terrorist-infiltrated militants in his country? Common sense would say no.
It’s not that the American people are inherently stupid to believe such absurd claims; it’s that they are woefully misinformed by a media machine that is marching in lockstep – sometimes even owned – by the military-industrial complex. Mark Twain summed up the Catch-22 situation confronting Americans: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”
And it is not just the run-of-the-mill news sources that are serving as cheerleaders for imperialistic regime change operations. The purportedly intelligent ‘thinking man’ publications are also peddling a shameless pro-war stance, which takes the government line for granted.
In this month’s issue of The Atlantic, for example, investigative journalism is reduced to roadkill in the rush to war. In an article entitled, “The Logic of Assad’s Brutality,” it is obvious that the magazine has already predetermined Assad’s guilt. Yet the UN weapons inspectors have not even reached Syria to begin their investigative work? What kind of journalist could put his name on an article that could only be called an elaborate piece of pro-war propaganda?
And then there is the ‘conservative’ journal Foreign Policy, which argued in an article entitled ‘Macron needs to Attack Syria’: “It’s not clear whether France can count on the United States to commit to the enforcement of any red lines against the Assad regime. But this should only concentrate Macron’s mind. If the United States abstains, he should prepare, for the sake of not only his personal credibility but French national interests, to strike alone.”
No call for restraint, no call for evidence, no suggestion that the terrorists may have been to blame. Just a reckless gunshot from the hip to settle matters, and who cares if it may trigger a global conflagration.
This only serves to prove that the United States, and its people, learned absolutely nothing from the Iraq War, which saw the same brazen disregard for legal precedent by launching an attack against Saddam Hussein in 2003, the consequences of which we are experiencing to this day. As the UN weapon inspectors were on the ground, practically screaming that they could not locate weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration shrugged off these uncomfortable truths and carried out its diabolical designs anyways.
In reality, the US did learn one valuable lesson from the Iraq War. It learned it can manipulate the opinions of the people to an astonishing degree. By using the entire media leviathan to coordinate a hate campaign against one state leader, in this case, Bashar Assad, it can make the people forget legal precedent, not to mention common sense.
Wake up, America, before it’s too late.