Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront
The propaganda partnership between the mainstream media and the political leadership of the United States has reached a level that would make Joseph Goebbels blush. Stories put forward by the board of editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times mirror the talking point of the State Department almost word for word, and are dangerously, 180 degrees removed from the truth. This disingenuous peddling of a totally false narrative regarding the current state of the conflict in Syria, its true origins, and the true nature of the forces involved, is extremely dangerous.
In an October 4th article in the Washington Post, Josh Rogin discussed the administration’s plans to covertly strike the Syrian government. Mr. Rogin frames the narrative around events in Syria in a way that conflicts with reality in every possible way. Here are just a few statements that immediately jump out as fanciful:
“Inside the national security agencies, meetings have been going on for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to perpetrate the deadliest bombing campaign the city has seen since the five-year-old civil war began.”
“Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.”
Mr. Rogin seems to forget that Aleppo is divided between government held areas, where over 1.7 million civilians have chosen to live, because they are kept safe from radical, blood-thirsty jihadists, and the portion where these same jihadis have been committing daily atrocities against the approximately 250,000 civilians largely held against their will by the likes of Jabhat al-Nusra and similar groups. Who is he insinuating that the Syrians and Russians are perpetrating the deadliest bombing campaign against? The Islamic terrorists? The unfortunate civilians being held at gunpoint as human shields, under threat of death, rape, torture and dismemberment? No, the legitimate government that is struggling daily to liberate the remainder of the city.
Also, contrary to numerous claims in the article, it was not the Syrian “dictator”, who is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the Syrian population, who broke the ceasefire. While the ceasefire was never honored by most “rebel” factions, it was the United States that violated the ceasefire first by deliberately bombing Syrian Arab Army positions in Deir Ezzor. The explanation that the hour long attack was a mistake is hardly believable. It is quite a mystery how the most technologically advanced military in the world, with real-time satellite and other electronic surveillance methods at its disposal, can make so many mistakes when it comes to bombing the many forces in the area fighting against the Islamic State and other western supported terrorist groups. It has also mistakenly bombed Iraqi government forces, the Kurds, and the Turkish allied FSA militants, all while they were battling the Islamic State. As far as disrupting Assad’s “ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo”, where was the outcry for the years where these civilians lived under the daily horrors perpetrated by al-Nusra and their allies? What about the daily shelling by al-Nusra of civilian areas of Aleppo that fall under the control of the government forces?
In discussing the options that the White House has, short of direct confrontation, he states:
“Other options include increased weapons for some Syrian rebel groups and an increase in the quality of such weapons, to allow rebels to defend Aleppo’s civilians.”
Who are these rebels “defending” Aleppo’s civilians? Which civilians? Surely not the 75% of the civilian population of Aleppo that are being defended by the Syria government. I was unaware that you defended civilians by decapitating them, burning them alive, or in the case of the homosexual ones, throwing them off of the rooves of buildings. The rebels Mr. Rogin refers to, are not, and never have been rebels. Can he explain why these “rebels” are not even from Syria? Why they are paid salaries monthly by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E? Why do these “rebels” keep entering the country via Turkey? Thousands of Libyans, Saudis, Algerians, Turks, Uzbeks and Tajiks all spontaneously materialized in Aleppo five years ago and decided to overthrow the Syrian government for the sake of democracy and human rights? What a fantasy. Or more accurately, what a nightmare.
In closing, when contemplating what the United States should do, faced with the defeat of the jihadi gangs holed-up in Northwest Aleppo, Rogin advises the United States to go to war with Syria and Russia.
“The argument against more U.S. military intervention in Syria, including strikes against the regime, is based on risks that should be taken seriously but that are ultimately hypothetical. The effects of continuing the current policy are not hypothetical. They include more of what we are seeing now: Russia and the Assad regime committing war crimes against civilians with impunity and destroying Syria’s largest city.”
Let’s talk about the U.S.’s current policy in Syria in a little more detail. Firstly, the U.S. facilitated the shipment of massive amounts of arms and munitions into Syria through the international black market, in conjunction with arms transfers to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra sponsor states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E. This includes arms taken from Libyan arms stores after the government there was toppled. We have recently learned that an American arms dealer by the name of Marc Turi had all charges against him, of illegal arms trafficking to Libyan jihadi militias, dropped this week. Apparently he had ample evidence that Hillary Clinton’s State Department had facilitated the business. In an effort to keep such evidence from seeing the light of day, the Department of Justice quietly dropped all charges against Mr. Turi. Kenneth Vogel and Josh Gerstein have detailed this case in an informative article posted by Politico on October 5th. It was U.S. policy to funnel arms to Libyan Islamists and then after destroying the functioning government of that state, to ship as many Libyan arms obtained in its overthrow, as well as hundreds of the Islamic jihadis that fought there, into Syria through Turkey and Jordan.
We also know that the CIA had plans to topple Assad’s government in Syria for at least a decade. They used the cover of the “Arab Spring” to unleash these forces on Syria, having long built a network of groups to foment unrest in the country. The legitimate grievances of the people were seized upon by these groups to foment violent unrest. While the legitimate uprising was in its infancy, it was high-jacked by outside Islamic groups funded and armed by outside forces (the U.S., Turkey, and the Gulf States) and thousands of Islamists were moved into the country, armed and given a green light to subjugate the Syrian state to the most heinous barbarism. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, seems to have forgotten all about this barbarism, including the summary execution of men, women and children of the civilian population, mass rape, sexual slavery, the desecration of corpses, the use of proxy suicide bombers, etc., etc. These atrocities at the hands of ISIS, Jabhat al- Nusra, and a host of “moderate” rebel groups (although the United States has largely been unable to name these moderate forces) are well documented by international organizations and the United Nations. I am sure Mr. Rogin still believes that the chemical attack in Ghouta, which was intended to be used as a pretext for armed intervention by President Obama in 2013, was perpetrated by Assad, even though we all know now that it was the “moderate” rebels themselves that planned and carried out the attack in an attempt to provide the pretext Mr. Obama was looking for. I guess none of these war crimes matter, because they were committed by “our dog in the fight.”
Now, let’s talk about these hypothetical risks alluded to by Mr. Rogin. By the way, aren’t all risks, by definition, hypothetical? If the United States decides to carry out direct strikes via aircraft and cruise missiles on Syrian government forces they will be in direct violation of both U.S. law and international law. Realizing the obvious criminality of this option Mr. Rogin states:
“The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.”
Mr. Rogin must realize that he has put in print, the admission of a state department official, that the administration is contemplating a conspiracy to commit murder on a grand scale. Just because you perpetrate a criminal act without publicly taking credit for it, it is still a criminal act, and it is quite easy in the 21st century to put the pieces of the puzzle together, so to speak. With a host of the most sophisticated air defense systems in existence deployed in Syria, as well as the latest Tu-214R, Russia will be able to pinpoint the method of attack, the weapons and aircraft used, and their flight paths.
Any such attacks must be viewed as an attack on Russian military personnel, as hundreds of advisors, trainers, and thousands of Russian marines, forward observers, and aircrews are working with Syrian government forces. Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, General Igor Konoshenkov, responded to U.S. allusions of strikes on Syrian military targets just today, stating during an official press briefing:
“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen. Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality.”
Konoshenkov is clearly stating that any strikes on territory under the control of the Syrian government will be treated as attacks on Russian forces and will be responded to in kind. This would most likely lead to U.S. cruise missiles being intercepted and/or U.S. strike aircraft being shot down and U.S. pilots killed. U.S. naval platforms firing cruise missiles could be targeted by anti-ship cruise missiles in response. Although unpleasant to contemplate, such responding attacks on U.S. assets and personnel would be lawful acts of self-defense under the present circumstances.
How would the U.S. military respond to this hypothetical, and highly probable eventuality? The U.S. military would be forced to escalate the confrontation, unless stopped by the Office of the Presidency. Considering the rapid pace of modern warfare, it is doubtful that this halt order could occur before the situation spun out of control. So, the risks immediately elevate to include the very real possibility of a major regional, if not global, confrontation between the Russian Federation and NATO. A global confrontation between the Russian Federation and NATO could quickly, and tragically, lead to thermonuclear war. There you have it Mr. Rogin. Let’s do a quick cost- benefit analysis. Overt or covert military strikes could lead to aiding foreign sponsored Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups’ continued hold on a portion of Aleppo, which they have largely destroyed and terrorized for five years, or all out thermonuclear war that would extinguish all life on earth. Hmmm, tough call…
As much as corporate print and broadcast media parrots the official government talking points and is a willing accomplice in perpetrating a false narrative at the behest of the U.S military and government establishment, there are some brave voices out there that are speaking truth to power and to the American public in an attempt to do their job. That job is journalism, and not propaganda. An inspiring example of this, is an article published at the beginning of the year in The Boston Globe, by Stephen Kinzer. I strongly encourage readers to read this entire opinion piece, as it is very enlightening on many levels. Mr. Kinzer calls out the U.S. media and his fellow journalists:
“Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.”
For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.
This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.
Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS — so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”
This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.
Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.
This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.”
Another dependable voice of reason in U.S. academia, who used to be invited on major news networks for his learned opinion and unique insight on U.S. – Russian relations and Russian history, is Professor Stephen Cohen. A professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, Professor Cohen has largely gone uninvited on the major news networks ever since the U.S. political establishment created their Cold War 2.0 narrative, and his opinion rarely makes it into mainstream media periodicals or newspapers. He is interviewed on a regular basis by John Batchelor, on the John Batchelor Show and his opinion does sparingly grace the pages of The Nation, where he is a contributing editor.
We are living in an age where technology allows governments and ruling elites to engineer consent through the use of propaganda on an unprecedented level. This poses a grave threat, when one considers the present situation in Syria, and the very high stakes involved. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been sacrificed for the machinations of a few, as always for power and profit. History is replete with similar tragedies, but now we are collectively faced with the very real risk of miscalculations leading to global conflict. Possibly, a thermonuclear conflict.
Media businesses like The Washington Post are not practicing journalism, but are pushing propaganda that promotes a dangerous and delusional, false narrative of events. This false narrative is being used to manipulate all segments of U.S. society towards a conflict that will harm the overwhelming majority of those involved, while profiting the tiny minority that always profits from war. This propaganda must be seen for what it is, and the propagandists called out for their misinformation. History should teach us valuable lessons. If he had not committed suicide, the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would definitely have met judgement at Nuremberg and been hung for his crimes. Has the world forgotten the price to be paid by those that lead the world to war through lies and deceit? Let us hope not.
Brian Kalman is a management professional in the marine transportation industry. He was an officer in the US Navy for eleven years. He currently resides and works in the Caribbean.