Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
The Washington Post presents a shockingly imaginary Syria, in which the U.S. Government has been the friend of the Syrian people by trying to eliminate in Syria simultaneously the jihadists and the Syrian Government that’s been fighting against the jihadists, and in which the Syrian war has not been between the Syrian Government and those tens of thousands of jihadists, many of whom have actually been armed by the U.S. Government and financed by the American Government’s allies, especially by the Saudi Government, and brought into Syria through America’s allies, first Turkey, and then more recently Jordan, and the jihadists tended medically by yet another U.S. ally, Israel. Obviously, the U.S. Government supports jihadists when doing so serves its higher goal, of overthrowing Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. But this fact is unmentionable in the ‘authoritative’ media. The reality hidden by the Western press is that, according to Western-sponsored polls of Syrians, 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for the plague of ISIS in their country, and well over 50% want Bashar al-Assad to continue as Syria’s President.
Such extreme reality-denial in the Washington Post is ordinary for the U.S. newsmedia; but, nonetheless, as in this particular case, it reaches occasionally absurd proportions, which the entire world would instantly recognize as being the propaganda-media of a dictatorship, if only the entire world knew about it (rather than its being hidden from the public by and within all of the aristocracies that are allied with the U.S. aristocracy). To mention that the Emperor has no clothes would be a capital offense.
A recent example of this 1984-style ‘news’-coverage in today’s American ‘news’-reporting, is the Washington Post’s October 7th “Civilian casualties spiral in Syria as air raids target areas marked for cease-fire”. It opens by alleging: “Civilian casualties have spiraled across Syria in recent weeks as pro-government forces launch hundreds of bombing raids across areas marked for international protection. Groups monitoring the conflict have recorded hundreds of strikes since the end of a sixth round of peace talks among Russia, Iran and Turkey in mid-September. On Friday, the White Helmets rescue group reported that 80 percent of those attacks targeted civilian areas.”
Here is some of the background reality, which that propaganda-piece ignores and/or blatantly flouts:
First of all, the White Helmets is an Al Qaeda affiliate that’s heavily backed by UK’s MI6 and America’s CIA in order to stir hatred among Westerners against Syria’s Government and especially against its President, Bashar al-Assad (seen here in an interview) by both actually rescuing people in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria and also outright staging ‘rescues’ of children and other residents in those areas who have been alleged to have been hit by Syrian or Syrian-allied bombings of those areas. The best brief introduction to the White Helmets was given on 23 September 2016, “How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War” by the great American investigative journalist Rick Sterling, which was based largely upon an exhaustive earlier account which had been given on 23 October 2015 by the great British investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, “Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception”. Here’s an excerpt from Sterling’s article:
There were three contestants in the Syrian presidential election of June 2014. Turnout was 73 percent of the registered voters, with 88 percent voting for Assad. In Beirut, the streets were clogged with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees marching through the city to vote at the Syrian Embassy. Hundreds of Syrian citizens living in the U.S. and other Western countries flew to Syria to vote because Syrian Embassies in Washington and other Western capitals were shut down.
While Secretary of State John Kerry was condemning the Syrian election as a “farce” before it had even happened, a marketing company known as The Syria Campaign waged a campaign to block knowledge of the Syrian election. Along with demonizing President Assad, the company launched a campaign which led to Facebook censoring information about the Syrian election.
A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a “no-fly zone,” a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military
The Syria Campaign was created by a larger company named “Purpose,” which – according to its website – “incubated” The Syria Campaign.
[ That should have been linked to: https://www.purpose.com/white-helmets-profiled-by-nicholas-kristof-in-new-york-times/ or better yet, to http://archive.is/phAjI ] The company’s website says, “Purpose creates new movements, brands and organizations from the ground up to address complex global challenges. We apply this experience as movement creators to our work with progressive companies, nonprofits and philanthropies, helping them to put purpose and participation at the heart of what they do.”
The “White Helmets” are marketed in the West as civilian volunteers doing rescue work. On Sept. 22, it was announced that the Right Livelihood Award, the so-called “Alternative Nobel Prize,” is being given to the U.S./U.K.-created White Helmets “for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.” The major achievement of The Syria Campaign has been the branding and promotion of the “White Helmets,” also known as “Syria Civil Defense,” which began with a British military contractor, James LeMesurier, giving some rescue training to Syrians in Turkey with funding provided by the U.S. and U.K. The group stole this name from the REAL Syria Civil Defense as documented in this recent report from Aleppo.
Both the Rick Sterling article, and the Vanessa Beeley series of articles, are recommended reading, for anyone who trusts the Washington Post and other U.S.-or-allied newsmedia, to report to them what is happening in the world and why it’s happening, and who is actually behind it, and for what reasons. Recommended, that is, in order to disprove the validity of that trust.
Beeley published, at 21st Century Wire on 11 March 2017, her extensive interview of Assad, and one of her questions to him was:
Question 12: Mr. President, as you may be fully aware that the “White Helmets” took an Oscar this year for the best documentary short, but folks are saying that the truth about this “White Helmets” is not like what Netflix has presented, so what is your take on this?
President Assad: First of all, we have to congratulate al-Nusra for having the first Oscar! This is an unprecedented event for the West to give Al Qaeda an Oscar; this is unbelievable, and this is another proof that the Oscars, Nobel, all these things are politicized certificates, that’s how I can look at it. The White Helmets story is very simple; it is a facelift of al-Nusra Front in Syria, just to change their ugly face into a more humanitarian face, that’s it. And you have many videos on the net and of course images broadcasted by the White Helmets that condemn the White Helmets as a terrorists group, where you can see the same person wearing the white helmet and celebrating over the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers. So, that’s what the Oscar went to, to those terrorists.
In fact, Al Nusra, which is Al Qaeda in Syria, was the main group that the Obama Administration relied upon to organize and train the other jihadist groups there.
But, of course, the U.S. regime itself knows the truth about this mater, as I had reported, on 4 August 2016, at Strategic Culture, headlining, “U.S. State Department Refused Entry to Jihadist It Employed for Overthrowing President Al-Assad”. The head of the White Helmets had been barred entry into the U.S. back in April, because the U.S. Government knew that the head of the White Helmets — which group also calls itself “Syria Civil Defense” in order to give itself an official, legitimate, and even government-sounding name — the Government knew that he was a jihadist, a “terrorist,” and President Obama simply wanted to avoid a possible terrorist incident on U.S. soil. The event — this man’s landing at Dulles International Airport only to be barred entry by the U.S. Government there — had occurred on April 20th of 2016, and here’s the way that the U.S. propaganda-media had dealt with the event, at that time: “A man who has helped save more than 40,000 lives in Syria was just denied entry into the US”. That report made his having been barred entry seem like it had been simply an error by unidentified U.S. Customs official(s) at the airport. That report was, basically, a lie. And the report that appeared in the New York Times about the event pretended that the man who had been denied a visa was leading a Syrian charity, and gave no indication whatsoever that he was on Al Qaeda’s side, helping their war to overthrow Syria’s Government. This was presented as a nonpartisan charity: “It was a stance of the unity of humanity.” It was ‘nonpartisan’ like Al Qaeda itself is.
Though you might not have been informed of that matter, perhaps you do remember having seen, during 18 August 2016, this staged ‘rescue’ by the White Helmets being shown on all mainstream U.S. ‘news’media including the networks and including the Washington Post, but not at all the reality, which the terrific independent reporter Brandon Turbeville described so well, in the following, 9 June 2017, as soon as the truth behind the matter became fully revealed (and the mainstream U.S. press ignored the truth altogether, because it was a very “inconvenient” truth):
Nearly a year ago, Western corporate media outlets paraded video of a young Syrian boy, injured in a blast and allegedly being saved by the White Helmets. That video was presented as evidence of “Assad’s cruelty” and his “indiscriminate bombing of civilians” as well as the heroism of the White Helmets.
The picture of the boy, seemingly injured in some type of bombing incident, sitting alone in an orange chair in the back of an ambulance, blood stains on his face and covered in dust from cracked concrete also comes in video form, footage that lasts for about two minutes, showing the boy being carried to a well-equipped ambulance (with English writing on some of the equipment). The boy’s story was also accompanied by “heart wrenching” stories from “activists” in east Aleppo alleging the crimes of the Syrian government and the horrific situation in the area.
It was rather clear that the child was being used as a stage prop. After being passed to the medical “attendants,” little Omran was placed in an orange chair facing the camera and immediately left alone. He was not treated, no one else was lifted into the ambulance, and no one was even in the vehicle with him. Instead, he was left to face the “activists” outside the vehicle and their cameras for what seems like too long a time to be anything other than a photo op for the “activists” videotaping him.
While the Western public was whipped into a fury of concern for one child, largely uninjured, they were able to completely ignore the thousands upon thousands of children murdered by the United States, NATO, and their proxies in the same country. Still, little Omran was paraded in front of Western audiences as an unfortunate little propaganda tool, part of a play where the other actors were the same people who behead children on camera and hang them from doorposts.
Turbeville then presented the interview with the boy’s father, telling the man’s outrage during the actual event, while the jihadists were staging and filming this propaganda-video, which had been broadcast to Western audiences uncritically as ‘news’. Until the Syrian Government rescued the residents of that area from Al Qaeda, in the liberation of eastern Aleppo, neither the boy nor his family were allowed to speak to the press.
Back again to the Washington Post’s October 7th “Civilian casualties spiral in Syria as air raids target areas marked for cease-fire”, that article’s attempt vaguely to convey the false impression that the “hundreds of strikes since the end of a sixth round of peace talks among Russia, Iran and Turkey in mid-September” were a result of some kind of failure of the current Russia-Iran-Turkey “Astana” peace-process for Syria, which process had replaced the previous U.S.-Saudi peace process, which had ended when U.S. President Barack Obama sabotaged his own Secretary of State John Kerry’s signed 9 September 2016 peace-agreement with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when the U.S. unprovokedly bombed the Syrian Army at Deir Ezzor in Syria on September 17th of last year, is simply false. Whereas the prior, U.S.-Saudi ‘peace’-process demanded the immediate ouster of President Assad, the current peace-process does not, and is, in fact, making steady progress, despite continued efforts by the U.S, Israel, and Saud, regimes (and their ‘news’media such as the Washington Post), to discredit this peace-process, and so to help to make it fail.
On 1 March 2017, the BBC bannered “Lies, propaganda and fake news: A challenge for our age”, and presented a lengthy report on ‘fake news’ which itself constituted fake news, because it focused entirely upon non-mainstream ‘news’media as being the sole creators of ‘fake news’, and pretended as if media such as the BBC itself weren’t fake ‘news’media, perhaps even worse than some of the non-mainstream ones. That BBC report itself demonstrated — as propaganda for itself and for its friends (such as at the Washington Post, NYT, etc.) and against their desired victims, such as the Syrian people, who persist in wanting Bashar al-Assad to lead their nation — demonstrated that, despite all of the West’s lying, the similar deception of foreign publics wasn’t possible, and the deception of their own public was not sufficient. No ‘solution’ that the BBC’s article proposed urged that the system, which causes their ‘news’ to be distorted or even downright false, must be ended, but instead the proposals were all to distract the public, about what the problem itself is: For example, one solution “is an approach being attempted by a number of different groups around the world. Researchers at the University of Mississippi and Indiana University are both working on an automated fact-checking system.” But, when the aristocracy — who own, and whose corporations’ products and services are advertised in and thus fund, the ‘news’media — leave out of their ‘news’reports, the key facts that are essential in order to enable a true understanding to be conveyed of what’s happening and why; then, automating fact-checking (even if it can be done) ignores, instead of addresses, the real problem, which is institutional, and thus can’t possibly be solved merely by automation. In any case, “says Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol in the UK, who studies the persistence and spread of misinformation, ‘Having a large number of people in a society who are misinformed and have their own set of facts is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with.’” But, why should people such as that, be consulted by a ‘news’medium as ‘experts’, on a matter such as this? They don’t know anything more about it than, say, Americans know about the Syrian war. No computer scientist, nor cognitive scientist, is an expert on, say, political corruption, and all the rest of the system that causes “misinformation” — that causes it to be very profitable, for ‘the right people’ — such as for the propagandists (including the executives, the decision-makers, at BBC).
That kind of excuse for failure (failure in the efforts by U.S. and allied regimes, against the government of Syria and of other countries whose governments ours want to overthrow) which alleges that “We’re a democracy, and their government isn’t,” or that “Their news-media lie to their public about the war in their country, and ‘ours’ tell our public the truth about that war,” can be believed by the publics in the U.S. and in its allied regimes (and, so, we invaded and destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., just as the regime intended), but it’s not necessarily going to be believed by the publics in the intended victim-countries — and it really shouldn’t be believed by anybody anywhere. But, the sad fact is that, many countries, which claim to be ‘democratic’, are not. The ‘news’media are an important part of that problem, because they’re the way that their public ‘know’ their own country. And — obviously — very few Americans have any realistic idea about ‘our’ Government. Realistically, it’s not really “ours” at all. The system deceives us, because the people who control it want it to — and they fire and demote any of their employees or other agents who refuse to cooperate and do their job, for which they’re being paid. Deceiving the public, in the intended ways, is part of their job. They’re being paid to do it. And, “an automated fact-checking system” or etc., won’t affect that, at all. And, to the extent that such a proposal is imposed, it will be designed to rely instead upon mainstream sources as defining what is ‘true’, and what is ‘fake’. Automated censorship would be the real goal. Truth, and the public, would be even more victimized by the system, if such automated censorship becomes imposed.
For news-consumers, there is no short-cut. Buying a subscription to some mainstream ‘news’media won’t solve the problem, but will only cause to become less costly to the owners, their existing and very successful (at least domestically) system of deception and manipulation of the domestic public.
Nothing should be trusted; everything should be at least spot-checked, many times, and right down to its ultimate sources. Are all of the root-sources reliable? Not every newsmedium is fake, even if all of the mainstream newsmedia now are. But no newsmedium should be trusted. Only if they’re all distrusted, can the few honest ones become even so much as recognized, and — only then — worthy of perhaps donating to, after some free trial period. Because, only in this way, can a person intelligently decide, on one’s own, which those few worthy newsmedia actually are (worthy of being subscribed to). And, as regards ‘free’ newsmedia, nothing is actually free. Every newsmedium has an agenda; but, only if at the very top of that agenda is total honesty and never deceiving about anything, can a newsmedium reasonably be relied upon, as being purely honest news and opinion, never anything else than that — never propaganda.
After all: propaganda is produced and marketed so as to seem to be honest. Nothing should be trusted, unless one has long and carefully vetted it so as to have confirmed, in a strict and rigorous way, its thorough honesty. Because, in this world, to be trusting of ‘news’, or for a person not to know how to test the honesty of ‘news’, is to invite being deceived. There is no short-cut, to truth.
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.