From Editor Robert Parry: In late August 2013, the United States was poised on the brink of another Mideast war. The facts were murky about a chemical weapons incident in Syria on Aug. 21, but most American pundits and politicians were blaming the Syrian government.
And – with Saudi Arabia and Israel hoping the U.S. military would tip the balance toward “regime change” in Syria – the writing was on the wall: American bombs would soon fall on Damascus.
There were other dangerous prospects: If the United States attacked Syria not only would the intervention benefit al-Qaeda-connected rebels who were coming to dominate the armed Syrian opposition but the war could easily escalate into a region-wide conflict. Iran might be pushed to finally build a nuclear weapon, prompting another U.S. bombing campaign that would inflict more death and destruction. The scenario was a neocon dream come true.
It looked, too, as if Official Washington had learned nothing from a decade earlier when other questionable claims were being made about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” and very few voices dared challenge the conventional wisdom. Doubters then were mocked as “Saddam apologists.”
Now, the stampede was on again – and no one seemed to notice or care that the U.S. government was giving out even less evidence regarding the Syrian casus belli than it did in 2002-2003 regarding Iraq’s WMD. Indeed, a curious “Government Assessment,” which was issued on Aug. 30, 2013, contained not a single piece of evidence that could be checked out.
At Consortiumnews.com, we were hearing that some U.S. intelligence analysts and UN chemical weapons inspectors had grave doubts that the Syrian government was behind the attacks, but dissenters were being muzzled, much as they were before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
So, we found ourselves nearly alone, again, as we demanded that actual evidence – not speculation and extrapolation – be presented to the American people before another potentially catastrophic war began.
We also were picking up concerns in U.S. intelligence circles about the emergence of a secretive alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel, seeking to involve the United States in their regional rivalry against the so-called “Shiite Crescent” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. But it was unclear why American troops and taxpayers should get pulled once more into the middle of other countries’ animosities.
Recently, I was told that inside the Obama administration our warnings and doubts had an impact, because Consortiumnews has become known for both serious investigative journalism and the insights of respected former U.S. intelligence analysts who write for our site. Our pushback helped give President Obama time to chart a different course with the assistance of the Russian government.
Instead of a new round of killing, the world got a new chance for peace. Though still denying that it was responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack, the Syrian government agreed to destroy its chemical arsenal and has shown a new willingness to negotiate a political settlement with its opponents. Instead of worsening tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s new government signed an interim deal accepting new constraints.
Yes, these developments have infuriated the still influential neocons – and the road toward peace is still littered with many obstacles – but the prospects for diplomacy, rather than war, are brighter today than they were a few months ago.
Indeed, what we have witnessed over the past few months is how independent journalism – and serious intelligence analysis – can help head off stampedes to war if the information is made available in real time to the public and to the decision-makers.
What is also remarkable about Consortiumnews is that we do all this on a shoestring budget, of barely $10,000 a month. It is hard to imagine a more cost-effective investment in the future.
I could go on and on about the many other topics that we have investigated and written about over the past year – from how the modern right-wing propaganda system works to how the Framers of the Constitution favored an activist government to “provide for … the general Welfare.” But you can review for yourself by scrolling back through the months of 2013 or by checking out the “In Case You Missed…” archive.
So, at this crucial moment, I urge you to consider one of five ways for helping Consortiumnews reach its end-of-year fundraising goal of $35,000.
First, you can make a donation to our 18-year-old tax-exempt non-profit by credit card online at the Web site or by mailing a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. (For readers wanting to use PayPal, you can address contributions to our account, which is named after our e-mail address: “consortnew @ aol.com”).
Second, we can now accept donations of stock or other equities, which I’m told can offer a tax advantage to donors if the stock has appreciated in value since it was purchased. (We are recognized by the IRS as a 501-c-3 non-profit, meaning that contributions may be tax-deductible.)
If this stock-donation option appeals to you, I suggest you discuss it with your broker and then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for specific instructions on how to transfer the stock. Or you can write to us at Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201.
Third, you can buy one of my last four books through the Consortiumnews’ Web site – or my latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, through Amazon.com, either in paper or the e-book version. A portion of each sale will go toward our goal.
Fourth, for only $34, you can get the trilogy that traces the history of the two Bush presidencies and their impact on the world. The three books – Secrecy & Privilege, Neck Deep (co-authored with Sam and Nat Parry) and America’s Stolen Narrative – would normally cost more than $70.
To get the books for less than half price – and help us meet our budget needs – just go to Consortiumnews.com’s “Donate” button and make a $34 “donation” using Visa, Mastercard or Discover. We will read a “donation” of that amount as an order for the trilogy.
If your mailing address is the same as your credit card billing address, we will ship the books to that address. If your mailing address is different, just send us an e-mail at email@example.com and we will make the adjustment. For U.S. orders, we will pay for the shipping. (For non-U.S. orders, add $20 to defray the extra cost.)
You can also take advantage of this special offer by mailing a check for $34 to The Media Consortium; 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. Or you can use our Paypal account, “consortnew @ aol.com.” Just make sure you include your mailing address in the message.
Five, for only $74, you can get a full box (28 books) of either Secrecy & Privilege or Neck Deep or a box of half and half. To take advantage of this full-box offer (a $642 value), just follow the same rules as ordering the three-book set, except you must send us an e-mail specifying which book you want, or the half-and-half offer. (For the same price, you also can get a full box — 22 books — of the hard-cover version of Neck Deep.)
We also will pay for the postage for U.S. orders. (Because of the prohibitive costs of international mail, this full-box offer is only possible for the United States.)
Again, thanks for your support and for making our 18 years of honest journalism possible.
Robert Parry is a longtime investigative reporter who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 to create an outlet for well-reported journalism that was being squeezed out of an increasingly trivialized U.S. news media.