Obama’s Ludicrous ‘Barrel Bomb’ Theme

Exclusive: In addressing the United Nations, President Obama singled out for condemnation Syria’s President Assad and his alleged use of “barrel bombs,” but Obama was silent on his own use of far more powerful ordnance or the civilian tolls from Saudi/Israeli attacks with highly lethal U.S. bombs, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The U.S. government has dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs on Iraq alone in the last dozen years and even hailed the start of the bombing campaign in 2003 as “shock and awe” but now has coyly and repeatedly decried the Syrian government’s supposed use of crude “barrel bombs.”

This hyper-hypocritical propaganda theme was given voice in President Barack Obama’s Sept. 28 speech to the United Nations General Assembly when he denounced anyone who doesn’t favor “regime change” in Syria as advocating “support [for] tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children.”

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as "shock and awe."

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

Yet, Obama offered no criticism of various U.S. administrations and American allies that have leveled whole cities, killing countless men, women and children. That slaughter has included two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945 and the devastation of Indochina during the 1960s and 1970s with more bomb tonnage than was dropped in all of World War II. Millions, including countless children, were killed in these bombing campaigns.

More recently, Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush ordered the devastation of Fallujah and other Iraqi cities to suppress resistance to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Obama himself has boasted of ordering military strikes in seven countries, mostly aerial bombardments with many confirmed civilian dead.

In 2014, Israel used American warplanes and armaments to blast apart Gaza killing some 2,100 people the vast majority civilians and many of them children, including four little boys playing on a beach. President Obama not only refrains from criticizing Israel’s indiscriminate use of these devastating weapons but stays silent on Israel’s rogue nuclear stockpile and today ponders which giant “bunker buster” bombs should be added to Israel’s bristling arsenal.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is dropping U.S.-supplied ordnance, reportedly including cluster bombs, on the helpless population of Yemen with Obama’s tacit approval and reportedly with U.S. intelligence assistance.

On Monday, the Saudi air force apparently bombed a wedding party on Yemen’s Red Sea coast killing more than 130 people, including women who had taken refuge in a tent, according to various news reports.

One surviving relative said it was difficult to determine the exact number of dead because the bodies were blasted into so many bloody pieces. “I saw no body intact,” said Ahmed Altabozi, the uncle of one of the victims.

Yet, while President Obama has avoided any direct public rebukes of U.S. or allied militaries for their slaughter of civilians, he singled out Syria’s embattled government for using a homemade weapon in its desperate fight against terrorists of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Further, Obama claimed that President Assad dropped the “barrel bombs to massacre innocent children” when there is no evidence that Assad had any such intent. Obama’s comment amounted to crude and deceptive propaganda.

By contrast, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launches one of his periodic “lawn mowing” operations against the people of Gaza and many children are cut down in the process, Obama stands mute, apparently judging that the exercise in recurring butchery is just one of those “price is worth it” moments.

Obviously, any killing of civilians in wartime is to be deplored whoever is dropping the bombs and whatever the weapon’s degree of lethality but it was still stunning to watch Obama apply such selective outrage. Indeed, much of the UN General Assembly seemed genuinely shocked by Obama’s blatant double standards.

Propaganda Buzz Phrase

But it’s really all par for the course. Whenever propagandists develop their “themes” for a conflict, they look for certain “hot button” phrases that make the behavior of a “black-hatted enemy” appear particularly venal. “Barrel bomb” has become the propaganda buzz phrase of choice associated with the Syrian conflict.

Yet, it seems likely this clumsy, improvised weapon supposedly dropped from helicopters would be far less lethal than rocket-propelled bombs delivered from afar by jet planes or drones, the approach favored by the U.S. government and its “allies.”

Civilians would have a much better chance to seek safety in a bomb shelter before some “barrel bomb” is shoved out the door of a helicopter than when a sophisticated U.S.-made bomb arrives with little or no warning, as apparently happened to the victims of that wedding in Yemen.

And that is not to mention the U.S. bombs that involve depleted uranium, napalm, phosphorous and cluster munitions, which present other humanitarian concerns. However, while U.S.-assisted or U.S.-directed slaughters of civilians attract little attention in the mainstream U.S. media, there are endless denunciations of the Syrian government’s “barrel bombs.”

The propaganda drumbeat is such that the American people are told that they must support “regime change” in Syria even if it risks opening the gates of Damascus to a victory by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists.

This odd “humanitarian” equation, tallied up by the State Department and “human-rights” NGOs, holds that to secure revenge for Syria’s alleged use of “barrel bombs,” the world must accept the possibility of the black flag of Sunni terrorism flying over a major Mideast capital while its streets would run red with the blood of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics.”

Then, apparently, the United States would have little choice but to lead a massive expeditionary force into Syria to oust the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, ensuring the deaths of hundreds of thousands more innocents and sending millions more fleeing into a destabilized Europe.

But such is the power of propaganda in managing public perceptions. Use a phrase like “barrel bomb” over and over again as if it is a uniquely evil weapon when, in fact, it is far less lethal and destructive than the ordnance that the United States routinely deploys or hands out to its “allies” like candy on Halloween. Soon the people lose all perspective and are open to manipulation. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Power of False Narrative.”]

Once the U.S. public is softened up with the propaganda and psy-ops also known as “strategic communications” or Stratcom the only acceptable option is “regime change” in Syria even if that prospect holds the likelihood of a far worse human catastrophe.

By hearing “barrel bomb” enough times, the judgment of American citizens is clouded and any practical suggestion for a realistic political settlement of Syria’s conflict is deemed “appeasement” of a tyrant, which was the clear message of President Obama’s UN tirade.

And, thus, the killing continues; the chaos grows worse.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

40 comments for “Obama’s Ludicrous ‘Barrel Bomb’ Theme

  1. george Archers
    October 3, 2015 at 09:43

    Barrel Bombs ? Check out Israel’s sinister use of Barrel bombs in the 40s against the Palestinians. ( Rolled from top hilled streets and exploded in busy coffees)
    Reminds me of 19 Box cutter wielding Arabs that successfully B.S. hijacked 4 planes — Real scarie stuff boooga boooga

  2. October 2, 2015 at 16:44

    Appearances define usefulness. For an idiot to be useful he must appear to be smart. He must be confident in error. He must lie with no understanding of Truth so that ideally he would even pass a lie detector test. But most of all he must be protected from Truth, surrounded by the strings which direct him. He is used by whom? Obama is YOUR puppet but is entirely disconnected from your strings. He can be of no use to you. The useful idiot is a patsy for the user. The Project For A New American Century is a string. There are others. Follow the money. The USA Budget was “balanced” in fiscal 1999 while the Pentagon lost $3.4 Trillion. It was never found. The audits just ended. If we do not complain about that, we cannot really be credible ourselves.

  3. Name
    October 2, 2015 at 04:15

    Obama would be the laughing stock of the entire world if he wasn’t such an evil little shit.
    Go Putin GO!

  4. Jerry
    October 1, 2015 at 13:06

    Thank you, Mr. Parry, for calling out Obama for what he is: a man who is good at lying with a straight face and doesn’t mind making a complete fool of himself on the world stage. These seem to be the only qualifications for being POTUS. He’s nothing more than a social climber, like the last democratic POTUS.

  5. Consortiumnews.com
    October 1, 2015 at 09:21

    Posted for Henri Day:

    There’s no doubt but what «barrel bombs» are the most nefarious weapons of war ever devised. In medieval times – if I am correctly informed – defenders of bastions used to cast barrels filled with burning tar on the heads of attacking soldiers attempting to scale the walls. How fortunate for them that the US government was not around at the time to castigate them for using such inhumane weapons !…


    • Roger Kallen
      October 4, 2015 at 01:11

      Ever heard about a hydrogen bomb?

  6. October 1, 2015 at 03:38

    And once again the corporate media act as enablers. If the righteousness indignation expressed in the UK ‘liberal’ media is anything to go by, journalists are too busy polishing up their thirty pieces of silver to do the job the fourth estate was entrusted with way back somewhere in the mists of history.

    It’s sad to see honest journalists like Robert Parry relegated to the sidelines for taking a stand against tyranny and evil. At the same time, more and more seekers of truth are turning to the alternative media for their information. It can take a bit of work; sorting the grain from the chaff, but it stops brains atrophying through sitting too long in front of the sewer pipes spewing government-approved propanganda.

  7. jacobo
    October 1, 2015 at 03:25

    Invariably the U.S. government comes down on the side of governments that accept its hegemony & view of the world order, opposes those that resist said view. Yet for reasons that have to do with fooling the masses, instead of being straightforward about this and saying, for example, that the invasion or Iraq is strictly a power move, our government feeds us stories about WMD & liberating Iraqis from a cruel dictator, and never mind that there turned out to be no WMD nor that the Iraqis have experienced even greater death and destruction, post-liberation, than they did under the former dictatorship. Eventually, of course, the truth comes out about our having been lied to, but by that time Iraq is a back burner issue, it’s Superbowl time or there’s been a mass shooting somewhere in the U.S. that msm is able to shift the public’s attention to, such that hardly anyone’s interested in talking about that fucking war the U.S. lost and that cost us over 5000 dead, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. What’s especially amazing is that despite this scenario being repeated over and over again all over the world, our government (aided and abetted by msm) is able to conceal the fact that the U.S. has established an empire.

  8. brno222
    September 30, 2015 at 23:01

    BTW has anyone ever seen one of these “barrel bombs”? If you go to Youtube you will find a few “Syrian rebel” clips purportedly showing their use, but nothing like evidence. In every case, the explosion shown is apparently made by a regular aircraft bomb, dropped by a military jet (you can hear it on the soundtrack). The other thing is, with all ordnance there is a certain percentage of duds, even with bombs made in the most modern factories. Where are the pics of unexploded “barrel bombs” on the ground? Never seen one. I think the whole thing is crude psyops bullshit from start to finish, aimed at the childishly gullible and simple-minded. “Barrel bomb” is so, well, ALLITERATIVE, innit. Another point is that you just don’t drop powerful bombs from an aircraft that flies as low and slow as a chopper. You run a real risk of damaging or destroying the aircraft with the shock wave reflected back from the ground. That danger was certainly an issue with the RAF heavy night bombers over Germany in WW2, where for accuracy they bombed from as low as 5000 feet, and did lose planes as a result, from that same cause.

  9. Bill Bodden
    September 30, 2015 at 22:27

    In an English-language article in Der Spiegel under the title of ” VW Scandal: Time for German Industry to Abandon Its Arrogance” the former CEO of Volkswagen was quoted as saying, “Arrogance and complacency are the worst things that could happen to us,” Americans, particularly those in leadership positions would do well to ponder that statement and Volkswagen’s predicament. – http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/vw-scandal-shows-german-companies-are-no-longer-big-league-a-1055098.html

  10. Andrew Nichols
    September 30, 2015 at 21:41

    By hearing “barrel bomb” enough times, the judgment of American citizens is clouded and any practical suggestion for a realistic political settlement of Syria’s conflict is deemed “appeasement” of a tyrant, which was the clear message of President Obama’s UN tirade.

    BB is just a chosen Buzzword.

  11. Whatsacomeanago
    September 30, 2015 at 20:54

    Significantly, Obama could not mention the lie on the world stage (UNGA) – Assad using chemical weapons – but the talking heads will trot it out as fact to domestic audiences.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    September 30, 2015 at 17:59

    Remember how hard it has been for the U.S. to recruit true moderate Syrian Rebels? Hasn’t been for at least four years, that the U.S. Coalition has been wrestling with this recruitment?Well, according to the U.S. Media, it took Russia all but 24 hours to bomb these very same moderate rebels. Apparently this moderate bunch is there, and Russia found them. Also, the American press is appalled by the civilian casualties who are suffering from this Russian onslaught, and yet never a word mentioned about Saudi Arabia’s destruction imposed upon the Yemeni people.

  13. Don
    September 30, 2015 at 17:25

    It is amazing to me, the level of sheer hypocrisy practiced by Mr. Obama and his Administration. Long before this latest incident at the UN, Obama had left his trail of sad, pathetic double standards.

    Does anyone remember how just a few years back, Mr. Obama told the US public, and the world, that we needed to stay in Afghanistan to prevent Al Qaeda from having a ‘safe haven”? At the time, according to Robert Gates himself, we estimated that there were “100” such members of that cult there. 100. Now, look at the behavior of this Administration, supporting ISIS directly, as the declassified DIA documents show, arising from the Judicial Watch lawsuit. That was, at least up until the lights went on in the Beltway when the white Toyota pickups crossed into Iraq from Syria. Obama and his brethren are still setting the stage for the largest “safe haven” that groups like ISIS or the Al Nusra Front could have ever dreamed possible. “Down with Assad” they say. How about “Down with Hypocrisy and down with Arrogance”, first and foremost? But that’s a pipedream.


  14. Den Thomas
    September 30, 2015 at 15:57

    Another depressing but beautifully written article. Thank you, Robert, for presenting the history and context of Western foreign policy so clearly and concisely. All a presenter or interviewer in the mainstream media need do is to read this article, and then he /she will have clear and challenging follow-ups to the hypocritical garbage that virtually all U.S. politicians blurt out when questioned. You and others have frequently given those interviewers the ammunition to expose the hypocrisy and start revealing the truth. The fact that we never see them pursuing these challenging lines of questioning reveals more about the stupidity /abject cowardice of the media in the laughable “land of the free, home of the brave”

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 30, 2015 at 17:02

      I’m with you Den Thomas, where would we go in this insane environment were it not for Mr. Parry and the bright responders to Consortium News?

    • Stygg
      September 30, 2015 at 17:23

      It’s not stupidity or cowardice, it’s collusion. The media is as guilty as our “leaders”.

      • dahoit
        October 3, 2015 at 09:51

        Yes,today the NYTs says air strike levels Afghan hospital,and Wapo says possible American airstrike.
        The Taliban have no air force.
        They are all Zionist mole traitors.
        Syria’s misery is Israels gain;Settlements to expand in the Golan Heights.

  15. Bill Bodden
    September 30, 2015 at 15:57

    Hypocrisy is nothing new on the North American continent. It was rampant with the Pilgrims and continued ever since through the establishment of the United States and becoming full-blown with its aspirations to Empire.

  16. A T Drinker
    September 30, 2015 at 14:43

    “But such is the power of propaganda in managing public perceptions. Use a phrase like “barrel bomb” over and over again as if it is a uniquely evil weapon when, in fact, it is far less lethal and destructive than the ordnance that the United States routinely deploys or hands out to its “allies” like candy on Halloween. Soon the people lose all perspective and are open to manipulation.”

    Mostly Murkans

  17. ltr
    September 30, 2015 at 14:31

    Much needed and excellent (as usual) essay.

  18. Lorraine B
    September 30, 2015 at 14:00

    Wow, thank you Robert thanks for calling out the hypocrisy, hasbara and hype of the BO administration, skillfully perpetuated by the MSM. I just wish you had mentioned the pending Saudi beheading / crucifixion, but the again, I just did, didn’t I. Some allies, eh?

  19. Joe Tedesky
    September 30, 2015 at 13:58

    On the floor of the U.S. Senate today, John McCain declared that this is a ‘sad day’ for America. Mitt Romney gets to say, ‘I told you so’. Bolton, is warning us of how Russia will bomb our moderate rebels positions. So, break out the crying towels, and try and recall a day when America was great. It’s all over the TV cable networks this morning how Putin is nothing more than a thug, who is protecting a mass murder being Assad. The ‘spin’ is in the air all across America, as that ‘thug’ Putin pushes our weak President aside. My problem is that in my view all of these Washington elites have loss all credibility. I would love to believe their rhetoric, but too many times than not, have their speeches only led to us accepting their dastardly lies. You can put your money on the fact that if Russia does prevail over ISIS, in quick time, that the U.S. will claim how we had soften that ISIS target. America just cannot lose, it’s that simple.

    • Watcher
      October 1, 2015 at 20:31

      The United States (there hasnt’ been an “America” for many decades… and you aren’t an “American” either.. you are a United States citizen – big difference)…. has LOST.. already.

      What do you mean “America just cannot lose”… ????? Better rethink that. The rise and fall of the AmeriKan Empire is already a foregone conclusion.. there is no other.

      • Carroll Price
        October 3, 2015 at 09:32

        Changing Americans from sovereign citizens of their respective States to subjects of the United States government was the primary purpose behind the 14th Amendment.

  20. F. G. Sanford
    September 30, 2015 at 13:40

    Where’s the creative capitalistic humanitarian spirit when we really need it? Samantha Power should be lobbying to lift arms sanctions on Syria so that our humanitarian arms merchants can sell him “humanitarian bombs”. It would be profitable – and simply the right thing to do!

    • Zachary Smith
      September 30, 2015 at 19:51

      Indeed! The Syrian UN ambassador ought to make the offer for those “humanitarian bombs” in a public speech there. He’d explain how Syria hadn’t understood that blowing people to bits with Good Christian bombs was the only proper way to wage war..

      While he was at it, he might also offer to purchase some of our Predator Anti-Terrorist Drones. And why not some of the white phosphorus shells like we used in Fallujah? Naturally he’d promise to use them appropriately – just like the US did in Iraq.

  21. Bill Bodden
    September 30, 2015 at 13:32

    Perhaps there is a god after all and he or she has come to the conclusion this planet is beyond repair and has created climate change to put it out of its misery. Too bad for the innocents who will pay the price while the arch villains might survive with the aid of the military and “law enforcement” in their traditional roles of Establishment protection.

  22. Pierre
    September 30, 2015 at 13:27

    What about “Daisy Cutter” used to clear jungles in Viet Nam and for intimidation during “Shock & Awe” in Iraq. War without end appears to be the intention.

  23. HTFD
    September 30, 2015 at 12:36

    Barrel Bomb excuse is right up there with he made eye contact, there was no red tip on the plastic gun, he pointed his finger like it was a gun. Looks like the stupidity starts right at the very top. Sick, sick, sick.

  24. Tick Tock
    September 30, 2015 at 11:53

    It has become impossible to not vomit whenever one listens to BO’s speeches or any other US Official. They level of hypocrisy has gone far beyond Orwell and no rational human being believes anything that comes from BO’s moronic mouth.

  25. September 30, 2015 at 11:38

    It is not a given that a victory by the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra must necessitate military intervention by Western powers, because the rule of these groups would not be much different from the rule of the Gulf monarchs, which are all precious allies of the USA. As long as the price of oil is right the West will for sure find common ground with the new rulers in Damascus or Raqqa or Mosul and the reporting of atrocities in Western media will stop.

    Maybe the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra one day will join Saudi Arabia on the UN Human Rights panel and eventual even be elected to chair it. Their expertise in human rights violations is probably even more profound than the expertise of Saudi Arabia.

  26. Joe Tedesky
    September 30, 2015 at 11:26

    The hypocrisy in all of this is pathetic. While it is cool, to go along with Israel and Saudi Arabia’s evil destruction of innocents, it’s not so cool to accept Assad’s actions against a revolution. The U.S. Weapons industry must be pretty proud of themselves, because now their products are killing everyone, worldwide. If the U.S. we’re to be helping the poor and hungry for over this last sixty years, there would be overwhelming love in return, and America would be the better for it. Stop all war!

  27. Peter Loeb
    September 30, 2015 at 11:20


    When the US and allies do it it doesn’t count. Everyone
    knows that.

    More to the point (unfortunately), the UN was never
    intended as a podium to attack other sovereign members
    of the UN.

    Rather, the US is just squirming when anyone else
    has the gumption to decry its or its patrons
    crimes. Note the oft- repeated statements of refusal
    that Israel be examined . To do this is
    next to anti-Semitic.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, M, USA

    • george Archers
      October 3, 2015 at 09:25

      Most folks missed last weeks news ( Arab nation’s demandlost out)–Atomic Authority refused to get involved in investigating Israel atomic installations. Days after–Israel donated million$ to the organisation.

      • James
        October 3, 2015 at 11:02

        The illegal squatter colony and donating are mutually exclusive, they only take. Must be Uncle Sap who did the donating on the order of the tail that wags him.

  28. InShort
    September 30, 2015 at 11:12

    It’s a huge lie, from beginning to end. BO wasn’t deterred in 2013 when the American public rose up with the suggestion of impeachment if the regime started another war in the Middle East, namely in Syria. All the lessons quickly forgotten, foremost the one about public opinion, our leader (so-callled) has been angling to finish the job ever since.

    Something drastic is needed to curb the disastrous foreign policy forged by the Neos and rubber-stamped by BO; he’s a pawn and an automaton. When GWB said, “You’re going to miss me…” the shrub had intimate knowledge of how the game is played. Evil and insidious, no one, least of all Bernie Sanders, is immune to the predatory shadow government that runs the world.

  29. incontinent reader
    September 30, 2015 at 10:51

    Unfortunately, the German government and German press also repeat this meme or mantra about Assad, just as they continue to vote for sanctions on the pretext that Russia invaded Crimea and has been violating Ukraine’s sovereignty in the East – and, most recently, with Germany’s declaration that the planned DPR and LPR elections would be illegal- while it has publicly ignored its own role in the overthrow of constitutional government of Ukraine, or the Kiev junta’s bombing campaign, or the junta’s almost universal violation of human rights against its Russian speaking population, political opponents, and even independent journalists.

  30. bobzz
    September 30, 2015 at 10:39

    “Then, apparently, the United States would have little choice but to lead a massive expeditionary force into Syria to oust the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, ensuring the deaths of hundreds of thousands more innocents and sending millions more fleeing into a destabilized Europe”.

    Isn’t this Israel’s end game and, therefore, ours by default?

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