Neocons and liberal hawks have poured millions of dollars into propaganda to justify “regime change” in Syria and are now desperate to keep the war going until President Hillary Clinton gets a chance to escalate, as Rick Sterling describes.
By Rick Sterling
Neocons and Clintonites have launched a major campaign with the goal of direct U.S. military intervention and aggression against Syria, potentially leading to war with Iran and Russia.
An early indication emerged as soon as it was clear the Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee. Following the California primary, The New York Times reported on State Department diplomats issuing an internal memo “urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al Assad.”In early August, Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler opined in The New York Times about “The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad”. Dennis Ross is a favorite Clintonite. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described how she asked Dennis Ross to come to the State Department to “work on Iran and regional issues.”
New York Times regular Nicholas Kristof made his own pitch for war against Syria. According to the self-styled humanitarian, we need “safe zones” as proposed by Clintonite Madeline Albright and retired General James Cartwright. That is risky, Kristof said, but “the risks of doing nothing in Syria are even greater.”
PBS broadcast a story titled “Repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, Syrian doctors feel abandoned.” The story features video from the “White Helmets” along with photos from the reported April bombing of Al Quds Hospital. Currently there is a huge media campaign around the situation in Aleppo. Syrian American doctor Zaher Sahloul, of the Syrian American Medical Society, has been interviewed extensively on mainstream media as well as DemocracyNow with widespread promotion in Truthout and other sites.
There has been lots of publicity around a letter to President Obama, supposedly written by 15 doctors in East Aleppo. The letter ends “We need your action.” The flow and wording of the letter suggests it may have been composed by a marketing company and there has been no verification of the doctors who supposedly signed it.
The letter was likely written by a paid Syria War propagandist or Washington lobby firm. Read the letter here and judge for yourself. For contrast watch this interview with a real Syrian doctor not mouthing propaganda from K Street in Washington D.C.
An online Change petition asks German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama to “save the people of Aleppo.” The publicly funded Holocaust Memorial Museum has promoted the video #SaveSyria. One of the producers of the video is The Syria Campaign which is the marketing organization which branded the pervasive “White Helmets,” as documented in “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators”.
In parallel with this media campaign, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced HR5732 the “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2016.” The resolution calls for escalating economic/financial pressure on Syria and “Assessment of potential effectiveness of and requirements for the establishment of safe zones or a no fly zone in Syria”.
Dr. Sahloul, the Syrian American Medical Society doctor / spokesperson, says that Obama’s legacy will be defined by whether or not he attacks Syria to impose a “no fly zone.” It seems unlikely that Obama would do that at the end of his term. Instead, the goal is to prepare the public for the new war to begin after Hillary Clinton becomes President.
Falsehoods and Lies of Omission
In his article ““The media are misleading the public on Syria” author Stephen Kinzer recently wrote, “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.”
Here a few facts about Aleppo which contradict the mainstream media narrative:
–At least 85 percent of Aleppo’s population is in government-controlled areas.
–The estimate of 300,000 civilians in rebel/terrorist-controlled east Aleppo is likely a gross exaggeration. In spring 2015, Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited the area and estimated there were 40,000.
–While there are very few doctors serving in the opposition-controlled Aleppo, there are thousands of doctors working in the government-controlled area.
–The dominant rebel-terrorist group in Aleppo is the Syrian version of Al Qaeda.
–The armed groups who invaded Aleppo have been unpopular from the beginning. In the fall of 2012, journalist James Foley wrote: “Aleppo, a city of about 3 million people, was once the financial heart of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.” (Foley was later captured by Syrian rebels and executed by the Islamic State on Aug. 19, 2014.)
–The rebel-terrorists launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of mortars daily into the government-controlled areas causing huge casualties. Western media ignores this destruction and loss of life.
–The much publicized April bombing of the supposed Medecins sans Frontieres-supported “Al Quds Hospital” in Aleppo was full of contradictions and discrepancies. These were highlighted in an Open Letter to MSF. To this date, MSF has not provided corroborating information.
–Much of the video purporting to show bombing effects in Aleppo are stamped with the “White Helmets” logo. White Helmets is a creation of the U.S. and U.K. and primarily a propaganda tool. The claims they are Syrian, independent and non-partisan are all false.
–Much of the information about Syria comes from “activists” trained and paid by the U.S. In her book Hard Choices, Secretary Clinton says the U.S. provided “training for more than a thousand (Syrian) activists, students, and independent journalists” (p464, hardback version). Obviously they are not independent and their reports should be carefully checked.
–In contrast with the ambiguous situation at “Al Quds Hospital”, consider what happened to Aleppo’s “Al Kindi Hospital.” Take three minutes to view the suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital. Take two minutes to view what the “rebels” did to Syrian soldiers who had been guarding the hospital.
–Like NBC correspondent Richard Engels’s fake kidnapping and the contrived CNN reports by “Syrian Danny,” the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical attack in Ghouta has been essentially shown to have been a staged event intended to force a U.S. attack on the Syrian government by making it appear that President Bashar al-Assad had crossed President Obama’s “red line.”
–The latest propaganda tool being used to promote U.S. aggression against Syria is the photograph of little Omran in the orange ambulance seat. The video comes from the Aleppo Media Center, or AMC. Like the White Helmets, AMC is a U.S. creation.
The photo of Omran has been widely accepted without scrutiny. The insightful Moon of Alabama has raised serious questions about the media sensation. Brad Hoff has documented that the main photographer, Mahmoud Raslan, is an ally of the Nour al Din al Zenki rebel terrorists who beheaded a young Palestinian Syrian a few weeks ago, confirmed step by step in this short video. Another good short video exposing the propaganda around #Syrianboy is here.
Why the Burst of Propaganda?
The Syrian crisis is at a critical point with the prospect that the rebel/terrorists will collapse. If they are crushed or expelled, it would allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Aleppans to return home as soon as services are restored. This would also allow the Syrian army and allies to focus on attacking the Islamic State in the east and rebel/terrorist groups remaining in Idlib, Hama, the outskirts of Damascus and the south.
Until the last year, fanatics and mercenaries were traveling from all parts of the globe into Syria via Turkey. Tens of thousands went to Syria from Southeast Asia, China, Russia, North Africa, Europe and North America. They were given carte blanche to depart their home countries, arrive in Turkey and be guided into Syria.
For example, young Canadians such as Damien Clairmont went and died in Syria. His mother has courageously exposed the fact that Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) knew about his plans yet did nothing to stop him.
Progressive Muslim leaders demanded the government identify and start dealing with the radical recruiters. It was evidently the policy of the cynically named “Friends of Syria” to “look the other way” as their citizens were being brainwashed and then recruited to become terrorists attacking Syria.
Now, with terrorist blowback in Western Europe, the United States and Turkey, these same “Friends” are feeling consequences from their policies. Terror attacks in Britain, France, Belgium and the U.S. have ended – or at least disrupted – the policy of collusion with Wahhabi terrorists.
In the last year, security services have started arresting recruiters and new recruits. In Britain, a long-time promoter of ISIS has been convicted. In Belgium, the court has approved the extradition of a suspected French terrorist. Previously, Belgium was the Western country with the highest per capita number of citizens joining the terrorist fight in Syria. And now Turkey has started arresting people en route to join ISIS in Syria.
Since the rebel/terrorists invaded Aleppo in 2012, they have had a constant pipeline bringing weapons, fighters and supplies into the city. For the past few months the Syrian army has been on the verge of encircling and closing the access routes into rebel terrorist sections of east Aleppo.
Western media and governments, which support the rebel/terrorists, are doing all they can to delay or prevent this closure. They are trying to stall or prevent a Syrian government victory until someone more hawkish than Barack Obama is in the White House.
Driving the Conflict
Regional forces supporting the war on Syria include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Israel has always been deeply involved, contrary to the faulty analysis of some observers. Israel has provided medical and military support to Nusra/Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating near the Golan Heights. Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was explicit: “Israel has wanted Assad ousted since Syria war began.” Oren has said Israel favors that outcome even if it means a victory by Al Qaeda or other Sunni extremists.
The U.S. and Western powers are also deeply involved. Working with Saudi Arabia and through Turkey, the U.S. has supplied huge quantities of weapons to the rebel/terrorists. Sophisticated weaponry totaling 994 TONS was provided last winter as documented here.
On the other side, Iran and Hezbollah are committed to defending the existing Syrian government. They know that if the Syrian government falls, they will be the next ones under attack.
Russia also sees this as a crucial conflict. The U.S. has expanded NATO up to the Russian western border, promoted the 2014 Ukraine coup, and insisted on economic sanctions against Russia. Syria is Russia’s only Arab ally and hosts Russia’s only foreign naval base. Russia probably sees this conflict as a crucial for its own future. In another sign of resistance to U.S. global hegemony, China has indicated it wishes to expand military cooperation with Syria.
Following the U.S. lead, Canada, Australia and West European countries have supported the “regime change” effort despite it being in clear violation of the U.N. Charter and international law.
Despite five years of tragedy and destruction, the U.S. continues trying to overthrow or destroy the Syrian government. This is not a new U.S. objective. In 2005, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Syrian President Assad and said to him “Mr. President, you know the rhetoric of regime change is headed towards you from the United States….They’re talking about isolating you diplomatically and, perhaps, a coup d’etat or your regime crumbling. What are you thinking about that?”
Amanpour is not only a CNN host, she is the wife of neocon Clintonite James Rubin.
In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Syria to stop its support of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, “loosen” its alliance with Iran and sign a treaty with Israel. Significantly, these are Israel’s demands and of much higher importance to the Zionist state than the U.S.
The war in Syria is bringing numerous conflicts to a head: sectarian Wahhabism vs. humanitarian Islam; the “New American Century” with one superpower vs. a multilateral world; Zionist dominance and occupation vs. Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.
Hillary Clinton is on record criticizing the decision to not bomb Syria in late summer 2013 after the sarin gas attack outside Damascus. She has continued to promote the idea of a “no fly zone.” She is an avowed Zionist who has said she wants to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship to the “next level.”
Zionist Israel is deeply worried by the prospect of a strengthened Syria and Lebanese resistance. In addition, there are many Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Syria and Lebanon. They retain their wish to return home in keeping with international law. Just as Zionist Israeli interests were a major factor in the invasion of Iraq, so they are in continuing the conflict in Syria. In addition, neocons have not given up their goal of a “New American Century.”
The Western Left?
The Left has been weak in responding and opposing the aggression against Syria. Major factors have included:
–Saudi and U.S. State Department-funded Muslim groups which support the aggression against Syria. This includes the recently famous Dr. Zaher Sahloul and the Syrian American Medical Society. SAMS and Zahloul are aligned with Saudi Arabia and receive substantial State Department funding.
–Deluded leftist groups which support what they have been told is a people’s “revolution” in Syria, just as happened in Libya.
–The flooding of social media and the Internet by “activists” and Syrian “civil society” groups who are actually paid and trained agents of the West. This is confirmed by Clinton herself in her book Hard Choices.
–Uncritical acceptance of the claims by major non-governmental organizations (or NGOs), which are predominately funded by billionaires. These organizations need to be viewed with some skepticism because of their financial dependence on a few wealthy individuals with personal agendas.
For example, in 1990, Amnesty International mistakenly corroborated the accuracy of the false claim that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor.
In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Human Rights Watch, which is heavily funded by currency speculator George Soros, did not oppose the Iraq invasion and implicitly accepted it by only criticizing the lack of preparation. (HRW also promoted what turned out to a bogus story claiming that by “vectoring” the flight paths of two rockets it had proved that the Syrian military fired the sarin gas on Aug. 21, 2013, a claim that later collapsed when aeronautical experts determined that the only rocket found to carry sarin had a much shorter range.)
Physicians for Human Rights, another Soros project, has issued grossly misleading reports on Syria.
–Alternative media, which is progressive on many issues but echoes NPR and mainstream media on critical foreign policy issues including the Syrian conflict.
Some groups including Arab Americans for Syria, Syrian American Forum, Black Agenda Report, Syria Solidarity Movement, Answer and Workers World Party have actively challenged the disinformation but their budgets and influence are relatively small in comparison to the heavily funded organizations pushing for Syrian “regime change.”
Veterans for Peace, one of the most influential and respected peace organizations, has recently sharpened its understanding and position on Syria. Following a recent visit to Syria, the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, Jerry Condon, said, “Everything we read about Syria in the U.S. media is wrong. The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.
“In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change, the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”
What the Future Holds
Neoconservatives, including Clintonites, are pushing hard for a direct U.S. attack on Syria to prevent the collapse of their “regime change” project. Claiming that the U.S. and NATO can bring a “safe zone” and “protect civilians” is a grotesque falsehood. (In Libya in 2011, similar “humanitarian” claims were simply a cover for another “regime change” project that has unleashed more chaos and death across northern Africa.)
If the U.S. tries to impose a “no fly zone” in Syria, it will result in vastly more deaths and risk escalation into direct conflict involving Syria, Russia, Iran and Israel.
There is a clear solution to the Syrian tragedy: the countries who have been supplying tons of weapons and paying tens of thousands of mercenary terrorists should stop. The conflict would soon end. The foreigners would depart with much less fanaticism than what they came with. Many Syrian rebel/terrorists would accept reconciliation.
To create the circumstances for a peaceful settlement, there needs to be a global campaign for peace, but there is much responsibility in the U.S. since our government has become the greatest threat to peace with its insistence on global dominance. Following are some specific ideas that could help:
–Sen. Bernie Sanders raised expectations when he talked about the need stop the “regime change” foreign policy. Now is when he needs to be clear and unequivocal that U.S. military aggression against Syria will make things worse not better and must not happen. Sanders also proved that a progressive policy is popular. If Sanders abandons this core foreign policy position and does not speak out strongly against the drive for aggression, it will be a huge disappointment and failure.
–DemocracyNow and other leading alternative media need to start including different analyses. To a sad extent, their coverage of Syria has echoed NPR and CNN. If DemocracyNow is truly an “Exception to the Rulers,” it needs to start including more critical examinations.
DN producers should be studying publications such as Consortiumnews, Global Research, AntiWar, MoonOfAlabama, Al Masdar News, Al Mayadeen, Counterpunch, DissidentVoice, American Herald Tribune, 21stCenturyWire, Black Agenda Report, the Canary, RT, PressTV and TruePublica (not corporate ProPublica).
They should be bringing the observations and analysis of journalists such as Sharmine Narwani, Edward Dark, Eva Bartlett, Brad Hoff, Vanessa Beeley, Stephen Sahiounie to name just a few. Syrian academics such as Issa Chaer (U.K.) and Nour al Kadri (Canada) could be interviewed. Followers of DN have heard Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and other U.S. officials speaking about Syria countless times. Why have Amy and Juan not interviewed the Syrian Ambassador to the UN?
–This is an opportunity and challenge for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party. They are clear on this issue. If they can get a mass audience to hear their message, it could be crucial to their winning support and prompting a necessary national debate.
At the moment there is almost no debate on the issue of perpetual war in the Middle East. Instead, the media is filled with propaganda using a boy’s photo to promote more war. The Green Party could play a hugely important role exposing the danger and duplicity of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They could play a key role in blocking the Clintonite march to a new war.
–Veterans for Peace could play a leading role in changing the perception and ending the marginalization of the U.S. peace movement.
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be contacted at [email protected]