How Media Bias Fuels Syrian Escalation

Exclusive: The mainstream U.S. media now reports as “flat-fact” the Syrian government’s guilt in the April 4 chemical weapons incident, but the real facts are less clear and some point in the opposite direction, says Rick Sterling.

By Rick Sterling

Historian and journalist Stephen Kinzer has said, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” This past week’s coverage of the April 4 chemical-weapons incident in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun will only add to that dubious legacy.

President Trump delivers his brief speech to the nation explaining his decision to launch a missile strike against Syria on April 6, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Across the mainstream U.S. news media, there was almost no skepticism shown and virtually no differences of opinion allowed. Within hours, the rush to judgment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was guilty had solidified into a full-scale groupthink.

For instance, the PBS Newshour, which typically on Syria has offered up on-air “debates” using two guests who share the same basic hostility toward the Assad government, did the same on April 4, allowing two harsh opponents to say basically whatever they wanted.

Susannah Sirkin from the Soros-funded Physicians for Human Rights claimed, “We know that sarin has been used before by the Assad regime.” But that has NOT been confirmed by any credible organization. On the contrary, the most thorough investigations point to sarin being used by the armed opposition, NOT the Syrian government.

The other guest was Andrew Tabler from the neoconservative Israeli-associated Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His editorial from last fall makes clear what he wants: “The case for (finally) bombing Assad.” So, the viewers of the publicly funded network got one of their usual doses of “Assad must go” propaganda.

The New York Times, for its first-day lead story entitled “Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad,” turned to national security correspondent Michael Gordon, who somehow remains a “respected” journalist despite his influential role in promoting the WMD myth that helped justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In this instance, Gordon and co-author Anne Barnard presented the case against the Syrian government pretty much as you might expect, announcing Assad’s conviction even before there was any time for even a cursory investigation.

In reference to the 2013 sarin case, they also pronounced that “American intelligence agencies concluded” the 2013 attack was carried out by the Syrian government, but that too was false. The intelligence agencies did NOT agree with the Obama administration’s politically driven claims and that forced the White House to come up with a new genre of report, called a “government assessment” rather than the traditional “intelligence estimate.”

It is astounding that Gordon and Barnard, two supposed experts on the Middle East and national security, did not know this or, perhaps less astounding, that they would let their biases intentionally mislead the public. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity explained the significance of the Obama administration’s sleight of hand in a memorandum, “A Call for Syria – Sarin Proof”.

But progressives might say that all that is run-of-the-mill at PBS and The New York Times. So, they switched on “DemocracyNow” looking for a thoughtful alternative. Except that, “DemocracyNow” has been highly biased in its presentation on Syria. It almost solely promotes the perspective of those who support the armed opposition and/or Western intervention in Syria.

On April 5, the show’s hosts interviewed Dr. Rola Hallam, infamous for being the key player in the documentary “Saving Syria’s Children” which purports to show a napalm or chemical weapon attack in Aleppo but which has come under criticism as apparently staged. On April 6, “DemocracyNow” interviewed another “Syrian” who lives in the West and promotes Western intervention: Lina Sergie Attar.

Not to surprise anyone, but the media’s performance on CNN, MSNBC and other networks was no better. Across the U.S. mainstream media spectrum, there was virtually no diversity in opinion regarding what may or may not have happened in Khan Sheikhoun. Everyone just knew that Assad was guilty.

It also should not be too surprising that President Trump – after months of getting bashed for seeking better relations with Russia and for trying to change America’s “regime change” foreign policy – used this occasion to reposition himself as a new tough-guy “war president” to the acclaim of neocons and liberal interventionists.

A Closer Look

So what did happen in Khan Sheikhoun? The story actually may have started a couple of weeks earlier. On March 22, anti-government militants overran the government-controlled town of Khattab and kidnapped some civilians who were taken to the nearby opposition-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 1, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

On March 30, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nicki Haley indicated that the removal of Assad was no longer a U.S. priority, instead the focus would be on defeating the Islamic State and other terror groups. Tillerson said Assad’s future should be settled by the Syrian people, and Haley said the Trump administration would not “focus on getting Assad out.”

Those comments brought harsh criticism from American neoconservatives, liberal interventionists, Israeli leaders and others obsessed over the past six years with “regime change” in Syria.

Then, on April 4, there were sketchy reports of children and other civilians killed by chemical poisoning in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, an area controlled by Al Qaeda-connected rebels. Assad was immediately blamed for bombing civilians with chemical weapons, but some initial accounts were contradictory. Some claimed that people smelled the gas; others claimed the gas caused immediate death like odorless sarin. All told, some 80 people reportedly died in the incident. [Photographs, videos, analyses and other sources are documented at “A Closer Look At Syria.”]

But there were problems in assessing what exactly happened at Khan Sheikhoun, including the unreliability of some sources. One video featured U.K.-born-and-raised Dr. Shajul Islam, who had his U.K. medical license suspended due to reports he was involved in the kidnapping in Syria of journalist John Cantlie, who was later freed but then taken hostage again in 2012 along with American James Foley, who was later beheaded by ISIS. Cantlie remains a hostage.

After a criminal case against Shajul Islam in the U.K. collapsed because Cantlie and other victims could not testify, Islam somehow made his way back into Syria and into Al Qaeda’s territory. After the chemical weapons incident, Islam was widely cited by Western news outlets as a key source of information.

There are also curious features in the videos, which depict a scene set in a limestone quarry with apparent caves and storage depots along with flat-bed trucks with bodies scattered on the ground. Other videos show scenes in a medical clinic, while photographs show White Helmet “rescue workers” handling bodies without gloves, which is very strange if the people had died or were dying from chemical poison.

But the on-scene reports were immediately accepted at face value by the Western media, which has long been inclined to believe any negative claims about Assad. Just as quickly, Sen. John McCain and other neoconservatives joined the chorus, recalling the old conventional wisdom about President Obama not enforcing his “red line” after the 2013 sarin case (since it remains the ill-informed groupthink in Washington that Assad ordered that sarin attack). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chimed in, too, with a renewed call for war on Syria, tweeting that it’s time for the international community to “fulfill its obligations from 2013.”

Under this cacophony of anti-Assad outrage – before any serious collection of evidence could occur – the Trump administration began endorsing the interpretation of an Assad-regime airstrike delivering poison gas. On April 5, President Trump publicly blamed the Syrian government despite the conflicting reports.

He said, “Yesterday’s chemical attack in Syria [was] against innocent people including women, small children and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”

Just a day later, on April 6, Trump ordered a “targeted military strike” on Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles attacking a Syrian air base near Homs. The base is used to support the combat against ISIS in eastern Syria and against Al Qaeda’s Nusra affiliate in Idlib province. According to reports from Syria, the missile strike killed seven or eight soldiers and some nine civilians, including four children. But the attack earned Trump plaudits from many of his harshest foreign policy critics in the political world and the mainstream media.

The Theories

But the real story behind the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun remains uncertain, with U.S. intelligence apparently still trying to unravel the mystery and with some logic pointing to the armed opposition as the perpetrators, not the Syrian government.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

There are four basic theories about what happened:

-The dominant Western narrative is that the Syrian “regime” dropped illegal chemical weapons on civilians because it is simply barbaric or alternatively because it was celebrating its impunity following the Trump administration’s announcement that it was no longer seeking Assad’s ouster.

-Then, there’s the possibility of an accidental release of chemicals because an airstrike by the Syrian military hit an Al Qaeda weapons depot where chemical weapons were stored, rupturing the containers and causing the poison gas to spread over the area. The Russian Ministry of Defense says militants had a weapons production factory including chemical weapon ingredients.

-Another theory is that the deaths were part of a psychological operation in which the kidnapped civilians from Khattab and possibly others were killed or poisoned in a staged event prompted by the growing desperation of Al Qaeda and other rebel groups, especially after the late March announcement that the U.S. was no longer seeking Assad’s removal.

-There is also the possibility that an outside power, angered by the Trump administration’s announcement, assisted in the psychological operation by delivering the poison gas that was used on the town.

Despite Trump’s hasty decision to blame and punish the Assad government, U.S. intelligence analysts are reportedly still reviewing the evidence, which includes overhead surveillance of the area. However, because the President has already acted, whatever the CIA concludes – if it contradicts Trump – may remain secret for the indefinite future.

Still, there are facts, history and circumstantial reasons that would lead one to believe that it is far more likely the armed opposition is responsible than the government.

(1) The incident and publicity help the opposition and hurt the government.

Crime investigations usually begin with the question: Who has a motive? In this case, it’s strikingly clear that the armed opposition and their supporters benefited from this event. They have used the story to further demonize the Assad government and renew calls for the U.S. and “the world” to intervene.

Not only did the incident cause the Trump administration to reverse its recently announced reversal of Obama’s “Assad must go” mantra, but the deaths came as the Syrian government is making steady advances in many parts of the country. The government had no reason to use chemical weapons even if it still had any after surrendering its stockpiles of such weapons in 2014. Indeed, the government had every reason NOT to use chemical weapons, knowing very well the armed opposition’s propaganda capabilities and access to the major Western media.

It is also relevant to consider timing. In this case, the events in Khan Sheikhoun occurred the day before an important conference on Syria was to be held in Brussels. The conference titled “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” has been effectively sidetracked by news about the chemical weapons attack and the Syrian government being blamed.

(2) Extremists were likely responsible for the August 2013 chemical weapon attack in Damascus. 

Western supporters of the armed opposition were quick to blame the Syrian government for the chemical attack in Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013. However, subsequent investigations by the most credible investigative journalists and researchers concluded the Syrian government was probably NOT responsible. Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry concluded the attack was most likely carried out by militants with support from Turkish intelligence.

The in-depth examination titled WhoGhouta concluded The only plausible scenario that fits the evidence is an attack by opposition forces.” An MIT study made a detailed trajectory analysis and concluded that the sarin-carrying missile could not have been fired from government territory. The study challenged the unsubstantiated claims made in the U.S. “government assessment” white paper, which almost led President Obama to launch a military strike against Syrian government forces. “Faulty intelligence could have led to an unjustified US military action,” the MIT study said.

(3) Armed opposition groups have a history of staging incidents

From the start, the Syrian conflict has included an information war. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boasted of “training for more than a thousand activists, students and independent journalists,” a program that amounted to an invitation for the armed opposition to sell its case to the West via propaganda on social media, including heartrending tales focused on suffering children and heroic stories of selfless “moderate” rebels and the even more selfless White Helmets “rescue workers.”

A White Helmets volunteer pointing to the aftermath of a military attack.

In December 2012, NBC journalist Richard Engel was reportedly kidnapped and abused by “shabiha” supporters of the Syrian government. Engel and his film crew were “liberated” by Free Syrian Army rebels after a gunfight with the supposedly pro-Assad kidnappers. In reality, the entire episode from kidnapping to rescue was a hoax designed to demonize Assad’s supporters and glorify the “rebels.” The true story emerged years later after the actual events were leaked. When it was going to be made public, Engel finally admitted the truth.

The world also now knows that the real kidnappers of Western journalists have been the jihadist rebels, who have decapitated hostages including Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

(4) Supporters of the armed opposition have a history of fabricating stories to demonize the Syrian government.

In February 2014, it was announced that a defecting Syrian military photographer, who was anonymous but code-named “Caesar,” had 55,000 photos documenting the torture and murder of 11,000 innocent Syrian civilians. This news received sensational media attention with live interviews on CNN and front-page coverage throughout the Western world. The news relied on the judgment of legal prosecutors who “verified” the story and produced a “Caesar Report,” released the day before the start of Geneva peace negotiations. It effectively disrupted the talks and facilitated the “rebels” refusal to negotiate and walk away.

In reality, the “verification” and report was commissioned by the government of Qatar, which has been a major funder of the armed opposition. Since then it has been discovered that nearly half the 55,000 photos show the opposite of what was claimed: they show dead Syrian soldiers and victims of explosions NOT tortured civilians, just one of the findings of fraud in this sensational story. [A concise expose of “Caesar” is here.]

Lost in Propaganda

Between the reality that wars are always brutish affairs and the introduction of sophisticated propaganda that has exaggerated and fabricated abuses by the Syrian government, the West’s understanding of what’s been happening in Syria is understandably confused.

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States.

There is also the behind-the-scenes role of Israel and the U.S. neoconservatives who have had Syrian “regime change” on their wish list for decades – and more recently have indicated that they would even prefer a victory by Al Qaeda or the Islamic State to continuation of Assad’s rule because of his close ties to Iran.

As former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said, “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to those who were backed by Iran.”

In 2010, before the conflict began, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear to Damascus that the U.S. wanted Syria to accede to key Israeli demands: end its alliance with Hezbollah, reduce its interactions with Iran, and come to an agreement with Israel. When Syria rebuffed those demands, the “regime change” war began in 2011.

However, with the Russian intervention in support of the Syrian government in 2015 and the army’s recent liberation of eastern Aleppo, forcing the Al Qaeda-led rebels to relocate to northern Idlib Province, the prospects for the Israeli/neocon agenda looked bleak. Even worse, Donald Trump’s election seemed to presage a more practical approach toward resolving the Syrian conflict with Assad’s status left for future Syrian elections to decide.

That possibility became a stark reality at the end of March with the statements by Tillerson and Haley. But then – at this desperate moment for the long and bloody “regime change” struggle – came the remarkable “good fortune” of an apparent chemical weapons attack in the remote town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Now that Trump has again reversed his policy on Syria by launching a missile attack without waiting for a serious investigation or the emergence of hard evidence, he is getting congratulated by Congress and the media. Given Trump’s well-known hunger for approval, the danger of a head-on clash with nuclear-armed Russia – beginning but not ending in Syria – has suddenly and dramatically increased.

The wind is back in the sails of the armed opposition and their many foreign allies.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com

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63 comments for “How Media Bias Fuels Syrian Escalation

  1. John A
    April 10, 2017 at 11:49 am

    “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.”

    This is incorrect. It should read:
    “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the western press.”
    The British and other European media are me-tooing the US coverage unanimously. All, while presenting no evidence, state that the evidence clearly points to Assad.

    • Sam F
      April 10, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      The western mass media are almost without exception owned or controlled directly and/or indirectly by zionists, who state outright that they want to destroy the Russia-Iran-to-Lebanon connection to further suppress Palestine and steal land.

      They already control most officials in all three branches of federal government.

      The article presents an excellent summary of better thinking on the issue.

    • Peter Loeb
      April 11, 2017 at 7:41 am

      Many of the consortium articles are excellent but Rick Sterling’s contribution
      deserves special words of praise.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  2. Andrew
    April 10, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Nikki Haley’s argument in Meet the Press was interesting in that she claimed there can be no dispute that Assad used chemical weapons because (I paraphrase): “isn’t it strange that Russians and Iranians rushed to defend Assad instead of providing grievances to children who were killed?”

    I was impressed with her mastery of 8-year-old playground logic.

    • john wilson
      April 11, 2017 at 5:07 am

      Mastery of an eight year old? you’re too generous by far. This stupid woman doesn’t even have the brain of a wart hog. Of course, this whole affair might just be a double bluff. If any UN inspectors of the site find conclusively that the Syria military didn’t in fact drop any sarin gas from a plane, then what better excuse could there be to impeach Trump? After all, he did it without UN or congressional approval.

      • Chris P
        April 11, 2017 at 11:33 am

        Yes, this is a win-win for the Neocons and Liberal Hawks. If the gas attack is shown to be the work of non-Assad/Russian forces, Trump takes the blame. If, on the other hand, the prevailing narrative holds? Then we’re one step closer to war with Russia. Trump, of course, had no choice but to act–but that’s his fault. He painted himself into a corner with his own bluster.

  3. Tom Welsh
    April 10, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    “On the contrary, the most thorough investigations point to sarin being used by the armed opposition…”

    I take it that by “armed opposition” the writer means the murdering, torturing, Christian-crucifying fundamentalist Takfiri terrorists?

  4. Susan Sunflower
    April 10, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Smiting Assad is now a stand-in for smiting Russia (afaict, because he stole the election for Trump) … Consent has been manufactured … after 16 years of serial manufactured pretexts, Americans are as vengeful and blood thirsty as ever … they want to believe because they want to punish … and some new!!! improved!!! American “by any means necessary” exceptionalism has taken deep root …
    I despair utterly.

    • Sam F
      April 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Despair should be a temporary recognition that humanity does not improve, and civilization has been severely damaged by the influence of money upon elections and mass media. But there is a bright side: the doom of the West is something to look forward to with eagerness now, as there is nowhere to go but up, and the historical lessons will be more apparent, once humanity is listening again.

  5. Tom Welsh
    April 10, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    “After a criminal case against Shajul Islam in the U.K. collapsed because Cantlie and other victims could not testify, Islam somehow made his way back into Syria and into Al Qaeda’s territory”.

    Ruling out the ridiculously implausible possibility that the British authorities are hopelessly incompetent, one is forced to wonder whether they actually wanted this dangerous man to return to Syria. But why would they want that?

    • Marko
      April 10, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      “…..one is forced to wonder whether they actually wanted this dangerous man to return to Syria. But why would they want that? ”

      I have to assume your question is dripping with sarcasm.

      My own prediction is that Shajul will be the jihadis’ next big thing , starring in a doc that will be a sequel of sorts to the White Helmets’ 2017 Oscar winner. It will be called ” Pinpoint Pupils ” with Shajul starring as the central character , Dr. Islam , and it will be a winner in the doc category of the 2018 Oscars.

      A travesty , I know , but that’s the pattern now. We’re on a travesty roll.

  6. jaycee
    April 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    The genius of this current implementation of psychological warfare techniques is the binary oppositions which have already been seeded through the populace, such that most attempts to apply objective logic will be immediately dismissed as “Russian propaganda”.

    And this is just the first stage of a rapidly developing over-arching narrative: the UK’s Johnson was just recalled from a Moscow visit so the G7 could first reach a “resolution” that will express an ultimatum that Russia immediately withdraw from Syria or be ever associated, along with Assad, with the forces of Darkness. Tillerson will present this demand later this week. When this is rejected there will then be a standoff between the forces of Darkness (as designated) and Light (self-proclaimed). There will be attendant enormous pressure to go to war, which choice (or inevitability) has already been conditioned in absolutist terms.

    This turn of events – from relatively peaceful political transition in Syria, including Assad according to the expressed will of the Syrian people, to an apocalyptic struggle between Dark and Light – will have occurred in less than two weeks.

    • Vitaly
      April 11, 2017 at 5:03 am

      “G7 could first reach a “resolution” that will express an ultimatum that Russia immediately withdraw from Syria or be ever associated, along with Assad, with the forces of Darkness. Tillerson will present this demand later this week.” There is nothing to worry about Tillerson’s “ultimatum”. The whole Trump episode of last 2 years after raising some hopes of the US coming to sanity was profoundly discussed and on April 7, 2017 finally dismissed as laughable incident. Tillerson is already shrugged off and will be told so. The United States are already left on their own along with their vassals who will jump the sinking ship of Empire immediately after collapse of yet another clownish escapade in Korea. This “Show of Might” not followed by action is laughable and laughter kills mightier that WMD.

  7. D5-5
    April 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This analysis is strong and helpful. The what did Donald know and when did he know it is also a good question. Was he aware of an upcoming strike before the chemical attack April 4? If so was that part of a “message strategy” aimed at President Xi, at Putin (the “brush back” strategy), at North Korea, and at the US Public “This is my George W. Bush flight deck moment”?

  8. mike k
    April 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    It is so obvious that it is Israel, and secondarily the US neocons who want to destroy Syria. That the US public and now even Democracy Now cannot see this, is a testimony to the power of modern propaganda to “cloud men’s minds’’ as The Shadow used to intone on my favorite radio drama years ago. It is not that people are stupid; highly intelligent folks like Amy Goodman are susceptible to this scientifically developed psychological deception.

    The ability of persons to stand firm and maintain clear thinking in the midst of this onslaught of lies and deceptions is crucial to any chance of our avoiding the now seemingly inevitable collapse of civilization into chaos and barbarism. Unfortunately it takes time and focused effort to cultivate such a center of clear discernment within an individual. We do not have either the time or enough folks voluntarily offering themselves to this arduous and unpopular inner reprogramming. And this is a chief reason for my considered pessimism concerning the fate of our world.

    • Bill Bodden
      April 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      highly intelligent folks like Amy Goodman are susceptible to this scientifically developed psychological deception.

      Or, is it true that Amy Goodman is now being funded by George Soros?

    • Tomk
      April 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      I disagree –you say they “cannot see this” — they see it very well–these are all basically paid/owned propagandists for/serving Israel’s Zionist “leaders”, which basically thru their agents own the corporate media in the USA as well as the Congress….The only one Israel is for is Israel and as their version of the CIA the Mossad motto states “Thru deception we will wage war”, and they are busy doing just that as to enemies and “friends” — and that is what they are doing thru their media and spy network here and now they are in bed with Saudi Arabia who has basically bought “our” government….

      The fact Saudi Arabia was deeply involved in 911 is obvious but shunned by the media as much as possible — people with family murdered that day are not happy about this fact or the pathetic Bush/Cheney cover-up that followed, and as to Israel, just what were all those “Moving Company” spies doing and all the rest that they had going on here in the time leading up to that attack about which Netanyahu said 911 was “good” for Israel, got the USA to fight their wars for them, the Neocons lying us into it with Bush/Cheney….and who could forget the dancing Mossad agents stationed before the planes hit to celebrate the mass murder (this a country that is a “friend” of the USA?) : http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/fiveisraelis.html

      So if all that happened with 911 can be put under the rug, framing Syria or whoever (Lybia etc…) is easy for those Globalists/banksters/Neocons running the show and murdering people worldwide for their New World Order Globalist Zionist agenda….Trump knows the truth too, no doubt — we heard it in the campaign, but he saw what he was dealing with and did not consider it during the election– an opposition that has no mercy, that will tell any lie, that owns the media waves, and takes no prisoners and has money to burn and an army of fools to put on vagina hats, masks etc. and do their bidding thru Soros funded propaganda entities….

      As Trump’s buddy Howard Stern said, who has known him for years, Trump really, really wants to be “liked” and you know the constant terrible press and attacks absolutely got to him…easier to start WWIII and be liked, even a corporate media “hero”, as we see the “good” press he got from the Tomahawk missile murders at the Syrian airport….We are all in very serious trouble as the Russians are not stupid and know that there is no upside in giving in to the USA as they saw by the “help” they got from the West when the drunkard Yeltsin was the Globalist puppet and sold the country’s resources at a fire sale to Zionist connected “Oligarchs”….You think that Putin is going that way again? Time to get your fallout shelter dug….

  9. April 10, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    A good article by Rick Sterling.
    ———————————————————

    Oh Donny Boy: An Ode to The Donald
    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Pogo

    Oh, Donny Boy, the missiles, the missiles are landing
    On Syria, Yemen and other countries too
    Nations are being destroyed and people are slaughtered
    Is this what you and other “leaders” want to do?

    Your credibility is gone, and many people are dying
    But you are praised and lauded by those who hated you
    Oh Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy the planet is in deep doo, doo
    Should we give “thanks” for your missile maniacs’ crew?

    Still, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and England
    The NATO countries and the corporate media too
    Are all in “Seventh Heaven” and now ecstatic over you
    Oh, Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy these are your “war friends”?
    Isn’t that so very true!…

    [read more at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/04/oh-donny-boy-ode-to-donald.html

  10. mike k
    April 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I salute all my fellow commentators and analysts on CN, including those I radically disagree with, because I still want to hear from them, and admire their courage (or foolishness) for entering a literal lion’s den of folks with the skills to shoot down their flimsy ideas. You all give me the feeling of being somewhat less alone in my unpopular ideas about much of the world I have landed in. Support for such as me has been rather scarce, considering the unconventional life I have led….

    • D5-5
      April 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      This forum is certainly therapeutic as well as educational. We can build perspectives, acquire knowledge, move to valuable links for information, and build solidarity for challenge to mainstream views. Thanks for your freshness and honesty, Mike, and I lift my coffee cup to you!

      • mike k
        April 10, 2017 at 3:31 pm

        Thanks D5-5. I am learning a lot from your comments. It’s good to be with folks trying to understand what’s going on, and hopefully add something to moving it in better directions. Every little bit of clarity helps resolve this murky mess just a bit. A blog like this sends ripples out through the whole pond. Given the famous butterfly effect of chaos theory (sensitive dependence on initial conditions) who knows where a given ripple might trigger something really good….

    • Bill Bodden
      April 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      The real problem mike is that history is repeating itself. We are like the opponents of the First World War – the one to end all wars – in that we are the minority opposed to the wars of aggression committed by the US, UK, France and their allies or satraps. Kind of like Eugene Debs, Keir Hardie, Edmund Morel and too many others to name who fought in vain against their war.

  11. Bill Bodden
    April 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    George Capaccio over at CounterPunch demonstrates the grotesque hypocrisy of American politicians and media: “Arms and the Babies: Unbridled Compassion for All the Casualties of War” – http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/10/arms-and-the-babies-unbridled-compassion-for-all-the-casualties-of-war/

    How do these wretched creatures sleep at night?

    • D5-5
      April 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Bill, this is a very powerful piece on hypocrisy. It’s difficult to use routine words like hypocrisy for the horror these people are supporting with their sentimentality. I know I have been too fixated on Trump’s exchange of the babies he was talking about, and appalled by, with his own killing of four babies from the recent air base attack. That is unfair, however, since he did not set out to kill babies in the surrounding civilian area. His unfitness for the position is emphasized now every day. I know too that my experience in the blitz is fueling my responses, as we have talked of before.

      • Bill Bodden
        April 10, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        Thousands of dead, maimed and refugee babies that never troubled these “compassionate souls” until last week: Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. There needs to be another word for hypocrisy on steroids.

      • L-95
        April 14, 2017 at 11:15 am

        I couldn’t agree more, new words are much needed indeed. I find myself simply stuck with insufficient vocabulary. In times of utter helplessness, at least putting ones feelings into the right words might be of some help and relief. Let’s find those words, OR simply invent them.. Things are evolving with an astounding speed, so should be our language!

  12. April 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Good summary. Regarding the media bamboozling in general, one tries to make best guesses nowadays about what is mistakes, what is corruption, and what is very intentional propaganda. A media outlet is merely mistaken if they run a false story because that is what their accustomed sources are telling them and they have not heard different. They are corrupt when they are accepting extra forms of compensation to run certain types of stories or conclusions and not run others. It is deliberate propaganda when they know it is false or they know their source is being paid as a government propaganda agent and not as any kind of analyst. All three of these situations are common today. The US has entered a new period where homegrow government propaganda is being unleashed without any form of restraint on on the domestic market.

    • mike k
      April 10, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      Often I think those reporting the news have just been bent by the media and cultural biases over the long period of growing up in our culture, so that they perceive and interpret their experiences in ways they are not really aware of, and then confirmation bias causes them to select and interpret everything according to the ways their thinking has been skewed and twisted over the years. They are really innocent of any intentional conscious bias, they just report things the only way they can see them.

      Only by stepping outside your stuff and evaluating it can you get a relatively wide angle unprejudiced view of things. This kind of detachment has to be learned and practiced; something that is unfortunately pretty rare. Questioning oneself in this way is foundational to humility and openness.

    • April 10, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Josh,

    • John
      April 10, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Josh,

      Of all of the commenters here you are the one who has most clearly pinpointed the problem we face. The only further elaboration this needs is that it is essentially impossible for us as informed citizens to even parse out what mixture of these three miscreant motivators is driving any given actor in any given event. How do we fight what we can’t understand? When we attribute wrong motivations to people they fail to take us seriously and we are powerless to change the narrative.

  13. Tricia K
    April 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    What year was “Friendship Pipeline” refused by Syria? You could ask most Americans and they’d be clueless because it’s never talked about in mainstream. Cannot believe the amount of journalists who aren’t bringing forth truth, saddened is an understatement.
    “Syria’s rationale for rejecting the Qatar proposal was said to be “to protect the interests of [its] Russian ally,” which is Europe’s top supplier of
    natural gas.” -Gareth Porter
    History repeating itself. When will we learn?

  14. April 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    This is a great article, thank you so much for keeping sanity alive. The role of the media has indeed been shameful. In case someone is interested, I wrote a very detailed blog post, in which I examine the evidence about the recent chemical attack and compare the situation with what happened after the chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013. I argue that, in that previous case, the media narrative had rapidly unravelled and that, for that reason, we should be extremely prudent about the recent attack and not jump to conclusions. It’s more than 5,000 words long and I provide a source for every single factual claim I make. I really believe it’s the most thorough discussion of the allegations against Assad with respect to his alleged use of chemical weapons out there. In particular, I document in excruciating details the bias in the media, which Mr. Sterling is also talking about. Please share if you thought it was interesting.

  15. Bart in Virginia
    April 10, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    The PBS News Hour under “Judy” has stopped providing any alternative views on both Russia and Syria. Banned are level heads such as Pat Lang and Juan Cole. Instead we get analysis from the from the likes of the odious Matt Schlaap.

  16. backwardsevolution
    April 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Former French foreign minister states some truth in this 1:34 minute long video. He says he went to England two years before the start of hostilities in Syria, and he was asked if he wanted to go along with the plan to take out Assad. When asked why by journalists, he said it’s because Assad is seen as being anti-Israel. He said this operation goes way back, and it was “prepared, conceived and planned”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFHdiw4D7tk

  17. MSMs are phonies
    April 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    MSM are just propaganda machines… for their master the wars must go on..

  18. jaycee
    April 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry has responded with a rebuttal to the current assertions directed against Syria. It will be dismissed by the assertive ones, but contains a fairly detailed chronology of CW accusations and investigation. Most importantly, it refers to specific reports and incidents which can be fairly easily confirmed and fact-checked. The true believers in North America and Europe will not bother, but the rest of the world will take note.

    https://southfront.org/russian-foreign-ministry-slams-western-version-of-syrian-chemical-weapons-issue/

    The statement notes that a sort of common cause between rebel groups and international NGOs working in the area have influenced perceptions:

    “To get a clear picture of what is going on, it would be a good idea to find the financing sources behind these NGOs, and then a lot of things will most likely fall into place.”

  19. Realist
    April 10, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Now, will someone knowledgeable please address the real point of all this madness and carnage? Logic (at any rate, a cost/benefit analysis) would dictate that it cannot simply be the control of a small Arab country half way round the world from the United States which has never been a threat to us, not even if that country is the closest thing to an ally that Iran has, which has also never been a threat to us. It cannot be the gas pipeline from Qatar to the Mediterranean that gets floated, as there are alternative routes through Iraq and Turkey. How can it even be for Israel’s “security,” as Syria had stopped attacking Israel decades ago. Hezbollah only engages Israel, defensively, when the Jewish state periodically invades Lebanon. Moreover, it’s not as if Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah faction in Lebanon were going to gang up and attack Israel. That would be suicidal, because Israel has long had plans for such a war and they include nukes.

    What’s the true motive behind all the lies, the manipulations, the killing and the forced exodus of millions of people with entire large cities now lying in rubble that looks right from out of WWII? Just how was this worth it to the secret cabal that dictate American foreign policy? What is their objective beyond decimating the entire Middle East and bringing Russia and America to the brink of a civilisation-ending nuclear war? Are the devils pushing this policy (and it ain’t simple-minded Donald Trump any more than it was the narcissistic Barack Obama) even humans? The deception is so transparent and the rationale given is so completely phony that even the far left side of the bell curve should have caught on to the ruse long ago. Yet, supposedly informed and intelligent leaders in the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagram (er, Pentagon) all walk in lock-step, embracing a group think that is clearly nonsense.

    Defeating Assad, which will require a logarithmically-greater degree of death and destruction than heretofore employed, can only empower the obviously not “moderate” headchoppers of the Islamic State who will subsequently carry out genocide against the Christians, Shias, Jews and other minorities throughout Syria, as they have done in areas over their control. Clearly this is what the “Deep State,” or whoever truly runs America, wants. The question is, why do they want this? And the next obvious question is, why are we letting this happen? How and when did this shadow government seize control of our country? Obviously, those in public positions of “official” authority are not going to do a damned thing about it. What can the rest of us do about them? And, how soon, to save the world?

    • Realist
      April 10, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      I might add and emphasize that this is not about pushing for the ascendency of Russia’s, Syria’s and Iran’s world view and “values” system over that of the United States. I’ve always said let those countries run their internal affairs their own way, as long as they do not threaten us or others. The fact is nobody has been threatening us or any of our allies. The problem has been that we have been threatening and bullying the whole world in an attempt to micromanage the entirety of it. In the process we have completely ignored the internal needs of our own people. Our government takes our tax money, meant to support infrastructure, health, education and social safety nets, and squanders it in a never-ending campaign to conquer the world through military action. That is the great evil in this world which is the focus of my concern. (I’m sure most who read this blog realise that, but just let it formally be expressed.)

      • david kelly
        April 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        they say the USA has one of the most onerous and oppressive criminal justice systems in the world. For years prisons have been the second fastest growing industry in Michigan. You don’t need to view US foreign policy to see the bullying and oppression, there’s plenty at home.

    • Bill Bodden
      April 10, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Now, will someone knowledgeable please address the real point of all this madness and carnage?

      The original Zionist plan for Israel was that it would extend north to the Euphrates which would put Syria in its path. That plan may still be operative. An oil pipeline was and may still be another factory.

      • Realist
        April 10, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        But what’s in it for America? Sure, we (white folks) committed genocide against the Native Americans and enslaved the black Africans, but we received title to all of North America and developed all its natural resources in return. I know, the working folks will get squat from whatever imperial grabs we make, but how is Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the rest benefitted by the Rothschild’s grabbing everything up to the Euphrates River. How is that worth the investment of our (non-Jewish) oligarchs? Okay, forget Trump as an example, his daughter has ensured that his future progeny will be of the chosen people, but most of the filthy rich are still high WASP’s if I’m not mistaken.

        • Bill Bodden
          April 10, 2017 at 10:42 pm

          But what’s in it for America?

          Realist: They don’t give a damn about America – just their little section along Wall Street and other entities connected to it.

        • Irene
          April 10, 2017 at 11:45 pm

          Any polititian who opposes AIPAC has their political career cut short.

        • Sam F
          April 11, 2017 at 7:34 am

          There is nothing in it for America; the politicians are after the Israeli bribes and will lose to zionist opponents if they do not.
          1. all ten of Clinton’s top “contributors” were Jewish; many others were Saudis;
          2. nearly all mass media are directly and/or indirectly controlled by Jews;
          3. nearly all politicians worship at AIPAC and vote for Israel “aid” to get some of it back as “donations”;
          4. the non-Jewish oligarchs must do business with the Jewish-controlled companies;

    • Salford Lad
      April 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      The true motive behind the wars in the Middle East, is to maintain the US dollar as Reserve Currency and the Petrodollar as the unit of value for a barrel of oil. thus financing the US economyand its Military enforcement machine.
      Russia and China have been dumping their US Treasury Bonds slowly and now trade between themselves in Gold,Yuan and rubles.
      They have formed a new Financial system with the AIIB (Asian investment and Infrastructure Bank). They have formed a new Bank Clearing System,separate from SWIFT. They have their own credit card systems.
      China is building the NEW SILK ROADS and sea arteries to connect the countries of ASIA to Europe. Trade along these routes will be in local currencies,by-passing the dollar.
      The Silk Roads by-pass the US Navy’s control of the sea route choke points and make their carrier fleets largely redundant as enforcement tools..
      For the Washington war machine,Syria is but a stop along the road to Iran, then up into Central Asia to cut and control the Silk Road and impose the US dollar toll charge.
      The New Silk Roads spell the end of the US dollar as the dominant currency and the end of the US military and Financial hegemon.
      Thus Syria is a major pivot point in World History and will be a war to the end. Empires die slowly and usually decay from within, but this may not be the case with the neocon psychopaths reluctant to give up power willingly.

      • John Neal Spangler
        April 10, 2017 at 7:58 pm

        Salford Lad has the best analysis of the situation

      • Sam F
        April 11, 2017 at 7:40 am

        Syria is not on the “Silk Road” it is south of the Russia-Turkey land links to Europe.
        It is an alternative gas pipeline route from the south to Turkey, but that appears to be a scam to conceal the AIPAC goals.
        Syria is the target of Israel alone.

      • Sam F
        April 11, 2017 at 7:44 am

        Europe has no motive at all to cut off the Russia-China trade, and would not support endless wars in central Asia for that purpose. The US cannot afford to attempt control of central Asia and would lose far more in doing so than any trade advantage. The foolish US effort to control Afghanistan, graveyard of empires, has failed utterly and will continue to fail. It was an attempt to injure the USSR and is now an attempt to get Israeli bribes by harassing Iran. Already Europe rebels against the use of NATO for US aggression.

        Such wars are also blatantly unconstitutional, which the US zionist oligarchy will realize when the war costs must be paid.

      • Realist
        April 12, 2017 at 7:25 am

        Maintaining the petrodollar most likely is a major incentive for much of the chaos spawned by Washington throughout the world. However, it and all forms of currency including precious metals become totally meaningless in a world ravaged by a thermonuclear war. If you’re a survivor of such a conflagration, canned tuna or beans would be much more valuable to you than a gold brick. The petrodollar becomes useful only for starting your campfire. Since pushing the envelope on World War III in Syria, Ukraine or North Korea is not justifiable to save the petrodollar or all the paintings in the Louvre, I am still left wondering why this pursuit of madness by the U.S. government?

  20. clarioncaller
    April 10, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    The media needs to follow up with creator of this military action, Ivanka Trump, and ask her where her moral outrage was when Isreal turned Gaza into Dresden.

  21. Abe
    April 10, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Just want to say thanks for your outstanding work. Keep it up!

  22. david kelly
    April 10, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Given this depiction of events, and the past, once forgotten (?), history of Cold War Superpower confrontations, is it in the cards, or even in the stars, that nuclear holocaust must inexorablyt destroy the planet? Heaven forbid! Like those of us who go to work everyday don’t have enough on our minds. Shades of the dynastic peccadilloes preceding WWI…..

  23. david kelly
    April 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t know how much money Syria owes Russia. So this may be “laffable”: be that as it may, since the U.S. Fed is good at bailing out just about everybody else, why not print up the greenbacks and get Syria off the financial hook? What’s the opportunity cost? Another war? Nuclear war? How much money have we spent on our adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen lately? Maybe the opportunity cost is the excuse for more adventures…and more monies flowing to the war machines…

  24. exiled off mainstreet
    April 11, 2017 at 1:53 am

    This is an excellent commentary exposing the sick propaganda of the regime’s cheerleaders. The western commercial media are no freer than the German media was during the nazi era. While there was some diversity allowed, the propaganda line was stuck to religiously as it is here. The media controlled by yankee influence has degenerated into a propaganda cesspool as dangerous as that of the third Reich, or perhaps more dangerous since we are now in the nuclear era.

  25. Herman
    April 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

    The policy of the United States has always been what Ambassador Oren expressed, anybody but Assad. The reason for our positioning for Russia to retreat in humiliation or fight is clear enough. The people of Syria cannot be given the right to decide who shall lead their country because we know Assad would most likely win. It was demonstrated in the election in 2014 and demonstrated by the willingness of the Syrian people to resist the extremists, mercenaries and a small group of well meaning people who want to overthrow the Syrian Government by force.

    Putin is a statesman and a realist. He must decide to defend the legitimate government of Syria or back down if he considers it is in the interest of his people.

    Tillerson’s and Haley’s comments we must assume reflect the position of their President and his weak and shameful about face.

  26. Susan Sunflower
    April 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    While not wildly encouraging, the popularity of Trump’s strike on Syria would appear to have also been inflated … it’s at 57% (with Republican support in the 80’s and Democrat support in the 40’s) … Trump got a modest boost all the way up to 43% approval per one poll, 40% ( I read but could not confirm) from Gallop.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-poll-shows-divergence-in-americans-opinion-of-us-strike-vs-syria/

    Sanders came out swinging calling Assad a war criminal, but not calling for his immediate ouster, arrest, charges or trial … also not calling for “cooler heads”, avoiding a rush to judgment, an investigation, etc. I’m disappointed, but it was to be expected since “aiding and abetting war crimes/criminals” has been successfully added to the epithets hurled at “doubters” …
    https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-statement-on-us-missile-strike-in-syria

    A number of people I considered reliably anti-war have been largely silent / silenced … UFPJ (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/)and World Can’t Wait (http://www.worldcantwait.net/ ) fight on for peace …

  27. Mark Thomason
    April 11, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I am not willing to accept the bare assertions of either version of what happened. It could be a third thing too. Or a fourth.

    The only thing we know is that we don’t really know anything about this. By the time we do know, we’ll have acted, and it will be too late to go back and fix it.

  28. Bill in Montgomery
    April 13, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I hope this gets some significant attention. I can relate to the 2nd paragraph (no skepticism allowed). I made a post on this comment on Facebook, expressing the same skepticism about the veracity of the Trump version of events. You should read the comments I received, one from the wife of an Air Force “intelligence officer” who said I had done “great damage” and deeply offended her and her family with my comments. Another person said I was just seeking “attention” and should not comment on subjects I could not possibly no anything about. Yet another said we should always support the president, etc. Out of 1075 Face book friends, my post got 13 likes. No one wrote a comment supporting my post with several people blasting me and basically labeling me a traitor. Those comments of course got plenty of “likes.” Later, I simply linked to Pat Buchanan’s latest column on the topic and added a brief comment of my own about the “very negative reaction” my first post had generated. My second post/link on this “news” has so far got me only one neutral comment and zero likes. I have a theory on this. Some people did read and respond positively to my first post. These people then saw the level of verbal attack directed at me from this post and probably decided “no way am i going to support this guy on this topic.” My point in sharing this anecdote? The “no debate allowed/no investigation needed” crowd intimidates and scares those who might otherwise opine. I think they are bullies. Just like “McCarthyites.” I’d like to say, “Come on. You can stand up for your beliefs or to the bullies, or to the principle of ‘free speech …” Well, I actually have said this in so many words. From my observations, less than 1 percent of my little universe of Facebook friends care about such stuff. So we have this going for us as a nation …

  29. Michael Kenny
    April 13, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Events have left Mr Sterling behind! The Syrians now admit that they carreid out the attack. They claim that the attacked a building which contained the gas, causing it to escape. If their intelligence services were good enough to identify the building as a target, thet they should also have been good enough to identify what was inside and know that an air attack would have catastrophic consequences. Of course, the intelligence foul-up might be the fault of the ever-inefficient Russians. Thus all that remains to be determined is whether the Syrians knew what was in the building and if they didn’t, why they didn’t. Either way, the moral responsibility for what happened rest squarely on Assad.

  30. April 13, 2017 at 1:42 pm
  31. April 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Michael Kenny: Link?

  32. April 13, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Please, try using different browser. http://christieshepherd4.blog.fc2.com/

  33. William
    April 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    The almost total suppression of any comment critical of Israel is probably unprecedented in modern history.
    The mainstream media has become a propaganda outlet that prevents any serious criticism of Israel from reaching the American
    public. As a consequence, U.S. citizens have no conception of reality. Fed a constant diet of anti-Muslim propaganda, the resulting hatred of Muslims and Arabs is to be expected.

    The people have no voice. The U.S. mainstream media has been co-opted by Israeli sympathizers in this country. All major media, including print, electronic, movies, and academic journals are owned by American Jews or controlled in one way or another by Jews.
    This comment is so susceptible to being tarred as anti-Semitic that I am hesitant to publish it, but the facts are what they are. I am greatly troubled by the cowardly submission of congress to pro-Israel lobbyists. Perhaps I am too cynical. I hope not. But I can say that I am NOT anti-semitic. I am opposed to any group, culture, race, or religion taking control of the U.S., my country.

Comments are closed.