Friday, 16 March 2012

Blackening Assad, whitening Cameron and Obama

David Cameron flies into Washington to discuss the 'three crucial issues' of Afghanistan, Iran and Syria.

We hear pious words about 'getting the job finished', of 'blocking a nuclear threat' and of 'helping to prevent a slaughter'.

The 'special relationship' is dutifully reaffirmed as Dave and Barack eat burgers together at the basketball game, both good fellas' upholding America's and Britain's common 'humanitarian values'.

And, on cue, British state media duly 'report' the script. 

Do Nick Robinson, Mark Mardell and their BBC associates even deserve the basic entitlement 'journalists'? What they say and convey is so routinely, so obediently, pro-establishment, so removed from any semblance of analytical integrity, it might reasonably shame Pravda.

From illegal invasions to proxy coups, here are two countries directly responsible for the worst warmongering catastrophes on the planet, two super-imperialist entities with not the slightest right to claim 'moral intervention'.

But, why might the 'BBC's finest', flying on the PM's plane, drag up such awkward, core realities when there's so many more 'diplomatic' things to say on the 'cool chemistry' between the Camerons and Obamas?

Sometimes, watching the fawning panoply that passes for 'foreign correspondence', the truly sobering thought occurs: how do they actually manage to maintain this staggering deception?

And so it is with the actual 'coverage' of the wider Western war agenda. All 'journalistic' veneer, no critical substance.

On the issue of Syria, the mainstream media is awash with atrocities committed by Assad. All fair reporting of regime-directed killing, one might reasonably say, particularly given the accompanying appeals from Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

Yet, they, along with the Western mainstream media, have amplified a convenient headline narrative, failing to report the complexities of the conflict, the multi-competing forces, the manoeuvring of favoured regimes like Saudi Arabia and, above all, the West's own pernicious agenda.

Where amongst all the damning columns on the Assad regime is the key story of Nato's dark 'interventionist' intent? As Wikileaks-released emails from the Pentagon-linked Stratfor agency confirm, US/Nato forces have been operating inside Syria all along seeking to destabilise Assad.

Which begs related questions of a media with so much nuanced information at its disposal. Why isn't the conflict reported as an effective civil war? Who is arming the opposition? Who, beyond the Free Syrian Army, are the opposition? Why are the media only citing selective opposition 'sources'? What responsibility does the FSA bear for the killing and casualties? Do the majority of Syrians, even those not supporting Assad, really want regime change?

Fair presentation of those questions would be in the public interest, but it wouldn't suit the Manichean, black-and-white view the West wants promoted.

Also, what's the true reason for vilifying Russia and China? For all their own vested interests, both are still rightly resisting any Security Council mandate that facilitates Western force.

Only rare, yet still marginal, voices within the liberal media like Jonathan Steele are helping to separate fact from stylised fiction.

Meanwhile, the Guardian, in its sanctimonious proselytising for the 'liberal West', is running a series of stories on the leaked Assad emails. If authentic, they cast Assad and his wife in no great light. But why, one wonders, is the Guardian making such a splash about such innocuous details? What kind of tabloid-type message is it sending with stories like The Assads at war: killing and shopping?

Imagine a similar headline on the PM and his wife in Washington: 'The Camerons at war: killing and entertaining'.

Only the Assads and other Western enemies, it seems, are capable of living lavishly, indifferent to their war crimes, while 'our' criminality, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine and elsewhere is treated as 'intervention' and 'conflict management', the state executives of those high crimes, from Blair to Cameron, deferred to as political celebrities.

All of which - as with the fatuous Kony 2012 production, drawing-in eager Congressmen and celebs - lends itself to a glossed-up, simplified line on 'Western-good-guys-needed-to-oust-bad-guy-despots'.

As Sharmine Narwani asks:
"“Hollywood” in Syria? Oh yes. Scene-setting the likes of which we have not yet seen outside of celluloid fiction. Delivering lines to a rapt audience that seems incapable of questioning the plot. Some of what transpires in Syria in the future will depend on this: Do people want to go behind the velvet curtain and see the strings – or are they content to be simply led by the entertainment." 
But that again would require proper media insight and courage, the depressing vacuousness of which is pressed home in Narwani's scathing letter Dear Western journalist.

Assad's repressions should be fairly reported and condemned, those personal indulgences noted. But his crimes and abuses are minuscule - and calculatingly exaggerated - compared with those committed by the US/UK.

Instead of sycophantic spin on the 'special relationship' and US/UK plans for 'ethical assistance', any serious reporting of Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and other sites of imperialist interest would relate, as standard truth, the reminder that Obama and Cameron are themselves proven warmongers, that their states are responsible for mass crimes against humanity and that the 'moral concerns' they gushingly express from the White House lawn should be treated by the media and public alike as warnings of further subterfuge, war and killing to come.            


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