Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Syria and the selective use of 'terrorism'

As the civil war in Syria intensifies, Media Lens's latest alert, The Right Kind of Terror provides another timely reminder of how our propaganda system works in demonising the West's official enemies while harnessing effective leftist-liberal 'support' for its anti-Assad agenda.

Many on the left will sincerely respond that they completely oppose Western 'intervention' while still holding to a position of solidarity with 'ordinary Syrians' and the 'Syrian revolution'.

Yet, rarely does this include any radical critique of  the liberal media's selective denunciations of violence in Syria. Nor does it, seemingly, see the already Western/Nato/Saudi arming of Syrian and associate 'rebels' as a criminal, interventionist and, yes, terrorist encouragement to that violence.

Only now are we seeing a trickle of media commentary on such on-the-ground involvement, though, crucially, pitched around questions of 'effectiveness' to US interests rather than 'violation of international law' and 'wilful intensification of killing'.

Which begs not just a moral, but very practical, related question: are the left, in any material or political way, helping the cause of humanitarian freedoms in Syria by turning an effective blind-eye to the proliferation of Western-channelled weaponry?

The absence in most media reportage of Western arms and its crucial role in fuelling Syria's civil war is not just some passive omission. It's part of a default-line presentation of the conflict as a 'mass-populist-uprising' endorsed by a 'concerned international community'.

Yet, the much more nuanced religious/sectarian divisions, political allegiances and social support lines across Syria easily defy this conveniently-procured picture.

Caught between a desire to declare template-type backing for another 'Spring rising' against 'another brutal dictator' and the more uncomfortable reality of an opposition itself engaged in ugly sectarian/jihadi bloodshedding, the latter is sheepishly ignored.

Nor has this, apparently, restrained many on the professed left from denouncing those who seek to convey these essential truths as 'Assad apologists'. The gathering vilification of Media Lens, in particular, by a brooding corpus of the liberal-left spectrum helps define just how deeply incorporated many are into the consent-building system of liberal-media hegemony.

All of which brings even many of the 'support Syrians, reject interventionists' into tacit line with the Western narrative and aim of regime change.

As Media Lens explicitly reiterate:   
"It should hardly need to be emphasised that criticising Western state and corporate propaganda about events in Syria should in no way be interpreted as support for Assad. To suggest this, as a few critics have done, is cynical, ignorant and deceitful. Over the years, we have been accused of being pro-Milosevic, pro-Saddam, pro-Gaddafi, pro-Iran, pro-Assad, and even pro-North Korea, when what we have done is expose Western media bias against these official enemies of the West. As a matter of simple common sense it should be obvious that highlighting systemic bias in the corporate media is important, regardless of one’s moral evaluation of the targets of that bias."
As Libya descends into further Nato-inflicted disorder, the most vital and immediate task for serious leftist writers/activists, most notably those in the West, is not just rhetorical pronunciations of solidarity with oppositionist Syrians, but the purposeful exposure of more media-cheered Western aggression.

That's an expression of true solidarity, part of the long-term exercise of real humanitarian assistance to already suffering Syrians.


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