Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Syria - media war beats also out of time with public mood

By a substantial two-thirds margin, an Independent poll of British people indicates a strong rejection of any US-UK war on Syria or any other involvement in the region. A BBC poll suggests similar findings.

Yet, despite the avalanche of propaganda, public feeling also seems at odds with the media's own war promotions.

As efforts intensify for a re-run of the parliamentary debate - urged-on by Liberal hawks like Lord Ashdown - Cameron, Clegg and others within the ConDem hierarchy have prudently avoided calls for a second parliamentary vote, wary of such public feeling.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, while Obama could also ignore any Congressional disapproval in order to wage war, he, like Cameron, is also deeply aware of America's mass hostility over intervention.

Such public reticence also prevails despite Kerry's 'definitive evidence' that Assad has used chemical weapons, claims routinely taken as authentic by an establishment-serving media.

Yet, public scepticism is still holding. All of which casts encouraging doubt not only over the official version of events but the media's selective repetition of them.

Even as constituency-watching politicians cover themselves from political fallout, liberal media support for bombing intensifies, much of it pitched as headline-honed approvals.      

While the Independent and Guardian duly report the public's war weariness, they also peddle for intervention; recording populist disapproval while keeping the beat for war.

It's a fork-tongued R2P-speak evident in yet another tortured Guardian editorial, applauding Obama's 'cautious' manoeuvring for war. 

In an equally scurrilous piece, Guardian doyen Jonathan Freedland piles on the Shakesperean language, casting Obama as the 'torn interventionist' and urging him to get the bombing started. Among the many distortions here is the claim that Assad's forces alone are responsible for all deaths in the conflict.

Again, despite all the signs of public disapproval, despite the absence of definitive proof over chemical weapons, and despite their prior complicity over Iraq, we see key Guardian liberals masking the facts and cheer-leading for war.    

So, beyond even their moral 'authority', how much analytical credibility should such 'senior' media be given?  

Craig Murray, the whistleblowing ex-diplomat and blogger who knows from experience the inside workings of the intelligence network, casts very reasonable doubt on Kerry's key claims over Israeli phone 'intercepts' between Syrian officials 'incriminating' Assad. He shows that UK listening facilities in Cyprus, the most advanced and vital in the region, would almost certainly have picked-up these communications. Yet, there's no mention of them in the British intelligence accounts. Murray's logical conclusion: it's because they don't exist.

Complementary analysis can be viewed in a fine piece by Gareth Porter, discussing in close detail how the 'evidence' has been "twisted" and potentially fabricated. In particular, he notes that no actual proof of words confirming the alleged Syrian officials' use of chemical weapons has been presented by US intelligence. If Kerry had them, he would certainly have used them.

A sceptical public may never get to see the definitive evidence over chemical weapons. Yet, in contrast to most liberal output, this kind of unconstrained media is proving a vital source of public information. There's almost non-existent coverage of such insights or detailed scrutiny of official claims coming from our 'best liberal' journalists.  

What does certainly exist, and will continue to function despite British 'withdrawal' from the proposed onslaught, is the UK's dutiful intelligence line to the US. None of that vital militarism will be affected. And, again, it's a media 'reality' taken-for-granted.

So is the presumed right of Israel to test its own weaponry under Assad's nose, with the BBC pitching this as though Israel itself was under primary threat of attack.      

Faced with this vast network of forces and the imminent purge on Assad, one might expect at least some considered thought on how his government regard the gathering threat.   

The level of 'balance' can be seen in a token BBC report citing Assad's warning that an attack will only assist al-Qaeda. And that's about the extent of the 'impartial assessment'.

Indeed, for the BBC's Jeremy Bowen, the Assad circle is, we're led to believe, greatly enjoying the moment:
"As you'd expect, the Syrian leadership is quite relishing where it is - it sees itself as eyeball to eyeball with the Americans."
Of course, you'd never hear Bowen or his associates say the Obama leadership is relishing "where it is", or that it's arrogantly eyeballing Assad. That's because Western relish for action is always assumed as motivated by' 'benign concern', not, as in Assad's supposed case, puffed-up nationalism.

It's very possible that Assad could soon be facing the same fate as Saddam and Gaddafi. Or, maybe, for Bowen, that's part of the same relishing of martyrdom so often ascribed to the Arab or/and Muslim 'other'.

Whatever Western-Israeli fears of what might replace him, Assad is now another dispensible foe. His fetings by Blair and receptions at Buckingham Palace are no more. 

No need either for an Assad-demonising media to dwell on America's past use of the Syrian regime for rendition and torture.

And, as revelations of British government licenses for chemical weapon-making substances to Syria confirm, profit-driven interests - as in Western dealings with Saddam and Gaddafi - will always prevail over humanitarian ones.

All this hypocrisy is part of the same mock outrage over the actual use of chemical weapons, as though this form of militaristic murder is somehow more reprehensible or, in its actual outcome, deadlier than any other brandished by the merchants of death.

How easily, bombarded by this narrative, we absorb the media-churned language of 'red lines', as though the blowing apart of Afghan children with drones is somehow a 'better' or 'more moral' way to die.  

And, of course, what of the West's own mass deployment of deadly nerve agents, from Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam to the murder of innocents in Fallujah with white phosphorus (also used by Israel in Gaza), or the use of depleted uranium and other thermobaric weapons elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Whatever Assad's own crimes, how staggering to think that the perpetrators of these mass human atrocities should ever be allowed to speak or act with 'moral authority'.  

America, Britain and Nato at large cannot help the Syrian or any other war-suffering people. Why? Because Obama, Cameron and their ilk are already part of violent, aggressive states, guilty of vast criminal acts, with no 'solution' to offer other than more reckless violence.

Sometimes the enormity of the deceit feels surreal. How seamlessly BBC news coverage of sprawling Syrian refugee camps (what similar coverage of 4 million Iraqi refugees?) is immediately followed by Obama and his staff announcing their readiness to lay more bombs and misery upon that very country. 

Our media should be asking: what kind of insanity allows not just politicians but we journalists and news presenters to discuss this, 'our civilised interventions', as 'reasonable' human behaviour?  

This is the level of 'humanity' a power-serving media keep us attuned to, as if the only answer to such suffering is cruise missiles; as if even - as weapons correspondents assess and political ones speculate - Obama's approval rating or legacy in office should remotely matter in deciding whether, how or when to blow more people up.

Despite all this craven propaganda, even a politically-assaulted public are now seemingly more war-averted than a liberal media still crafting approving headlines, weasel editorials and lofty opinions for murderous intervention.     


Michael Stephenson said...

Craig's claims about Cyprus are spurious, and his access to such information is so dated.

Microwaves being intercepted? The vast majority of data is sent via undersea cables, not radiowaves.

If Cyprus is the key listening station in the Middle East, it will be by intercepting undersea cables, not listening out for radiowaves.

However I believe that the British Middle East listening station is in Jeddah, all they'd have to do is convince the Saudi's to give them space in the datacentre in Jeddah, and access to the cables.

Jeddah is by far the best spot to intercept all the undersea cables in the region, and this xkeyscore slide indicates that there is some kind of listening sation in Jeddah

Of course all that is by the by, his point about it being that Israel has intercepted information seems spurious when by all accounts the British have the best facilities in the region.

Michael Stephenson said...

As for the rest of the article, Brilliant as usual, John.

It is truly uplifting to see how people just don't believe the propagandist press these days.

Maybe old Chompers is wrong about the ineffectiveness of the internet and bloggers, how much longer will it be tolerated?

Dan said...

Great article, thanks

John Hilley said...

Thanks, Michael and Dan.

Michael, I have no special technical understanding of such spookdom, but credit Murray with some fair comprehension of the processes discussed, as well as that which still comes to his ear from valued sources. Whatever the case, he helps illuminate the very questionable nature of such 'defining' intel and the dark manipulations going on.