As we all wait to see how the new US administration is going to change its behaviour in Syria and Iraq, our leaders and media are hanging on every latest tweet from President Trump. Although early signs from Trump’s appointees are not looking promising, with a bizarre and aggressive focus on Iran, something else more concrete has happened in Syria since the inauguration.
In what might be seen as symbolic of the wider dispute between the US and Russia, US forces bombed two bridges across the great Euphrates, beside the Da’esh occupied city of Raqqa. Perhaps recognising that this act was a war-crime – against the Syrian government by an invading power – that needed reporting, some video appeared on mainstream media of the destruction, though not accompanied by any real explanation or possible military objective.
In the context of years of misreporting of events in Syria by our media, such an explanation – or excuse – would only have compounded the crime. Raqqa sits on the northern side of the river, so the breaking of the bridges has cut it off from the rest of Syria; we may draw our own conclusions. As far as the Syrian government is concerned, every bomb dropped or missile fired by ‘US coalition’ forces in Syria is a criminal act, even if it actually kills jihadist insurgents. Yet our media never acknowledge the illegality of the coalition forces’ actions in Syria, or compare them with the entirely legitimate actions of Russian or Iranian forces, or militias from Lebanon and Iraq, all of whom are operating in coordination with the Syrian Arab Army and Syrian government to defend Syria and its people.
In Australia there is a further twist to this media distortion of reality – the two government-sponsored media agencies, the ABC and SBS – rarely even acknowledge the presence of Australian forces in Syria, or detail any involvement of Australian forces in Iraq in the current campaign to liberate Mosul. Yet the truth of Australia’s commitment to the US coalition – or NATO coalition – is that its minor military significance belies its political significance.
This commitment to join America’s ‘War on Terror’ following the demolition of the World Trade Centre in 2001 began with John Howard’s slavish relationship with George W Bush, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. In both those cases Australia’s ‘contribution’ was fairly small but politically highly significant. Howard’s government repeated the lies of Bush and Blair about Iraq’s WMDs and Howard himself still maintained this position even after he was thrown out of government in 2007. Thanks to the small military commitment, and the fact that very few Australian soldiers came home in coffins, there was minimal public opposition to it. This was despite the testimony of Intelligence whistle-blower Andrew Wilke who raised the alarm over false intelligence on Iraq in 2003.
Perhaps it is the history of the Iraq war and the media’s failure to expose the real motives behind that criminal attack by the US ‘Coalition of the Willing’ that has set the scene for the current war on Syria – by the same coalition. Only this time there has been no public opposition whatsoever to the war, presented as necessary ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘responsibility to protect’. Thanks to an unprecedented misinformation war waged by Western media on behalf of their governments, the public doesn’t even realise that it is our war. In reality this was a war started and manipulated by the US and its allies and waged with terrorist mercenaries; a calculated destruction of a country which refused to tow America’s line.
That America’s line is also Australia’s line has been indisputable for the last sixteen years, and with the increasing domination of our culture by US ‘culture’, through commercial and social networks and particularly media it’s unlikely to change, any more than America itself is going to change under Donald Trump.
Under Obama, Australian perspectives have become steadily more dominated by those of ‘liberal’ America, and by the social and cultural obsessions of that society. Increasingly our news focuses on events in the US, and to an unhealthy degree; this means overlooking far more important and relevant issues elsewhere. Thanks also to the domination of the ‘Western’ media by US and US-friendly organisations, we mostly only get to hear about other crises – in Syria for example – when there is some dramatic development. For most people, who have none of the vital background knowledge necessary to make an informed judgement on what they are shown, such news stories have quite unworthy credibility as well as enormous impact.
So it is that Australia’s official government position on Syria can remain quite contradictory and ‘illegitimate’ – in tune with the US – without any public or parliamentary challenge. Simply put, Australia maintains that President Assad is not Syria’s legitimate President, despite overwhelming public support, but that our presence in Syria is only to fight Da’esh. Such a fundamentally mendacious and hypocritical position could never have been maintained, now for six long terrible years, without the connivance and complicity of our mainstream media, as well as their role in generating public support for military intervention by ‘spreading false news’.
The liberation of East Aleppo last December by the Syrian Army and its allies should have been the turning point in the war on Syria; the point at which the foreign aggressors finally understood that the regime change project had failed. It should also have been the point where the Western public started to understand how they had been lied to and manipulated by their leaders and agencies, and began to turn on them in anger and disgust.
But what happened? ‘Aleppo’ became the latest and worst ‘genocide’ the world had witnessed – according to the Western media, who helped launch a global campaign of solidarity with the besieged civilians. This was in fact possibly the worst ‘vericide’ of recent times, where the liberators became war criminals and the terrorists holding the city under violent siege became victims – in the eyes of the Western public.
This perverse inversion of the truth saw Syrians celebrating the liberation of their city from foreign-backed terrorists while the whole of the Western populace commiserated over its ‘fall’. Australians were as much victim to this pervasive deception as others in the Western media bubble. None of those media had reporters on the ground in Syria, even in ‘rebel’ occupied areas, or showed any interest in visiting East Aleppo following its liberation.
Up to this point we might have believed that the Western powers fighting against Syria, Russia and Iran still had some desire to see a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict, and would accede to Russia’s strategic demands and those of international law. This is particularly so as we could never believe that those Western powers didn’t know the truth of what they were doing in Syria, even though their citizens remained in ignorance.
But the Western reaction to the Syrian coalition’s remarkably clean operation in Aleppo that saw the freeing of around 100,000 civilians from the ‘rebel’ siege of the East shattered any such hopes. A witless media, led by ‘human rights’ organisations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with UN and other Aid agencies, turned reality on its head and continues to do so. In apparent collusion with the NATO coalition, for whom the prospect of the current Russian-led peace talks succeeding is evidently intolerable, both Amnesty and HRW are now making excessive and baseless claims about Syria’s treatment of captives in prison and Russian military actions in Aleppo.
Sadly also some media organisations including our ABC, are not so witless, but apparently willing in this ongoing campaign against the Syrian, Iranian and Russian governments. Although they quite failed to tell us about the arms and chemical agents that Russian and Syrian forces found left behind in East Aleppo, they are now telling us crazy stories about Chlorine gas attacks and illegal munitions supposedly used by the liberating forces. After the preposterous claims that the same story-teller – Eliot Higgins – made about Russian BUK missiles in Donbass, no reasonably informed Russian, Syrian or Iranian would even consider Higgin’s latest YouTube and ‘crowd-sourced’ ‘evidence’. But given the ABC’s stamp of approval, Australian audiences would do the opposite, never imagining that this is real ‘fake news’.
And to persuade them otherwise just got an awful lot harder.
*David Macilwain – a contributor to “American Herald Tribune” and “Russia Insider” and has been following the ‘Arab Spring’ propaganda wars from Australia.