August 23, 2016

Syria: Manipulation for war

Ajit Singh

A couple weeks ago, a Palestinian child was beheaded by the "moderate rebels" in Syria, created, funded, and backed by the United States, Canada, and NATO. Western states and the corporate media tried to minimize and downplay this beheading, going so far as to suggest that he was a member of a Palestinian militia supporting the Syrian government and therefore this was understandable conduct.

Last week, the US and UK funded "non-governmental organization", the “White Helmets”, which was founded by a British military officer, shared images of a Syrian child appearing to be bloodied. In addition to these dubious connections, photos circulating on social media show the photographer posing with the same militant group who captured and beheaded the Palestinian child in Aleppo. However, unlike the beheading where the child’s suffering was swept away, the corporate media is now flooding us with a story, saying: "Look at this poor child! The Syrian and Russian governments are barbaric! We must act!" [1][2][3]

Should we go along with this?

These are the same states and corporate media which tell us that Palestinian children murdered by brutal Zionist settler-colonialism are deserving of their deaths. That seek to justify the murders of Black and Indigenous children in the US and Canada by white supremacist violence and police terror. That discredit, smear and demonize the resistance of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples in Milwaukee, Toronto, and Gaza.

Are we to believe that they care at all about the well-being of Syrian children? Are we to believe that this story is earnestly being promoted, motivated by genuine empathy and international solidarity?

Can these sources be considered credible? This past May, it was reported in The Guardian that the British Ministry of Defence has launched a “propaganda effort for the Syrian armed opposition” in order to “influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions” to promote greater British military involvement, including the production of “videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters."

Should we trust Western governments’ and corporate media’s reporting on Syria, given that they are explicitly attempting to advance their military interests? Should we share and therefore promote and support the corporate media’s appeals to the US, Canada and NATO to "do more"? Or is this a useful story to manipulate our emotions, under the cover of which, the US, Canada, and NATO can continue and escalate their illegal, criminal, imperialist war on Syria?

During the past week, it has been made clear that these appeals to “do more” are in fact a call for US and NATO members to escalate their war and establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria [4][5][6]; it appears that the US is taking steps to do so. A no-fly zone would mean that NATO could impose complete control over Syrian airspace. In every instance, the implementation of no-fly zones has allowed for increased Western military bombing of civilians and infrastructure - they function to destroy countries and overthrow governments.
The humanitarian legacy of NATO and its no-fly zone in Libya

More fundamentally, however, why is the debate about escalation? What right do the US, Canada and NATO have to be in Syria in the first place? And why would we ever make moral appeals to or seek the intervention of those who make genocide wherever they go? What could be worse for the children of Syria?

Why would the same states which murder, colonize, enslave, and imprison Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples domestically, do well by the Syrian people? How have they done by the Libyan, Iraqi, Haitian, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Yugoslavian, Somalian, Malian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Korean, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Chilean, Puerto Rican and Palestinian people?

It is absolutely clear that the US, Canada, and NATO seek to bring under control those states which chart an independent economic path, and will use any means necessary in their pursuit of this aim. And make no mistake: there is no magical, third option to support in Syria. It is NATO's imperialism versus those resisting. The left in Syria and the majority of Syrian people, many of whom may otherwise have grievances with the government, recognized this long ago and support the government in the struggle against imperialism and for self-determination.

What should we do?

These news stories strongly appeal to and overwhelm our natural feelings of empathy and dull our capacity for critical thinking. The pattern is one which is tried and true. From allegations of babies being left to die by Iraqi soldiers in the first Iraq war, weapons of mass destruction in the second Iraq war, to the the representations of leaders as genocidal demons, including Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and now Bashar al-Assad of Syria. These allegations are later revealed as outrageous distortions, misrepresentations, and rooted in outright falsehoods. However, by the time we realize this, it's well after the damage has been carried out: millions are dead and another independent state is obliterated and tightly under the control of imperialism.

We are left too confused to think about, organize, and oppose any military actions promoted and taken by “our” government. We are preoccupied with thinking about all of the alleged problems with distant governments and debating whether they are worthy of our support - a question that is not for us to answer, but for the people of that country. As a red herring of sorts, this distracts us from focusing on what we are supposed to: opposing and putting an end to any interventions into and breaches of sovereignty of other countries by our government.

For us in the West, us living in the imperialist countries, it is imperative that we are critical of the news which is broadcast at us. We cannot expect the corporate media, our governments, or government-funded organizations to provide us with anything other than a pro-war, pro-imperialist narrative. We must instead look to, listen, and join with the voices in the anti-war, people’s movements.

By doing so, we will learn that the answer to the question "what should we do?" has been and remains clear: we must oppose and put an end to our government's terror, which is the root cause of the horrifying suffering we see occurring everywhere.

US, Canada, and NATO military - get out and stay out!

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