Monday, October 31, 2016

The Moral Cowardice of Lesser Evilism

“How many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote FOR something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?” - Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72)

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" - John Lydon

People died for your right to vote!

This admonition - an example of social shaming (and hence control) - will be familiar to all thinking citizens daring to suggest that voting is meaningless when no viable candidate holds views or proposes policies that come anywhere close to their own.

As with most methods of social control, the premise is a misrepresentation - in other words, a lie.  Those brave, worthy souls who gave their lives died not for the right to vote, but the right to a meaningful and representative vote.  It follows that there is no worse debasement of their sacrifice imaginable than the idea of voting for a perceived lesser evil; the ultimate insult to these martyrs is that people in their tens of millions vote willingly for evil because they feel they have no other choice - especially when the only candidates who stand a chance of winning represent no one but the most privileged and protected people in society.

Political control of the US has long been dominated by the two main parties.  Administrations are dominated by men and women connected through revolving doors in a bewildering array of networks, lobby groups, think tanks, banks, corporations and institutions.  All are rich and all benefit from the continuation of the status quo.  Serious studies have concluded what every sentient American already knows: That the US is an oligarchy.  That the two-party system is the means of offering the illusion of democratic choice.  That a powerful elite remains in power whoever claims electoral victory.

This fact alone renders irrelevant the vapid, insipid rants of 'analysts' and 'experts' on the relative strengths and flaws of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on mainstream cable shows and throughout the corporate media.  It is distraction: white noise designed to elevate emotional responses and to reinforce loyalty to a viewer's chosen team and disgust toward the enemy.  In short - we are all being played.

The term lesser evil is itself a misnomer.  The principle of lesser evil is a key feature of realpolitik - a Machiavellian form of politics closely associated with the likes of war criminal at-large (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) Henry Kissinger.  It states that when faced with two unpleasant choices, it is rational to choose the least unpleasant.  US voters are faced instead with what is known as a false dilemma - a situation where only limited choices are seriously considered, while in fact other choices are available like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson et al.
 
Many Americans can be forgiven for being unaware of this, conditioned as they are to dismiss as a 'wasted vote' the other available options: Namely third-party candidates and - the option most likely to earn you a people-died-for-your-right-to-vote scolding - the perfectly moral choice of spoiling one's ballot or not voting at all, moral in that if a system in which you participate leads to unacceptable actions on the part of your government whoever you choose, you have the moral right - some would say responsibility - to refuse to participate.
 
For those who support neither of the two candidates who can realistically win, this is a classic catch-22 situation - you lose whatever, and the establishment elites win whatever.  At this point you are faced with a moral choice: Do you accept that you live in a fixed system or not?  Do you want to live in a democratic society where every person has an equal voice or not?  Are you OK living in a de facto tyranny of the rich and powerful?
 
Motivated - as most are in our late-stage capitalist societies - by self-interest, those sufficiently well-off, privileged or protected are likely to either accept this or at least avoid answering the question.  Those who suffer under the system - and those motivated by conscience or altruism - will probably demur.  But the evil genius in the apparatuses of indoctrination (education, media etc.) is that those who suffer - even those who suffer greatly - can be easily coaxed into supporting - often fanatically - one of the two wings of the Republican-Democrat duopoly.  This is aided by the cognitive bias known as system justification, a social psychology construct that 'proposes that people have several underlying needs, which vary from individual to individual, that can be satisfied by the defense and justification of the status quo, even when the system may be disadvantageous to certain people'.
 
In practice one cannot escape from the fact that within the system as it stands, the duopoly - and therefore the power elites - will win.  A simple glance at the current betting odds for all the presidential candidates makes that clear.  Even if one votes with one's conscience for, say, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, one does so in the knowledge that it can only ever be a protest vote and the duopoly will still win.  One can discuss the many serious flaws in the US electoral system all day long but the duopoly will still win.
 
We return then to 'lesser evil'.  Proponents of this principle who say that it is the only realistic choice ignore two vital points:
 
First, the definition of lesser evil itself is debatable when one compares Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have unfavorability ratings currently averaging 59% and 52% respectively, according to Real Clear Politics. [Note: polls like these can only be taken as a barometer].
 
The establishment line is firmly against Trump, targeting his contradictory and sometimes overtly fascistic or racist comments, his obvious boorishness and overall personality flaws, and his - real or not [which no longer matters in modern political discourse] - alleged indiscretions with women.
 
For all these serious flaws, however, Trump has never held public office and can not therefore be judged on his record at the very highest echelons of power as Clinton can.  Given that Clinton is strongly favored [according to bookmakers] to win the election, an objective analysis of her record is necessary for her supporters.  This is not necessary for Trump, whose flaws are plastered all over the media daily in fine detail: Trump is Trump and the whole world knows it.  The opposite holds for Clinton, who continues to benefit from media deflection of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures (where all emails are - according to the various talking heads and with zero evidence - either doctored or part of a Russian plot).  Other WikiLeaks disclosures are simply ignored, and one CNN reporter even went so far as to lie outright to his viewers, telling them it was illegal to read the emails.

The recent bombshell announcement by James B. Comey, the head of the FBI, that the Clinton email investigation - which was thought to be dead and buried in July - has been re-opened is potentially more damaging for Clinton, with the media unable to ignore the story.  The response of the Clinton campaign and its sympathetic media has been to deflect attention away from Clinton and pile pressure on Comey, suggesting that he may have broken the law.

Clinton was rebuked at a July press conference by Comey for the 'extremely careless' way in which she handled emails containing classified information on insecure servers, a violation of statutes.  He nevertheless said at the time that the FBI would not recommend that prosecutors seek criminal charges against Clinton.
 
Suspicions that the FBI was going light on Clinton in return for undisclosed concessions were bolstered by a report in the Wall Street Journal this week:
 
The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.
 
Campaign finance records show Mr. McAuliffe’s political-action committee donated $467,500 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, who is married to Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI.
 
The Virginia Democratic Party, over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control, donated an additional $207,788 worth of support to Dr. McCabe’s campaign in the form of mailers, according to the records. That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him. The figure represents more than a third of all the campaign funds Dr. McCabe raised in the effort.
 
...
 
Mr. McAuliffe has been a central figure in the Clintons’ political careers for decades. In the 1990s, he was Bill Clinton’s chief fundraiser and he remains one of the couple’s closest allies and public boosters. Mrs. Clinton appeared with him in northern Virginia in 2015 as he sought to increase the number of Democrats in the state legislature.
 
...
 
At the end of July 2015, Mr. McCabe was promoted to FBI headquarters and assumed the No. 3 position at the agency. In February 2016, he became FBI Director James Comey’s second-in-command.  As deputy director, Mr. McCabe was part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions on that probe were made by Mr. Comey, who served as a high-ranking Justice Department official in the administration of George W. Bush.
 
Professor of History Gary Leupp provides in his article 'The Warmongering Record of Hillary Clinton' a useful overview that should concern every citizen on the planet, including a more detailed description of her part in the destruction of an entire nation state: Libya.  Highlights include:
 
Clinton has been a keen advocate for the expansion of an antiquated Cold War military alliance that persists in provoking Russia.
 
As New York senator Clinton endorsed the murderous ongoing sanctions against Iraq, imposed by the UN in 1990 and continued until 2003.
 
She was a strident supporter of the Iraq War.
 
She actively pursued anti-democratic regime change in Ukraine.
 
She wanted to provide military assistance to the “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, to effect regime change, and after leaving office criticized Obama for not supplying more than he did.
 
She has been an unremitting supporter of Israeli aggression, whenever it occurs.
 
Hillary tacitly endorsed the military coup against elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009, refusing to call it such (even though Obama did).
 
[Please read original article for full details]
 
Salon notes that a British Parliament report concluded that the NATO attack on Libya was based on an 'array of lies':
 
“We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” the report states. “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”
 
The Foreign Affairs Committee concludes that the British government “failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.”
 
A Vox analysis of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures concluded that 'leaked emails confirm Clinton Foundation blurred public/private lines and that the 'disclosures detail Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street and top donors'.

A group of Reddit users compiled a sourced list of the 100 most serious WikiLeaks disclosures that - when read - utterly damns Clinton as one of the most corrupt politicians ever to run as US president - if not the most.

The second truth that lesser evilists ignore is the undeniable fact that decades of pressing the lesser evil argument has succeeded only in bringing about more and more evil.  Artist and filmmaker Mara Ahmed writes:
 
Police brutality, mass incarceration, the breakup of families via record deportations, pre-emptive wars, remote-control wars, dirty wars, the deepening of the surveillance state and the widening of economic disparity, the continuing corporatization of the government and the poisoning and pillaging of the planet--these didn't just start with Bush or slow down during Obama's presidency. If anything, these policies were turned up a notch over the last eight years.
 
Any objective comparison of the US along with the overall global situation pre-9/11 and now shows a marked deterioration in all areas, with widespread violence at home and abroad now the norm.
 
A vast tissue of poor judgment, obfuscation and outright corruption.  A long history of support for illegal wars and violent interventions based - again - on lies.  Alleged collusion with terrorist groups for geostrategic gain.  There are Americans who have received life sentences for crimes such as stealing socks, baby shoes or a slice of pizza under the Three-Strikes Laws of the 1990s, yet Clinton is not only spared investigation for this unfathomable web of likely criminality, but has even been allowed to run for the highest office in a nation of over 300 million people, where she would have executive control over the world's most powerful military as well as the nuclear codes.  Even worse - for the rest of the planet's inhabitants - she has made no secret of her desire to pursue a more 'muscular' foreign policy than Obama.
 
To any right-thinking, peace-loving person this is insane.  Don't expect many in the corporate media to agree with that analysis, however, as WikiLeaks has revealed the names of 'at least 65 MSM reporters [who] were meeting with and/or coordinating offline with top Hillary advisors'. 
 
Jim Hoft writing at Gateway Pundit added:
 
They were invited to top elitist dinners with Hillary Campaign Chairman John Podesta or Chief Campaign strategist Joel Benenson.  The Clinton campaign sent out invites to New York reporters in April 2015 on their off-the-record meeting on how to sell Hillary Clinton to the public.
 
Those with experience debating Clinton supporters can confront them with all this and more but the response is always the same: "She might be bad, but Trump is worse".
 
Mara Ahmed writes:
 
Lesser evilism is one thing but hardcore Clintonism is another. The complete break from reality (couched in inclusive, feminist language), the privileged belief that as long as we recycle our trash and drive fuel-efficient cars, we are going to be okay, and the lack of empathy with the pain we create in the world and at home, astonishes me.

There is a larger issue here.  Lesser evilism is a symptom of human malaise under the dominant system of predatory capitalism. That millions of people can even consider willingly casting a vote for a candidate as demonstrably corrupt as Clinton, whatever the justification (fear of Trump), instead of demanding something better only demonstrates how whipped into timidity and passivity the human spirit has become.

Instigators like Edward Bernays and others that have brought to life this monstrous system of control through fear and distraction are guilty of the single greatest crime in human history.  For pay, power and fame, they have employed their knowledge and research of psychology and propaganda methods in full awareness of what the results would be.  They have reduced vast swathes of humanity to mindless consumption addicts, have attempted to destroy the social bonds that define our species, and have caused the waste of billions of lives.  The human brain - one of the greatest wonders in nature - which, through the ineffable interactions between intelligence, emotions and inspiration is capable of genius could have been employed to raise humanity into an enlightened age; instead it has been utterly wasted, used instead as a tool for dreaming up new ways to consume, as well as new ways of deceiving people to consume.

That in itself is a horror, but this malaise has spread throughout the world and multitudes suffer hideously for it.  The 21,000 people (many of whom are children) who die of hunger - an easily preventable condition - every day - a silent holocaust of the meek far removed from Western cameras.  The children who die in US-instigated wars.  The democratically elected governments subverted in CIA coups, often leading to decades of killing, torture and rape of the people.  The environmental catastrophes.  The mass extinctions.  The use of torture.  The use of depleted uranium and chemical weapons.  The list is endless.

The lesser evil scam has to end because the world is now at a critical juncture.  The US elites, through their presidential puppets, are drawing the world into a potentially deadly confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.  Russian military doctrine makes it clear that nuclear weapons can be used as a response even to conventional attack on its soil:
 
The Russian Federation shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.  The decision to use nuclear weapons shall be taken by the President of the Russian Federation.
 
Even a limited nuclear exchange could be catastrophic for life on earth.  Lesser-evilists who lack the courage, foresight and historical awareness to try to force radical change from outside the system, to demand change in a mass, organised assault on the power elites, could soon be faced with a very unpleasant radical change not of their choosing sooner than they expect.  If - when - Clinton presses for war with Russia, how will the lesser evil argument sound in the depths of a nuclear winter?

There is lesser evil writ large.  The US electoral system is gamed to ensure a win that means the psychopaths in Wall Street and the certifiable lunatics in the Pentagon and the CIA get to carry on doing what they've been doing for all our lifetimes.   These people have demonstrated their disdain for risk, their greed, hubris and incompetence again and again.  They are perfectly capable of bringing the whole planet down and us with it.
 
The concept of freedom - a word now coughed out with a cynical laugh - has been replaced by a forest of empty slogans - soundbites for the soundbitten generation - that ape the commercial mantras which now dominate every facet of human existence.  People trapped in the party political paradigm believe - with earnest naivete - that change can come from within the system, that if they wait long and ask politely enough, the elites will voluntarily - in some inexplicable act of humanitarianism - relinquish their stranglehold and hand over power to the humanitarians.

This is dangerous idiocy.  Change will never come from within. The key institutions are too deeply corrupted, infested with precisely the wrong types of people. Any short-term progress will be superficial and swiftly subsumed; any protest brutally crushed and/or co-opted.  Inquire of Occupy.  With a nuclear exchange now a real possibility - one that would kill almost every living thing on the planet - the time is now or never to stop playing the game.
 
"What has happened," asks John Pilger, "to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?   Where are those who will shatter the silence? Or do we wait until the first nuclear missile is fired?"

Written by Simon Wood

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Syria Propaganda - The Death Rattle of the Corporate Media

"The role of the corporate media is to protect, promote and legitimize the destructive and amoral aims of profit-seeking private power. Any journalist or columnist working within that system is actively aiding the corporate media achieve this goal. These gatekeepers, especially those regarded as liberal, are therefore culpable in the illegal wars and rapacious, planet-destroying actions of the worst corporations." - 'The Gatekeepers', The 99.99998271%, April 7th 2015 [Source]

"I listened to my colleague from Russia — and I sort of felt [we're] in a parallel universe here" - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [Source]

As corporate media rhetoric against the current priority targets - Russia and Syria - is ramped up to extreme levels, a battle is raging within the only remaining global space for freedom of thought and expression: the internet - social media.  Two warring, diametrically opposed realities vie for supremacy over the perceptions of the world's people.  In one reality, the US and its NATO allies are benevolent forces fighting the good fight against an evil regime (that of Syria's President Assad) and its powerful backer, (the 'aggressive' Russia) led by the 'enigmatic' Vladimir Putin.  In the other, the legitimate government of Syria is fighting - with the aid of its ally Russia - against a US-led proxy war of aggression waged by Western-backed mercenary rebels.

This information war is characterised by intractability - a natural state of affairs given that both sides - backed with reams of 'evidence' from the sources they trust - are convinced that they are in the right and that the other side has been deceived by propaganda.  Disputes between proponents of these opposing views spiral rapidly into mutual contempt, ad hominem attacks and blocking - also unsurprising given that the two realities permit no middle ground or compromise.

The NATO-supporting side generally feels it has the moral and intellectual advantage, in that it is backed by traditional media organs that are brand names in themselves - names that have been trusted by millions of readers for generations.  After all, their view is being challenged - wholly rejected as bogus - by an unknowable band of small independent media sites and unpaid bloggers: amateurs or worse in the minds of those who read only mainstream news.  This view is strongly encouraged by many high-profile corporate media journalists - also no surprise, given that they and the narratives they sustain are being challenged directly.

Imagine a friend - or at least someone you basically trusted - lied to you to obtain something they really wanted, something they went on to materially profit from to a huge degree.  Imagine that you later discovered that they had lied, and - on asking for an explanation - were given one that may or may not have been plausible.  Imagine then that you discovered that this same friend had lied to others in pursuit of the same goal.  Asking once more for an explanation, you were given excuses and even changed criteria from the original lie.

Would you trust them again?  Possibly, if you have a long history with the person in question.  But what if they then lied to you again to get something else that they wanted?  And what if they lied to others just as before?  Surely this repeated lie would be the end of any trust.  Indeed, no sane person would ever listen to the liar again...and would probably warn others to keep well away.

What if someone had been killed in the acquisition of the goal?  What if several people had?  What if over a million completely innocent people had died?  Would you trust that person then?  The question of trust is reduced to absurdity.

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
Dick Cheney
August 26, 2002


Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
George W. Bush
September 12, 2002


If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.
Ari Fleischer
December 2, 2002


The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.
Ari Fleischer
December 6, 2002


We know for a fact that there are weapons there.
Ari Fleischer
January 9, 2003


Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
George W. Bush
January 28, 2003


We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.
Colin Powell
February 5, 2003


For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction [as justification for invading Iraq] because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.
Paul Wolfowitz
May 28, 2003

A 2008 study by the (2014) Pulitzer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity found 935 false statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq issued by senior Bush administration officials (including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice and George W Bush himself) that were reported with no (or virtually no) verification by major news outlets. This orchestrated campaign of lies designed to build public support for a military invasion was reported uncritically not only in the US but also around the world.

The editors of the New York Times even issued a public apology for its dereliction in 2004:

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge.

More:

On April 21, 2003, as American weapons-hunters followed American troops into Iraq, another front-page article declared, ''Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert.'' It began this way: ''A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.''
 
The informant also claimed that Iraq had sent unconventional weapons to Syria and had been cooperating with Al Qaeda -- two claims that were then, and remain, highly controversial. But the tone of the article suggested that this Iraqi ''scientist'' -- who in a later article described himself as an official of military intelligence -- had provided the justification the Americans had been seeking for the invasion.
 
The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims.

Do you still believe your vaunted mainstream media sources?  Many readers even at this point would accept this apology and take it on faith that it was all an honest mistake, pledging inwardly to keep a close eye on future conduct and/or later revelations...

Like a new report [re-posted at the Daily Beast] from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (in conjunction with the Sunday Times) [Source (behind paywall)]:

The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
 
Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.


The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.
 

Bell Pottinger's former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which has worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy documents.”
 

Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.


In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the U.S. military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was "shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.”
 
The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus – then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq - and on occasion by the White House, he said.

There were three types of media operations commonly used in Iraq at the time, said a military contractor familiar with Bell Pottinger’s work there.

“White is attributed, it says who produced it on the label,” the contractor said. “Grey is unattributed and black is falsely attributed. These types of black ops, used for tracking who is watching a certain thing, were a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit.”
 
Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. A document unearthed by the Bureau shows the company was employing almost 300 British and Iraqi staff at one point.

The London-based PR agency was brought into Iraq soon after the U.S. invasion. In March 2004 it was tasked by the country’s temporary administration with the “promotion of democratic elections” —a “high-profile activity” which it trumpeted in its annual report.

 


It soon became apparent he would be doing much more than just editing news footage.
 

The work consisted of three types of products. The first was television commercials portraying al Qaeda in a negative light. The second was news items which were made to look as if they had been “created by Arabic TV”, Wells said. Bell Pottinger would send teams out to film low-definition video of al Qaeda bombings and then edit it like a piece of news footage. It would be voiced in Arabic and distributed to TV stations across the region, according to Wells.

The American origins of the news items were sometimes kept hidden. Revelations in 2005 that PR contractor the Lincoln Group had helped the Pentagon place articles in Iraqi newspapers, sometimes presented as unbiased news, led to a Department of Defense investigation.

 

The third and most sensitive program described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. He told the Bureau how the videos were made. He was given precise instructions: “We need to make this style of video and we’ve got to use al Qaeda’s footage,” he was told. “We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner.” 
 


Iraq was a lucrative opportunity for many communications firms. The Bureau has discovered that between 2006 and 2008 more than 40 companies were being paid for services such as TV and radio placement, video production, billboards, advertising and opinion polls. These included US companies like Lincoln Group, Leonie Industries and SOS International as well as Iraq-based firms such as Cradle of New Civilization Media, Babylon Media and Iraqi Dream.
[Note: The article is lengthy and only excerpts have been included here (above) with my emphasis in bold]

This is proof in black and white that part of the work paid for by the Pentagon and then disseminated throughout the corporate media to achieve US strategic aims includes the production of fake films intended to deceive you - the trusting, unwitting reader - into further supporting Western military actions, giving you the impression that you are on the right side, destroying an evil, implacable enemy.  It also motivates those taken in by these lies to (often viciously) attack anyone questioning the official line.

The obvious question that should arise even to the most rabid supporter of Western military interventions is this: If they've deceived you before, what would stop them trying to do it again now with similar fake videos and fake stories, all created to support and sustain a narrative that evokes enormous outrage and keeps public opposition at bay.

The answer is absolutely nothing at all would stop them.  In fact, there is plenty of evidence that what happened in Iraq is precisely what has also been occurring with regard to Syria for a decade.

Firstly, it is an established fact that the US and its allies had a plan for regime change in Syria.  An internal email dated 7th December 2011 of the Stratfor 'global intelligence' company published by WikiLeaks makes it clear that US-aligned forces have long been covertly operating in Syria. It is a remarkable email, in that it clearly demonstrates the intent of the US to intervene in the affairs of Syria, and strongly implies that - among many other things - agents from the US, France, Jordan, Turkey, and the UK were already on the ground carrying out reconnaissance and the training of opposition forces.

Secondly, there is motive - within the Murdoch press at least - to publish articles that paint Assad's government as evil and in need of 'intervention' in that Murdoch is on the board of New Jersey-based Genie Energy. Journalist Nafeez Ahmed explains:

A US oil company is preparing to drill for oil in the Golan Heights. Granted the license in February 2013 by Israel, Afek Oil and Gas is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd, whose equity-holding board members include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild.

[Note: article dated January 28th 2015. Murdoch remains on the board]

Aside from personal financial interest for Murdoch, a post-Assad, US-friendly Syrian government would mean one less major Russia-Iran-axis power in the Middle East to worry about, a turn of events also greatly desired by Israel, while economically Syria would be opened up to all manner of 'opportunities' for Western corporations.

Julian Assange, interviewed in the Ecuadorean embassy in London - where he is forced to stay out of fear of US reprisals against him for the secret documents published by WikiLeaks that detail vast webs of criminality - explains how a book - The WikiLeaks Files - details US Assad overthrow plans from as far back as 2006.  And watch here the US Peace Council condemn the whole US Syria narrative as a lie.

Readers of mainstream Western media reporting on Syria will be familiar with oft-cited groups like the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights etc.  Journalist Vanessa Beeley travelled to Syria and wrote a detailed report that raises serious questions about the credibility and true motives of these groups:

Excerpts:

The use of chemical weapons against civilians in western Aleppo by the terrorist groups, particularly the Nusra Front, is anathema to Western media. Instead, the media picks up spurious reports issued by “activist” groups and “citizen journalists” which claim to be working inside Aleppo. As in the case of a Sept. 7 report from Al-Jazeera on the Syrian Arab Army launching chemical attacks on civilians, this information is disseminated with alarming alacrity by journalists based in Washington, London or elsewhere, who have limited ability to verify this information or assess what’s really happening on the ground prior to publishing. The fact that the Nusra Front took over the only chemical factory in Aleppo in 2012 is swept under the carpet of inconvenient truths. And while the mainstream media doesn’t report it, former U.N. weapons inspectors and MIT rocket scientists have also confirmed that the Nusra Front has powerful chemical weapons capabilities.

Media pundits outside Syria rely on “activist groups” and “citizen journalists,” who are invariably embedded in areas occupied by groups such as the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, assorted Free Syrian Army brigades, and even Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL). Whether they are individual activists or groups like the White Helmets or Aleppo Media Center, it is hard to define them as independent or objective when they are known to receive funding from the United States, NATO member states, and state-funded institutions like USAID–all of which have a vested interest in the “regime change” road map in Syria. The “evidence” these sources produce rarely deviates from the official U.S. narrative and reinforces the propaganda that drives the train of lies that justifies intervention.

Beeley exposes the White Helmets here:

Did I hear a pin drop?  The real Syria Civil Defence? Are the west’s iconized ‘White Helmets’ not the only emergency first-responders inside Syria?

For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria.  There is no public number for the White Helmets.  Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first responder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?

Before we introduce the real Syria Civil Defence, who are Syria’s real ICDO certified civil fire and rescue organisation, let’s first take a closer look at the imposters; terrorists in white hats, and agents of war – NATO’s pseudo ‘NGO’ construct, embedded exclusively in terrorist-held parts of Syria…

We’re told that the White Helmets routinely scale the walls of collapsed buildings and scrambling over smouldering rubble of bombed out buildings to dig a child out with their bare hands. Of course, never without a sizeable camera crew and mobile phone carrying entourage in tow.

UK media watchdog Media Lens mentioned the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in a 2012 article on the Houla Massacre:

Curiously, the Guardian has published numerous second hand accounts from Syrian ‘opposition activists’ based in the UK. For example, on June 7, the Guardian’s Ian Black reported the al-Qubair massacre under the title, 'Syria accused of massacring 100':

‘The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the massacre was carried out at a farm by pro-regime shabiha militiamen armed with guns and knives after regular troops had shelled the area.’

The Guardian has quoted the Syrian Observatory dozens of times. And yet, according to Reuters, the organisation consists of a single individual, Rami Abdulrahman, the owner of a clothes shop, who works from his ‘two bedroom terraced home in Coventry’.

This analysis has established beyond doubt that the corporate media acts as an uncritical echo chamber for information that originates from PR firms and dubious sources that practice deliberate deception.  It has established that the US had planned regime change in Syria at least a decade ago, as proved by its own secret communications written by a US ambassador (see the Assange interview).  It raises extremely serious questions about the credibility of the sources that the media use habitually and unquestioningly - behaviour that even the NYT publicly apologised for after its last journalistic debacle.

Yet you still believe the MSM narrative?

If this is not enough to persuade, consider the selective outrage expressed in the media about dictators around the world.  If the US and its allies along with the corporate media are such warriors for human rights and justice, why did we almost never hear anything about - say - the recently deceased President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov?

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray gave an interview to the Guardian in 2004:

Murray has plenty of first-hand evidence of the Uzbekistani's "routine methods". Sitting in the plush living room of his ambassadorial residence, he tells me: "People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities."

As Murray saw apparently innocent Muslims being sentenced to death after confessions extracted by torture and show trials, he became furious at the "conspiracy of silence" practised by his fellow diplomats. "I tried to find out whether anyone had made a policy decision to [say nothing]", he says. "But certainly within the British government no minister had ever said such a thing. I was determined to blow the lid on [the conspiracy of silence]."

In October 2002, Murray made a speech to his fellow diplomats and Uzbekistani officials at a human rights conference in Tashkent in which he became the first western official for four years to state publicly that "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy", and to highlight the "prevalence of torture in Uzbekistani prisons" in a system where "brutality is inherent". Highlighting a case in which two men were boiled to death, he added: "All of us know that this is not an isolated incident."

Uzbekistan, a nation of strategic importance to the US and its allies, somehow escaped the front-page exposes, the live-update feeds, and the outraged hand-wringing from liberal Western journalists demanding that something be done. Meanwhile, in a series of incredible coincidences, the nations targeted by the West (as stated by US General Wesley Clark) all got the blanket 'evil dictator' treatment prior to their 'intervention' (devastation).

Indoctrinated Western journalists, unwilling to risk their status and privilege (and paychecks) are wilfully blind to this deception - an unforgivable failing for a professional journalist.  Given that this failure to even attempt to expose this deception - and in fact, in most cases, vocally support it - has resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people, not to mention the worst refugee crisis since WWII, these newspaper and cable-news employees can more accurately be described as collaborators with an imperial power that is operating illegally in Syria: funding, training and supplying openly terrorist groups in order to achieve their strategic goals (as this US arms shopping list for 'rebels' demonstrates).

The corporate media, exposed here as an active tool of disinformation and misinformation, must be boycotted completely, starved of the funding and clicks for ad revenue needed for survival.  Why - after all - would anyone spend time or money reading analyses proven to be intentionally misleading?  Look instead and open your mind to credible non-corporate organizations that deal in source material like WikiLeaks, and to independent writers and analysts that have proved their credibility, accuracy and honesty through their work over time, not from riding the now-dead reputation of the brand of their employer.  Treat them with the same skepticism as any mainstream source.

The purveyors of lies are trying to pull the same scam they did with Iraq, Libya and anywhere else one cares to name going back through history.  They do it because it works - time and time again - and that's because we let them.  For the sake of the refugees and innocent victims of this criminal empire and its paid media sycophants, stand up, draw the line and refuse to be led around by the nose like cattle ever again.

Written by Simon Wood

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