by step-back.org’s mark
“YOU CAN HAVE ANY COLOUR CAR YOU WANT, AS LONG AS IT’S BLACK”
“A LIE TOLD OFTEN ENOUGH BECOMES THE TRUTH”
It may have been disappointing to some others, as it was to me, to read recently that Stephen Hawking appears to be following the mainstream by alluding to Western intervention when it comes to Syria, having taken a principled against-the-grain stand in supporting Boycott Divestment and Sanctions on Israel for its apartheid stance towards Palestinians.
But to be fair, he is with the vast majority of the world who have had no option other than to breakfast, lunch and dine on the only dish mainstream media have served up with such consistency – from tabloids to ‘quality papers’, from lengthy documentaries to news bulletins – and his scientific expertise cannot fairly be expected to cross over into all other fields. Although what he actually wants is left a little vague in his article (link below), it is within a hair’s breadth of a Sun or Guardian (or BBC, Independent / Telegraph / New York Times / CNN / ABC … ) establishment-friendly editorial in reaffirming the BIG LIE message on Syria that ‘ONLY ESCALATED MILITARY INTERVENTION HOLDS THE KEY TO PEACE‘.
As if Western bombs and missiles and the increased arming of opposition fighters to help shoot and blow to pieces the men and women of the Syrian government and its national armed forces, along with the inevitable far greater ‘collateral’ killing and maiming of civilian men, women and children in the process, all in order to enable an undemocratic overthrow and desperately uncertain and unquestioned but naively-assumed ‘better future’, under an unelected government in exile, supported (with major cracks) on the ground by jihadi extremist foreign militants with their own brutal 99% intolerant narrow goals for an ethnically-cleansed Sharia state: as if that is truly ‘the best means to create peace and save lives’.
For that is, in no uncertain terms, the ‘prevailing wisdom’.
So what, if anything, can or should we as individuals aim to ask of our local and national representatives, and for that matter of our antiwar groups like Stop the War Coalition in the UK, to put forward as a better alternative to the ingrained and omnipresent implanted meme that ‘war escalation is the one and only possible road to peace’?
Because despite a wide range of evidence available – though buried by the single-tracked mainstream news networks – to support the view that non-Syrian jihadi / mercenary militants (straightforward ‘terrorists’ our media would tell us in any other ‘enemy’ context) are being used as a proxy force in a sham revolution to overthrow a largely popular government – despite this, it is still expressed daily in the news by politicians, pundits and presenters that “someone needs to go in”, or at the very least that “someone needs to provide the rebels with more powerful arms”, just as it is currently being calmly reported with no concerns raised that Saudi Arabia plans to extend its support of non-Syrian jihadis (‘rebels’) by giving them anti-aircraft weapons. “The only realistic road to peace is via escalating the war”, we are consistently and exclusively told.
The BIG LIE narrative that leads to this ‘single possible solution’, and which sneers at alternatives which may not result in the overthrow and installation of a Western-friendly leader, urgently needs to be countered and broken, though the ‘free press’ – as ‘free’ as the market is to be controlled by the biggest players, that is – has no space for alternatives.
It is the consistency, uniformity and repetition of the narrative telling us that “rebels need our help in a popular revolution for democracy against an evil regime” – despite cracks to the foundation that are visible if you even scratch the surface – which has managed to keep it so successful: not only as the dominant but as the ONLY mainstream view. It’s simply ‘how it is’. Knocks from (barely reported) evidence of opposition extremism and violence have been largely deflected, thanks to the constant moulding of information reported on the conflict to ensure that news reports fit the same pattern and press the same buttons in news consumers’ soft matter.
And never, but never, is it contemplated in the mainstream media that the US – directly and through its allies – could actually want and be closely involved in the attempts to force the toppling of Assad for its own geopolitical goals, and in reality had no intention whatsoever of ‘spreading freedom and democracy’. The US’s moral integrity is always unquestioningly taken as sacrosanct by the mass media – in spite of the similarity of the need-for-war lies peddled re Iraq and Libya, and the huge death and destruction and hugely worsened life experiences in those countries, regardless of the fact that senior US figures had set Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries on a ‘to do list’ years earlier, and despite the huge profits engineered by US elites from those conflicts.
In the process of framing the agenda on this conflict, this narrative has been very successful too in making antiwar voices appear guilty of complicity in mass murder through proposing inaction, and in making escalated war proposers seem ‘the truly wise peacemakers’: a great coup not just for this ‘theatre’ but for the wider and longer-term goals of arms companies and the whole military-media-industrial complex.
Interestingly, regarding propaganda / advertising techniques, the implanted and regularly topped-up dose of official narrative on Syria has created such an easily absorbed and sympathetic image – “good rebels need our help against evil regime” – that it allows for the final cherry-on-top puzzle piece – the “we need to drop bombs to change the government there to save lives!” ‘solution’ – to be left for viewers to apparently ‘form for themselves’.
This is something I’ve witnessed in various people directly as well as in commentators in the media: the narrative is trotted out as an impassioned argument for a just war, and felt to be an ‘opinion reached independently’ by ‘assessing the evidence on the news’ and ‘reaching a personal conclusion’, unaware that only one verdict was made available from the inaccurate and loaded ‘logical-emotive’ preamble.
Surely this ‘personal deduction’ element is the very highest grade of propaganda! (There must be a clever name PR people use, but it’s very close to ‘eliciting’ / ‘elicitation’, which from experience I know is what language teachers call it when learners are guided by the teacher first by creating a suitable context which gradually leads them to focus internally on a very specific concept, to which they can then tag on a new foreign language term.)
Currently UNICEF is running a campaign on all platforms which seems to make use of a similar process. Over the last 3 years mainstream news media has implanted such a powerfully uniform consistent ‘good vs evil’ psycho-drama about the situation in Syria apparently requiring our direct military intervention there to enable peace, that when its Executive Director, ex-National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, calls for “Action” and says “the world can put a stop to this”, supported by very moving images and videos, and the same words are put through the mouths of popular celebrities, our automatic Pavlovian response learnt from 3 years of the same story is that “we need to go in” – i.e. militarily – without this ever needing to be said directly.
In contrast to the Western media interpretation, I follow the view that a far more accurate interpretation of events in Syria points to a pre-existent peaceful movement for political reform, a peaceful revolution even, but one which was strategically hijacked by heavily armed destabilising forces in early 2011, mostly from outside the country, who have used that pre-existent reform movement as a front for a proxy war, in the same way that it is openly accepted the Contras were used by the US in Nicaragua in the 1980s to destabilise and eventually cause the overthrow a leftist government which the US disapproved of (links below).
This proxy war in Syria certainly involves the open involvement of the US and makes use of several of its allies and satellites – Saudi Arabia (Prince Bandar in a pivotal role until very recently), Turkey, Israel, Qatar, Libya, Kosovo, and others – to recruit / fund / arm / provide training grounds for and coordinate the influx and (to varying extents) the actions of tens of thousands of jihadis / mercenaries, from those and from many many other countries, from Canada to Australia via Asia, North Africa and Europe.
Certainly, on the very rare occasions that careful analyses have been carried out and crucially shared by mainstream media on the actual make-up of the groups of so-called ‘rebels’ (links below) involved in this purported ‘revolution for freedom’, it has been undeniably clear for a very long time outside the mainstream (long before it started reporting of “both moderate and less moderate rebels” about 4-6 months ago) that the main opposition fighting forces are:
1) composed largely of non-Syrians;
2) dominated by terrorist organisations officially classed as such by the US and UN themselves;
3) made up of jihadis seeking and brutally enforcing an ethnically-cleansed intolerant narrow Sharia state in Syria, with no democratic reformist aims whatsoever;
– Nothing there which a proudly tolerant and ethnically and religiously diverse Syrian secular society could ever countenance as ‘a bright new revolutionary dawn’ for their country, which is always the implicit message in msm reporting.
A CLEAR MESSAGE FOR A LASTING SOLUTION
In such an environment with every newspaper and TV report pointing to bombs and missiles (‘humanitarian intervention’) as ‘the only way to save lives’, and this being ratcheted up again after the orchestrated failure of Geneva 2, what fact-based, justice-based and crucially easily-understandable and expressed counter arguments can be made, in order to defeat the ‘more war is the only way to peace’ message being gavaged into us all?
REAL DEMOCRACY FOR SYRIANS
Since the official narrative tells us that DEMOCRACY is the supposed goal of the supposed rebels in the supposed revolution for greater freedom, surely it is right and reasonable to demand that the democratic process be enacted properly: open elections within an agreed timescale and with no preconditions, and which of course must allow the Syrian people the right to decide for themselves if they want to keep or dump President Assad via the ballot box.
NOT a peace-talks-breaking more-bloodshed-guaranteeing precondition from an unelected wholly unrepresentative government in exile that Assad must step down.
The key reason the Geneva 2 talks didn’t move much further towards an agreed resolution was because those playing the role of the ‘government in exile’ insisted on Assad’s departure as a necessary first step, BUT IT IS NOT DEMOCRACY IF THE SYRIAN PEOPLE ARE DENIED THE CHOICE TO VOTE FOR WHOEVER THEY WANT!
IT IS THE SYRIAN PEOPLE WHO MUST BE FREE TO DECIDE THEIR FUTURE, WITH NO PRE-CONDITIONS; CERTAINLY NOT FROM PARACHUTED-IN UNELECTED LEADERS-IN-WAITING.
The tens of thousands of non-Syrian armed jihadis/mercenaries active in the country from over 80 countries would immediately be classed as ‘terrorists’ in all other contexts of reporting by western media, and in fact are classed as such on returning home. And the biggest groups which these people come to join are officially classed as ‘terrorist groups’ by the UN and the US themselves.
So the US claiming to be ‘waging a global war on terror’, while at least tacitly, if not openly and directly, supporting brutally intolerant ethnic-cleansing jihadis in toppling a popular president who most Syrians appear to want to keep in power to protect them the foreign hordes, is a rancid indictment of their assumed ‘moral high ground’; an assumption which subservient news media always unquestioningly claim for the US and its close allies.
There is in Syria a growing Peace and Reconciliation – Mussalaha – movement which has already had many successes in brokering local peace agreements, but for it to succeed as it should the unwanted destabilising foreign fighters must leave the country and must be given a clear message to do so by all parties: the UN, the US, Saudi Arabia and all the many other countries and groups involved. No more of them should be helped or encouraged to come into Syria – whether by Imams, politicians or whoever else – under threat of arrest and prosecution for inciting terrorism in the International Criminal Court. Those active in the country now should be given an amnesty to leave within a specified short period.
The US and US-allied support of US and UN categorized ‘terrorist organisations’ in Syria is surely the weakest point in this whole hideously bloody charade and cannot and must not be left ignored by campaigners, Antiwar groups or still-sane political representatives, as it is ignored completely by global mainstream news.
TERRORISTS ARE TERRORISTS, REGARDLESS OF WHOSE INTERESTS THEY MIGHT SERVE; ALL NATIONS MUST PRESSURE THEM TO LEAVE SYRIA.
Hope for Peace
The impact of the consistent, universal and exclusive narrative, especially with a ‘Star Wars’- like emotionally compelling ‘good vs evil’ dynamic, cannot be overestimated. Spread and supported throughout mainstream news, with ‘friendly local faces’ to reassure us, the paper-thin lies and insane single-tracked ‘war is peace solution’ have been enabled to stand up as ‘how it is’.
Campaigners for peace and justice lack anything like similar resources to create and send whole narratives to reach billions of people, as war-mongering elites do through their ‘good relations with news media’, but simple and powerful messages based on truth can win when enough people support them.
In this case the message to counter the BIG LIE ‘war for peace’ narrative on Syria is simple enough: REAL DEMOCRACY WITH NO PRE-CONDITIONS, AND REAL ANTI-TERRORISM.
In the wilderness – here, say! – these points count for nothing; but these (or similar / improved) short simple digestible and consistent demands from campaigners can have an impact as counter-narratives if enough people spread them and demand attention and action from antiwar groups and local and national political leaders, repeating and pushing the same demands for a peaceful and just resolution in terms which cannot be easily ignored or argued against.
As mind-benders know very well, hitting the same buttons with the same simple message again and again is a kind of magic power. The antiwar movement really needs to take that fully on board.
This approach really can force a way into the mainstream mindset to challenge the establishment narrative. The points suggested are in my view an urgent and necessary counterweight to the pro-‘humanitarian intervention’ all-pervasive narrative that has taken such a hold for the last 3 years, given that a bland ‘no war’ message is reported, believed and ‘independently conceived’ and expressed as negligent in prolonging the conflict.
CALLS FOR REAL DEMOCRACY AND REAL ANTI-TERRORISM ARE ESSENTIAL MESSAGES FOR PEACE IN SYRIA THAT TRUMP THE ESTABLISHMENT NARRATIVE ON ITS OWN TERMS.
Economist analysis of make-up of ‘rebels’:
The blacklisting of Seymour Hersh’s report questioning the official Ghouta story: chn.ge/18G92tu
An excellent analysis of the Qatari funded claims of mass murder of Syrian opposition prisoners, based around the Guardian’s Steve Bell’s misleading cartoon:
Contras – a history of events in Nicaragua: http://libcom.org/history/articles/nicaragua-contras
Contras – Thierry Meyssan on links with Syria: http://www.voltairenet.org/article175111.html
Fabrication in BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children’:
Stephen Hawking’s piece: