Changing the Storyline
It is hard to imagine a more cynical week in international politics than the one that just transpired. Last week, the United States committed what was likely a deliberate act of war against Syria by slaughtering dozens of its soldiers with an unprovoked air attack, clearing a path for ISIS to seize the government’s position in Deir ez-Zor.
Disgusted by this overt hypocrisy, Russia called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council. UN Ambassador Samantha Power, a disgraceful figure whose visceral contempt for her Russian peers is impossible to miss when she called the meeting a “stunt” and belittled the Russians for calling it.
Then she stalked out when the Russian ambassador approached the lectern to lay out the facts, trailed by French and British lackeys. Hastily establishing herself in front of the press, she openly mocked the Russians for their “moralizing and grandstanding”. Sadly, this kind of recreant behavior is permitted because no one in the media raises a hint of protest.
Not a single sentence about the United States committing an act of war in direct contravention of the UN Charter. Not a word about the Nuremberg Principles which, to paraphrase judge Robert Jackson, consider an act of aggression to be the supreme international crime because it contains within it the whole of what follows.
Then, two days later, unknown forces in the conflict mysteriously blew up a humanitarian aid convoy. The State Department reflexively blamed Russia and demanded its own UNSC meeting. The timing of this attack is hardly coincidental.
Though the dust is still settling on the corpses, the entire fiasco was likely little more than a coordinated and cold-blooded attempt to distract attention from the first overt acts of Washington’s war against Damascus.
Evidence that it was a) an airstrike; b) committed by Russia or Syria; or c) even an official aid convoy haven’t been produced by the State Department, which has indicated all three. Regardless, the strike and subsequent accusations have usefully shifted the compliant media focus from the U.S. act of war.
This may be what veterans of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland have long called “the politics of the last atrocity”. Whichever devastation commands the headlines instantly shapes a fluid media narrative, controlled by sparring sides of political opportunists.
In the wake of this second tragedy in four days, Secretary of State John Kerry used a second UNSC meeting to publicly demean Moscow without evidence for a crime it has denied committing.
Kerry drew a lesser of two evils analogy between accidentally bombing soldiers and deliberately bombing aid workers. Kerry is a debased charlatan who once took a principled stand against Vietnam, but who with time has mutated into the leading perpetrator of imperial fraud.
He was notably in the wrong when he urged Barack Obama to bomb Syria in 2013 after the Ghouta chemical attack, which he claimed was the clear responsibility of the Assad government, basing his insistent demands on a hastily assembled batch of false flag YouTube videos.
Surely Kerry knew the truth then, and does now. It is a tiresome sight to witness politician after politician scurry behind the protective awning of plausible deniability, knowing that should their deceits be exposed they may simply claim to have been misled.
As it was, the second atrocity performed its service, flipping the script from one in which Washington openly produced smoking carnage to abet the caliphate ends of the Islamic State, to one in which the State Department was once again seated comfortably on its high horse, denouncing the unconscionable crimes of its enemies while sweeping its own into the dustbin of historical truth.
The Satraps Know Best
Kerry and his opposite, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, are ever in the spotlight. They stage their periodic meetings in Geneva and stand before the world’s political paparazzi making grave faces and issuing pleas for a durable ceasefire.
They wrap silk scarves around their necks and brave the morning chill before settling into conference suites where they decide the fate of nations. They work to “reduce misunderstanding” and hold “marathon” bargaining sessions.
One can only applaud them for their tireless work ethic and uncompromising commitment to salvaging what’s left of the Syrian state. Or that’s what CNN would have us think.
In truth, they are negotiating the future of a sovereign state over which they have no rightful authority. Again the shrewdly complicit media fall silent in the face of this transparent neocolonialism.
Are Kerry and Lavrov any better than the colonizing Europeans that once fed on the offal of the Ottoman Empire like vultures on carrion? How are they different from James Balfour and Baron Rothschild sealing the fate of Palestinians for a century to come?
How are they different from Sir Mark Sykes and George Picot secretly sketching out their nominal partition of the Middle East?
Kerry and Lavrov aren’t much different. The negotiating parties and the so-called ‘sticking points’ are those between Washington and Moscow, rather than between the Syrian state and the numberless factions of the terrorist cabal. There’s a sickening deja vu about all this.
Not only in the history of the region, but in the recent history of American foreign policy. Nixon said we had to kill Viet Cong to save South Asia. Reagan conjured fearful Communist conspirators just south of our border.
Clinton said we had to prevent another Holocaust in Europe. Bush and Blair swore there were WMDs buried beneath a Baghdad sun.
Now Obama tells us we must drive back the tide of barbarity spread by ISIS across the deserts of Syria and Iraq. The excuses for our own barbarity never cease. Yet no one understands what Snowden director Oliver Stone recently said, “We aren’t under threat. We are the threat.”
Moscow’s Strange Turn
Not even Moscow seems to get it. This year, Russia has twice agreed to a ceasefire with Washington, knowing full well that Washington and Riyadh and Tel Aviv would use the respite to resupply their terrorist mercenaries. This happened in the first Syrian ceasefire in February and prior to that in the Ukrainian conflict.
The pretext is this: the Syrian government only wants to negotiate with legitimate Syrian rebels rather than imported terrorists. To enable such fantasy negotiations, the ceasefire will supposedly allow the West to separate its euphemistically termed “moderates” from more hardened terrorists brigades.
The West has no intention of doing this because the difference between the two is nominal at best. Instead, the comparative calm is quickly used by the “rebel” factions to rearm. “Administrative” delays prevent aid convoys from reaching communities in need, as do incessant violations by these same rebel groups.
This provides the West not only with time but also with an ongoing rationale for extending a one-sided ceasefire designed to recoup lost territory and fortify its mercenary proxies.
As a public relations bonus, any decisions by Syria, such as calling off the ceasefire, are widely perceived as anti-peace measures and help reinforce Washington’s mendacious narrative of senseless Syrian aggression.
Why Russia would commit itself to such a bootless and disingenuous process is an open question. Is Washington working out some quid pro quo with Moscow behind the scenes, as it feverishly works to fracture the Syrian state and create a kind of terrorist cesspool along its perimeter, the better to weaken it by.
Is Moscow naive, as it claims it was when it agreed to a no-fly zone in Libya in 2011? Surely that experience would have put them on the qui vive. Certainly they know what we know:
Dismembering nation-states is how the West proposes to render the Middle East manageable. It would like to deputize Israel as the string-puller of the Arab puppets it establishes in Mesopotamia.
Washington sees a more pressing challenge in Central and East Asia, where it must constrict and destroy the Russian Federation and squeeze China within a vice of hostile Asian pawns. Conquer a country, render it impotent, and move on, leaving behind a garrison of authoritarian special forces armed to the teeth and managed by a tiny cabal of psychopathic ideologues.
As it is, Moscow is unwittingly or consciously abetting this long-term strategy to the detriment of the Syrian population.
Living in a Plutocratic Bubble
Lastly, we ought to stop using the words ‘America’ and the ‘United States’ as proxies for the American people. They aren’t synonymous. The government in Washington doesn’t represent the American citizenry. It hasn’t in a long time. It represents the vain avarice of the one percent and the parties of war that do their bidding.
As Princeton confirmed last year, the average American hasn’t the slightest impact on the policies of the government. We live in a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy.
Though a mere 9 percent of the electorate voted for Clinton and Trump in the electoral primaries, it is estimated that some 100 million viewers tuned into to the first debate across a media landscape filled with network simulcasts and free digital streams.
Though the mendacities of the candidates were on full display, though the shoddy outcomes of the “democratic” process were in clear view, useful counterpoints were in short supply.
Media mogul Donald Trump voiced some truths that rarely make it into the media spotlight. He told the public that millions of the country’s jobs had fled its shores, that multinationals must be penalized for offshoring production and profits, that the United States should no longer be the world’s policemen, and that Hillary Clinton’s wars were a disaster.
Yet the media quite predictably chose to focus on the businessman’s shameless factual errors. Clinton rehearsed the tired neoliberal promises of job growth and identity politics, the former upheld by dodgy labor statistics and the latter belied by policies of institutional bigotry.
The anecdote to most of this heedless drivel, third-party candidate Jill Stein, was escorted off the premises of Hofstra University, where the first debate was held.
But as alarming as the loss of democracy, is the fact that America’s so-called representatives did not in the last week utter a single syllable acknowledging the stark geopolitical realities at hand.
They spoke from another place. They see a different world. A world of noble causes and vile enemies, where imperial conquest is refashioned as democracy promotion. Our political class has internalized its own lies.
We are presided over by a cartel of elite wealth, free of legal restraint, undaunted by foreign military prowess, and most frightfully, completely unburdened by consciousness of their crimes.
There is a mass delusion at work in America, given voice by the shepherds of state, digested by their willing supplicants, anxious to seize any positive purpose in a land of bread and circuses.
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at email@example.com.
The 4th Media