Overshadowed by the recent attempts to create a faux media storm out of an unverified video produced by the pro-terrorist “Aleppo Media Center”, a recent article in the Guardian by Patrick Wintour reminds us that, when it comes to war-propaganda, the media doesn’t just do child-exploitation to order – it also promotes dodgy documents without question or analysis.
Wintour’s piece focuses on the – as usual – uncorroborated open letter to President Obama allegedly written by a group of doctors in terrorist-controlled eastern Aleppo, calling for US “intervention” to “stop the bombardment of hospitals in the besieged city by the Russian-backed Syrian air force”, and is another shining example of spineless obedience to an intellectually bankrupt narrative.
The article doesn’t give the text of the letter in full, but here it is:
Dear President Obama,
We are 15 of the last doctors serving the remaining 300,000 citizens of eastern Aleppo. Regime troops have sought to surround and blockade the entire east of the city. Their losses have meant that a trickle of food has made its way into
eastern Aleppo for the first time in weeks. Whether we live or die seems to be dependent on the ebbs and flows of the battlefield.
We have seen no effort on behalf of the United States to lift the siege or even use its influence to push the parties to protect civilians.
For five years, we have faced death from above on a daily basis. But we now face death from all around. For five years, we have borne witness as countless patients, friends and colleagues suffered violent, tormented deaths. For five years, the world has stood by and remarked how ‘complicated’ Syria is, while doing little to protect us. Recent offers of evacuation from the regime and Russia have sounded like thinly-veiled threats to residents – flee now or face annihilation ?
Last month, there were 42 attacks on medical facilities in Syria, 15 of which were hospitals in which we work. Right now, there is an attack on a medical facility every 17 hours. At this rate, our medical services in Aleppo could be completely destroyed in a month, leaving 300,000 people to die.
What pains us most, as doctors, is choosing who will live and who will die . Young children are sometimes brought into our emergency rooms so badly injured that we have to prioritize those with better chances, or simply don’t have the equipment to help them. Two weeks ago, four newborn babies gasping for air suffocated to death after a blast cut the oxygen supply to their incubators. Gasping for air, their lives ended before they had really begun.
Despite the horror, we choose to be here. We took a pledge to help those in
Our dedication to this pledge is absolute. Some of us were visiting our families when we heard the city was being besieged. So we rushed back – some on foot because the roads were too dangerous. Because without us even more of our friends and neighbors will die. We have a duty to remain and help.
Continued US inaction to protect the civilians of Syria means that our plight is being wilfully tolerated by those in the international corridors of power. The burden of responsibility for the crimes of the Syrian government and its Russian ally must therefore be shared by those, including the United States, who allow them to continue.
Unless a permanent lifeline to Aleppo is opened it will be only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops, hunger takes hold and hospitals’ supplies run completely dry. Death has seemed increasingly inescapable. We do not need to tell you that the systematic targeting of hospitals by Syrian regime and Russian warplanes is a war crime. We do not need to tell you that they are committing atrocities in Aleppo.
We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers, we need your action. Prove that you are the friend of Syrians.
1 Dr. Abu Al Baraa, Pediatrician
2 Dr. Abu Tiem, Pediatrician
3 Dr. Hamza, Manager
4 Dr. Yahya, Pediatrician and head of Nutrition Program
5 Dr. Munther, Orthopedics
6 Dr. Abu Mohammad, General Surgeon
7 Dr. Abu Abdo, General Surgeon
8 Dr. Abd Al Rahman, Urologic Resident
9 Dr. Abu Tareq, ER Doctor
10 Dr. Farida, OBGYN
11 Dr Hatem, Hospital Director
12 Dr. Usama, Pediatrician
13 Dr. Abu Zubeir, Pediatrician
Even while admitting that “it has not been possible to verify the names of all the doctors listed in the letter,” Wintour doesn’t investigate or even interrogate its authenticity. His only comment on the subject is an airy claim that “[the] account tallies with evidence given by US doctors to the UN after a working visit to Aleppo’s hospitals in the past fortnight.”
He doesn’t quite dare say this offers any kind of validation (because of course it doesn’t), he simply hopes his readers will take it that way while he turns to his real task, which is sanctifying the West’s strategic fears for the loss of a corridor to eastern Aleppo as a sudden rush of humanitarian concern for the fate of the civilians living there. His casual assumption that only Western-led forces and Western-led humanitarians will have the decency to treat civilians with respect is almost Victorian in its colonial appropriation of moral ascendancy.
Wintour doesn’t ask why a group of disinterested doctors on the ground in Aleppo would write a letter that exactly mirrors the dishonest and incomplete western narrative, and repeats discredited or unsubstantiated claims such as the “systematic targeting of hospitals by Syrian regime and Russian warplanes.” He doesn’t ask why they would dismiss the recent offer from Russia and the Syrian government for safe conduct out of the war zone as “a thinly-veiled threat” rather than welcome it as a way of saving valuable lives. He doesn’t ask why a group of humanitarians would condemn Russia and the Syrian government for “crimes” because they have been bombing Aleppo, while saying nothing about the fact the US is also bombing Aleppo.
Neither does he mention that the supposed medics’ primary demand – for a “permanent lifeline” to Aleppo – is exactly what the “rebels” (ie Al Nusra terrorists) have been fightng for in recent weeks, in order to break the “siege” of eastern Aleppo by government forces and put pressure on government-held western Aleppo. Keeping this corridor “permanently” open would make the difference between success or failure for the rebels/terrorists in this key strategic area.
So, naturally these fifteen concerned medical professional have that item at the top of their list, over and above a ceasefire, or indeed an evil Russian evacuation of civilians, or evil Russian aid drops.Wouldn’t anyone rather die than accept help from America’s ‘enemies”? Wouldn’t anyone welcome slaughter when it’s wrapped in a US flag?
Wintour doesn’t state the obvious – that this letter is pushing an agenda that has nothing to do with alleviating human suffering. He doesn’t point out that it reads like a Washington fantasy version of reality. On the contrary he’s more than happy to exist in that fantasy where US intervention is a humanitarian response to the imploring of care-ravaged doctors, and for the purposes of saving people from evil Putin and his sidekick Assad. The letter must be endorsed because it in turn endorses the delusional dreamworld of moral righteousness where most western journalists spend most of their time these days. The only place their consciences don’t trouble them.
Meanwhile, the Twitter account known as @TheLemniscat took a look at the names of the letter’s signatories and made these annotations…
— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) August 12, 2016
The fact six of these alleged doctors have signed with only their last name is maybe slightly odd, as is the fact six others are namesakes of prominent members of ISIS and al Qaeda, and one has the same name as a well-known shop. But until the signatories can be positively identified that’s about all we can say. Then again identifying them should not be too difficult, given that several of them identify as paediatricians and, as Moon of Alabama points out, the “last pediatrician” in rebel-held Aleppo was supposed to have been killed weeks ago. If these guys are the real deal they must have turned up in the rebel-held part of Aleppo since April, and they are likely the only paediatricians working there. How hard could it be to track them down? Has anyone tried?
Regardless of the deeper realities of the letter it’s the absolute abdication of scepticism by the Western media coverage that continues to be the real issue.
Imagine an open letter appeared calling for the Russian government to “stop US bombardment of hospitals”, signed by fifteen alleged but unverified “doctors”, six of whom refused to give a first name, another six of whom were the namesakes of prominent terrorists and one who signed himself with the Syrian equivalent of “T K Maxx”.
What would the Guardian say about that? How many column inches of scorn would Walker, Harding et al rightly pour on a document with such clear potential for being a clumsy fraud? How would Wintour’s article have read then? How many veiled or direct suggestions of Kremlin fakery would he have made? How much Twitter mileage would the MSM and its obedient pundits have gotten out of those coincidental names?
Yet about the shortcomings of this letter they have been entirely and unforgivably silent.