featured, media fakery, media watch, Syria
Comments 30

How far will they go to propagandise for war?

by Catte

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Yesterday (August 26) marked the third anniversary of the alleged incendiary attack on the alleged school in Urm al-Kubra. The news of this event was broadcast on the BBC 10 O’Clock News on August 29, just as MPs were voting on whether the UK would begin airstrikes against the Syrian government. On that occasion the push for war ultimately failed for various reasons, not least of which was the unexpected rebellion of a large portion of the House of Commons. But given that the propaganda for (more) Western intervention is still ongoing, and indeed has ratcheted up recently to a point of potential direct war between the US and Russia, it’s never been more important to remind ourselves about the nature of war-propaganda and indeed of the reality sold to us through the corporate media.

We can all agree that such reporting is deliberately timed, a co-ordinated promo intended to win a surge of easily-directed emotional outrage. Omran’s alleged rescue was selected out of the numerous un-reported stories of child-suffering in Aleppo,  and publicised without investigation, because it told the right story at the right time. But people are less willing to think it might go further than that, into outright fakery of atrocities. That a casus belli might not be merely manipulated, but entirely fabricated, from the ground up, as a completely imaginary, fictional event.

So, let’s remember at this important juncture that the alleged “chemical attack” so fortuitously reported by the Beeb both on the nightly news and in its flagship documentary series Panorama, under the title “Saving Syria’s Children,” has never received any substantive independent verification, and that many people such as respected commenter Craig Murray, consider it to have been an outright fake.

images such as this have persuaded many that the BBC documentary “Saving Syria’s Children” does not represent real events or real injured people

It’s not a popular or easy point of view to sell, and not many even in the alt media like to go there. But for the brave and persistent efforts of Robert Stuart probably no one would have ever learned about the questions and lacunae surrounding this one alleged terror attack. Even those of us who could see its exploitation as propaganda would never have considered questioning whether or not it really happened.

But Stuart has asked the questions, and continues to ask the questions. And the answers that ought to be easy to find if the event was real have not so far been in evidence. In fact the more one digs, the stranger and less well-defended the narrative seems to become.

We’ve already aired portions of Stuart’s research (see sidebar), and must once again urge everyone to visit his site and explore it at length. In particular see:

Plausibility of injuries & demeanour of alleged victims

FSA commander attests attack did not take place

Mughira Al Sharif

Dr Rola Hallam & Hand in Hand For Syria

Stuart has recently been asked to appear Syrian TV to discuss his research, and he’s particularly keen to highlight the following and encourage other people to make their own enquiries:

… a key aspect that has yet to be pursued, namely the identification of one the actors/volunteers who participated in the events of 26 August 2013. I would like to remind journalists… that I can provide this woman’s name and approximate location in Amsterdam in order that she may be traced and interviewed. This person may well be able to shed light on the identities of the other participants in what appears to be a historic breach of trust between the BBC and its global audience.

As the push for catastrophic intervention in Syria and other acts of equal insanity are being supported with ever more media hysteria, based on ever more dubious, implausible narratives, we need to be prepared to question way beyond our comfort zones. If we allow avowedly or actual “distressing” images or appeals to sentimentality or outrage to deflect us from rational investigation then we are behaving in exactly the way expected of us by those for whom human suffering, real or feigned, is just another useful tool for manipulation.

Please watch the original BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. Decide for yourself what you think about its honesty and the reality of the images and story it presents. And if possible invite your friends, family, colleagues to do the same.


30 Comments

  1. writerroddis says
  2. Frank says

    Homage to Catalonia was partly a novel and partly autobiographical. Where I find Orwell’s insights into the nature of totalitarianism most penetrating is in his various essays, namely, Politics and the English Language, Notes On Nationalism, Not Counting Niggers (his words not mine) Marrakech for starters, My favourite Orwell novel was written when Orwell served in the Indian Imperial Police, Burmese Days was a product of this formative experience. In Spain Orwell served in the Pardido Obrero Unficacion Marxista (Workers Party of Marxist Unity) which was affiliated to the British Independent Labour party, which he later joined, and the German SAP (Socialist Workers Party). These groups formed part of what was known as the Two and a Half International, essentially left social-democrats. He openly stated that he was for democratic socialism and against all forms of imperialism and totalitarianism. I’d go along with that. By the time he was writing the dystopian novel 1984 his pessimism had become manifest and a little out of time since the USSR was extremely popular in the west. But it should be remembered that he was in fact in very poor health during this time. He related ‘I wouldn’t have written such a pessimistic book if I hadn’t been so ill’.

    Apart from the novels there are 4 thick volumes of his collected works, and, in addition, collections of essays in ‘Decline of the English Murder’ and ‘Inside the Whale’ and ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ (a piece of journalism).

    Like

  3. John says

    In fairness to the BBC Panorama Unit, their usual sphere of operations is domestic. They usually equip whistle blowers with covert camera recording technology to expose elder abuse or abuse of young people in UK care homes.
    Within their own area of expertise, the Panorama Unit does a good job but they are out of their depth in foreign ones.
    They will have been spoon-fed the information about Syria and lack any independent expertise in these areas.
    So why do they do it? Because they are told to do it.
    The BBC is a “brand” and has an enviable international reputation.
    This makes them a valuable asset in the propaganda war being waged by the US and its allies.
    The BBC has changed. No longer is it an independent non-state actor, keen on pursuing the truth.
    It has become financialised and commercialised to the point where it now resembles the Murdoch media empire.
    The BBC pursues its commercial agenda by actively seeking markets for its “products”.
    These “products” include light entertainment, films and a global “news” service which other stations buy from them.
    They are currently driving their efforts in the Middle East and in the Arabian Gulf to sell more “product”.
    This means kow-towing to existing and potential “markets” like the US, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, UAE, etc.
    They will not report incidents in a way likely to undermine their market shares in those regional areas.
    There is also the fact that the UK is subordinate to the US, particularly in terms of intelligence assets.
    The US administration tells the UK government to use the BBC as an asset in their “war” against Russia, Syria and Iran.
    The BBC is therefore forced to comply with US “war” requirements by the UK government.
    The UK government uses interminable discussions about the BBC’s power to levy a licensing fee to achieve this.
    The BBC senior executives and management have to comply with UK government wishes on all matters.
    Their pay, perks and bonuses rely on serving their real masters in everything, including producing false propaganda.
    It is human nature – and BBC human nature in particular – which results in so much falsity.
    Ultimately, individual human greed rules at the BBC, as well as at most press media like The Guardian..
    How could it be otherwise?

    Like

    • In fact there was a very good documentary on BBC Panorama – October 2013 – entitled ‘The War Party’ It was an investigation into the neo-con establishment based in the DC beltway, and included interviews with Richard Perle, Meyrav Wurmser (who has a distinct resemblance to Luticia Adams of the Addams Family) and Michael Leeden. These were not the type of fawning interviews I was expecting but the interviewer simply asked awkward questions which elicited the predicable lunatic response from the above mentioned. They were simply condemned out of their own mouths as semi-insane. And I am not even sure about the ‘semi’ prefix.

      But of course this was before the self-censorship took place and the media, willingly or otherwise, began to toe the War Party line. Such an investigation and screening would not be advertised as ‘The War Party’ today. It would be somewhat different in both form and content. Something like ‘The exceptional peoples’ humanitarian intervention party’ perhaps.

      The above mentioned Panorama programme was still available at the time of the Maidan and is worth viewing if still available.

      Like

  4. Mick McNulty says

    I never watch British news or “war” documentaries anymore because I can’t sit through their lies, but if that brief clip shows the quality of the lies they’re trying to feed people with today then they’ve really lost the plot. It’s abysmal.

    Like

  5. Willem says

    What impresses me from this story is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predeliction. Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence.

    In the present war in Syria we are in the curious position that our ‘atrocity campaign’ was done largely before the war started and done mostly by the Left, the people who normally prize themselves on their incredulity.

    But unfortunately, the truth about atrocities is far worse than that they are lied about and made into propaganda. The truth is that they happen. The volume of testimony is enormous and a respectable proportion comes of it from the Russian press. These things really happen, that is the thing to keep one’s eye on. They happened even though David Cameron said they happened. The raping and the butchering, the tortures in the cellars, the drowning of refugees in the mediterranean sea – they all happened, and they did not happen any the less because the BBC has suddenly found out about them much too late.

    The only propaganda line open to the US and EU in Syria is to represent themselves as Christian patriots saving Syria from a ruthless dictatorship. This involves pretending that life in Government Syria is just one long massacre (read the Guardian or New York Times), and it involves immensely exaggerating the scale of Russian intervention. This thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.

    I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abondonment of the idea that history c o u l d be truthfully written.

    When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported “humanitarian interventions”, one stands amazed at their diversity. But the root cause is very simple. They are all people with something to lose, or people who long for a hierarchical society and dread the prospect of a world of free and equal human beings. Behind all the ballyhoo that is talked about Assad and radical Islam lies the simple intention of those with money or priviliges to cling to them.

    …..

    These are all quotes from George Orwell’s book Homage to Catolonia, where I only changed “Spanish” with “Syrian”, “daily worker and catholic herald” with “the Guardian and New York Times”, “Nazis and Facists” with “US and EU”, “German” with “Russian”, “Lord Halifax” with “David Cameron”, “Facism” with “humanitarian wars” and a few other things (Don’t take my word for it, but read Orwell’s briliant book if you haven’t done so already).

    I stopped taking newspapers and the news serious in 2002. But must admit that not a lot has changed in the news since at least 1938 when Orwell wrote about the Spanish Civil War.

    Like

    • Catte says

      While it’s easy to agree with the general point of this exercise, it’s not at all easy to see how you think it applies to this article, which certainly doesn’t try to claim that only the alleged atrocities of one side are real.

      I’m pretty sure Orwell would agree that the general claim “they happen” cannot be a refutation of the specific allegation that this specific event did not happen. I’m pretty sure he’d agree that while atrocities do happen, so does media fakery, and the only way to differentiate one from the other is to interrogate each event separately on its own terms.

      Instead of stating self-evident truths about inherent bias that no one is disputing, why not discuss the issues actually raised in this article?

      Like

      • Willem says

        Because it is very difficult…. To do that you need to know the truth. I think you and Stuart do a good job by exposing the lies. Thing is: I do not like to see lies, they make me angry. So instead I read books and when I find that they report about the same things that are discussed here, I report them. It shows to me that it is difficult to fight the obvious and the lies. It also shows to me that it is not impossible. The end of Homage to Catalonia is hopefull…

        Like

        • Frank says

          ”The end of Homage to Catalonia is hopefull …”

          Yes, but the end of 1984 isn’t. I’m sure you remember ‘He (Winston Smith) loved Big Brother’

          Like

        • Willem says

          I think I should make myself a bit more clear why I compared abovementioned article with Orwell’s book and why I think it matters.

          There is no other way for me to comment on abovementioned article other than to say that all that you expose, is true. The BBC documentary is a lie, what more is there to say? – Well that it is very good that you report this as such, and I really like to thank people from OffG, and others, who expose lies as such to an interested reading audience.

          But acknowledging that is not enough to stop the lying. This is what Orwell’s book tells me, as kind of the same lies were told to the English people by the press concerning the Spanish civil war. We are not living in an exceptional time. MSM seems to have lied all the time, including the so called Left press. If you take Orwell’s book as original template, the lying occurs since at least 1938. The question is: Why does the MSM including the left press do this?

          For that you need to know the structure behind the lies, see if it follows a kind of pattern. Because if you know the pattern, than maybe you can change it into something in which lying is no longer possible. These patterns are sure not physical laws, but man-made laws.

          So you can compare one situation with another to see if there are similarities and differences between these situations and try to understand why these similarities and differences are there. This what I did. This is also the method that Herman and Chomsky use in their book Manufacturing Consent: compare natural ‘experiments’ to see if this explains media bias in for example atrocities in Cambodia (‘we’ are not responsible) vs East Timor (‘we’ are responsible). Just to make myself absolutely clear: I stole the method from them.

          So what I tried is to compare the Syrian war with the Spanish Civil War, and I did this by using Orwell’s book as template. I think the similarities are striking.

          So if you know what the Spanish Civil war was about, you are likely to find out wat the Syrian war is about as well. I don’t think that that information is trivial (and therefore I recommend Orwell’s book in case you have not read it). It’s just another way of trying to find the truth. In Orwell’s book (I may be mistaken) the Spanish war is all about crushing the voice of the people (anarchism) and saving the existing money and power structures for corporations (Facism). Syria may not be different, with the Arab Spring (voice of the people) and oil and gas that needs to be saved by corporations. That is information of which you can be sure to hear nothing about in MSM, but which anyone can deduce him or herself if one stops watching the news and tries to find out what history is about.

          The abovementioned article tries to find the truth by description, which is a very useful method but not for me, as I don’t have the stomach for questioning people who lie or use dead and wretched bodies (either fake or real) to strengthen their lie. They make me angry, and than I lose the argument. So I don’t go there. I can’t even watch without disgust. But I have great esteem for those who do have the stomach for such reporting.

          I am more able to compare situations and try to deduce the Logic from it.

          I don’t think that these two methods of exposing the lie (the method of description vs the method of comparison) and finding the truth are mutually exclusive. I think they can strengthen each other.

          Last but not least: I am happy that it is possible at this website to post such comments and use them for open discussion. This is how alt media will in the end win from the thought police who only believe their line of reasoning. Freedom of speech used to be quite a big thing in my country (the Netherlands) and made it influential as propagandized by Carl Sagan in his documentary Cosmos (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EbljFJERflA minute 11 onwards).

          For what it’s worth. At least I exposed some great books from my book shelve and a documentary in this comment 🙂

          Like

          • John says

            I am not sure about your analogy to the voice of the people as it links to events like the so-called Arab Spring. The first event of this type that took place – in Tunisia? – may have been authentic but I think the following events were stage-managed by the Egyptian military and – with western support – other actors elsewhere afterwards, as in the Ukraine, and the colour and umbrella “revolutions”.
            President Erdogan of Turkey is, I believe, of a similar mindset: that the attempted military coup in Turkey was supported by western elements who hoped that the initial military action would be supported by a general civilian uprising.
            As ever, the US and their allies got that completely wrong, just as they have in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria before.
            While I am prepared to accept that the Spanish Civil War began as part of a popular political revolution, I do not think the same can be said of Syria, where the organisation and equipping of anti-regime forces is clearly down to forces established outside Syria, in the US, Saudi, Qatari, Israeli, Jordan and Turkey.
            Erdogan was involved in helping to establish ISIS along with all the other anti-Assad states previously mentioned. In his case, immediate members of his family profited enormously through selling-on ISIS-looted oil and archeological artefacts.
            As you see, there are real and concrete differences these days between the events of 1938 in Spain and more recently in Syria. The events in the past were much more ideological in nature. These days, wealth, power and influence matter more.

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            • John B says

              John has it correct in this case Willem.

              Speaking about Arab Springs and how they differ from country do country, i had heard that the uprising in Syria came about from a group of youngsters throwing some kind of prank protest which naturally caused the Syrian regime to go into a panic. They arrested one of the group and treated him so badly, they pulled all this toenails and fingernails out before throwing him out into the street, that they actually caused a revolution against themselves.

              Like

      • I think we’re probably all more or less on the same page here, in that we can see and agree that the BBC Napalm story was fabricated and totally egregious propaganda in support of the UK government – regardless of the actual mechanism of how this came about at such a critical time.
        But I’m personally a little worried at the suggestion that ‘both sides are responsible for atrocities’. I am not aware of credible reports of true atrocities carried out by the SAA on the orders of the government or leadership. All the widely reported atrocities have a cloud of doubt hanging over them, and it’s a cloud that therefore hangs over ALL claims made by the Opposition and its associates and activists.
        Equally the terms in which we portray atrocities are very partial. When committed by our own side in self defence – as in some cases in WW2, ‘atrocity’ is never the word used to describe them, because they were seen as necessary evil to defeat a much greater evil. Those are the terms in which we should see the actions of the SAA – who even if acting in a barbaric fashion on some occasions were doing so as a response to the terrible things done to their comrades and citizens they were protecting by violent terrorists.
        If you ask Syrians, this is how they see the actions of their army, and having experienced the terror and destruction wrought on their country and their relatives, husbands, sisters and brothers, by these barbarian mercenaries are constantly calling on the army to do whatever it takes to rid their country of the ‘rats’ and terrorists – even if that means ‘atrocities’.
        Having said that though, it is important to add that Syrians have also been remarkably generous in their ability and commitment to reconciliation and forgiveness to those who abandon the false ‘revolution’ and return to the fold. No better example that the minister for Reconciliation Haidar Ali, whose son was murdered by the extremists.

        Like

  6. tommytcg says

    West can’t go to war. War with whom? Nato ally Turkey? Pres. Erdo had lost his supporting military officers , as Gulen’s boys were promoted above them. The PM and Intel head were in Gulen’s pocket. I don’t think Pres. Erdo had a hand in the supply to IS, good rebels, bad rebels, and he couldn’t go after the Kurds.. as the yanks were using them them to divide Sy. After the failed US coup, direction became clear. Bomb the good and bad rebels, IS and Kurds. That’s what secret meetings were all about with Sy, Ir, Rus.

    Like

  7. The Washington consensus is pushing for war. Wolfowitz doctrine “WAR IS GOOD”. The western world economies r virtually on stand still. The western stock markets are over leveraged at 500 percent. Every aspect of western society has been financialised. The western politicians are morally and intellectually bankrupt. The Russians having been asked to help the Syrians via the legitimate government have exposed the western duplicity and hypocrisy with the middle east . The Petro-dollar is dying.
    Iran China and Russia have basically stated via their diplomatic moves in the world that they will not be extorted by the western oligarchs. The European union is on the verge of collapsing. Western economic system is collapsing and is due for a reset. The western oligarchs/banking system needs a war to barry their deceptive and rigged system.
    It seems that they r preparing the western sheeple for a global war. The propaganda is on steroids causus belli is all the western MSM seem to be talking about. They all paint Iran,China and Russia as aggressive .
    The western citezenry have short term memory.
    Iran,China and Russia stand in the way of the western corporate elites in total world domination. They r losing the battle in Syria ,the Donbass has held its ground.
    Dueterte the newly elected President of the Philippines has just publicly ridiculed and berated the UN and The Us on their blatant hypocrisy. Hence they need a war and want a war.
    All the public machinations buy r politicos and talking heads leads me to think war is eminent .
    WAKE UP SHEEPLE AND DENY THESE VILE BEINGS THEIR WAR

    Like

  8. Reminds Tubularsock of Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ, called “Nurse Nayirah” in the media, a fifteen-year-old Kuwaiti girl, who alleged that she had witnessed the murder of infant children by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait. In verbal testimony to the U.S. Congress, in the run up to the 1991 Gulf War. Later it was “discovered” that she was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family and she LIED. Oh my, by then we had already bombed the hell out of them!

    It is difficult to stay awake but only if you stay asleep!

    Liked by 2 people

    • John says

      At the time, we in the west were told that “we” had to invade Kuwait to kick Saddam Hussein’s forces out in order to protect a “little” country [shades of the “poor” “little” Belgium and Hunnish atrocities’ propaganda, which drew Britain into the First World War? – which just goes to show that such propaganda is hardly new or original].
      We were also told it would result in a more democratic regime being installed by the Emir of Kuwait.
      What ever happened to that new more “democratic” regime?
      As far as I know, nothing at all has changed in Kuwait since the west invaded it and drove out Iraqi forces.
      Yet again, hollow phrases and promises have shifted the regional balance of power. Cui bono?
      Netanyahu must be having one long belly laugh at the stupidity of western populations.
      It certainly suits his Yinon Plan objectives of an Eretz (Greater) Israel project.
      Strange that – don’t you think?

      Like

      • Brian Harry, Australia says

        “Netanyahu must be having one long belly laugh at the stupidity of western populations”.

        Netanyahu is not noted for his ability to laugh at anything. He is deadly, pathologically serious about what he has achieved, using his “anaesthetized donkey” the USA to do his dirty work.

        Like

  9. LES DITTRICH says

    Thank you for being one of the few real journalists left.
    I was recently asked by a bright 16 y/o daughter of my wife’s girlfriend about what to study at which University> I asked her what she wanted to study and become – journalism/ist was the response. I told her that if she was prepared to follow instructions and write what she was told to write even if she didn’t agree with it or knew it to be an outright lie AND she was prepared to do as she was told AND could still sleep at night then she’d be OK. I gave a few examples to back up my stance.

    Liked by 2 people

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