by Philip Roddis
Today’s Guardian (December 18th) plumbs new depths in its narrative on Syria. A Spotlight Piece by Olivia Solon – her profile refers to her as “a senior technology reporter for Guardian US in San Francisco” – carries the header, How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine, and opens like this:
The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.
I confess, I’m aware of but haven’t looked into claims of White Helmets working closely with al-Quaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra or other terrorist outfits. I do know the West has a record stretching back through Afghanistan in the eighties to Churchill’s peg on nose support for Saudi jihadists after the fall of the Ottomans. As one who deems Syria’s elected government – indeed, Syria’s secular state – target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign by Western interests who for reasons set out below aim to prime us for further regime change in the middle east, I object.
In a second paragraph worthy of the Daily Mail, Solon proudly tells us that:
The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).
We already know the Russian government is evil. It worms its way into right-thinking American brains, urging their owners in satanic whispers to vote the way they know they shouldn’t. It poisons dissidents, cheats at sport and has the bally cheek to bomb ISIL in Aleppo instead of watching Assad go the way of Gaddafi and Saddam while the good guys over the border bomb ISIL in Mosul.
(Pulling two demoniser narratives together delivers more than a BOGOF. When the Get Corbyn agenda merged with that of Friends of Israel over Shah-Livingstone, a multiplier effect arose from two powerful and mutually reinforcing myths. With such dog-whistle journalism, the piece practically writes itself.)
Only this morning, working on a long essay on the law of value, I wrote:
The slit-window view afforded by mainstream media is kept that way by billionaire owners, yes, but more by market forces. While the Independent has fled online, one driver of the Guardian’s rightward drift is rising transatlantic readership which, alongside falling sales and slow advertising growth, creates dependence on American advertisers – and greater dependence on subscriptions and donations from an American centreground well to the right of Britain’s.
A few paragraphs earlier I’d said:
Low as my expectations were, media coverage – liberal and some far left media included – of cold war on Russia and attempted regime change in Syria exceeded my worst fears. Bad as presumptions of Assad’s guilt are on such as sarin at Khan Sheikhoun, where evidential chain of custody relied on samples supplied by the terrorists running the crime scene, worse is media silence – deafening once we truly get this – on the West’s real motives. One is to open Syria’s statified economy to Wall Street predation in a pattern going back not just to Iraq and Libya but, with many stops along the way, the CIA backed coup in Chile 1973. Another looks to the bigger prize of regime change in Iran, restoring the pre 1979 status quo of unchallenged Western and Zionist dominance in the middle east. A third is to secure the West’s choice of oil pipeline into Europe, the world’s largest energy market; a fourth to lock out Russia and, less directly, China.
I don’t ask you to accept such claims as proven facts. I ask that you consider them, in whole or in part, as serious possibility – or take the time to say why not. The mere fact of a case to be heard is a damning indictment of media refusal to present any account of the West’s hostility to Assad beyond his being a Bad Egg. These lies of omission, unforgivable given Syria’s potential to escalate in ways Mrs Clinton’s no fly zones promised to bring closer, are fed to us not only by rightwing tabloids but by media which have forged, on matters where the stakes aren’t quite so high, reputations as guardians of truth and fair play; nemeses of unbridled authority.
Bearing all this in mind, I ask you to read Olivia Solon’s piece and ask yourself:
No further questions, m’lud. Merry Christmas one and all.