66

Guardian trashes White Helmet sceptics

by Philip Roddis

There is an on-line smear campaign designed to dishonestly associate the White Helmets with armed terrorists. Please disregard the above photo.


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:

  • Does any part of it even consider the possibility of Western agendas along the lines sketched out above?
  • Are such agendas so manifestly absurd they needn’t be considered?
  • Does Solon tell us the White Helmets were formed by a British mercenary?
  • Does she tell us the White Helmets had $23 million from the US State Department – at the forefront of America’s regime change offensive – or ask how that sits with White Helmet claims of independence from government funding?
  • Does she ask why, after Aleppo was cleared of the terrorists, we’ve seen no vox pop footage of its Syrians pouring out their gratitude for WH help in their hour of need?
  • How reliant is her piece on our long nurtured and barely conscious predisposition to believe that Western media tell us the truth, Russian media nothing but falsehood?
  • Has ‘conspiracy theory’ joined ‘fake news’, ‘mansplaining’ and ‘whataboutery’ as a way of dismissing arguments without the inconvenience of addressing their specifics?
  • No further questions, m’lud. Merry Christmas one and all.


    avatar
      Subscribe  
    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of
    richard sterling
    Reader
    richard sterling

    I live in the SF Bay Area and never heard of Olivia Solon before this nonsense. In October 2016 Offguardian published a short “Fact Sheet on the White Helmets”:
    https://off-guardian.org/2016/10/05/fact-sheet-on-the-white-helmets/
    Ignored by Solon and the Guardian, the facts as explained in the article above are clear. To Simon Wood and OffGuardian editors: if you wish, you can clear up the confusion about the source of the fact sheet. It was based on the petition which I alone wrote. Rick Sterling.

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    I think this is a watershed.
    The wheels are falling off the Imperial Propaganda Machine.
    They’ve waved in a hate figure into the White House and tried to inculcate a mass conflation exercise such that the Left stop short of pulling apart the big lies.
    Trump is there to divide the anti-establishment sentiment into the false dichotomy of pro-Russian media (pro-Trump), and anti Trump (anti Russian).
    Catilin Johnson has got it right:
    https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/russiagate-is-making-everyone-stupid-dd8f56449101
    ..although I would claim that the stupidity was seeded sixteen years ago when huge narratives went unchallenged, and now it has grown into a giant, twisted, creeping vine of anti-reason.

    Sav
    Reader
    Sav

    Well, it’s kicking off.
    Greenpeace’s Communications Director, Ben Stewart, has a pinned a tweet to Olivia Solon’s article with:
    Turns out all those people claiming the White Helmets are ‘terrorists’ were just cogs in Russia’s online propaganda operation. Useful idiots on the far left and far right smeared heroes on behalf of war-mongers.
    Can you believe this stuff?
    When some somebody responds with a reasonable answer he then says:
    Ignore “Mary”. Unless they tweet under a real name we can assume they are bashing this stuff out from a troll factory outside St Petersburg.
    Lost all faith in any of these so called NGOs.
    George Monbiot has also piped in claiming he has been vindicated by Solon’s article 🙂 And goes on to berate Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward saying they have disgraced themselves.

    uncle tungsten
    Reader
    uncle tungsten

    Well that the end of any support from me and my network for Greenpeace. Ben Stewart is a fool.

    Mulga Mumblebrain
    Reader
    Mulga Mumblebrain

    Monbiot sold out to the Empire long ago, over nuclear power and Bosnia for a start. Edward S Herman’s evisceration of his agit-prop re. Srebrenica is well worth reading.. And Monbiot is getting worse with age, no doubt to keep himself employable.

    Thomas Peterson
    Reader
    Thomas Peterson

    Incredible. They believe or pretend to believe Olivia Solon’s article written from San Francisco proves something about the activities of the White Helmets in a dangerous no-go area of Syria.

    MichaelK
    Reader
    MichaelK

    That the main countries involved in the attempt to topple the government of Syria, are also funding the White Helmets and a UK mercenary wth links to Military Intelligence devised the entire strategy, should, at the very least, cause one to stop and reflect about the true character of the White Helmets narrative. Because it reeks of a western conspiracy to create a set of positive images and stories that make the ‘rebels’ look good compared to the Syrian ‘regime.’ Most people are completely unaware of these facts and are suprised when one informs them. It’s like the whole Syrian Observatory on Human Rights ‘organization’ that’s funded by the FCO and Gulf States and is based, not in Syria at all but in the back of a shop in… Coventry! Yet the Guardian and the BBC, paragons of the highest journalistic standards and urgent to scrutinize all sources of ‘fake news’ never mention any of this… strange.

    shaksvshav
    Reader
    shaksvshav
    MichaelK
    Reader
    MichaelK

    What’s so disturbing is that a news platform like the ‘liberal’ guardianr , one assumes, is where, the ‘oppostion’ to war would find a home or a voice, or, at the very least the drift would be mentioned or examined. But no, the Guardian’s asleep, dreaming about the return of Blair or Obama, Tories one could love. In fact the silence at the Guardian makes me more convinced that war is comingWhat’s so disturbing is that a news platform like the ‘liberal’ guardianr , one assumes, is where, the ‘oppostion’ to war would find a home or a voice, or, at the very least the drift would be mentioned or examined. But no, the Guaurdian’s asleep, dreaming about the return of Blair or Obama, Tories one could love. In fact the silence at the Guardian makes me more convinced that war is coming and there’s nothing ordinary people can do to stop it. Our leaders are out of democratic control and by the time the public realize what’s really happening it’ll be too late. Those big demonstrations against the attack on Iraq will never be allowed again, which is why the media is under such tight control these days.

    Paul
    Reader
    Paul

    Absolutely right. Stop the War is now a suspect subversive movement and if the whistle gets blown the BBC, Guardian and Independent will be cheerleading. They’ve successfully moved the Centre rightwards. You can read and hear it everyday. At its core are anti Russian narratives that became very clear in 2014 over Ukraine, long before the intervention into Syria in 2015. Now it’s added anti Chinese rhetoric and the hysteria over N Korea enables the unspeakable to happen, massive nuclear exchanges that will destroy most of the developed World in about an hour – but leave a “winner”. For over 70 years now America has believed its “inevitable” and they will win., if they strike first. In the past President’s like Kennedy may have saved the World; he was sorely pressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Intelligence Agencies to use the bomb not only on Castro but in Berlin, Laos, Vietnam and the Congo. Even Johnson managed to resist, probably by blackmailing the CIA over the assisination. Trump’s strategic statement is the sort of thing the Agencies have been saying for decades. They believe they are in a war and must win it and there is only one way to do that. Trump’s Generals have the World where it wants it, under their nuclear thumb

    Lupulco
    Reader
    Lupulco

    I think if the US believe that a first strike on the Soviet Union and China they will come out of it the victors?
    Both the Soviet Union and China have the capability to strike back even if the US strikes first. Plus I seem to remember when the US launched all those cruise missiles at the air base in Syria only half got through.
    Big silence after the strike and no further action taken?
    Then again WW3 [with nukes] would help stop US Imports and reset the debt bomb. Or am I being cynical.

    Frank
    Reader
    Frank

    Any nuclear exchange would accelerate and bring about climate catasrophe almost immediately. Nuclear winter here we come. Winning a nuclear war – sick joke./

    Jen
    Reader
    Jen

    Soviet Union? Hasn’t existed for the last 25-plus years. Please clarify.
    The Russian Federation is not the same nation as the Soviet Union.

    BigB
    Reader
    BigB

    A little: WW3 with nukes would reset the debt timebomb about 4million years …until homo economicus evolved again! 🙂

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    …her profile refers to her as “a senior technology reporter for Guardian US in San Francisco”
    Olivia though is an expert on footware:
    https://oliviasolon.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/why-should-i-have-to-choose-between-tart-or-vicar-when-it-comes-to-shoes/
    If anyone is on Twitter, tweet George Monbiot with this link and add ‘#extremecivilisation’.

    Jen
    Reader
    Jen

    You mean to say that Solon is a … gasp … a presstitute?

    Big B
    Reader
    Big B

    From the UK Column’s analysis: Solon is pro the hyper-normalisation of “Karim the AI” …which is targeting the captive audience of traumatised Syrian refugees to practice it’s developing brand of (artificial) ‘compassion and support’: but anti the on the ground face-to-face witnessing and reporting of actual Syrians??? In the vernacular: that’s fucked up!!!

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    cc Paul Mason whilst your at it who tweets:
    ‘Forensic takedown of Kremlin and its stooges’ attacks on Syrian White Helmets – great journalism. [link to Solon piece] ‘
    Forensic ?
    Magic mushrooms ?

    Thomas Peterson
    Reader
    Thomas Peterson

    She wrote an article about Page 3 Girls’ breasts as well.

    Sav
    Reader
    Sav

    And now she’s looking like a right tit.

    Lupulco
    Reader
    Lupulco

    Careful what you say, here in the Democratic Free State of the United Kingdom, it is soon to be made a hate crime to tell the truth. Or worse still disagree with the MSM and TPTB views.

    Sav
    Reader
    Sav

    Projection, projection, projection. Everything these people are actually doing is projected onto independent voices. They have the millions of dollars, the massive government intelligence agencies and programs. They spread disinformation en masse. Not even as if the Guardian don’t know this from previous campaigns over Iraq and Libya after which some journos whimpered…..’ oh, we were all fooled’.
    Solon avoided James Le Mesurier completely in her article even though the White Helmets are totally his baby and he is on Twitter regularly doing PR for them. But of course that would have ruined the illusion that the White Helmets were some organically grown rescue group from the streets of Syria. So the Guardian made sure the FCO were kept totally out of sight.
    Also, the Graphika maps are just total guff. If Vanessa Beeley is in Syria unlike most of western media of course social media is going to connect to her. Why would it not? It’s like the science bit on a L’Oreal advert – total bollocks but will bamboozle simpletons into thinking….’wow, there’s science behind this, it must be true’.

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    A pretty good overview from Max Blumenthal:
    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/how-white-helmets-became-international-heroes-while-pushing-us-military?amp
    How many of the points raised are addressed by the Solon piece ? My estimate : 0.
    Monbiot is boosting this madness.
    The most significant meme established in 2017 :
    ‘Challenger of US/UK imperialist narratives’=’Conspiracy Theorist’=’Disseminator of Russian propaganda’=’traitor’.
    Those who shout loudest about the loss of ‘two sided debate’ are the ones who are most eager to shove this McCarthyist shitshow into our brains.

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    Prediction
    Meme for 2018 : Momentum=Russian infiltrators
    If the liberal establishment are prepared to go after Jill Stein with the Russophobic hysteria vibe, they will bring it to bear on the Corbyn movement, mark my words.
    Guardian will lead the way.

    mog
    Reader
    mog

    A recent report of 3 year study into IS weaponry from Conflict Armament Research, which confirms what I suspect everyone here was pretty sure of for some time:
    Evidence presented in this report, however, confirms that many of the group’s weapons—and notably its ammunition—are newly manufactured, having been delivered to the region since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. These weapons originate in transfers made by external parties, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, to disparate Syrian opposition forces arrayed against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Supplied into Syria through the territories of regional proxies—notably Jordan and Turkey—this materiel was rapidly captured by IS forces, only to be deployed by the group against international coalition forces.
    http://www.conflictarm.com/publications/

    MichaelK
    Reader
    MichaelK

    It’s hard to fathom, but the Guardian keeps on getting worse and worse on a range of vitally important issues; not least the seemingly inexorable slide down the slippery slope towards open military conflict with Russia and China, which could easily escalate into full-scale nuclear war. The Guardian seems remarkably sanguine about this terrifying prospect, which is really rather odd and frightening, because they all live in London along with their families and the great Euopean cities are right on the frontline in any future conflict; this being the nature of nuclear war – designed for wiping cities and their populations off of the map, in a crazed orgy of mass-destruction and mass-murder unparalleled in human history.
    Yet, reading the Guardian, one rarely, if ever, sees anyone questioning or examining our strategy towards Russia and whether the ‘costs’ and dangers relating to it, make any rational sense? What possible action by Russia, which seems intent on defending its borders and interests, could justify going to war with them? That our ‘war strategy’ looks like threatening to ‘beat’ the Russians by committing mutual civilizational suicide, is never rationally addressed. Instead loonies like Luke Harding are elevated way, way, above their pay-scale and understanding and become experts and sages about all things Russian.
    This would be amusing, if it wasn’t so grotesque and tragic. It’s like we’ve returned to the yeaars before WW1, only it’s worse now as their is virtually no real opposition to the slide or ‘sleepwalking’ towards war. Our media seems under total control and has become extraodinarily patrioitic and healthy scepticism is routinely denounced as proof of ones collusion with Russia!

    Harry Stotle
    Reader
    Harry Stotle

    One of the obvious problems reporting Syria is the fact most western journalists, certainly the likes of Solon or other prominent anti-Assad nay-sayers like Monbiot have never set foot in the place, or certainly not since ISIS blew into town.
    Which is odd because I would have thought western reporters truly interested in Syria would have been tripping over themselves to spend as much time as possible with the ‘good rebels’ so as to get an authentic feel for whats really happening on the ground, but no, apparently not.
    To me this suggests some journalists are either too dim to grasp their role as as media instruments fed bullshit from sinister security agencies, or worse, actually complicit, because deep down they are personally on board, or at least not repulsed with the neoliberal project to carve up the globe.
    In short we are living in a world shorn of international credibility and the MSM is a major contributor to this abject, and judging by some of the reporting of Russia and Korea, deteriorating state of affairs – more and more it feel like Syria is merely an hors d’oeuvre in the shit storm that is brewing.

    Thomas Peterson
    Reader
    Thomas Peterson

    They would love to be on the ground in Idlib, Syria, reporting on how democracy is developing there.
    Unfortunately they are all tied up with lunch appointments in London. It’s a shame, but what can they do.

    Jen
    Reader
    Jen

    The fact that The Guardian publishes an article by an undistinguished writer whose specialty is in business technologies equating criticism of the Syrian White Helmets with support for whatever atrocities the governments of Russia and Syria are supposed to have committed against Syrian civilians demonstrates that The Guardian has no substantive answer to the growing evidence of WH involvement in ISIS and other jihadi attacks and crimes. It shows how panicked The Guardian has become, that it and other mainstream news media are no longer in control of what the public receives in the way of news and information. This article by Olivia Solon underlines how irrelevant The Guardian has become.
    On top of that, the article also shows that whoever thought up the idea of linking dissident opinion with falling hook, line and sinker for supposed Russian propaganda and trolling sure has little imagination and lots of paranoia.

    Doug Colwell
    Reader
    Doug Colwell

    I read the Guardian article quite eager to see the public comments. But it appears to be free of them. I wonder why that is.

    Paolo
    Reader
    Paolo

    Generally the Guardian just deletes comments that contradict their narrative, it didn’t used to be that way but in 2014 the Maidan coup changed everything for some reason.

    Jen
    Reader
    Jen

    Well it was probably open only as long as there were no comments in it. Which would have been no longer than a fraction of a second.

    Alan
    Reader
    Alan

    Let’s just ask Mr James Le Mesurier if he can be found.

    BigB
    Reader
    BigB

    I’d love to know the percentages: I’d guess at small but significant. As has already been noted, the article was not open for comments: but I expect it would have been slated. It’s a risky strategy to smear something by drawing attention to it: (let’s hope ) it could be counterproductive and backfire. As Vanessa has noted; they are really sensitive about the White Helmets brand – it’s an intervention model they want to role out globally. And the government might be a bit sensitive about the money too, in times of austerity. From the comments on the 21Wire article I posted earlier – a Richard Bardon posted a link to DFID …we actually spent £352mn on “bilateral ODA ” with Syria. Bilateral ties with whom exactly? Not with the lawful government of Bashar al-Assad, that’s for sure!
    https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-international-development-2017

    BigB
    Reader
    BigB

    Sorry, this was meant as a reply to rtj1211 at the foot of the page.

    Thomas Peterson
    Reader
    Thomas Peterson

    a hundred million dollars has been spent on the white helmets. a few Guardian articles or ‘Snopes debunkings’ are chickenfeed and most likely covered in the budget.

    MichaelK
    Reader
    MichaelK

    The Guardian has become… rather ghastly, in my opinion. Ghastly articles poorly written and badly researched. Take Luke Harding’s latest garbage about Russia and Trump. The ‘review’ was by one of his chums. It wasn’t a review, more like a friendly ‘blow job’ between consenting colleagues. It’s like our media has joined the ‘pre-war’ campaign ‘grooming’ the public for conflict with Russia and dissent is being rapidly criminalized or outlawed. Propaganda is part of the war effort.

    Thomas Peterson
    Reader
    Thomas Peterson

    It’s really become trash. You can read far better on most blogs these days, whether left wing or right wing. The Guardian journalists rarely leave London so what can they really tell us about events elsewhere.

    summitflyer
    Reader
    summitflyer

    Its called doubling down on the bull$hit .

    MichaelK
    Reader
    MichaelK

    I’m sure the senior people at the Guardian have been briefed by the security services and informed that their patriotic duty requires them to distance themselves from anyone or any story that undermines the UK’s national security and vital foreign policy interests. This is what the question… ‘do you love your country?’ means, when Vaz confronted Rusbridger with it some years ago.
    The Guardian, I imagine, has also been briefed on Assange and Wikileaks, that they are Russian ‘security assests.’ Obviously, to critically s xamine or scrutinize the big framing narratives about Syria, Russia, Assange, The White Helmets, or the UK’s illegal attempts to topple the government of Syria; would imply th at one didn’t ‘love’ or ‘trust’ the country, the government, or the security services version of cu’ rrent events. This is ‘death’ for any jounranlist who wants a career inside the mainstream, and is, in the pre-war climate we live in, tantamount to treason.

    Frank
    Reader
    Frank

    ”I’m sure the senior people at the Guardian have been briefed by the security services and informed that their patriotic duty requires them to distance themselves from anyone or any story that undermines the UK’s national security and vital foreign policy interests.”
    I think this is absolutely certain. The guran is now part of the ministry of truth and its function is to ramp up Russophobic hysteria to prepare the country for war. There can be no other conclusion.