I was brought up in a world where the “other side” — the Soviet Union mainly — lied through its teeth. When it said “liberation” it meant “oppression.” That its national newspaper was called Pravda (Truth) was seen as a sick joke.
But now it seems all this has been turned into reverse. Over Syria, Russia, the Balkans or any other global hot spot, Western governments and mainstream media seem free to say whatever they like, no matter how phony or false. Increasingly we are having to rely on the “other side” to tell us the truth.
It is claimed, for example, that on April 4 the Syrian government made a sarin gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. This alleged atrocity was then used to justify the April 6 U.S. cruise missile strike on the al-Shayat air base in western Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump gained a big bump in his ratings as a result. Well-known commentator Fareed Zakaria, speaking on CNN, praised the bombing and said he could now see Trump as the president of the United States.
Seymour Hersh’s Syria scoop
But on June 25 the German daily Die Welt published an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh which claimed there was no deliberate Syrian gas attack on civilians and that this was known to U.S. military and intelligence organs before the missile strike was ordered.
Hersh adds: “The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives”
He continues: “Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian air force operations in the region.”
Again relying on U.S. intelligence sources, he says that the target of the 500-pound (227 kg) bomb attack was a command and control center for jihadis who used its basement to store rockets, weapons and ammunition together with chlorine, fertilizers and insecticides. This triggered explosions that caused a huge toxic cloud to spread over the town.
Hersh has a reputation for thorough and accurate expose research — the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities in Iraq and other inconvenient details of U.S. military involvements. Yet the U.S. and British media refused any mention of his latest report, forcing him to rely on a German newspaper to get his story out.
Common sense says the likelihood that Damascus would invite a vicious U.S. “red line” attack by deliberately gassing civilians in hostile territory is so remote as to be close to ludicrous. Any attack would have had to be a false flag operation by rebels hoping to push the blame onto Damascus. The same was probably true for the claimed 2013 sarin gas attack on rebel areas in Syria over which U.S. President Barack Obama had declared a red line that would lead to U.S. retaliation. (In the end he did not retaliate but demanded Damascus give up all its chemical weapons, which it seems to have done).
Adding yet another insult to our intelligence the U.S. then claimed it had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.” If Syrian President Bashar Assad “conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons,” the U.S. statement continued, “he and his military will pay a heavy price.” This was followed by an even more ominous threat from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who added: “The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message. … That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice.”
No hint was provided as the basis for these most unlikely Syrian “potential preparations” that ultimately could justify an attack on Russia. But once again the U.S. media served it up as if it was real.
The Hersh article did at least get to see the light of day, unlike the investigation report by Scot Ritter, the weapons inspector in Iraq who blew the whistle on the phony weapons of mass destruction (WND) claims and is now the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW. After seeing the evidence produced to back up claims of the April 4 Syrian sarin gas attack, he concluded that in “the desire for regime change in Damascus” the claims were faked “to serve the narrow-minded self interests of a few governments” (the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Turkey). His take on the situation can be found at jtim.es/mrAZ30dqBkA .
Long history of false flag ops
The April 4 incident is just the last in a long list of false flag or false claim incidents used to justify the aggressive use of U.S. power. They began back in 1960 with Operation Mongoose in Cuba, the faked 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident of the coast of Vietnam, claimed WMD in Iraq and now what we see in Syria. We also see the easily refutable campaigns to demonize alleged enemies, Russia especially. For example, over alleged Russian aggression in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine we need only read the text of the 2015 Minsk Agreement seeking to end the dispute to see that continued hostilities are entirely the responsibility of a Ukraine that still refuses the constitutional amendments to give the area promised autonomy. But you will not see anything about this in the biased U.S. media, which loses no opportunity to carry on about “Russian aggression.”
Equally alarming is the way the biased U.S. media now accuse the foreign media seeking to correct these falsehoods as biased and deserving of suppression, the RT (Russia Today) channel especially. I am asked sometimes to appear on RT news programs. I find its staff well-prepared and objective. Its commentaries are very fair, if only for the reason that many of them are made by former U.S. intelligence operatives. Yet it is now being demonized by the very U.S. media that on the basis of little concrete evidence now go overboard to accuse Moscow of rigging U.S. elections when if there is any rigging it is the manipulation of electorate boundaries by state, mainly Republican, governments. The efforts to demonize an intelligent, slightly immature, Western-oriented, highly religious Russian leader called Vladimir Putin are childish. It won’t be long before our anti-Moscow critics see something sinister in the fact the Russians communicate with each other in Russian and use a mysterious Cyrillic script.
Gregory Clark is a former Australian diplomat long involved in East-West diplomatic relations who now lives in Japan.