Syria, the media, and the search for another “Benghazi Moment”
by Justin Raimondo Posted on December 05, 2012
Rachel Maddow had one of those “Oh, This is Serious” looks on her face as she solemnly warned us that Something Was Up: that nasty old critter Bashar al-Assad was about to commit Hair-Raising Atrocities “in the dark”! Think of those poor jihadists “rebels” who would have to construct their suicide bombswithout downloading the instructions — why, that could be dangerous!
Of course, Maddow knew who was behind this outage, because the US government told her what to believe, and she believed it. So in place of reporting, you know, actual news, she channeled US government officials accusing the Syrian government of this dastardly act. “The worry is that the Syria government has made that country go dark, so that under cloak of darkness they can do something to their own people that they are unwilling to have people see in the light.”
Oh, the drama! The sheer power of the narrative! Where’s Richard Engel when you really need him?!
Those same officials informed her — yes, she has good connections! — that the US government, in its infinite wisdom, had foreseen this eventuality and sent 2,000 “communication kits” to the darling rebels, including computers capable of bypassing the dastardly Syrian government, enabling them to tweet the next suicide bombing. Which just goes to show, as Rachel has always assured us, how well central planning works!
That only an idiot would believe a country wracked by war would be immune to a major internet outage — or that the rebels (or their US government sponsors) had nothing to do with the outage — is not something Maddow has to worry about: her audience, like the audience over at rival Fox News, is primed to accept what their News Icons tell them, no matter how implausible.
In any case, the Syrian internet was restored less than 48 hours later — although, for some reason, I still can’t access the official Syrian government news agency — and, lo and behold, even though the dastardly Syrian government had two whole days in which to “do something to their own people that they are unwilling to have people see in the light,” nothing happened. A big nothing!
Oh, but wait …!
Two days later, our Rachel was “reporting” the imminence of yet anotherBenghazi Moment — the Syrians, she breathlessly recounted, have Weapons of Mass Destruction! Without referencing her previous false alarm, Maddow once again solemnly informed us the evil Syrian government was about to visit Death and Destruction “on its own people” — you know, just like Saddam Hussein, that other possessor of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Because, you see, the Syrians have poison gas — sarin and mustard gas, primarily — and US government officials are noting “unusual movements” near these sites.
Is it really necessary to point out the completely nonsensical aspect of this allegation? Aside from provoking direct Western military intervention, the release of various weaponized toxins would poison the ground water and wreak havoc with the very country Assad still pretends to rule. The Syrians have denied any plans to unleash their chemical weapons. Maddow doubts the veracity of this statement, however, due to the fact that the Syrian government spokesman who announced it has since fled the country. Is it just possible he might be fleeing rebel reprisals rather than an imminent bout of chemical warfare?
Maddow’s source is Wired’s “Danger Room,” a piece by fellow Obamaite (and “Journolist”) Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, who cite a faceless government “official” — possibly the same anonymous official who blamed the Syrians for the internet outage.
Not that the US government would ever tell a lie — why, hush my mouth and hope to die!
The left-wing of the War Party has been champing at the bit for the past few months, waiting for that Benghazi Moment to occur in Syria — a moment when they could get up on their hind legs and demand US intervention. Imagine the question coming up at Susan Rice’s Senate confirmation hearing: oh, the drama, as Rice out-hawks John McCain!
This is what the liberal-progressive elites are just itching for: an overseas “victory” to match — and crown — the one they thrilled to on election night. A new overseas crusade would give their gloating triumphalism a properly martial air, one befitting a party whose 2016 standard-bearer is likely to be Hillary Clinton. Still unrepentant in her support for the Iraq war, the outgoing Secretary of State is the undisputed leader of the party’s hawk faction, now that Joe Lieberman is gone. And make no mistake about it: she’s running.
Having long ago ditched opposition to militarism and empire-building in favor of identity politics, much of the American left has been hornswoggled into supporting the Libyan and Syrian “revolutions,” in spite of — or, in some cases, because of — Washington’s backing. The Vietnam era peaceniks of yesteryear, who have long since joined the Democratic party and gone into real estate, are merely extending their do-gooding instincts internationally. The partisan hacks of MSNBC are another matter: they are outright government propagandists, at least for the next four years.
That’s why, when they start in on a certain subject, it’s important to sit up and take notice. If, night after night, ol’ Rachel is waving her arms about in a frenzy over yet another Benghazi Moment, it’s safe to assume something is up.
The US has made no secret of its support to the rebels, whose best fighting troops are radical Islamists, including at least two groups claiming Syria’s al-Qaeda franchise. Although the search for a pretext continues, direct US military intervention has so far been ruled out. Amongst the Washington foreign policy cognoscenti, however, the demand for a replay of the Libyan “lead from behind” campaign is getting louder, and on this the “progressives” and the neocons agree: on to Damascus!
Both wings of the War Party — Fox News as well as MSNBC — are primed and ready for the next chapter in our history entitled “The Road to World War III.” What we are seeing in the Syrian regime-change operation is but a dress rehearsal — a trip-wire meant for poor old hapless Uncle Sam to stumble into war with Iran.
Such a war could not be contained. Just as the Syrian civil war on the ground is a religious war, pitting Sunni against Alawites (a “heretical” Muslim sect) and Christians of various denominations, so war with Iran would set off a global Muslim civil war, pitting Shia against Sunni. It would also bring in every regional actor, and, in that sense at least, would qualify as a third world war.
The Iranians have so far resisted the temptation of allowing themselves to be drawn into the Syrian inferno, but the longer it goes on the more it becomes a proxy war.
Quite apart from the incalculable human costs, the economic consequencesalone should be enough to rule out another war in the Middle East, at least as far as any Washington rational decision-maker is concerned. The rising price of oil is largely impelled by the market’s fear level when it comes to the prospect of war in the Gulf: if war comes, the oil shock could conceivably throw us into the sort of major market meltdown we experienced in November of ’08 — or worse.
The problem is that our political elites aren’t rational: they are, instead, possessed by an infectious hubris, a reckless faith in their own omnipotence that renders them immune to the lessons of history and plain common sense. It’s hard to believe the American ruling class, as power-mad and decadent as it is, would be so foolish as to dance on the edge of such a steep precipice. But then again, every sort of madness flourishes inside the Beltway bubble.
Remember that the next time Rachel Maddow gets all excited about yet another Benghazi Moment and starts waving her arms around like a helicopter lifting off into battle. You should also remember she’s a government propagandist, albeit officially in the “private” sector.
I’m just sayin’…
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Now that our winter fundraising drive is finally over, I want to thank everyone who gave: this was a particularly hard fundraiser for us, and as the years go on I’m increasingly worn down by the necessity of doing this every season. Which is why, although I’m told this one was no worse than the last one, it feels like it was longer and more painful than any before it.
In any case, I’m glad that’s over, as are you: thank you one and all. Without our loyal readers, who support independent journalism in the vital foreign policy realm, we couldn’t exist. I strive to live up to that every working day: i.e., seven days a week.