New York Times Leads Western Media in Blaming Russia for Syria's Misery
October 10, 2016
Robert Parry / Consortium News & RT News
Commentary: Every day, The New York Times sinks deeper into the swamp of propaganda, reliably touting neocon notions about the Middle East and Russia. Meanwhile, "Saving the West" was the title of a recent gathering organized by CEPA, a Russia-obsessed group funded by American corporations including Lockheed Martin, the Raytheon Company, Sikorsky Aircraft and Bell Helicopters -- military contractors whose profits are linked to foreign wars.
The New York Times' Neocon 'Downward Spiral'
Robert Parry / Consortium News
(October 6, 2016) -- The New York Times' downward spiral into a neoconservative propaganda sheet continues with another biased lead article, this one on how the Syrian war has heightened US-Russia tensions. The article, bristling with blame for the Russians, leaves out one of the key reasons why the partial ceasefire failed -- the US inability to separate its "moderate" rebels from Al Qaeda's jihadists.
The article, written by Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer (two of the paper's top national security propagandists), lays the fault for the US withdrawal from Syrian peace talks on Russian leaders because of their "mistrust and hostility toward the United States," citing a comment by former White House official Andrew S. Weiss.
Gordon and Kramer then write that the cessation of hostilities agreement came undone because of the "accidental bombing of Syrian troops by the American-led coalition and then because of what the United States claimed was a deliberate bombing by Russian aircraft and Syrian helicopters of a humanitarian convoy headed to Aleppo." (The Times doesn't bother to note that the Russians have questioned how "accidental" the slaughter of 62 or so Syrian troops was and have denied that they or the Syrian government attacked the aid convoy.)
The article continues citing US intelligence officials accusing Russia and Syria of using indiscriminate ordnance in more recent attacks on rebel-held sections of Aleppo. "Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments," said a State Department statement, according to Gordon and Kramer.
However, left out of the article was the fact that the US government failed to live up to its commitment to separate US-backed supposedly "moderate" rebels from Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, which has recently changed its name to the Levant (or Syria) Conquest Front. By contrast, this key point was cited by Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, which noted:
"Russia has complained that Washington wasn't upholding its end of the bargain by failing to separate US-backed Syrian rebels from more extremist groups tied to al Qaeda."
Doubling Down with Al Qaeda
Indeed, The Wall Street Journal has actually done some serious reporting on this crucial topic, publishing an article from Turkey on Sept. 29, saying: "Some of Syria's largest rebel factions are doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a US warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.
"The rebel gambit is complicating American counterterrorism efforts in the country at a time the US is contemplating cooperation with Russia to fight extremist groups. It comes after a US-Russia-brokered cease-fire collapsed last week and the Syrian regime and its Russian allies immediately unleashed a devastating offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo city that brought harsh international condemnation. . . .
"The two powers have been considering jointly targeting Islamic State and the Syria Conquest Front -- formerly known as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front -- a group that is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syria's battlefields. The US has also threatened to attack any rebels providing front-line support to the group. . . .
"Some rebel groups already aligned with Syria Conquest Front responded by renewing their alliance. But others, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former Central Intelligence Agency-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo, said in recent days that they were joining a broader alliance that is dominated by the Front. A second, smaller rebel group also joined that alliance, which is known as Jaish al-Fateh and includes another major Islamist rebel force, Ahrar al-Sham. . . .
"In a call with Mr. Kerry on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian rebels 'refused to follow the US-Russian agreement. . . but instead merged with [Nusra Front].'"
So, it should be clear that a major obstacle to the agreement was the failure of the US government to persuade its clients to break off alliances with Al Qaeda's operatives, a connection that many Americans would find deeply troubling.
That public awareness, in turn, would undermine the current neocon PR campaign to get the Obama administration to supply these rebels with anti-aircraft missiles and other sophisticated weapons, or to have US warplanes destroy the Syrian air force in order to impose a "no-fly zone."
Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the powerful role of Al Qaeda and its spinoff, the Islamic State, has been a hidden or downplayed element of the narrative that has been sold to the American people.
That storyline holds that the war began when "peaceful" protesters were brutally repressed by Syria's police and military, but that version deletes the fact that extremists, some linked to Al Qaeda, began killing police and soldiers almost from the outset.
However, since The New York Times is now a full-time neocon propaganda sheet, it does all it can to hide such troublesome realities from its readers, all the better to jazz up the hatred of Syria and Russia.
As The Times and the Journal both made clear in their articles on Tuesday, the neocon agenda now involves providing more American armaments to the rebels either directly through the CIA or indirectly through US regional "allies," such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Though pitched to the American people as "humanitarian" assistance needed to shoot down Syrian and Russian planes, the arming-up of the rebels will likely extend the war and the bloodletting even longer while strengthening Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,.
If the new US weapons prove especially effective, they could even lead to the collapse of the Syrian government and bring about the neocons' long-desired "regime change" in Damascus. But the ultimate winners would likely be Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State, which could be expected to follow up with the mass slaughter of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other "heretics."
More likely, however, the US-supplied weapons would just cause the war to drag on indefinitely with an ever-rising death toll. But don't worry, the dead will be blamed on Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad.
Although never mentioned in the mainstream US media, the delivery of weapons to these Syrian rebels/terrorists are a clear violation of international law, an act of aggression and arguably a crime of aiding and abetting terrorists.
International law is something that The Times considers sacrosanct when the newspaper is condemning a US adversary for some violation, but that reverence disappears when the US government or a US "ally" is engaged in the same act or worse.
So, it is understandable why Gordon and Kramer would leave out facts from their story that might give Americans pause. After all, if the "moderate" rebels are in cahoots with Al Qaeda, essentially serving as a cut-out for the US and its "allies" to funnel dangerous weapons to the terror organization that carried out the 9/11 attacks, Americans might object.
Similarly, if they were told that the US actions violate international law, they might find that upsetting, too, since many Americans aren't as coolly hypocritical as Official Washington's neocons and liberal war hawks.
Beyond the devolution of The New York Times into a neocon propaganda organ, Gordon and Kramer have their own histories as propagandists. Gordon co-wrote the infamous "aluminum tube" story in September 2002, launching President George W. Bush's ad campaign for selling the Iraq War to the American people. Gordon also has gotten his hands into disinformation campaigns regarding Syria and Ukraine.
For instance, Gordon and Kramer teamed up on a bogus lead story that the State Department fed to them in 2014 about photographs supposedly taken of soldiers in Russia who then turned up in other photos in Ukraine -- except that it turned out all the photos were taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story and forcing an embarrassing retraction. [For more on that screw-up, see Consortiumnews.com's "Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?"]
For his part, Kramer has been a central figure in The Times' anti-Russian propaganda regarding Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com's "NYT Is Lost in Its Ukraine Propaganda."]
So, between The Times' neocon institutional bias -- and the apparent personal agendas of key correspondents -- one can expect very little in the way of balanced journalism when the topics relate to the Middle East or Russia.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. His latest book is America's Stolen Narrative.
Save the West!
Russophobic Hysteria Hits New Heights
MOSCOW (October 7, 2016) – If you think this headline hyperbolic, think again, because "Saving the West" was literally the title of the latest gathering organized by CEPA, a Russia-obsessed group funded by American corporations.
And the theme didn't end at last week's Washington junket as the Ukrainian President and NATO officials promoted the exact same talking point in recent days. It seems all parties have agreed on this narrative of how Russia -- and its media -- threaten the very existence of the West.
What do Lockheed Martin, the Raytheon Company, Sikorsky Aircraft and Bell Helicopters have in common? Well, there's the obvious, that they are all defense contractors of different stripes.
But here's a less heavily publicized connection -- all these companies fund the grandly titled Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a pretend-academic enterprise, based in Warsaw and Washington, which -- based on their publications, events and the rhetoric of its headliners -- is dedicated primarily to promoting tensions between Russia and other Eastern European countries. Additional contributors to the pie include Boeing, FireEye and the US Department of Defense.
Of course, another thing which unites these entities is that they benefit from increased NATO engagement in former Warsaw Pact nations. The weapons makers win because of a larger market for their products and the Pentagon gains by using the discomfort to justify increased military spending. Especially at a time when the biggest public enemies of the first decade of this century -- Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden -- are no longer available.
That's presumably why CEPA's traveling circus pitches up in Washington from time-to-time: to scare policymakers into loosening the purse strings for yet more spending.
The Real Agenda
One of outfit's main objectives is to provoke panic about so-called "Russian disinformation" (i.e., the kind of news the Western establishment doesn't want the public to see).
To this end, it has employed several high-profile lobbyists. They include Anne Applebaum and Ed Lucas, who also moonlight as journalists, and Peter Pomerantsev, the author of a chimeric book about Russian media, which was widely promoted in sections of the mainstream press.
Of course they don't call themselves lobbyists; rather, they are "Senior Adjunct Fellows," "Project Chairs" and a "Senior Vice President." Which does sound fancy, if rather vague.
Anyway, it seems their message of how the West must be saved has increased in volume from mutterings to screams as NATO officials and the Ukrainian President have now joined their Greek chorus. Petro Poroshenko is worried about RT's popularity in the West and NATO is also expressing concern about the channel's growing reach and influence.
Poroshenko turned up on CNN to decry "the danger that comes from RT and other Russian media" as well as the general danger posed by Russia to the European Union. He expressed confidence in how ALL Eurosceptics on the continent receive Moscow funding.
After all, what other possible reason could there be for opposing the EU, unless you are paid by the Kremlin to do so? Not concerns about, say, immigration or austerity.
NATO officials also stepped up, insisting that "the West must step up its efforts to combat and counter the information war being waged by its opponents." Why? Because the "West is 'Losing Information War' to Russia," they cry to US state broadcaster, Voice of America. If #SaveTheWest starts trending on Twitter, you'll know whom to thank.
News That's Fit to Print
The only possible conclusion here is that all these groups and individuals want the public to believe in the idea of RT presenting a threat to Western civilization by covering the stories and angles that the mainstream media ignores. For instance, the US prison strikes, which are going on almost entirely unnoticed by leading American outlets. Or the atrocities carried out by the "moderate opposition" in Syria.
Or the actual concerns of the UK citizens, who shook the entire Western media establishment by voting to leave the EU. Somehow that too was RT's fault, because we listened while the rest of the MSM dismissed millions of concerned citizens as "fringe". . . or maybe were just too busy singing jolly tunes in Westminster pubs, who knows.
The hysteria becomes even more ridiculous when you look at RT's rather conservative resources, compared to the competition. For example, the BBC, which recently accepted £289 million ($375 million) over four years from the UK's security and defense budget. This was to boost its World Service output and is on top of the £245million ($325 million) annual cash pool the global [primarily radio and digital] wing already receives.
That's right – this does not include their global TV channel BBC World. Or look at America's Broadcasting Board of Governors (the parent of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), which collected $758 million this year. Or Deutsche Welle, which receives €294 million ($326 million) and keeps asking for more because The Russians Are Coming (#SaveTheWest, 2015 edition).
Don't forget either private entities such as CNN, which already boasted $856 million a decade ago and doubtlessly has more resources now. Not to mention the thousands of newspapers, dozens of heavily resourced websites and myriad TV stations that toe the NATO and State Department line on pretty much everything.
All of this, to RT's $260 million for global TV broadcasting.
This lavishly funded, thousands-strong media army is led by the voices that literally cry "Save the West" . . . while ridiculing Russia as exhibiting baseless paranoia about how it's surrounded by enemies. It's doubtful they'll note the irony.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.