As I sat yesterday awaiting commencement of the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King “I have a dream” speech. I found myself becoming more and more frustrated at both the National and International news channels who have beyond doubt, some kind of unbridled blood lust when it comes to the possibility of a conflict between The USA, France and the UK on one side and Syria on the other. This despite the absolute FACT that between 80 and 90% of Americans and an equal percentages of Europeans do not want conflict.
CNN is reporting that the Israeli Government agency (Mossad) has intercepted communications between the Syrian Government and their military regarding movement of chemical weapons which were intercepted only days prior to the latest alleged chemical attack. The content of the report on CNN was short on substance and long on sensationalism. I couldn’t help thinking back to a similar statement from Israel regarding intelligence on a similar claim (chemical Weapons) that later turned out to be far from the facts on the ground. Yet the US and other allied forces stormed in certain that the intelligence reports they had received were factual and equally above reproach.
The latest sexy CNN terms being used to sell military action against Syria are “The action of the willing” or “the Coalition of the willing”. Amanpour even went as far as grilling the Italian Foreign Minister, almost demanding an explanation as to why Italy was UNWILLING (so to speak) to join France and the US without UN blessing. There was even the suggestion on occasion that such action against Syria was an effort to protect the Syrian people.
To claim that Western forces are going to attack Syria to preserve the lives of the Syrian people, is about as absurd as the claim that the US was trying to further the rights of Women in Afghanistan, whilst at the same time the US was continually befriending and celebrating the rule of the Saudi regime, where even today 2013, Women do not have the right to drive.
Whilst nobody would condone the actions of the Assad regime against its own people, the facts on the ground are that the majority of Syrians still support President Assad and not just members of his own sect as has many times been suggested by the FSA and their associates (Al Qaeda). Despite predictions from the FSA and some Western Leaders / governments of mass exodus of Sunni Syrians, it never actually came about in the numbers predicted, in fact defections (although hugely publicised) were of quite small numbers.
The latest information from the UK and France is that they will await the conclusions of the UN inspectors, currently on the ground in Syria until Saturday. However, one MUST keep in mind that the UN inspectors are in fact Scientists, their directive being to take soil and (possibly) water samples along with other samples, with a view to proving beyond all possible doubt that there were chemicals used in the areas they are mandated to inspect. The Inspectors can only state that from samples collected etc, they have (or have not) found chemicals had been used. Now what the UN Inspectors cannot determine is who actually used said chemicals, they may or may not be able to estimate if the chemicals were of industrial manufacture or homemade (so to speak), but even a conclusion that chemicals were used and beyond doubt were manufactured (Industrial) chemicals is not enough to assign blame to one side or the other as a result of the number of countries providing arms both openly and covertly to the FSA and more concerning to Al Qaeda associated forces within Syria.
Regardless of which news (Media) network (cable or satellite) US, European or Middle Eastern that one might choose to seek further information on the current situation between the West and Syria, the common theme (denominator) is as was in the Iraq conflict, simply presented as black and white.
Some of the networks have decided wisely to wait on the UN report before calling this latest incident a chemical attack or indeed assigning blame. However, this is not that case with the majority, some of whom have gone as far as stating AS fact that a chemical attack has taken place and WAS the action of the Assad government which is both immoral and irresponsible. Even today Thursday August 29th 2013 (8/5/2013) news outlets are beaming pictures of French President Hollande standing side by side with a representative of the FSA, nodding his head and smiling whilst at the same time showing split screen shots of recent film from the alleged chemical attack. Yet few if any are showing the protests by the Stop the War Coalition (Hands off Syria protest) which took place in London.
Nor do they show opinion polls from the US and Europe which show clearly that a huge majority of the populations of Western countries are totally against any form of conflict.
No matter what the outcome one thing is for sure, it is not in the remit of News/Media outlets to instruct, encourage or for that matter inveigle (influence or entice) leaders /governments into conflict. It is however their collective responsibility to report fact. This is not simply a case of bad reporting that may end in a civil court action against a News network, where the reputation of an individual or company can be restored with compensation and apologetic retraction.
Recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya brought about death and misery for hundreds of thousands and in some estimates will continue to do so well into the future. No apology or retraction will bring back those who lost their lives on both sides of the aforementioned conflicts nor will it help committed and loyal members of the military who today spend their lives dealing with terrible disability both mental and physical. News /Media apologies won’t help the number of suicides by service Men/Women nor will it console the Women in these areas of conflict who struggle to provide for their children as a direct result of losing their husbands and providers.
It may look good on the TV screen and may even to some be considered patriotic to present a one sided view of any conflict or possible conflict, the reality is very different to the Hollywood like split screen presentation played at nausea by privately owned media concerns with individual agendas.
The conclusion therefore must be that all media outlets MUST be held responsible for unconfirmed and unsubstantiated claims. Must be held accountable for incitement and must no longer be allowed to quote as fact information received from sources which are referred to simply as activists on the ground or opposition sources. It is surely time for accountability if (as it sadly appears) real journalism is a thing of the past.
TH for Total World View