Former NYT correspondent Stephen Kinzer is the brilliant author of "The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War," a must-read volume for anyone interested in how American foreign policy went wrong after World War II. Kinzer is also a superb analyst of current events, particularly the war in Syria, as this important opinion piece in the Boston Globe demonstrates.
I hope he will forgive a lengthy quotation...
Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.
For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.
This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.
Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS — so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”
This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.
Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.
This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.
Please read the rest; it's incredibly good.
Kinzer believes that journalism has failed because newspapers and broadcasters can no longer afford to station reporters overseas. Stay-at-home scribblers must therefore depend on official Washington sources for information -- and any newsperson who challenges conventional thought risks losing access.
There is much truth in this, but I think that we must also consider the ownership of our major newspapers -- particularly of the New York Times, which sets the foreign policy agenda for so many other news outlets. The Guardian has also published a great deal of deceptive material, as have many online sources -- Slate, Politico, Buzzfeed, and so forth. Some hidden force -- unnameable at present, but malign in intent and neocon in weltanschauung -- has seeded these journals with propagandists.
Infuriatingly, many of these news sources are considered liberal (or liberal-ish) on many issues, especially on purely domestic concerns. How did this happen?
Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.
It's all true -- every word of it. So why is Stephen Kinzer the only person able to get all of these truths into a major, mainstream newspaper?
Just for fun, I'll embed one of Kinzer's lectures about the Dulles brothers. Even if you have a busy day ahead of you, try to find the time to hear this talk; Kinzer is a fine and engaging speaker.
I just finished reading the article and posting on FBook before coming here:
"Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press."
Please read; it's not often truth bleeds through the descending steel gate of disinformation and psych-ops. The Boston Globe will pay a high price for printing this...hopefully, it will not fall on deaf ears.