by Berry Friesen (September 29, 2015)
Yesterday in his speech at the United Nations, President Obama asked us to “remember how this started.” He was referring to the crisis in Syria and how Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad responded to “peaceful protests” in the spring of 2011 with “escalating repression and killing.”
It’s not true that the protests were peaceful. From the start, the protests included murderous snipers trying to destabilize Syria and replace its leader with someone who followed the Western line. Western powers began planning “regime change” for Syria as early as 2006. You can read about that here and here and here.
But it is true that Assad escalated the repression and killing; that is typically what leaders do when scores of police officers and national guardsmen are shot down in the streets by snipers.
In his U.N. speech, Obama called Assad a “tyrant” and a “dictator,” even though Assad was elected president in 2014 and even though the most recent opinion polling in Syria showed Assad with 47 percent support, one point better than Obama’s current approval rating.
That same poll of the Syrian population showed 82 percent think ISIS is a creation of the US government. That probably sounds crazy to most Americans; our leaders have been telling us Assad is to blame for ISIS, even though it is trying to take over the country Assad leads. And we have the luxury of ignoring the ample evidence that the US government appreciates the role ISIS is playing in the Mideast and does very little to disrupt the recruits, money, supplies and arms that flow to ISIS across international borders. The Syrian people have no such luxury.
In short, Obama’s speech to the United Nations was an attempt to spin a false reality that would attract public support for what is almost certain to be another expansion of US intervention in Syria.
Obama is likely to sway public opinion, especially among those who stick to mainstream media sources for their news. We Americans find it flattering to think of ourselves as the good guys, the people who (we think) saved the world from tyranny in World War 2 and have been saving countries from Hitler wannabees ever since. Thus, we are willing to bless regime change whenever the media vilifies a foreign leader.
The list over just the past fifty years is already long: Salvador Allende (Chile), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Manuel Noriega (Panama), Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia), Eduard Shevardnadze (Georgia), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Viktor Yanukovych (Ukraine). Bashar al-Assad (Syria) is supposed to be next.
That’s right, counting only the ones we know about, an average of one “dictator” has been removed from office through US intervention every five years.
The fact that this usually leaves countries in much worse shape seems not to concern us much. We’re always ready to forget the last failure, always ready for another try.
I suppose we can blame this on the propaganda of the mainstream media. Increasingly, however, I have begun to wonder if Americans prefer being lied to. After all, the empire isn’t about to abandon its use of violence to dominate the world. Perhaps people have decided it’s better to accept this bitter pill with a spoonful of sugar rather than having it jammed down their throats.
Still, it would be a mistake to blame the American people. The shock-and-awe of the empire is something to behold, especially when it targets the American people via hour-by-hour hype from an obedient media.
A senior aide to President George W. Bush described our dilemma well in remarks to author Ron Suskind: “[Guys like you] live in what we call the reality-based community [where people] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality . . . That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Yet we are not defenseless. If we are to believe the biblical record, YHWH opposes empire in all of its forms. When we do the same, we are on the side that ultimately will prevail.