Confronting Russia In Syria – Analysis
Aired in the US, the April 10 BBC World News telecasts, repeatedly opened with the claim that Russia vetoed a proposed UN resolution to inspect the area of an alleged chemical attack in Syria. Later on, in the same telecasts, there is a contradictory and downplayed reference to a Russian proposed UN resolution (on the issue at hand) that was vetoed. The aforementioned contradiction is in line with Anglo-American mass media telecasts, stating an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government, followed later on by the hosts and guests in (overall majority terms) referring to the claim as a fact, with little if any opposition.
In conjunction with being fair and balanced on this subject, good journalism would detail the differences between the aforementioned UN resolutions, inclusive of competent analytical input from individuals with truly diverse views. That’s the kind of setting which is typically not evident in the geopolitically correct TV news entertainment industry, that heavily slants in favor of anti-Russian leaning views. A rare exception is Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Far from being monolithic, the UN is subject to biases. Going back to the Cold War period, it was commonplace to hear pro-Israeli supporters in the US complain of biased UN resolutions and UN departments which slanted against the Jewish state. This sentiment lingers on. In the post-Soviet new world order, one finds some predominating biases against Russia at the UN. A point that relates to Russia’s stance on investigating the recently alleged chemical attack in Syria. It has been said that history has a way of repeating itself.
Scott Ritter and some others have noted that Saddam Hussein’s apprehension with the UN inspection of WMDs in Iraq had a reasonable basis. Some of those involved with that investigative process appeared to be influenced by the desire to seek a regime change agenda against the then Iraqi leader. Within Anglo-American foreign policy elite circles, this preference was noticeably prevalent back then – inclusive of seeking inspectors with intel ties, who would acquire non-WMD information, that could be strategically used to militarily overthrow the Iraqi government. In Syria, the rebels have possessed the capability for initiating a chemical attack, and stage scenes to conform with their agenda.
Once again noting (from prior correspondences of mine) the stunt from years ago, with the Kuwaiti diplomat, conjuring up the fake claim (using staged video footage) that Iraqi forces were taking babies off incubators in Kuwait. That incident brings to mind others, like the fake evidence, false claim of Iraq having WMDs, a Brit court finding, saying the Russian government “probably” poisoned Alexander Litvinenko (never minding his Italian friend, who was arrested for arms smuggling and who was also infected with polonium, along with Litvinenko’s ties to anti-Kremlin propagandist Alexander Goldfarb) and the latest suspect claim of Russian government involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals – along with two prior suspect claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.
The April 10 UN Security Council meeting on the subject of chemical weapons in Syria, underscores the differences between Russia and the leading Western powers. On the previous day, the very same body had a lively discussion that (among other things) brought into play the history of Russia, the US and UK.
In reply to Nikki Haley’s churlish remarks, her Russian UN counterpart Vasily Nebenzya, said that Russia didn’t seek becoming America’s friend. Upon further review, I believe he specifically meant the likes of Haley, as opposed to Americans at large. Nabenzya stated that a true friendship doesn’t involve doing whatever the greater power wants – something which Haley has been on clear record for advocating.
Regarding this very issue, the UK’s UN Ambassador, Karen Pierce noted a close, friendly US-UK relationship. Historically speaking, that hasn’t always been the case. Relative to the US, compare the Russian and UK positions during the American Revolution, American War of 1812 and American Civil War. In addition, note the US assistance to Russia during the Crimean War, when the latter fought against Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire.
In other instances, Britain, the US and Russia found common cause during two world wars. Russia and Britain were earlier allied against Napoleon. Foreign affairs isn’t (at least in many instances) pragmatically gauged in terms of a “friend”, as clearly favored by the Brit statesman Viscount Palmerston, who said that Britain has interests as opposed to allies – a more mature approach to Haley’s simplicity.
The likes of Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, simplistically say that Russia’s strength in Syria is too limited to scare off a definitive US led strike. Kilmeade downplays what Russia could do with its arsenal not in Syria. Neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters, will view a militarily weak Russia (relative to a substantial US attack on Syria) as a means of gradually reducing Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia.
At play, is the potential for a kind of modern day Cuban Missile Crisis. Just before the most recent Trump administration led bombing of Syria (which included France and the UK), there was reported bluster from Russia’s ambassador in Lebanon – something that Western mass media has featured, along with Donald Trump’s threatening tweet. Shortly afterwards, calmer and practical views have been expressed within US mass media and the Trump administration. That attitude was shown by the limited US led strikes, which included a statement by the US, UK and French governments, saying that the action wasn’t intended to overthrow the Syrian government.
The Trump administration, its UK and French allies and some others, caution against any future use of Syrian government chemical weapons. Significantly omitted from this pronouncement, is whether the Syrian government has actually used such – an observation that takes into consideration other possibilities. Specifically, the use of chemical weapons by the rebels and/or that group staging a future chemical attack, for the purpose of having the Syrian government blamed.
The Western bombing regime change operations in Iraq and Libya didn’t bring greater stability to these nations. My October 9, 2015 commentary “Answering Russia’s Critics On Syria” remains coherent and relatively in line with the US, French and UK statement about not attempting an armed regime change operation in Syria. It’s not paranoid to believe that their military operation against the Syrian government is motivated in part by the desire to confront Russia. The claim of militarily acting against the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons comes across as having a window dressing aspect.
This past Saturday, One America News reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Vladimir Putin asked his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to forward information of his (Macron’s) claim that France has proof that the Syrian government recently used chemical weapons. According to Lavrov (as quoted by One American News), Macron declined, saying that it involved a “secret” mechanism. On that same day, another Anglo-American media source (pardon my not recalling for sure which one) said that the French proof at issue is exclusively from social media. Lavorv noted this to the BBC’s Stephen Sackur.
(On the subject of Macron, it was earlier claimed that the Russian government meddled in the last French presidential election against him. This claim was rebuffed by the head of France’s cybersecurity agency – something very much downplayed in Western mass media, unlike the typically unchallenged claim of Russian meddling in that French vote.)
This past Sunday morning, CNN had a propaganda segment, featuring Spider Marks and Samantha Vinograd. Marks approvingly said that the Trump administration led strikes significantly diminished the Syrian government’s capability to launch chemical attacks – adding how Assad can “butcher” his people with other means. Marks uses different prose when describing the not too distant mass killing of civilians in Iraq (following the US government led attack on that country). There has been a comparative lack of coverage to the civilian deaths in Yemen, involving US ally Saudi Arabia. It’s extremely disingenuous to hold Russia and/or the Syrian government exclusively culpable for the deaths in the Syrian Civil War, which includes unsavory behavior among the rebels. Marks’ upbeat view of the significance of the Trump administration led bombing campaign has been reasonably contradicted elsewhere.
During this past Saturday’s UN Security Council meeting, the Syrian representative said that the bombed Syrian science and research center, had been recently inspected by the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons, with nothing shady found. At that discussion, there was no follow-up contradiction to that comment.
In 2016, Barack Obama informed Jeffrey Goldbreg, that the claim of a Syrian government sarin gas attack in 2013 isn’t a “slam dunk”. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis concurs, adding that the same holds true of the chemical attack claim on the Syrian government in 2017. Mattis has been rather restrained with the latest claim against the Syrian government – initially not going along with it – only to later say there’s now enough evidence without providing such. Theodore Postal is among other sources, which haven’t accepted the claims of Syrian government involved chemical attacks.
Of late, there’ve been Western mass media TV segments with people who say they were victims of the most recently alleged Syrian government chemical weapons attack. The segments have been brief, without much, if any critical follow-up. Is it possible for some bombing victims to experience a non-chemical attack, while experiencing some (stress some) symptoms that are typically evident in a chemical attack? Meantime, Western mass media continues to downplay the charge of phony pro-rebel propaganda.
Though perhaps doubtful, more time will hopefully provide a clear answer to what actually occurred, vis-à-vis the latest allegation against the Syrian government.
*Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article is a condensed version of two articles, which initially appeared at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on April 13 and 17.