Social media can be a marvelous thing. With it, one may be fascinated by myriad mysteries of the world. Without it, there is scarcely a possibility we would have bona fide evidence of ghosts…or monsters…or UFOs vexing us on daily basis.
Far be it from this author to question the veracity of such origins of evidence as Twitter, YouTube, or the original SoNet itself, Television. Yet when it comes to the realm of politics as opposed to the paranormal perhaps a bit more scrutiny is due our sources.
Ghosts of Kuwait – The Gulf War of 1991 and "Incubator Babies"
Some may find this claim dubious, but at one time there were nary a half-dozen outlets of information in the United States. In the early 1990s some citizens had cable television, but many did not.
Even for those with access to CNN and other "names in news" there was a uniformity of opinion difficult to convey to youngsters today and even more difficult for them to comprehend.
Thus, when a barely-teenaged girl from Kuwait appeared before the United States Congress to tearfully attest to what she had witnessed during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait literally everyone saw it.
Her name was supposedly Nayriah and she allegedly was a nurse – both "facts" were false.
She was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to America and her real identity was Nijirah al-Sabah. The mournful account of Iraqi troops ripping infants from incubators to leave them to die (for reasons never fully – or even partially – explained) was likewise a total fabrication.
At the time a great deal of debate ensured whether the United States ought to make war on Iraq. There was still a vocal demographic with personal experiences from Viet Nam who opposed additional American adventurism despite minor skirmishes in Central and South America during the 1980s.
Moreover, it is now largely forgotten the Military Force resolution passed by only 52 to 47 in the Senate – nearly the precise margin of Senators who cited the Nayriah testimony itself in voting for war.
That is not to say those exact same ballots might have swung the balance of power in favor or peace (or at least non-intervention), but it should send a chill down the spine of any antiwar activist. We were just that close to thwarting the Forever War.
While today the testimony is downplayed as a casus belli this author can personally affirm it had a tremendous impact on public perception. Most citizens who could not locate Iraq on a map all knew about the "incubator babies."
Obviously, there has always been war propaganda from public billboards to radio advertisements. Yet much as the O.J. Simpson Trial was the beginning of Court TV as a phenomena this was the beginning of Viral Video as a means by which to radicalize (or more properly – emotionalize) viewers into hostility.
Beast of the Middle East – The Syria Uprising of 2011 and "A Gay Girl in Damascus"
From late winter through middle summer 2011 the relatively new occurrence now known as "blogging" saw incredible popularity. An account titled "A Gay Girl in Damascus" became all the rage across the United States as the Arab Spring of that historical moment reached Syria.
The dispatches were supposedly being written by homosexual 35-year-old woman Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari who was persecuted both for her sexuality as well as political beliefs.
Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader who only a few years before was hailed by "serious journalists" as an enlightened reformer in a cosmopolitan Middle Eastern nation, was almost overnight denounced as a veritable monster of nightmare proportions; the blog being but one prong of coordinated media attack.
Important to recall is during that era in America demands for the legalization of homosexual marriage were also reaching fervency. In 2011 popular support for the topic rose above 50% for the first time and later that year New York would recognize same-sex unions.
This domestic social matter likely played a significant role in the prominence of the "Gay Girl" account – a good psy-op always ties far-off events back into apple-pie issues.
Be that as it may, the poignant postings were eventually revealed to be a gigantic hoax. Far from being a lesbian woman the perpetrator deceiving the public was none other than a white, dumpy, 40-year-old, heterosexual, American student Tom MacMaster.
Breathless accounts of repression and kidnappings were falsified in order to "bring awareness" to such matters. That "awareness" based on fakery is a contradiction in terms seems to have been lost on MacMaster.
While the entire episode is clearly ridiculous in hindsight there were very few who questioned it before exposure. In fact, when the "Gay Girl" disappeared the U.S. State Department was enlisted to locate "her."
While there is no conclusive evidence MacMaster – then working on a Master’s Degree – and his wife – a Ph. D. candidate at the time – were allied with government organizations to foment what was serendipitously timed to the Syrian Uprising…any intelligent individual should peruse the possibility.
That the "Gay Girl in Damascus" account began approximately one month prior to the Uprising and ceased operation six weeks after it began appears to be more than a fabled happy coincidence.
Visitors from Another World – The Iran Assassination of 2020 and "Truth from an Iranian"
In the past week the viral video spectacle has provided yet another exhibition for the uninitiated. This time it was in the form of a clip titled "Truth from an Iranian" supported by the hashtag IraniansDetestSoleimani.
The five minute clip is of a supposedly "real" Iranian woman revealing the "truth" about the mindset of citizens in that nation. Her message conveys Iranians actually detest their government and that Qasem Soleimani, the recently assassinated military and diplomatic figure, was disliked if not outright hated.
To date the video has been viewed more than 10 million times across the platforms of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It has been sympathetically covered in national news as well as on talk show radio. BuzzFeed News has reported the Twitter hashtag was additionally promoted by "inauthentic accounts."
Of course, the video itself is a fake – or at least, to the degree it is not what it purports to be it is untrue.
The woman who produced the footage is Saghar Erica Kasraie. She has previously been employed by Linden Government Solutions – a Texas-based company – as lobbyist for a militia in the Libyan Civil War.
That military group, the Libyan National Army, is led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar. He, in turn, spent much of the past decades living in Virginia. The CIA is incidentally also located in Virginia. Hafter has at times worked for them.
Kasraie describes herself as an "Iranian Activist" in the video, but seems unaware of the millions who publicly mourned Soleimani, and that as many as 60 grief-stricken citizens were crushed to death during a stampede to venerate the man so many supposedly despised.
Curiously, Kasraie is documented under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, meaning at minimum her views are likely not those of a sincere international observer, and may be compensated in some way. During television appearances she has been further denoted as serving an advisory role with the dissident Washington-based National Iranian Congress.
For the record, this "real Iranian" denies her anti-Iranian video fomenting conflict with the United States has anything to do with her professional lobbying interest.
Viral Videos – A Virus
There is an old saying – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Let us add to that a newer adage – If it sounds too bad to be fake, it absolutely is.
Whatever one feels about Iraq, Syria, Iran or American involvements in general the reality is viral videos are a virus – inducing fever dreams, spasms of conscience and delusions of grandeur.
In terms of international affairs social media is a double-edged sword.
Some political truths can be found on the internet, but beware of anyone offering you The Truth online.
Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America