Tall Tales in Tremseh

For what seems like months we have been inundated with reports of “massacres” carried out by Syrian government troops against defenseless villagers. The sourcing for these reports is always Syrian “activists,” sometimes named but often not, and the details are always quite horrific: There was the “massacre” at Houla, touted by the BBC in a story that included a photo of a boy jumping over the shrouded bodies of the victims. The report claimed Syrian forces had murdered children and women in a house to house rampage in the village of Houla: it was all very dramatic. There was just one problem with the story: it wasn’t true. The photo used by the BBC to illustrate this tall tale was taken in Iraq, not Syria, and it had been pilfered by the Syrian “activists” who palmed it off to the BBC as “evidence” of atrocities committed by the regime.

That wasn’t the first hoax these “activists” tried to pull, and — in spite of being repeatedly exposed as frauds — it certainly wasn’t meant to be the last. Now we have another such attempt: in Tremseh, a village near the city of Hama, the rebels claim, hundreds of civilians were wantonly slaughtered in a full-scale military operation by the Syrian army and air force. Kofi Annan is citing this alleged massacre as a reason for the UN Security Council to issue a serious warning: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced the Syrian action as “an outrageous escalation of violence,” and went on to “condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the indiscriminate use of heavy artillery and shelling of populated areas, including by firing from helicopters.”

Except the firing wasn’t indiscriminate. As the New York Times reports:

New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.”

The UN sent a team into Tremseh and “their initial report said the attack appeared to target ‘specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists.’ It said a range of weapons had been used, including artillery, mortars, and small arms.”

Given the rhetoric coming from top UN officials, however, one can safely assume the UN observers’ initial report will be considerably “revised” in a pro-rebel direction when the final version is released.

The title of the Times story — “Details of a Battle Challenge Reports of a Syrian Massacre” — succinctly encapsulates the issue at hand: the Syrian government is engaged in a battle with armed opponents. The propaganda of the rebels, freely broadcast by the US government and its allies, seeks to depict every act of self-defense on the part of the regime as an atrocity. Our complicit media, which routinely takes the word of “activists” as gospel, is an essential element in establishing the right narrative, one that will justify intervention by the Western powers under the guise of the UN.

The real meaning of this propaganda campaign is clear enough: nations targeted for regime change that dare mount a military defense are engaging in “war crimes.” This is the first law of the New World Order, one that Bashar al-Assad and his like defy at their peril.

It isn’t enough for regime-changers to topple defiant governments: they must also delegitimize them posthumously by dragging their leaders to the Hague. Moammar Gadhafi was only spared that because he knew too much about his persecutors, who had once profited from their relationship with the Libyan despot.

Assad knows he is fighting to avoid such a fate, and that makes a negotiated peace nearly impossible. The intransigence of the rebels, who expect Western-backed military intervention at some point, is another stumbling block to even a cease-fire. That intransigence is generated by those who are backing the rebels, financially and militarily, i.e. the US and its regional allies. Hillary Clinton declares Assad must step down before any talk of a settlement: only Russia and China are preventing the UN from sanctioning another Libyan-style military operation to take the Syrian leader out.

The American people didn’t support the Libyan escapade, and they will hardly rush out in to the streets cheering if and when we intervene in Syria, but, then again, that won’t matter much. This President maintains he doesn’t even have to consult Congress before going to war. Perhaps he’ll repeat his Libyan performance, in the course of which he maintained — in all seriousness — it wasn’t a real war because Gadhafi failed to mount an effective resistance and there were no American casualties.

While starting another unpopular war may seem counterintuitive in an election year, this really isn’t about Syria — it’s about Iran.

While the American public is not in the mood for another war, the power elite is of quite a different mindset. As Gen. Wesley Clark pointed out, big donors to the Democratic party are avid supporters of Israel — the major agitator for war with Iran. Israel’s lobby in the US exercises a decisive influence on both major parties, and so while the public is generally opposed to more military adventurism in the Middle East — or anywhere else, for that matter — the political class is more favorably disposed.

The Syrian “crisis” — one brought on by the Western powers and their sock-puppets in Qatar and Saudi Arabia — is but a prelude to the main event: the strangulation of Iran, via economic blockade, and eventual all-out war. What is happening in Syria today reflects, in miniature, the regime-change crowd’s plan for the entire region: unleashing Sunni fanatics in a religious war against all other sects, one that will liquidate the Christian and other minority communities. The ultimate target of this Sunni onslaught: the Shi’ites of Iran.

In an election year, tightening the vise on the Iranians is going to make President Obama look “tough” against a candidate who criticizes him for being too soft. Any discussion of foreign policy is likely to be a pissing match to see who’s the real Tough Guy. And there’s nothing like a major war to divert attention away from a rapidly sinking economy and attribute, say, rising prices to those evil Eye-ranians.

Expect the Syrian civil war to escalate to the point where either the UN or Israel intervenes — in which case the prospects for war with Iran by election day, November 2012, are a good bet.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].