‘He’s Killing His Own People!’

He’s killing his own people!”

It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve been paying attention the past decade or so: it’s what our leaders in both parties said about Saddam Hussein by way of justifying the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and it’s what they’re saying now about Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is the regime-changers’ latest target.

No one denies Assad is a murderous tyrant, just as few denied the same appellation to the departed Iraqi despot, but Western outrage when it comes to these matters is extremely selective. After all, the US-supported government of Yemen is also killing its own people in air strikes that get very little attention in the Western media — but since Yemen is on the front lines of our eternal “war on terrorism,” we look the other way. Indeed, air strikes by the US have often been attributed to the Yemenis, who are covering for us — and receiving goodies in return.

Regime-change in Yemen? Not on your life.

The latest hysterics from the Washington crowd involve alleged “weapons of mass destruction” in Assad’s possession: chemical weapons which he is supposedly mixing up in his demonic labs and loading onto missiles for delivery against the Western-backed al-Qaeda fanaticsfreedom fighters” battling the Syrian army. The inherently counterintuitive illogic of deploying such weaponry against a widely dispersed guerrilla army hasn’t deterred the usual Anonymous Government Officials from making this startling claim, and our “mainstream” media — playing its accustomed role as passive purveyors of government propaganda — is spreading this “news” far and wide.

We won’t be fooled again — except when we are.

A few voices of sanity, however, have been raised to cast doubt on this nonsense: they point out that the Syrians moving the chemical weapons in Assad’s arsenal is more reassuring than ominous in view of the widely-trumpeted claim that his regime is on its last legs. When one looks at the ideological complexion of those heroic Syrian “freedom fighters,” the prospect of them getting their hands on chemical weapons ought to worry Western leaders — and especially worrying for Syria’s neighbors, especially Israel.

However, mere logic is of limited use in analyzing the claims of our professional regime-changers, who have had their beady little eyes set on Syria since the days of the (second) Bush administration.

McClatchy News cites chemical weapons expert Jean Pascal Zanders, who has “concern that the Syrian chemical weapons threat is being ratcheted up to justify military intervention in a not too distant future”:

He said that for the current news reports to make sense, Syria’s chemical weapons capability would have to be as crude as, or cruder than, Iraq’s in the 1990s, when, he said, the Iraqi mixing process consisted of ‘Jeeps with bomb trailers driving around the airfield to mix the two final precursors.’ He noted that Iraq did not mix its chemicals in advance. ‘The mixing was done literally minutes before the bombs were loaded onto the planes,’ he said — a sequence that obviously has not happened in Syria.”

A chemical weapons expert may be forgiven for not understanding that the current charges against Syria needn’t make sense in order to be effective. He is, after all, a scientist, whose methods are ruled by reason and logic: war propaganda, on the other hand, is pure emotional engineering, designed to impact those areas of the brain ruled by fear and loathing.

An anonymous official, cited by McClatchy, noted the odd “circularity” of these chemical weapons claims, which are “based on a few pieces of reliable information that have been repeated again and again, amplifying the threat each time.”

Remember how the Bush administration, in the run up to the Iraq war, engaged in what was called “cherry-picking” the intelligence? Indeed, a whole raft of government sub-agencies were dedicated to creating “talking points” based on dubious intelligence, which would then be leaked to their media partners (of which they had plenty). Judy Miller may be long gone from the august pages of the New York Times, but she has plenty of imitators in a media contingent openly sympathetic to the Obama administration.

This FAIR report catalogues the mainstream media’s trumpeting of the Obama administration’s propaganda blitz, including the “reporting” of Dianne Sawyer and Martha Raddatz, of ABC News. Yet why should anyone believe these two, this time around, when they gave uncritical credence to the Bush administration’s made-up “intelligence” on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs? Both Raddatz and Sawyer were key links in the Bush War Party’s efforts to hype the alleged “threat” posed by Iraq: indeed, Sawyer was babbling about Iraq’s “nuclear triggers” as far back as 1990. Adding insult to injury, the blonde nonentity has even dusted off her old storyline recently and applied it to Iran. David Martin, Pentagon correspondent for CBS, is also cited in the FAIR report giving credence to the Syrian WMD claims, and yet Martin has admitted to his credulity when it came to similar accusations against Iraq. He apparently still hasn’t acquired a healthy skepticism when it comes to these matters.

As FAIR points out, the same “reporters” who swallowed the neocon party line on Iraqi WMDs are echoing the Obama administration’s hysteria on Syria. So why should we believe them this time?

The reality is that it is the rebels, rather than the Syrian regime, who are most likely to use chemical weapons: the Al-Nusra Front, which pledges allegiance to Al-Qaeda, recently seized the Saudi-Syrian Chemicals Co. facility, near the city of Safira. The great danger here is that the terrorists will engage in chemical warfare — which will then be blamed on the regime. Of course, we won’t find out the truth until well after the West intervenes.

This administration’s disastrous policy of allying with Islamist groups in order to pursue its regime-change strategy throughout the Middle East blew back in their faces in Benghazi, where Libyan militias we supported stood down while their Islamist comrades slaughtered four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In Syria, where the stakes are far higher, the blowback promises to be even greater.


I’m having great fun on Twitter, these days: please join me here.

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].