Satan’s little helpers – the media’s coverage of Syria

If you have been watching the news and reading the dead tree press in recent days, you may have thought to yourself ‘Is there suddenly a lot more Syrian humanitarian disaster stories?’.

Don’t worry, you’re not imagining it.  The media really is being flooded with emotive, distressing and heart-string tugging stories.  Following the defeated motion seeking to authorise intervention in Syria, the powers that be have pushed for a concerted – and very one sided – campaign of media coverage of the impacts of war on ordinary people opposed to the al-Assad regime, while giving the impression of an escalation in the conflict.

This is the media playing its role as part of the establishment, supporting the government’s agenda in disgraceful manner and trying to make people regret their opposition to military action.  They know all too well it would take a heart of stone not to see the broken and burned bodies in hospital bed and the tide of humanity that has swept across borders in search of refuge, and not be moved to tears and wish for something to be done to end that suffering immediately.  That’s the power of the media.  We can be certain that some people who last week stood opposed to missile strikes against al-Assad’s forces, have since had second thoughts and wish the motion had passed, as a direct result of this propaganda flooding the news outlets.  Exactly what this media blitz intended to achieve.

But think for a moment about what we do not see.

Where is the footage of broken and burned bodies of people from the part of the Syrian population that supports al-Assad and who are under equally devastating attack by the rebels and Al Qaeda?  Where is the discussion of arms caches and the foreign fighters who have rushed into Syria to carry out violent jihad?  Where is the footage of the shiny stockpiles of Saudi and Qatari funded weaponary that has flooded into Syria as part of the effort to topple al-Assad?  Ask yourself why.  Ask yourself if you are really being presented with the full picture.

The media is helping the government to paint the conflict as a one-sided slaughter of innocents by a brutal dictator – in effect to paint it as a genocide – when the reality is the rebels control most of the country and have carried out terrible atrocities of their own.  Such is the evil of war,  But through such imbalance and bias by omission, the media is supporting tactics to change people’s minds and convert them to supporting the hidden agenda that is driving the desire for intervention.  This is the plan to justify the desired military action.

But think about what has not changed.

There is still only ‘confidence’ and ‘high probability’ – not absolute certainty – that the chemical weapons were used by the al-Assad regime.  Many stories are circulating, with information that has apparently come from people in Damascus who survived the ‘attack’, say that the weapons had been supplied by Saudi Arabia and were in rebel hands when detonated accidentally.  We have no way of knowing for sure.  A significant doubt of the US and UK’s ‘proof’ exists.

Most importantly, there is still only the intention of punishing al-Assad but no idea of the outcome or effects of military action.  This alone should preclude us from getting involved, because there is a significant capacity for harming the very people the military would supposedly be seeking to protect.  And of course the spectre of Al Qaeda is not going to go away.  It takes a special kind of insanity to want to launch an action that could significantly enhance the prospects of Al Qaeda emerging stronger and more capable of terrorism once Syria has calmed down.

A US or French or UK action has but one purpose, helping the rebels to defeat al-Assad.  Our government has picked a side and is using the chemical weapon incident as justification for direct involvement using force of arms, rather than providing humanitarian assistance.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories about this desire to be involved, and some very plausible analysis that aims to connect the dots to construct an explanation for it.  Whether they are right or wrong, there is an agenda at play at it has nothing to do with humanitarian considerations.  As such we should have no part in it.

23 Responses to “Satan’s little helpers – the media’s coverage of Syria”

  1. 1 Mark B 03/09/2013 at 11:45 am

    “. . . stockpiles of Saudi and Qatari funded weaponary that has flooded into Syria . . . ”

    Which, when this is all over, may well find its way too another war zone. Arming people, who do not necessarily share the same set of values as you is a recipe for a future disaster.

  2. 2 graham wood 03/09/2013 at 11:52 am

    AM. I agree with all of this – being as it is a purely political comment.
    However, I looked in vain for any reference to why the MSM act as, quite literally, “Satan’s little helpers.
    Perhaps unwittingly you have struck a chord here which in part is an explanation of the terrible and seemingly hopeless situation in Syria and the ME.
    Perhaps a consideration of a specifically Christian worldview of what is happening should be considered, and starting with the Christian teaching about the reality of the “fall” of Man. Surely this can be the only explanation of what we see by way of the horrifying and persistent carnage which is being perpetrated there and to use the cliche – “Man’s inhumanity to man”?
    Perhaps the Bible’s explanation of such repeated scenarios in world history is plausible and even the right one? I suggest it is.

  3. 3 Ian Hills 03/09/2013 at 11:58 am

    Personally I think the aim is to isolate Iran, feared by its (largely) Sunni neighbours and coveted by western oil firms.

  4. 4 Adam West 03/09/2013 at 1:00 pm

    Exploiting the sick, dying and displaced is second nature for the media. And it will work. I don’t remember such a rash of broadcasts even when Samantha Cameron visited refugee camps in Lebanon five months ago.

    Later in July of this year the media got Downing Street to deny that Samantha Cameron was shaping foreign policy. It’s all very peculiar, even beyond the unseemly rush to respond to the chemical attacks and failure to provide adequate evidence to parliament.

    We are already spending £170 million on aid for the refugees.(Not sure where the BBC got their figure for the link in the previous paragraph)

  5. 5 Andy Baxter 03/09/2013 at 1:14 pm

    “The media is helping the government to paint the conflict as a one-sided slaughter of innocents by a brutal dictator – in effect to paint it as a genocide”

    could equally be true of the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli and Palestinian question!

    We are already involved, there will be boots on the gouund now from Arabic speaking SAS members offering advice and assistance and training……….

  6. 6 Restoring Britain 03/09/2013 at 1:17 pm

    Graham – you raise an interesting point. When I wrote about it at my place I deliberately called it The Devil’s Symphony because it struck me that the devil himself couldn’t be happier with such a perfect storm. A storm where every twist and turn just makes things worse and where events will take over every single plan each power player ” thinks” he has for the region. The only thing we will end up with here is slaughter, bloodshed and madness.

    I’m scared witless that this will have impact everywhere. We see with today’s missile test that Brent Crude prices have spiked again. If we have a sustained increase in oil prices look at what happens at the pumps which will in turn lead to price hikes in food. One only has to think back to the last set of riots and the threat of a petrol tanker drivers strike to see how tolerant we were of upheaval in our day to day life.

  7. 7 Adam West 03/09/2013 at 1:22 pm

    In reply to my earlier post a breakdown of the funding of aid to Syrian refugees is here (pdf). The total is £348 million but £175 million of that is to be confirmed. One intriguing line is over £40 million aid money spent in Syria via “Undisclosed humanitarian agencies”.

    The document is dated 2nd September 2013 but there was an earlier version visible in the google cache system dated 12th August.

  8. 8 Edward. 03/09/2013 at 1:24 pm

    Civil war in Syria, internecine hatreds, fratricide, genocide, gas, bombs, rape – is there, can there be a – ‘good side’?

    The west and the Russians, Iranians, Lebanese, Saudi’s, Emirates, Turkish should keep the f**k out – peace would come when the Syrians themselves grew tired of killing their own; brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, the sick, the infirm and children.
    In the meantime, the west offers refugee aid, negotiation and peace through diplomatic channels – nothing else.

    The media – sh*t stirring, show themselves up to be what they are: imbeciles.

  9. 9 Lynne 03/09/2013 at 1:58 pm

    Agree wholeheartedly, AM.

  10. 10 cosmic 03/09/2013 at 3:57 pm

    There has been a determination to intervene in Syria for some time, well before the humanitarian stuff started to come to the fore six months back.

    After Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, people were highly suspicious and somewhat hardened. Compassion fatigue sets in. We haven’t got the military resources, we don’t want boots on the ground anyway, none of us can quite see what this is about, and we don’t want to be drawn into another useless ME war.

    From the point of view of a government wanting to involve us in ousting Assad, this has been miscalculated very badly. They would have needed to have trumped up some reason why Syria was a threat to us. Blair used up most of the stock to get us into the Iraq war.

    It was a difficult one but they didn’t play it very well and failed.

    Britain won’t become involved in a Syrian adventure without the US, no matter what happens in Syria.

    I don’t know what the media campaign is about. It could be influencing the US to approve action and we see the fallout here, or Tories like Hague very fed up that they didn’t get their way and are gnawing at an old bone.

    It might be directed at MPs rather than the public.

    Is it only in the UK or world wide?

    I can’t see this business being warmed up without US involvement and without some better excuse devised than has been produced so far.

  11. 11 Attila 03/09/2013 at 4:11 pm

    Through some extraordinary quirk of fate the UK has failed to rush headlong into war, surely a first in the past three centuries. Elements in the grand old branch of the political elite class are having epileptic seizures, and vested interests in the arms trade and the oil industry are oiling the economic conduits that lubricate the media and political establishments. Like the sensible Germans we watch and offer passive help to the victims, surely the most moral thing to do.Syria and Syrians can only hope to survive if outside interference is minimized. Whoever would have expected a flash of dying democracy and a successful expression of the people’s will in spite of the politicians?

  12. 12 maureen gannon 03/09/2013 at 5:08 pm

    Scroll down to video , I cannot see that the teror these men suffered is any worse , [that’s of course it we believe Assad is guilty], this is who we are asked to be onside with , I also believe the hidden agenda is to isolate Iran . let the Arab league sort it its their territory.or send the Peace envoy in to get it sorted.

  13. 13 ombzhch 03/09/2013 at 6:14 pm

    The only sane reaction by the British People is STAY OUT. You have the ongoing, and still un-explained debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan and you now have another, clearly disingenuous politicized wish to get involved in Syria, based on fabricated evidence.

    You need to tell your Political Elite NO, they have enough with the Economy, Immigration, the EU and the disintegration of the nation’s infrastructure (Roads, Medicin, Education and Policing).

    The MSM need reminding that they are supposed to be watch dogs, not poodles.

    The Telegraph is now extreme in this respect.

    Grüss, omb

  14. 14 Audrey Quattro 03/09/2013 at 6:57 pm

    Significantly all previous Arab Spring uprisings have taken the general populace of those countries along with them. Syria is a notable exception since the majority of the fighting appears to be by ‘activists’, ‘rebels’ and probably mercenaries – the public being forced to flee before both the rebels’ onslaught and the Syrian government’s response.
    Given that there were ‘no’ (? needs confirming) Syrian refugees pre the uprising then we can easily see that it is as a direct consequence of the REBELS that the humanitarian situation has come about – not that you hear the BBC/MSM mentioning it.

  15. 15 cosmic 03/09/2013 at 7:28 pm

    “There are plenty of conspiracy theories about this desire to be involved, and some very plausible analysis that aims to connect the dots to construct an explanation for it”.

    If the Assad regime is in place the Qatari pipeline won’t happen because the Ruskies won’t want it.

    If the Assad regime falls, it might be built, but the government of Syria will probably be a bunch of Islamic nutters who will undoubtedly get rid of any who are not their brand of nutter. Much then will depend on the ability of the Saudis and Qataris to control these nutters and a strategic pipeline under the control of a bunch of nutters is a very dubious prospect for all sorts of reasons.

    This isn’t a simple case of ousting an awkward regime and installing a compliant one.

    In any case, it looks as if the UK is a sort of glove the Saudis want to wear to handle this.

    This could easily set off a chain reaction in the region.

    Certainly a dangerous game and one to keep out of.

  16. 16 Edward. 04/09/2013 at 12:14 am


    This could easily set off a chain reaction in the region.

    Certainly a dangerous game and one to keep out of.

    That is a good point, anyone who endeavours to a little research into this awful conflict – all know that, there is a proxy war being fought in Syria, between the Islamic Shia and Sunni sects.

    Best let them get on with it.

  17. 17 PeterMG 04/09/2013 at 1:02 pm

    AM lots of points raised here much of which I agree.

    For the sake of discussion a couple of points. Cameron’s reaction to the Parliamentary vote and his subsequent “parliament has spoken and I don’t see us asking again” strike me as slightly odd. Could it just be that he now realises that the situation in Syria is out of control and he is relieved that the decision to risk utter chaos there is no longer his. Just asking as I’m no supporter of his judgement. Could some of the hissy fits from some of the establishment just be cover? Not that the likes of Paddy Pantsdown could act that well.

    The second thing, and those with a better knowledge of matters Military would know the answer, is that I find it extremely strange the we telegraph that we (the West) are going to attack so far in advance, giving lots of time for Syria to not only hide critical equipment but to put human shields in place and erect covert countermeasures which I’m sure the Russians are keen to test on western cruise missiles which are very vulnerable to sophisticated defence systems. When we attacked Iraq we went in with full surprise and electromagnetic protection, along with diversionary tactics. I hope our political class hasn’t been taken in by the BS that our weapons are infallible and can’t now miss.

  18. 18 Duyfken 04/09/2013 at 1:33 pm

    I am always dubious about the accusations from conspiracy merchants. Now having read the “analysis” by Steve Quayle (who he?) as cited in AT’s article, I find all the described intrigue and political interplay most intriguing and concerning, but how much reliance would it be wise to place on these asseverations. Perhaps AT might assist please.

  19. 19 cosmic 04/09/2013 at 4:00 pm


    When people see unusual things they want rational explanations, ask questions and look for answers.

    Syria has beens a secular dictatorship for 40 years or more. The regime has often been brutal but it has managed to keep various minorities from persecution. It’s been involved with Palestinian terrorism and has been an enemy of Israel. They are long term allies of the Russians. They are not friendly towards the West.

    The government is facing an insurgency from a number of factions, some appear to be jihadist. There are claims that foreign jihadis are fighting there.

    Why the interest on the part of the UK over the past couple of years to help overthrow Assad? Hague has long been pushing to arm the rebels. There are no British interests there, nor a historical presence. It’s hard to see great humanitarian concern being the reason and the recent emotionalism seems contrived. You’d think the results of overthrowing Assad would be unpredictable but probably unwelcome. It might be realised that another adventure in the ME would be unpopular at home.

    All curious what?

    I’m not sure about the pipeline explanation either.

    However, it’s difficult to believe they think they are aiding freedom fighters, or helping the people of Syria, or combating the use of chemical weapons or any of these things which are given or hinted at.

    It could be a bee Hague and the FCO have in their bonnets, or it could be monumental misjudgement and a load of nonsense about The Arab Spring.

    It just seems a strange thing to be determined to meddle in.

  20. 20 Adam West 04/09/2013 at 4:06 pm

    PeterMG said: “For the sake of discussion a couple of points. Cameron’s reaction to the Parliamentary vote and his subsequent “parliament has spoken and I don’t see us asking again” strike me as slightly odd. ”

    I don’t think there is anything more to it than Dave trying to lump it all on Ed Miliband to distract from the woeful way in which Dave and his people went about this.

    MPs and the media approached that vote as if it was for authorising military action even though the motion included a requirement to approve military action at a later date. They must surely have had good reasons for this. The media was all over this as if plans were already in motion to intervene. HMS tireless was in the area, 6 Eurofighters were announced as being relocated to RAF Akrotiri on the day of the vote. There had been reports a few days before that activity there had already increased.

  21. 21 Audrey Quattro 04/09/2013 at 6:46 pm

    Since when did Cameron have to ASK permission to bomb another country? Invoking the Royal Prerogative is the obvious next step. Screw democracy (again).

  22. 22 Charles Green 08/09/2013 at 4:42 pm

    If we all agree it is grossly immoral to gas men, women and children
    How can it be an better to bomb men women and children in response?
    This is deeply flawed logic and morality
    Who is behind the warmongers?

  23. 23 Daniel1979 08/09/2013 at 5:59 pm

    Agree AM, good post.

    We have no business in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are waiting in the wings to take advantage, the present regime may be despots but by bombing them we only aid other despots and kill a lot of innocent people along the way.

    And very true too the point that it is not proven Assad has used chemical weapons, i too have seen stories (hard to judge how trustworthy the sources are) that say it’s a Saudi action through the “rebels”. Some of the pictures Sec. Kerry used/referenced have also been shown to actually be from Iraq, not Syria.

    It reminds me a bit of Die Hard 1, when the FBI turn up and cut the power to the building; the standard reaction to terrorist action was exactly what Rickmans character had expected and indeed his plan depended upon it. Once the story came out about the incident, the reactions and sequence of events all felt very predictable; except for the vote in Parliament which seems to have thrown a spanner in the works – for now. The media don’t seem to be able, or know how to handle that.

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