Insult to our intelligence: New information war against Russia

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Talk about quick on the draw. No sooner had Russian planes taken off to bomb ISIS terrorists and their associates in Syria, claims made by the West’s anti-Russia lobby started to flood in – only to be repeated in much of the western mainstream media.

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Russia wasn‘t really targeting ISIS but “moderate rebels” and its strikes killed scores of innocent civilians (unlike US strikes during which we only get “collateral damage”). We’ve seen lots of tweets attacking Russia and pictures of injured children and people being pulled out of buildings posted online.

Now there’s two possible explanations for the lightning fast way this new chapter in the “information war” against Russia has been launched.

The first is that the anti-Russian lobby have fantastic sources in Syria and know exactly who has been killed in air strikes moments after the bombs are dropped, or, in some cases possess clairvoyant powers and know who the victims will be even before the bombs fall. Also, that there are people on the ground with excellent high-speed Wi-Fi connections in a war zone who are able to post videos online of victims of Russian attacks with an alacrity that makes Usain Bolt look like a veritable slow coach.

READ MORE: Claims Russian jets killed civilians in Syria emerged before airstrikes started - Putin

The second alternative explanation is that the accusations and allegations that we’ve seen were already written up – filed and saved – and ready to be posted online as soon as Russia’s parliament authorized the use of military force in Syria, in order to discredit the operation. Although air strikes, even if planned with surgical precision can kill civilians – which is of course the number one reason for opposing them – I know which explanation I find the more plausible.

Media monitoring group Media Lens warned us what to expect:

And as usual the Lensers, derided and denigrated by members of the elite journos’ club – who have been proven wrong about just about everything (Iraqi WMDs anyone?) – were bang on the money.

The hypocrisy we‘ve seen in the last day or so – even by the standards of the endless war lobby – has been truly breathtaking. “Those big bad Russians launching air strikes in a foreign country. Why, its outrageous! Only the US and its allies are allowed to do that!” People who were screeching for more ‘intervention’ against ISIS in Syria on Tuesday, found themselves all against ‘intervention’ against ISIS in Syria on Wednesday – when it was Russia doing the intervening.

Suddenly the ‘moderate’ rebels who had been so thin on the ground in Syria – are everywhere and Russian strikes are targeting them.

Conversely ISIS, which we were told was everywhere in Syria up to Tuesday, is nowhere – or at least not in the areas where the Russians are bombing.

Those who have been silent on civilians’ deaths caused by the Saudi assault on Yemen, or on civilians’ deaths caused by US-led bombing of Iraq and Syria, are, bursting with ‘outrage’ over alleged civilian deaths caused by Russian air-strikes – even before such deaths are confirmed.

Then there’s the question of why Putin is intervening.

Russia, we are told is launching air strikes in Syria not because it genuinely wants to beat ISIS, but because it has “selfish interests” in the region. Of course, western motives for destabilizing Syria and backing violent ‘rebels’ to kill Syrian soldiers and overthrow the Syrian government are never selfish, but only benign and humanitarian. When the US and its allies bomb Syria, it‘s to be lauded, when Russia does it – then it’s a sign of the Bear’s sinister attempt to increase its influence in the region. Russia having an ally in the Middle East – why it’s appalling! – only the US is allowed to have allies in an area where there is so much oil!

It shouldn’t need to be said after the blatant lies we were told about Iraq, Libya and Syria up to now, but we need to take negative western claims about Russian actions in Syria, not with a pinch of salt, but with a huge barrow-load of the white stuff.

No ISIS in Al-Rastan in Homs province? Well, ‘activists’, cited by the BBC, told us that was the case after Russian air strikes. But, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) pointed out, that didn’t appear to be the situation last week, when AFP, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told us that seven men had been shot dead by ISIS in Al-Rastan after they had been accused of being homosexuals.

What this shows – and there are plenty of other examples – is that western news channels are happy to cite unnamed ‘activists’, without even the most cursory checks of whether the claims they make are correct if those claims show Russia, or indeed, any other “official enemy” in a bad light. Of course, it’s a very different story if claims are made against the US or its allies. Remember that high profile coverage of claims made by unnamed ‘activists’ about civilian casualties caused by western air-strikes? No, me neither. 

Channels which have shown no, or little interest in civilian casualties in Yemen, where it’s been Saudi Arabia and its allies doing the bombing, are now, all of a sudden, keen to show pictures of people being taken to hospital allegedly after Russian air strikes.

Unsurprisingly, Interpreter Magazine, the “special project” of Khodorkovsky’s Institute of Modern Russia, has been at the forefront of the propaganda campaign to discredit Russia’s Syrian intervention.

“Today Russia launched airstrikes against multiple targets in Syria, but while it’s clear that non-ISIS rebels and possibly civilians have been killed, it’s unclear whether ISIS was even a target at all,” the magazine wrote.

In fact the Russian Defense Ministry reported hitting 12 targets belonging to ISIS on Thursday.

What Putin has done – and this is the reason why the “Get Russia” brigade are so angry – is call the western elite’s bluff on fighting ISIS. For all their condemnation of Islamic State atrocities, the US and its closest allies’ number one aim has been to remove from power the secular Syrian government which has been fighting ISIS and other radical terrorist groups backed by the west.

We know, thanks to WikiLeaks, that the US plans for “regime change” in Syria predate the Arab Spring, and in fact goes back to at least 2006. And this “regime change” plan has nothing to do with ‘democracy promotion’, but everything to do with old-fashioned imperialism.

As the celebrated award-winning journalist and film-maker John Pilger puts it in his latest must-read article, entitled The Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth:

“To the rulers of the world in Washington and Europe, Syria’s true crime is not the oppressive nature of its government but its independence from American and Israeli power – just as Iran’s true crime is its independence, and Russia’s true crime is its independence … In an American-owned world, independence is intolerable.”

Russia’s intervention in Syria, as my fellow RT OpEdge columnist John Wight has pointed out is likely to be game changer.

By tilting the balance against the serial regime changers, who have wreaked so much havoc around the world in recent years, there is an increased chance that Syria’s secular government will be able to recapture chunks of its territory and that the country will retain its independence. That will please genuine anti-imperialists and anti-fascists, who believe that the Syrian people alone should decide who governs them and not the US, Britain or France, but anger those who have been hell-bent on bringing Syria to heel for its defiance – however much death and destruction such a neo-con inspired policy has caused.

The fact is that those who were clamoring for more western intervention in Syria – purportedly against ISIS – but in reality to get the Assad government removed, have been outmaneuvered. Having seen the western elite talk up the threat from ISIS, (whose rise, let’s not forget was welcomed by the anti-Assad powers “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”) citizens of western countries are now expected to regard the Russians as villains for taking action against an enemy we were told had to be defeated.

Clearly, for those behind the new information war, we‘re meant to forget what our leaders have been telling us about ISIS all year. We’re meant to have brains the size of a pea and memories that don’t go back for more than a few days. The latest propaganda assault to get us to hate Russia for fighting against terrorism in Syria is not only laughable, it’s deeply insulting to our intelligence.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.