Bombing plagiarism - And why it’s taking place

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 He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
© Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
It’s not a nice thing when someone else takes the credit for the hard work you’ve been doing. It’s even worse when the same person criticizes you while praising themselves to the rafters. That’s what’s happening to Russia in relation to its anti-terror op in Syria.

The state-owned France 2 channel has used images of Russian air strikes in Syria - not to applaud Moscow’s efforts in the fight against ISIS, but to illustrate the ‘achievements’ of the Western/Gulf coalition (of which France is a member) instead.

The same news report strongly criticized the Russian actions, while all the time showing footage of how Russia was kicking ISIS butt- or rather ISIS derriere. Just how unfair is that?

Perhaps next week France’s state television will be showing footage of the Red Army’s victory over the Wehrmacht at the Battle of Kursk to a voiceover lauding France’s heroic anti-Nazi effort in WW2. Or showing and old film of Sputnik 1 being launched into space and saying it was a “Western first”.

This ‘bombing plagiarism’ marks a new low in the increasingly desperate anti-Russian propaganda war. Russia is being lambasted for intervening in Syria, while at the same time Western countries are claiming the credit for the effective anti-ISIS/anti-terror operations that Russia has carried out. The word ‘chutzpah’ has been massively redefined over the last few months.

It’s worth noting that France 2 is not the only channel to use footage of Russian air strikes in order to praise Western actions. In November, PBS NewsHour in the US showed video of Russian Sukhoi bombers hitting an ISIS oil storage facility and a large oil truck depot. The voiceover declared “For the first time, the US is attacking oil delivery trucks.”

In December, RT reported how Euronews also used Russian footage while airing a comment by a US military representative who was speaking about the success of the anti-ISIS coalition.

At the same time that Western news channels have been passing off Russian anti-ISIS air strikes as Coalition ones, those big bad ‘Russkies’ are being regularly attacked for “targeting civilians” or “moderate rebels”.

Strangely enough we didn’t hear too much about civilians being killed when the US and its allies started bombing ISIS in 2014, but since Russia started, outrage is all the rage. We’ve had the truly nauseating spectacle of bloodthirsty Iraq war supporting neocons, who had been itching to bomb Syria for years, morphing into concerned humanitarians as soon as Russian planes took off.

Repeat after me: "‘Western bombs Good - they ‘liberate’ people; Russian bombs Bad- they kill innocent civilians!"

Of course all this nonsense is going on because, by intervening against ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Russia has called the West’s bluff and exposed the ‘war on terror’ for the sham that it really is. Regime change, or failing that, the Balkanization of Syria, has always been the main aim of the US and its allies.

This is not a ‘conspiracy theory’. A declassified secret US intelligence document from August 2012, said that the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality” in Syria was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.

The implications are clear enough,” said the Guardian’s Seumas Milne of the declassified document. “A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state”…as a Sunni buffer to weakening Syria.”

The problem now is that Russia really does want to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and co and is doing a fairly good job of it. The Western elites have talked themselves into a corner when it comes to domestic public opinion. Quite rightly, your average American, your average Brit and your average citizen of France wants to see ISIS smashed. Trouble is - the West’s regime changing elites don’t want to see ISIS smashed- only for its wings to be clipped a little. So what to do?

The answer is simple: claim Russia’s anti-ISIS actions and its successes as your own - while you consistently denigrate and criticize Russia’s intervention in Syria. This explains both the current wave of bombing plagiarism and the faux-outrage over Russia’s “targeting of civilians”.

Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter bomber takes off from the Hemeimeem Air Base in the Latakia province, Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

What cannot be admitted of course is that the Western/Gulf anti-ISIS coalition has done very little- compared to Russia- to push back Islamic State. That would cast Russia as the good guys and that would never do!

It’s a source of constant grief to me that everything we are doing is being undermined by the Russians,”- UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond bemoaned earlier this month - and it’s true. The UK has wanted violent regime change in Syria - and Russia has thwarted that plan. And while Western news channels show footage of Russia bombing ISIS - but presented as Coalition attacks- the neocon Hammond accused Russia of “not bombing Daesh”.

It’s revealing that unlike Russia, the US-led coalition has not been too keen to share information about what it is actually doing in Syria. In December, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesperson, Major Igor Konashenkov said how there had been no press-tours to the coalition’s anti-ISIS bases.

And let’s take a look at what Britain has been doing, or rather what it has not been doing. Think back to the Parliamentary debate on bombing Syria on December 2. Then we were told that there must be no delay in authorizing military action against ISIS. “We must now confront this evil,” was the cry. There wasn’t a minute to lose! But in January, the Daily Telegraph revealed that there had been no RAF manned strikes on any Syrian target since December 6 - and only four in total.

Does that look to you like a determined campaign from the UK’s neocon government to smash ISIS? The Daily Telegraph quoted military aviation expert Jon Lake who said: “There is an almost complete disconnect between the heated political debate in Britain over Syria and what the Government has actually done. Britain’s air campaign in Syria so far is basically a non-event.

And the British Foreign Secretary has the nerve to accuse Russia of “not bombing Daesh.

You don’t have to be Hercules Poirot or Sherlock Holmes to smell a very large rat here.

If the US-led coalition really is hitting ISIS hard (and we’re told there have been more than 3,200 attacks on ‘ISIS-held areas’ since September 22, 2014) then why are Western news channels showing Russian footage? And if the coalition isn’t swamping us with footage of its planes targeting ISIS - then why not? It makes no sense at all, except if you take the line that the West, for all its tough talk, is only playing at fighting ISIS. So let’s criticize the country that really is fighting terrorism in Syria and then claim credit for its operations.

Expect more ‘bombing plagiarism’ in the months ahead, folks. Russian air strikes in Syria really are a very dreadful thing. Except when we're passing them off as our own.


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