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Friday, February 03, 2012


"200" dead in Syria - but who were they?

Today's news from Syria "informs" (or misinforms, depending on what the actual facts are) us that 200 "people" were killed in the Syrian city of Homs by a government assault using tanks and machine guns. I've written before about the "source" of this "information," which is basically an organization based in London. But let's assume for the moment that this information is completely true and ask a few more questions:

1) Who were these people? If you've been watching the same news as I have for the past few days, you've seen pictures of the rebels armed with all sorts of weapons including RPGs. Were these 200 people armed rebels, or "unarmed innocent civilians"? The article wants us to believe the latter, since there is no hint whatsoever in the article that an armed rebellion in progress. Every reference in the article is simply to "people" who were killed. Far more likely, however, is that is was mostly, or perhaps exclusively, armed rebels who were killed. Now I am completely in support of the right to armed rebellion. However, people who take up arms can expect to be met with force, and whatever reason there is to condemn the government against which they are taking up arms, the fact that that government responded with force can hardly be a reason for additional condemnation.

2)Were there any government forces killed? If a battle of this magnitude took place, chances are high that they did. However, since AP's only source for this story is the anti-government opposition, and since that opposition has every reason to portray the deaths as a one-sided affair, it's not surprising that no such deaths are reported. The opposition does periodically make claims (backed up by the Syrian government) that government forces were killed, although in almost all cases when that happens, it is a separate event, not connected with the deaths of opposition forces. Again, this is a consequence of the source. On the one hand, the opposition wants to make itself look successful, so as to inspire more support from the Syrian people. Hence the stories about killed government troops. On the other hand, they want to make the government look as barbaric as possible, hence the absence of any mention of the deaths of government troops on the days when they want to emphasize their own losses.

3) Did AP make any effort to obtain any sort of comment whatsoever, even a "no comment," from the Syrian government? We know from vast experience that if it were the U.S. government being accused of killing people, AP (or any other corporate media outlet) wouldn't consider running the story until and unless they could obtain some comment from the U.S. government, no matter how unbelievable ("the incident is being investigated," "all the dead were terrorists," etc.).

As with Iran, the drumbeat for war continues, with politicians and the media working hand and hand to prepare the American public.

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