Who to Believe

Not long ago, the veteran Portland-based progressive peace activist Brian Willson posted a report on a purportedly impartial non-governmental organization which in effect spreads lies about the UN and the Assad government in Syria.

On this basis, one would doubt reports that the United States has chosen to support any humanitarian effort there.

This morning, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel discussed a well-publicized interview with a source, purporting to be a commander of the Nusfra front, which is to say, a rebel group which has received assistance from the U.S., where the man interviewed claimed that the U.S. was supporting al-Quaeda in Syria.  The link is to the English-language version of the article.

What the reporter for Der Spiegel did, in sum, was to show that this interview was a falsification, and he did it in classic fashion.  His investigation was completely transparent, starting with the evidence for the location of the interview, in which he examined photographs available on the Internet of the area in which it was supposed to have taken place.  Contradictions arose.  Then he looked at the statements made by the “commander”: he seemed to be ignorant of the facts of the siege of Aleppo.  Finally, there are folks living in the area who claimed to know the voice of the interviewee, and the man whom they identified is a thug in the pay of the Syrian government.

As is the case with responses to other falsifications, it is revealing what the interviewer said when Der Spiegel came to him with their evidence of falsification.  The interviewer, a former member of the German federal legislature, corrected the initial statement of where the interview took place, then corrected the correction, and finally refused further comment.  Enough said.

Critical examination of claims made by both sides reveals lying and deceit.

Update 23 January 2017: To a report that owes its brevity to the coverage of one small current topic, let me add a sweeping evaluation by a Dutch observer of the war of words.

Architects of an official reality that diverges widely from the facts you thought you knew must rely on faits accompli they achieve through military or police violence and intimidation, in combination with a fitting interpretation or a news blackout delivered by mainstream media.

writes Karel von Wolferen, a distinguished veteran foreign correspondent for NRC Handelsblad.  He continues in the immediately following sentence:

These conditions have been widely obtained in the Atlantic basin through a gradual loss of political accountability at top levels, and through government agencies protected by venerated secrecy that are allowed to live lives of their own. As a result American and European populations have been dropped into a fantasy world, one under constant threat from terrorists and an evil dictator in Moscow.

We, those of us who live in the most industrialized, urban, sophisticated part of the world of the present day, are arguably unable to distinguish, in many ways, imaginary fantasy from reality.  The civil war in Syria, in which the United States has consistently supported terrorist organizations, is one example.  The coup d’état in Ukraine by neo-Nazi groups against a duly elected President, hailed as a victory for democracy by the United States, and opposition to which is considered a crime against international law, is another.

For Americans the never ending war waged by their own government, which leaves them with no choice but to condone mass murder, is supposedly necessary to keep them safe. For Europeans, at least those in the northern half, the numerous NATO tanks rolling up to the border of the Russian Federation and the massing of troops in that area are an extra guarantee, on top of the missiles that were already there, that Vladimir Putin will restrain his urges to grab a European country or two.

What is obviously a threatening move, intended to bully the Russian government, and is inappropriate in a time of peace, is taking place while the newly-elected President of the United States repeatedly tells the world that he admires and wishes to work with the Russian government on ways to reduce tension.  We are supposed to believe, and our news media gives us no alternative but to believe (unless we take the news media as lying through their teeth), that the Russian government is about to invade the Baltic nations.

But who can know, without any basis for evaluating the prediction, how true that is?  You can be skeptical, and you ought to be, but you are left in a world where everyone — American government, Western news media, and the Russian government — is probably lying.

On a smaller scale, when every May 4th the 1940-45 war dead are remembered in the Netherlands, we must now include the fallen in Afghanistan as if they were a sacrifice to defend us against the Taliban threat from behind the Hindu Kush.

Only in retrospect are we offered any opportunity to catch our breath and establish a semblance of a rational, factual sense of the world.  There was, and no doubt never will be, any Taliban threat to Europe or the United States from the wilds of the Hindu Kush mountains.

But at the time of conflict, we live in a world where we are not sure.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Brian Willson, Diffeomorphisms on a manifold, Empire, Fascism, Global, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual life, War. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Who to Believe

  1. Spencer says:

    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it.
    I have got you book-marked to check out new things you post…

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