Manufactured Disgust and Imperial Cynicism

Since failing to win United Nations Security Council backing for “regime change” in Syria, Washington and its lackeys in the corporate media have been unrelenting in voicing their great moral outrage at both the violence of the Assad regime and the seeming indifference to it all by the likes of Russia and China. Washington is no doubt long in forgetting those that thwart the will of the “international community.” After all, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, the “travesty” of the Russian and Chinese veto left the entire Security Council “neutered.”

Given this, it was of little surprise to see Ms. Clinton mount her soapbox once more last week in Tunis at the meeting of the so-called “friends of Syria.” As Ms. Clinton moralized Friday:

It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto when people are being murdered, women, children, brave young men. Houses are being destroyed. It is just despicable. And I ask, whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people.

Clinton’s remarks won swift and high praise from the American punditry. On the PBS Newshour, Mark Shields swooned over Clinton’s performance. As he commented, “It was impassioned. It was eloquent. It was really, I thought, quite moving.” David Brooks likewise fawned, “The reaction was something I think we should be proud of, clearly a lot of passion, a lot of directness.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, also weighted in on the Syrian crisis with a Friday editorial (titled “Syria’s Horrors“). As the paper argued, “The United States and Europe need to use all their powers of persuasion and shaming to get Moscow and Beijing to cut all ties [with Syria].” In an editorial published just a week prior (titled “The Enablers“), the Times called on Russia and China to finally “meet the test of leadership” by “standing against Mr. Assad’s siege on his people.” Little doubt, then, that the Times also took heart in Clinton’s Tunis show.

But least one think the violence gripping Syria really moves such pillars of the U.S. liberal establishment like the New York Times and Ms. Clinton, let us briefly recall how the both responded to Operation Cast Lead. That is, Israel’s 23-day assault on the Gaza strip in late 2008, early 2009. The Israeli assault—or more properly, war crime—left a total of 1,385 Palestinians dead, 318 of which were under the age of 18. (5,300 more Palestinians were also wounded.)

So, as Israel slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza, did Ms. Clinton deride the distressing murder of women and children? Did she bemoan a “neutered” Security Council unable to respond? No. Instead, just the same as then President-elect Obama, Ms. Clinton hid behind the notion that “there is only one secretary of state.” Not that she would have acted any differently had she been actively serving as secretary of state.

But how about the Times? Did the paper of record lament the horrors unfolding in Gaza? Did it call on the U.S. to meet the test of leadership and stand against the Israel siege of Gaza? No. In fact, in the midst of the slaughter, the Times boldly editorialized, “Israel must defend itself.” Then to perhaps demonstrate their “humanity,” the editorial board cautiously affirmed that, “Israel must make every effort to limit civilian casualties.” The Israeli motive behind its attack on Gaza, of course, was beyond rebuke for the Times.

The great anxiety presently on prominent display by the U.S. liberal establishment over the violence in Syria is then nothing but a public show of manufactured disgust. Such displays of outrage by the likes of Ms. Clinton and the New York Times are really little more than cynical ploys veiling imperial aims.

In fact, a recent Times op-ed by former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, arguing that the ouster of Assad would lead to a strategic defeat of Iran, encapsulates the real motives behind all such contrived outrage. As Mr. Halevy wrote:

Getting Iran booted out of Syria is essential for Israel’s security. And if Mr. Assad goes, Iranian hegemony over Syria must go with him. Anything less would rob Mr. Assad’s departure of any significance.

He noted further, “The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace to international security and well-being.”

Now, without a doubt, the Syrian people have every right to resist despotic rule. But they would be wise to give pause to their purported “friends” residing amongst the U.S. liberal elite who employ such imperial cynicism.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon. He may be reached at: bnschreiner@gmail.com. Read other articles by Ben.