Persuading the Left Intelligentsia on Syria

Barack Obama’s fervent drive for yet more war carries a number of important lessons in terms of propaganda and the extent to which the “progressive left” literati can be persuaded to jump on the homicidal bandwagon.

The forces behind Syria’s destabilization have employed an array of public relations maneuvers to sway public sentiment and hone in on the support of key constituencies, including credentialed intellectuals and opinion leaders.

This became abundantly clear to many in 2011 as the mercenary guerrilla forces within Syria were self-referentially labeled “activists” and “rebels,” a falsehood that continues to be unquestioningly echoed throughout Western corporate media [1] and its “progressive” alternative counterparts such as Democracy Now! As Finian Cunningham observes, because such programs are presented as ostensibly “critical, independent journalism,” they serve “to sow powerful seeds of misinformation in a way that the ‘compromised’ mainstream media cannot.”[2]

Similar ploys include “astro-turf” outlets purporting to represent genuine causes. One such organization appears to be the Global Campaign for Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution (GCSSR). The GCSSR has managed to obtain the signatures of close to one thousand prominent European, American and Middle Eastern academics and public intellectuals on its petition, “Solidarity with the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom.” Perhaps the support is unsurprising, especially since the document presents Syria’s coordinated subversion with genuine indigenous uprisings throughout the world.

“The fight in Syria is an extension of the fight for freedom regionally and worldwide,” the petition’s preamble reads. Syria’s insurrection

is a fundamental part of the North African revolutions, yet, it is also an extension of the Zapatista revolt in Mexico, the landless movement in Brazil, the European and North American revolts against neoliberal exploitation, and an echo of Iranian, Russian, and Chinese movements for freedom.

This captivating rhetoric closely conforms to the Obama administration’s “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” publicity lines, even though now GCSSR claims to oppose Obama’s impulse toward “war and imperialism” that is  a logical extension of a much broader plan.[3] Yet in scratching the surface of the “Global Campaign,” it is difficult to ascertain any distinct institutional makeup or personnel behind it.

This author’s repeated requests via GCSSR’s Facebook page to communicate with a spokesperson have been met with silence. Still, the organization’s ambiguity has not prevented it from successfully garnering the broad endorsement of figures seduced by its renegade branding.

One is oddly reminded of how overall distant the media manipulation tactics appear that were used in the lead up to the 1991 Gulf War—indeed, ones that targeted a much broader and presumably less sophisticated population. At that time a front group for the Kuwaiti government called the Citizens for a Free Kuwait conducted a multimillion dollar promotional campaign to sell its war to the American people. This impressive undertaking was overseen by the powerful Hill and Knowlton public relations firm and culminated in a fifteen-year-old Kuwaiti girl’s testimony before the phony congressional Human Rights Caucus.

“Nayirah” claimed to be a volunteer at a hospital in Kuwait when Iraqi forces entered the facility. “While I was there I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns,” “Nayirah” recalls, “and go into the room where 15 babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.” [4]

The “eyewitness account” provided the basis for continual denunciations of the Iraq army’s alleged atrocities by those American political leaders angling for war. Yet it later turned out that Nayirah was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, and before her testimony she had been coached by Hill and Knowlton staff. In the end the initial story of hundreds of Kuwaiti newborns cast out of their incubators was discredited.[5]

Still, the effort was ultimately successful, as it conned the American people into backing a conflict that stole an anticipated Cold War peace dividend, presaged the slow deaths of half a million Iraqi children via US-led sanctions, and paved the way for America’s far-expanded and destructive role in the Middle East.

Much like the George W. Bush administration’s “weapons of mass destruction” ruse, there is a degree of primitiveness in the deceptive effort leading to the Gulf War vis-à-vis the clever and overall low-cost maneuvers encompassed in those such as GCSSR. The latter entails a more flagrant and Orwellian manipulation of political codes whereupon empty appeals to “democracy,” “solidarity,” and “struggle” direct passions toward ends far removed from their historical bearings and original intent.

America’s political myopia is perhaps most abundantly clear in the enigma that is Obama—a personage who enthralls his supporters with well-crafted platitudes that rouse veneration once reserved for genuine leaders. In his hypocritical and now increasingly isolated worldview where war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength, the obligation to act on humanitarian grounds likewise wraps coldblooded aggression in the adornments of morality and deliverance.


[1] Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, 12 July, 2012,

[2] Finian Cunningham, “’Democracy Now’ and the ‘Progressive’ Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders for Imperialism and War,”, July 13, 2012.

[3] Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, March 5, 2007. Available at Information Clearinghouse,

[4] John R. MacArthur, Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, 58. See the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Fifth Estate’s “To Sell a War,” (1992).

[5] Ibid., 36-77.


28 thoughts on “Persuading the Left Intelligentsia on Syria”

  1. rethink 9-11-2001 pack o’ lies
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    1. The insanity continues. These people are never going to wake up. They will take to the streets and demand free food, school, medical care, housing, you name it. However, they will never take to the streets for truth and freedom. Eventually something much worse than 9-11 will happen, we will have a total economic collapse, WW lll, and yes ladies and gentleman, mainland USA will not get to sit this one out. Good luck keeping the bad guys out of your wood stick home.

  2. It gets even worse concerning Amy Goodman. Some evidence suggests she’s a willing counter intelligence asset. That would make her indictable for war crimes. Yet on many college radio stations she is given a few hours to spin world and national news every day. This is supposed to counter Fox News and “the mainstream.” You might be better off in the mainstream than with Amy Goodman and prized “‘Democracy’ [now means] Now” guests like Noam Chomsky.

    A lot of people looked to Chomsky after 9/11. They were immediately led astray and found themselves repeating an argument that, while apparently anti-war, permitted the case of a “war on terror.” Because he accepted the official story, the only thing left to debate was how punishment should be carried out. One says more force; the other says less. No thinker of any value would have let the evidence go into that dialect. No one who seriously considered the evidence could have let it go there.

    We really found out how sickeningly phony and unimportant the left intelligentsia is when the Libyan demolition and mass murders were taking place. These people opposed the Iraqi invasion on grounds that it was imperialistic and veiled racism. No race card to play because of Obama’s physical appearance (note that Nato command’s death squads are prone to load pits with dark skinned Africans), synchronized to the release of a film called “The Dictator” (see Pepe Escobar’s article on this), many of the left believed mass murder in Libya could be humanitarian, could be flippant, even that it could save women from sexually deviant men. Remember how many people were hooked on the lie that Libyan troops were raping women left and right. This disgusting charade of provocation, full of well-worn cliches designed to appeal to a “left” preoccupied with “the fight” to have men and women share washrooms and wardrobes, became a sort of making-of documentary for the “Dictator” film.

    If you walk around any University or college in North America, you’ll likely find not protest against a possible world war being triggered in Syria, but concerns over a homosexual being called a name outside a restaurant, on a warm but cloudy afternoon, in Moscow. Then there are the devious worries that not enough people are entranced by “climate science.” They are peddling fake issues, counter intelligence designed to divert. To think—-they believe they are on the cutting edge of intelligence but you would need a leash just to pull them toward reality.

    1. I think you’re being a bit unfair to Amy. To be honest, I don’t watch DN – I never can seem to find it when I might be able to watch and I haven’t watched online (maybe I should catch up). If you check the website – it looks as though the coverage is pretty ok…

      Anyway, she just had on Glenn Greenwald (there’s a video and transcript on the site and that earns some points from me! I did read the transcript and Glenn was excellent.

      I’m Liberal – and certainly was/am in no way in favor of a strike against Syria. I think one thing the Admin. is running into is that the public is not very much in favor of it.

      Not quite sure what to make of your comment re: colleges and protests. Maybe this issue will reenergize the Peace Movement. I also wonder why we don’t have millions protesting in the streets against NSA spying and privacy invasions. In the past, a lot of energy for social protest came from college students. It certainly seems as though it’s not anything as strong as years before. There may be many reasons: the recent thrust in education toward career/job readiness; crushing loads of student debt; the general apathy afflicting so many.

      I do want to share that I was very concerned about Syria and wondered what to do. Lo and behold, something came in my one mailing list about a prayer time for Syria. Although the appointed time had past, the idea did strike a chord and I have been praying for the Syrian people and for Peace. Pope Francis has also been leading a Prayer Vigil. So anyone who feels the spirit to do so,praying is probably one of the best things you could do.

      1. Amy Goodman is in a position of influence. Amy Goodman has clearly made the case for the destruction of Syria. She made it for Libya. She has made it easier for cannibals and baby killers to rule the world, we may deduce.

        We’re talking mass murder here. This cannot be taken as a difference of opinion. My comment (perhaps too long) did mention flippant reactions from the left. Perhaps I should have put more stress into that.

        Peace is a desirable outcome in the sense you mean. But someone like John McCain is a repeat offender. We are not safe with him walking the streets. If peace is achieved it’s likely that McCain will continue to carry out criminal acts. He needs to be “brought in for questioning”. This would involve a great deal of effort because to some degree (and I do mean degree!) he is above our law. There is no rest for the weary.

        What about Goodman? Clearly, Amy Goodman is in a position to influence the public. The evidence suggests she has swayed public opinion toward mass slaughter at least twice now. She needs to be questioned in a legal sense. There would be nothing extraordinary about that. You can’t murder people and you can’t incite public support for murder knowing that it will result in murder. This sounds like basic law enforcement to me. How does it sound to you?

  3. I guess Syria does have chemical weapons. Retractions from prior comments anyone, especially the fearless leader?

    1. On Pacifica Radio this a.m., one guest proffered the notion that the Syrian chemical stockpile was in defense of Israel’s massive buildup of nuclear. A poor-man’s answer, as if the two systems could be equated.

      My head is swimming in contradictions meant to keep the average American off balance. The Left has secured the moral high ground from the “God fearing, gun-grasping gun owners” (per Obama), which makes them fairly dizzy with delusion. It is almost impossible to take the high ground, as anyone in battle knows.

      As a former liberal, now turned independent, I have walked that path and recall how self-satisfying it was to be right and true. If you want to stay centered, think GLOBALIZATION. The left/right paradigm fades into obscurity. Finally, clarity comes filtering down to relieve your migraine.
      There is no difference; the two political philosophies are fused into one humongous people-eating monolith.

    2. Who cares if “they” do? To be brief, you’re playing off stuff you see in the mainstream media. Those debates are a farce. What does that make you?

      1. Surely you miss my point. So many people on here said that the chemical weapons were a farce. Now that Syria has even admitted owning them, surely it’s not and those who said it was a massive ploy were mistaken

        One more thing. Lose that glib tone

        1. “Lose the glib tone”? Is that line from the John Mccain “everyone’s disingenuous except me” playbook?

          Why don’t you break from the imaginary. That is, you attempt to incite some farcical debate about chemical weapons as if it’s news that countries of all places, in all times, possess chemical weapons. We knew this many years ago; it all took place many headlines ago. You’re telling us water is wet and chanting “newsflash”. Actually, you’ve asked us down the memory hole.

          To take either side of a debate on chemical weapons is ridiculous. The only story here is the invasion of Syria by absolute savages posing as heroes, business men, charitable agents, etc. You support mass murder or you don’t. You push toward the dark ages or you don’t. It’s not glib to place your position. You stand against war or spin toward it. You spin. That means mass murder. It’s not glib to oppose mass murder. Again I feel that you should apologize for trivializing an issue that could not be more serious.

          If a certain Russian faction can use certain terminology as a tool to prevent war, we may have cause for pause. International law is a different game and I see it as such. For you to pretend you have a trump card in this venue is absurd. This is not the damn UN. The only story here is the invasion of Syria by absolute savages. There’s nothing to spin. All distractions are invalid.

    3. I don’t believe the issue was ever the chemical weapons were not present. The issue at hand is whether Assad deployed them on civilians.

      If we are of the mind to ban the possession of chemical weapons, there is much work to do: Also in the Middle East, Israel has chemical weapons and has deployed them on civilian population. Israel used those weapons in 2008 against Palestinians, including children. In this case, Obama ignored those children.

      This was in the news in April of this year:

      Here is a link to damaging photos of suffering children:

      The US has a stockpile of chemical weapons we should probably turnover:

      This clamoring for war to “save” the children is rubbish. Children are not going to be helped by bombs raining on their country. Obama and his co-horts are corrupt to the core if they pursue this War. Pipelines, realms that need to be protected, untapped riches in the Golan Heights, Gaza Marine… none of it is worth murdering people over.

  4. As for me, I can’t for the life of me see what makes poison gas any more horrible than any other deadly weapon. I wonder if anyone gives that real thought. Death is death, whether from a bullet the size of a dime, or a bomb the size of a football, or a massive, exploding missile shot from a warship. Is the argument that it’s all right to slaughter people with a hail of lead, but it’s qualitatively different if you slaughter them with poison gas? If so, why?

    Now, we, of course, do it the right way. All our small ordinance nowadays is made of depleted uranium, not lead. Uranium is a flammable metal, so the moment it leaves the tube and hits the air it bursts into flame; by the time it strikes its target half of the metal has been vaporized. The other half, uranium being so dense, can penetrate steel like a hot knife though butter, so it’s really great for getting bad guys hiding behind barriers. As for the vaporized uranium, well, what bystanders don’t breathe becomes part of the soil and water. We have spread this stuff very evenly across many countries now, and no doubt will keep on until the whole region is nicely salted with invisible, poisonous, metal. Almost like chemtrails; it almost strikes one as looking like a plan. But no one talks about it.

    DU creates birth defects, and if anything can be worse, it does worse. It will be there, poisoning those lands forever. There is a nightmare of birth defects unfolding in the countries we go over to “save”, not to mention that our own troops are experiencing the same thing. Yet no one seems to care.

    Maybe it’s the delay in the bad effects that keeps our massive spreading of powdered uranium from horrifying people in this country, so cause and effect is not obvious. But in my opinion if we’re going to get all hot and bothered about a specific form of weaponry, I’d advise us to object to the one that’s not going to kill, but the one that attacks DNA and hands future generations a living nightmare. We should be ashamed of ourselves, not strut with patriotic pride about how “humanitarian” our impulses are. (Not to mention that squabbles in that part of the world are none of our business, however nasty.)

    Why is DU not a lefty Hollywood cause celebre? It sure won’t be as long as this horrible fellow is the figurehead in Mordor…er, Washington.

    But gas seems to work as a propaganda ploy, so that’s the “justification” they’re using to add Syria to the list of ruined places. What is the Big Picture? I don’t know. James Corbett’s recent report “Who is Really Behind the Syrian War? is an interesting exploration of that question (

    The end of the Cold war seems to have really scared the military/industrial/spy complex. After all our wars we always dramatically reduced the size of the military; they had no intention of letting that happen this time. They are enacting the world Orwell describes in 1984: perpetual, endless, war. You can’t just go home and relax after a war is over any more; you have to launch the next one before the last one is even over. Forever.

    Weird, how so many of the familiar, sanctimonious, lefties now sound so much like those unspeakably evil neoconservatives these days. Perhaps they never had any principles at all, and it’s just for them a question of whose ox is being gored.

    1. Patrick, your comments are spot on. Drones attacks are another example of “acceptable” death and destruction. I can not understand how anyone cannot see when the truth is right before our eyes.

  5. The vast majority are opposed to this war as evidenced by representatives that have been inundated with contacts from the people, some saying 500 to 1 against, some none for. Polls have been manipulated for years to sway our thinking, but they are beginnins to speak the truth. If it is 10% for, that 10% are those who would benefit. Here’s our favorite NYTimes that indicates a huge majority against

    Hopefully, this is a new trend, a politician telling the truth!

  6. 9/9 2013 was a memorable day historically, the evening being in a different category from the morning. three tendencies were brought to fruition.

    1. The people of the world united against American war power and made their leaders retreat from endorsing it.

    2. The American people rebelled against their leaders and made Congress retreat from supporting war.

    3. this was all done primarily by internet and phone, with very few and very small demonstrations, especially in the USA.

    An initial signal that a new era is dawning, with the American and the earth’s people beginning to reject American power.

    1. I believe it is very key that the American Public used the phone and email to voice their adamant refusal. Protests are not part of the political process, lobbying is.

      As for the earth’s people rejecting American power, it is also Americans rejecting the undue influence on our political process of those who would have the US be an Oligarchy.

      The big secret is out of the bag. There is still time via local and State politics (in a majority of the country, not all) to reclaim the US Government for the American People… the Dome hasn’t trapped us yet.

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