The Obama team is pulling out all the stops to drive the nation into a war with Syria. Given the opposition in the House and overwhelming public skepticism (even after more than a week of full bore messaging, 59 percent of Americans oppose strikes on Syria, notably including “a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans”, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted on Tuesday), it has been necessary to roll out the full force of the national propaganda apparatus. It has enlisted its unofficial network of media pundits and other influence makers (aka the “brain-trust”) and called in the help of one of the most influential lobbies in Washington: AIPAC, and it’s allies.
Politico reports that “Capitol Hill sources believe that the explicit backing of AIPAC will help the president collect votes at a time when the fate of his use-of-force authorization remains unclear.”
The Tel Aviv lobby has been keen to avoid being blamed for the war so they’re acting in the shadows. The NY Times – presumably after receiving a friendly phone call – quietly removed passages highlighting AIPAC’s efforts from a story first published on the evening of August 3rd.
Nathan Guttman reports in Forward that:
“The message from the two senior administration officials to Jewish leaders during a large conference call September 3 was clear: The Obama administration, said deputy national security advisors Ben Rhodes and Tony Blinken, believed that congressional approval of military action would send an important message to Iran, Israel’s most feared rival in the region.
“It is very important for us that we achieve a supportive vote in Congress,” said Blinken.
The two officials stopped short of directly calling on the Jewish community to put its weight behind President Obama’s request to authorize the use of military power against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. But the message was loud and clear, and at the call’s conclusion, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, promised his umbrella group would issue a supportive statement. ….
Hoenlein asked his fellow Jewish leaders, who had for the most part up to then avoided taking official stands, to back the administration’s congressional resolution….
Other Jewish groups also quickly fell in line with the new consensus supporting an attack against Syria.”
The framing provided here is distinct from how AIPAC’s involvement has been discussed in most other publications. AIPAC is acting as Obama’s enforcer in Congress – a sheepdog helping to round up the herd. This runs counter to the ‘tail that wags the dog’ narrative so popular on the left and elsewhere. Think of how Chomsky has framed Israel’s relationship with the U.S. – as the unofficial 51st state in the union – versus the Israel controlling Washington to act contrary to national interests narrative favored by many like Alison Wier.
The almost total absence of references to the last major use of chemical weapons in U.S. media continues to impress. Conservative WaPo columnist Kathleen Parker provided one of the few exceptions in her OpEd today, writing, “Recall, too, that we didn’t intervene in 1988 when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to slaughter 3,000 to 5,000 Kurds.” This mention manages to imply an inversion of reality. In fact “we” did intervene – to facilitate Saddam’s chemical weapons attack. This context is so obviously and glaringly relevant to the current push for war on Syria that the failure to accurately refer to it can only be interpreted as a powerful demonstration of the propaganda function of the corporate media. Parker also used her column to assure readers that “We are still the bravest, most compassionate, most generous nation in the history of mankind.” What a delightful fairy tail.
In much the same ahistorical vein, Thomas Friedman declares today that:
“Count me with the activists on the question of whether the United States should respond to the Syrian regime’s murder of some 1,400 civilians, more than 400 of them children, with poison gas. If there is no global response to this breaching of a universal taboo on using poison gas, the world will be a much more dangerous place. And only America can spearhead a credible response: Russia and China have rendered the United Nations Security Council meaningless; Europe is a military museum; the Arab League is worthless; all others are spectators. We are out front — alone. We may not want to be, but here we are. So we must lead.”
All are “spectators” except the very country that backed and supplied the chemicals to the last villain to breach the “universal taboo.”