Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
It’s your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch in 2017. Help us gear up to fight the status-quo in 2018! Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Where are the Child Victims of the West?

by

It has been almost a year since the contorted body of little Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, oblivious in death to the fact that he was to become the key pawn in a global media campaign seeking to cement public opinion in favor of intervention in Syria.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper intoned at the time:

To begin restoring that hope will inevitably mean international intervention of some kind. The establishment of credible safe havens and the implementation of a no-fly zone must be on the table for serious consideration.

A 2015 analysis on the 99.99998271% blog provided a detailed anatomy of the methods and aims of this form of propaganda with regard to Syria, concluding:

[T]he corporate media has concealed covert activities within Syria going back several years; has blacked out a Pentagon report demonstrating US prediction, supply and use of ISIS as a strategic asset; is again reporting selectively regarding ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dictators; and has engaged in this precise kind of rhetoric in the past before every intervention. Rupert Murdoch is a board member of a company that is drilling for oil in the Golan Heights while his newspapers sound the clarion call that may open the way for a (hoped for) post-Assad Western puppet government. Meanwhile stocks in arms companies are at record levels and the refugee crisis is now a major humanitarian disaster at World War 2 levels, with refugee populations particularly high from nations where the US and its allies have acted (covertly or overtly).

[Note: see original article for detailed discussion and sources for these conclusions]

If at first you don’t succeed: now it is the turn of another hapless child – this time thankfully alive.  The excellent OffGuardian news/analysis website demonstrates that another mass push for intervention is underway, with the corporate media content to use a terrorist-sympathizing ‘media center’ as the story’s primary source:

The boy is allegedly five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. According to the AP report neither he nor the rest of his family sustained anything but superficial cuts and bruises.

Yet, in a conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people nationwide, the media wants us to believe this story is somehow unique and that the “horror generated” by a video of some people looking quite well but dusty and bloodstained will shock us more than the piles of corpses , “echo the anguished global response” to images of drowned A[]lan Kurdi and galvanise us all into “doing something” – ie supporting a NATO intervention to save the terrorists in eastern Aleppo.

If the sight of all the major outlets who cheer on western-backed slaughter every day,  running wall-to-wall op-eds and features about the tragedy of a little boy with a cut on his face,  simply because it serves the empire’s agenda, doesn’t convince you of the moral and intellectual blank they’ve become then keep reading. It gets better.

AP and other outlets tell us the vid was “filmed and circulated” by a group called the “Aleppo Media Centre.” Who/what are they? Well,the Graun links to their Twitter, which is in Arabic,and which boasts over 20,000 alleged followers,including several members of the western media, and a plethora of similar short and often murky vids beside this one. We can also quite easily find their Facebook page.

The Facebook page contains a post cheering on al-Nusra, the US-designated terrorist group, referring to them as ‘rebels’, not ‘terrorists’ and also calling the Syrian government a ‘regime’, the standard terminology of the corporate media when referring to Assad’s administration.  Such phrasing destroys the Aleppo Media Centre as a neutral, credible source.

OffGuardian further notes that there are serious discrepancies about the timeline with respect to when the video was made and uploaded:

We’re also a bit curious about why the AP report claim the video was made Wednesday night, when it was uploaded to Twitter at 13:52 BST Wednesday afternoon, which would equate with 15:52 in Aleppo. Is this a time-zone anomaly? But then there’s the added confusion of the [t]weet itself, which seems to say pretty clearly that the vid was made on Sunday evening.

In a later article, Catte at OffGuardian noted:

After the recent revelation that almost every major news site has been promoting unverified video and eye-witness testimony originating in some of the most extreme, violent and debauched terrorist elements currently operating in Syria, we have to ask – is there any longer even a minimum of verification or investigative process required before news agencies and publications endorse a breaking story?

In the case of that notorious “Omran rescue vid”, for example, AP broke the story, but of the three journalists credited, one was in Beirut, one in Geneva and one in Moscow.

None of them were in Aleppo, or even in Syria. Given what’s now transpired about the discredited and even criminal nature of the source, we need to ask – how did they get word of this event and how did they verify it? Did AP talk to ordinary people on the spot, and directly interview the witnesses? Did they get this video direct from the terrorist-supporting “Aleppo Media Center”, or via an intermediary? Did they know about the terrorist-connections of both the AMC and the “photo-journalist” Mahmoud Raslan, and just not inform their readers, or did they genuinely not know who their sources were?

The media train wreck was made complete when it emerged that the Guardian had deleted 45% of reader comments below a related opinion piece to preserve its obviously bogus Syria narrative for those precious few readers still somehow unaware that their newspaper of choice is nothing but a shill for the arms industry and Western imperial interests:

This narrative has never really got much traction, mostly because it’s stupid, and right now it’s not going over at all. The latest serving of it,”The Guardian View on Syrian civilian casualties: Omran Daqneesh – a child of war” was published at 7:58pm on August 18 and remained open for comments for no more than two hours. In that time the BTL section erupted in outrage and was shredded by the moderators. The results are shameful. Of the 75 comments not entirely obliterated (which happens), 34 (45%) had their content deleted. And after all that not even all the remaining 55% were supportive of the ATL line.

The Guardian had to delete 45% of its own readers opinions, just to ma[i]ntain a bare semblance of its agenda.

No comment that mentioned the terrorist source of the video was allowed to remain. Every comment that identified the media “hero” of the hour, Mahmoud Raslan as a supporter of al Nusra or a friend of child-beheaders was removed. Many others that merely pointed out the gaps and absurdities in the narrative were likewise deleted.

There are lessons here.  First, if you want to be brazenly lied to or misled in a way that wins your support of Western bombing under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’ (and therefore arms sales) along with the furthering of Western geopolitical objectives in Syria, go no further than the corporate media; even – and especially – the self-described ‘liberal-left’ wing.  Second, if you want the truth – or at least honest people trying in good faith to get to the truth – you’ll have to rely on unpaid bloggers and the credible independent media, especially those that publish source documents like WikiLeaks.  And third, no doubt should remain in anyone’s mind of the depths of moral depravity to which the corporate media and its paid, indoctrinated stenographers will sink in order to achieve the objectives of their paymasters: namely, the utilization of images of injured or dead children in an attempt to bring about a state of affairs that will with certainty create many more such suffering souls.

Something important, however, is missing from MSM coverage of children in war zones.  For the fourth estate – the noble profession that speaks truth to power and holds it accountable – balance and fairness is a key ingredient of reporting, or so we are told in slogans like ‘fair and balanced’.  With the corporate media probably too busy with this latest story, the 99.99998271% will humbly step into the breach and provide – for the purposes of that all-important balance – a list of child victims you haven’t seen described in editorials written by hand-wringing, entitled liberals in the corporate media – and won’t anytime soon.

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped and murdered by US marines after her family (34-year-old mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 45-year-old father Qasim Hamza Raheem, and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza) were killed.

[Note: The Washington Post link incorrectly states she was 15 years old when she died. Wikipedia link here.]

Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year old girl who amazingly survived the Haditha Massacre, in which 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed including seven children, a 1-year-old girl staying with the family and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair?

How did she survive?  “I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me and he was bleeding like a faucet.”

A six-year US military prosecution ended with none of the eight Marines sentenced to jail, despite one of the men – Sgt. Sanick De La Cruz – testifying (in return for immunity) that he had urinated on the skull of one of the dead Iraqis. This outcome outraged the Iraqi people (as the attack on Malala Yousafzai outraged the West) but the name of Safa Younis Salim remains practically unknown.

16-year-old Tariq Aziz.  Clive Stafford Smith from the Reprieve charity explains:

During the day I shook the hand of a 16-year-old kid from Waziristan named Tariq Aziz. One of his cousins had died in a missile strike, and he wanted to know what he could do to bring the truth to the west. At the Reprieve charity, we have a transparency project: importing cameras to the region to try to export the truth back out. Tariq wanted to take part, but I thought him too young.

Then, three days later, the CIA announced that it had eliminated “four militants”. In truth there were only two victims: Tariq had been driving his 12-year-old cousin to their aunt’s house when the Hellfire missile killed them both. This came just 24 hours after the CIA boasted of eliminating six other “militants” – actually, four chromite workers driving home from work. In both cases a local informant apparently tagged the car with a GPS monitor and lied to earn his fee.

The average age of the population of Gaza is 17, and half the population are under 16. According to the UN, more children than adult fighters were killed in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge attack by Israel.

Meanwhile in the city of Fallujah in Iraq, health studies have demonstrated that the use of chemical weapons by US forces – including depleted uranium – was followed by one of the most severe health crises in history:

Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, Fallujans have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city. Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied”.

To this day [25th October 2012], though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.

The report presented at the seventh session of the Human Rights Council gave anecdotal evidence gathered at the Fallujah General Hospital. It included a stomach-turning collection of pictures of babies born with scaly skin, missing and deformed limbs, and horrifying tumors. Two years later, Dr Busby and his team of researchers sought to verify the claims in this report. What they found was that, in addition to shocking increases in pediatric cancers, there had also been an 18% reduction in male births.

Dr Busby has been the most visible scientist behind these studies, and for that reason, a lot of criticism has been directed at him. He is considered by many to be a “controversial” figure, which only means that his research has often challenged official government positions. His studies on Fallujah have similarly earned the title of “controversial”. Many journals were afraid to publish his second study because of “pressure” from “outside people”. “Outside people” means types like Roger Helbig – a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force who is well-known for publishing online attacks on those who take a critical stance against uranium weapons – and pressure groups with similar agendas.

While these tragedies are often reported within the corporate media, especially when they lead to major misconduct cases that involve Western soldiers or officials, one never sees front page spreads with pictures of the victims chosen to maximise sympathy; one never sees open-ended live updates at the top of news feeds; and one certainly never sees a deluge of opinion pieces calling for censure of Western military forces or foreign policies.  We don’t see news anchors breaking down in tears [Note: after a thirty-second Visa commercial at this location] on live TV or mawkish, melodramatic verbiage calling for ‘something to be done’ about Western brutality and war crimes.  These victims of Western foreign policy and all its associated evils are quickly buried and just as quickly forgotten.

Former UK Shadow Defence Secretary Hilary Benn – propelled to fame after his speech calling for air strikes on Syria was wildly lauded by the British political establishment – was challenged on Twitter the other day to ‘make a powerful speech about how the bombing [in Syria] is progressing’.  In response, he wrote: ‘Have you contacted Russian/Syrian embassies to ask why their governments did this’?  In asking this question, it logically follows – if he were an honest man – that he would also condemn with disgust the deaths of any children killed by UK/US/NATO/Israeli bombs and other military actions.

Readers are invited to find these condemnations as the 99.99998271% could not.

One could instead offer the following in response to Hilary Benn: ‘All war represents a failure of diplomacy’.  Would he acknowledge the validity or wisdom of these words?  Would he recognise them at all?  Probably not.  They are from Tony Benn, his father.

More articles by:
December 12, 2017
Cesar Chelala
Living in New York. Missing Home
December 11, 2017
Oscar Oliver-Didier 
The Invisibility of Poverty in Puerto Rico
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Risks Uniting the Entire Arab World Against the US
Uri Avnery
From Barak to Trump
Robert Hunziker
Dying Ecosystems
Paul Tritschler
The Year Without Summer
Ramzy Baroud
What Trump Has Done: The Entire US-Middle East Political Framework Just Collapsed
Francis Thicke
What Does “Organic” Mean?
Franklin Lamb
Foreign Proxies Prematurely Boast “Mission Accomplished” in Syria
Mike Whitney
Petty, Backstabbing Washington Sinks Russia’s Olympic Dreams
Mel Gurtov
The Calculated Destruction of America’s Government
David Underhill
Roy Moore Runs to Seat Protestant Pope in Senate
Sheldon Richman
The FBI is Not Your Friend
Weekend Edition
December 08, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind
Ted Nace
State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea
Paul Street
The Burning Earth Bears Witness in California
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Operation Paperclip: Nazi Science Heads West
John W. Whitehead
John Lennon’s Most Radical Message
Patrick Cockburn
Jerusalem Explained
Gary Leupp
Jared, Jerusalem, and Possible Jail Time
Oren Ben-Dor
Jerusalem, Partition, Justice and Peace 
CJ Hopkins
The Year of the Headless Liberal Chicken
Felicia Kornbluh
Why Not a Women’s Party? 
Andrew Levine
As the “Me Too” Movement Develops, the Duopoly Divides, and Vestiges of Incoherence Remain
Pepe Escobar
The New Great Game Moves from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific
Howard Lisnoff
The Rearguard Battles We Have Fought and Continue to Fight
Ishmael Reed
What Did Corporate Media Feminists Know and When Did They Know It?
Charles R. Larson
Endpaper: The Decline of Reading for Pleasure
Brian Cloughley
Bombing to Victory?
Nick Pemberton
Reason, Nuclear Weapons, and Donald Trump
Robert Fantina
Trump, Netanyahu and Israel’s Capital
Morgan Strong
Armageddon: Pence, Israel and the Evangelicals
Lee Hall
The Professor and the Poverty Tour
Julian Vigo
Opioid and Heroin Addiction in the US: the Perfect Storm of Greed and Medical Malpractice
Jill Richardson
Our Social Structure is Rigged
John Chuckman
What Trump is Doing in Jerusalem and Why He is Doing It
 Ann Garrison – Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko
Trafficking Desperate Black Africans from Israel to Rwanda to Libya
Sarah Anderson
The GOP Tax Plan is Igniting a Movement for a Moral Economy
Philip Doe
Colorado Politics Redux: The Great Treachery to be Found in Little Things
José Madero
Beware the Green Corporate Scam: the 100% Renewable Façade
Patrick Bobilin
Don’t Cry For Franken; Cry For This Broken System
Phil Rockstroh
Capitalism’s Failure of the Flesh: the Rise of the Robots
George Wuerthner
Time to Create a Cascade Siskiyou National Park
Jonas Ecke
A Leftist Case for Foreign Aid
Ted Rall
Will President Trump Last Another Year?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail