May 29th, 2012 by ericdraitser
Rape and torture have become standard issue in the propaganda arsenal of Western media. Reports from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Council that claim to document the systematic use of rape and torture by the “enemies” of the West have become usual fair in the soft war against whomever the imperialists have chosen to attack. We have seen these claims used to legitimize aggression against Libya, Iraq, and now Syria.
In an article published in The Telegraph, the author cleverly uses a quote from a Deputy Director at Human Rights Watch making a general statement about the use of rape in detention facilities in order to humiliate, degrade and instill fear. However, he makes no direct reference to Syria, though the article clearly attempts to draw that abstract connection. In fact, as one reads further, the claims of rape and torture at the hands of Syrian security forces come from “activists” (the usual anonymous term applied to any quotable voice parroting the Western talking points regarding Assad and the regime) who have fled Syria. In fact, the so-called activists are, in many cases, wanted terrorists who have fled Syria not in fear of persecution but for fear of being brought to justice for their crimes.
It is significant to note that, even with the obvious bias from the “eyewitnesses” and the authors of the article, there is still no mention of actual Syrian forces engaging in these actions. Instead, it is all chalked up to “militias loyal to the Assad regime”, an important distinction which goes conveniently understated. In fact, the only mention of “security forces” involved in this sort of behavior is added in brackets by the authors of the article themselves. This shows how the Western media constantly manipulate quotes and facts in order to shape them to fit the narrative that the Western propagandists want.
The Precedent of Libya
In the run-up to the imperialist aggression against Libya last year, the lie that Gaddafi forces were using rape as a weapon was planted in the public mind, so as to legitimize the obvious warmongering of the West, providing NATO the human rights cover they so desperately needed for their “intervention”. Of course, as is so often the case, the fact that these claims were later proven untrue went conveniently missing from the standard narrative. But, by the time the myth was debunked, the PR damage was done: Gaddafi was a monster, the Benghazi “rebels” and NTC were heroic freedom fighters, and Libya was in dire need of the benevolent bombs of NATO.
Almost as important as the content of the claims, was the nature of who made them. The UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and countless other organizations which are dependent on funding from the US and its allies lent credence to such charges, providing an air of legitimacy to claims which, otherwise, would have been dismissed as little more than NATO propaganda. In this way, these organizations are complicit in the instigation of war and the devastation wrought on Libya.
The charges of rape and the systematic distribution of Viagra to Gaddafi forces served another crucial function: they framed the conflict in the public mind to be one between good and evil, rather than between government and rebel terrorists. This is a very significant manipulation because, in order to shape public opinion in favor of war, the forces of Western imperialism needed more than simply a justification, they required an emotional appeal: one that relied not on violence and warfare aimed at fighters, but one that was aimed at the most defenseless, women and children.
Iraq: Torture Prisons and Incubator Babies
Libya was not the first example of this sort manipulation for the purposes of legitimizing US aggression. One of the most well-documented instances of this blatantly false propaganda was the lead-up to the first and second Iraq Wars. George H.W. Bush utilized the completely fictional story of Iraqi soldiers barbarically killing Kuwaiti babies in incubators in order to justify the US aggression against Saddam Hussein in 1991. This claim, now totally debunked, painted Saddam as a vicious barbarian who craved death and torture for their own sake. This dehumanization of the enemy and the subsequent emotional and visceral response from the public, allowed Bush to launch his aggressive war. Moreover, this episode illustrated plainly the complicity of Amnesty International and similar “watchdogs” in selling war.
Like his father before him, George W. Bush employed the very same tactics to unleash the death and destruction of the second Iraq War. His administration claimed that Saddam ran a series of torture prisons, a fact that, though possibly true, was simply used to justify the aggression against Iraq for the sake of corporate profits and asserting US hegemony in the Middle East.
The hypocrisy of these claims should not be lost on any political observer. Within a short time of deposing Saddam Hussein, the United States had established its own series of “black site” torture prisons, of which Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg. Reports of US military, CIA, and Blackwater using torture on Iraqis began becoming more and more common until it had become quite clear that the United States was systematically torturing prisoners, precisely the claim that was leveled against the “barbaric” Saddam.
Syria: The Next Casualty of Propaganda War
The use of rape and torture lies for propaganda purposes serve a very specific function: they create a climate conducive to war-making when a government has successfully resisted all other attempts at subversion and destabilization. Like the Gaddafi government last year, Assad’s government has managed to stay in power in the face of a multi-faceted, international war being waged against it from all sides. Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the Washington imperialist warmongers are incensed that Assad has not yet fallen and that their terrorist proxies have been unequivocal failures. So, they turn to their most effective weapon: lies. As we’ve seen in recent days with the Houla massacre, the Western media, as a mouthpiece for US-NATO propaganda, has launched an all-out media campaign of lies to convince the public that Assad is a heartless, inhuman butcher. The claims that Syrian military forces were responsible for the horrendous massacre have been refuted and debunked countless times, so much so that even the Western media has had to recast the narrative, constantly changing it in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Whatever claims of rape and torture that might be true are likely being committed at the hands of the armed terrorist “opposition” in Syria. If we are to believe that there actually are eyewitnesses to these acts, as claimed in the above mentioned London Telegraph article, then it is clear these acts are being carried out by these militias who have no connection to the Syrian government or to the Syrian people and are part of the international subversion campaign. These death squads, like their antecedents in Central America and Iraq, are trained by the West and its proxies in the Middle East because the imperialists know that they cannot otherwise execute their agenda.
It is necessary and, in fact, essential for the United States and its allies to wage this propaganda war. Without it, rationality and sound political thinking might sway public opinion away from war and back to the idea that Syria belongs to Syrians. This basic conception completely derails the entire drive for war, preventing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the United States from imposing their will on the people of Syria and continuing their imperialist domination of the region.
Relevant article, Eric, especially as the dying western Imperialists turn up the heat against Syria to increase weapons expenditures before all liquid capital dries up completely.
Now then, time for a terrible confession
I am a recovering Hannity listener. And I admit I had a problem: turning on the radio while driving home, and listening to Sean Hannity even though I suspected it was causing irreparable harm.
And, sure enough, like any toxic substance too long abused, I must carry with me, perhaps for the rest of my life, droning, buzzing propaganda about the “goodness of the Iraq war”.
That’s because day after day, year after year, for nigh on a decade, Hannity repeated over and over and over about Saddam’s “rape rooms”.
Oh yes, the rape rooms!
How we saved Iraqis from these rape rooms and torture chambers. How, if it wasn’t for us, those rape rooms would still be operational.
We never learned who was heading into those “rape rooms.” We never found victims. Perhaps they were interred with the WMDs. Who can say?
But even if there never WAS any nuclear, biological, or chemical threat, shutting those “rape rooms” was moral justification enough for killing 100,000 Iraqis, destroying thousands of important components of the state infrastructure, and dismantling one more secular Arab nationalist administration, at a cost of half a trillion dollars, thousands of our own peoples’ lives, and tens of thousands of physically crippled and mentally tormented servicemembers.
For that, I must say, “…Thanks for all the permanently-burnt-into-my-mind memories, Sean.”
yet we remain helpless while the imperial monsters continue their program of world domination. Knowing what goes on is OK but knowing what to do about it successfully is another thing. Keep up the good work though.
OBAMA IS WORSE THAN BUSH !
Dear Eric - I’ve listened to most of your interviews and read many of your articles. I really admire your work and am amazed at the breadth and depth of your knowledge -
I have a confession - i am a long-time AMnesty International supporter here in NZ , but have been involved in other human rights endeavours etc. My group in Hamilton NZ support a prisoner of conscience in Indonesia who was given a 15 year sentence, as well as being beaten and tortured , merely for raising an independence flag in front of the President. On a world wide scale, activists can refer to reports about Guantanamo bay , drone use by the US government and the inhuman Israeli invasion of GAza to make their case as regards, human rights abuse, imperial aggression, etc. Amnesty try very hard, i believe, to maintain their independence - for instance , in NZ, they receive no government funding or corporate funding. I notice in the US, there are some foundations, such as the Ford foundation which do support Amnesty - i dont’ know enough about these to comment, but , as far as i know , they don’t receive government funding. I’m willing to be corrected….
And this is my point. Much as i admire you, i believe that, in your zeal, you have made some unsubstantiated claims and lumped all human rights organisations together in with the US State Department and maybe even the CIA.
AMnesty did not make claims about the use of rape by Gadaffi’s soldiers but ( Independent - Cockburn June 24 1011) but issued a carefully researched report throwing doubts on these claims as made by the mainstream media and used by the US for their own purposes. your claim that AI aided in the spreading of these rumours is actually the opposite of the truth, so far as my research on the INternet has found. AS regards the babies in incubators story, AI try to get it right but make mistakes, ie in this case falling for the carefully orchestrated propaganda for war. You rather rashly talk of the “complicity of AI” but the link to PR WATCH you provide gives the quotation - “Amnesty International, which had fallen for the story, was forced to issue an embarrassing retraction.” In other words AI was embarrassed but hardly complicit, a much stronger term, or if it was complicit, no real evidence is advanced for this complicity.
I don’t claim AI are perfect. I have my own reservations, particularly as the US branch is headed by an ex state department employee , Susan Nossel, who seems all too keen on humanitarian intervention,which seems to me a contradiction in terms. However, you will find that AI usually call on both sides to observe human rights standards. I do accept that now, with the Syrian crisis, most of the heat has been on the Syrian government, and there is something to be said for a one-sidedness. I don’t think this is a conscious effort to aid and abet US foreign policy, but its a valid criticism . However, if you go to the US AI page, they have plenty that is critical of US policy and such criticism is quite at odds with the goals of US imperialism. I don’t doubt we should all be aware of the dangers of human rights groups being used to further foreign policy objectives, but please be more careful about blanket statements which do not, in my opinion, tell the whole story and are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water ie undermining the good work they do do. Also, for your own sake, it may be better not to overstate claims as this could undermine your credibility and detract from your ability to to the great work you do. If you have a solid case against AMnesty , rather than a general sense they are not doing enough to prevent war or whatever, then make it by all means, but please do not make unsubstantiated claims
As i said, AI do a lot of good and we need more human rights awareness, not less. On the other hand vigilance and a healthy dose of scepticism are a good thing, so this is not a criticism of you - i think you’re doing a wonderful job - just an appeal for a bit more balance.
all the best Bruce Clark NZ