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Bertrand Russell, 1951
Interviewer: “All sides in this war have been accused of civilian casualties, but Western media has been almost completely silent about the atrocities committed by the rebels” [who, according to internal US government analysis, operate predominantly under the umbrellas of al Qaeda and ISIS, which are directly sponsored by US-backed dictatorships including Saudi Arabia and Qatar].Syrian president Bashar Assad: “Whenever they [the West] talk about [or] use as mask – human rights, civilians, children – they use all these just for their own political agenda, to [direct] the feelings of their own public opinion to support their intervention in this region, whether military or political. So, they don’t have any credibility regarding this.”

In 1922, the extremely influential British philosopher, mathematician and historian, Bertrand Russell, pointed out the US invokes “humanitarian” and “liberal virtues” when they can be used to help pursue US “imperial” and “financial interests”, and mysteriously “fails to perceive [the] applicability” of these virtues when their invocation would hurt imperial/financial interests (1), [just as someone like Trump ‘mysteriously’ fails to perceive the applicability of science regarding climate change, but accepts its general applicability in everyday life, such as when he takes medications, uses a computer, etc].

This self-serving dynamic (Russell notes hypocrisy is one of the “main ingredients” of US/British culture [2]) is why in the West much is heard about human rights in Iran and North Korea, and very little about human rights in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, and Colombia (to give only a few examples, and not to mention mass torture, killing, etc., taking place within the US), major human rights-violating regimes that are heavily supported and assisted by the US.

While invoking human rights in Iran and North Korea is used to condition US public opinion for intervention and possible installation of US-backed regimes in those countries, the US does not invoke human rights in Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc., to anywhere near the same degree, and instead keeps illegally supporting these regimes (against international law and the advice of human rights groups), since there is no need to condition public opinion for the possible overthrow of the governments there, as they are already allied to US financial and imperial interests.

Thus, as Assad notes, liberal virtues are invoked as a propaganda tool to influence US public opinion to support the use of illegal and devastating force in attempting to overthrow the Syrian government – another in a long string of countries the US has attempted to conquer, leaving or contributing to a trail of millions of corpses and mass suffering – while the US supports the totalitarian dictator of Saudi Arabia, Salman Abdulaziz, as he attempts to conquer Syria and Yemen through policies including mass starvation of children, killing civilians, and support of ISIS.

Assad has a special firsthand knowledge of this dynamic since the Bush Jr. regime, before it began working to overthrow the current Syrian government in 2006 by funneling weapons, sponsoring proxy armies, and fostering tension in Syria (a policy Obama continued), coordinated with Assad in human rights violations, specifically on torturing and killing prisoners captured by and extra-judiciously accused of plotting against the US.

The dynamic is further visible in Obama’s decisions regarding this matter.  Obama (and the Western oligarchy generally) continued the policy of the Bush Jr. government of invoking human rights to condition US public opinion against Assad and to support the overthrow of the Syrian government, but this was the selective, propagandist invocation of “liberal virtues” noted by Russell and Assad:

While Obama continued to invoke human rights violations in Syria, at the same time he not only brokered the biggest weapons deal in history – with no less than Saudi dictator Abdulaziz – but he refused to prosecute Bush Jr. cadre members who coordinated with Assad on human rights violations in Syria (and caused the deaths of millions in Iraq) because, as Obama put it to NYT in 2009, people “need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Thus, according to Obama, people should “look backwards” regarding Syrian human rights violations, but should mysteriously not look backwards at these violations when they include the involvement of US officials.  People should also refrain from looking backwards at US war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or anywhere else, particularly regarding those ordering the war crimes.

However, people should again look backwards when those like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden expose US war crimes and human rights violations, so that those who expose the crimes may be jailed.  It may also be safely presumed that, regarding extrajudicial killings (ie murders) and thousands of acts of manslaughter committed by Obama himself, it would again be wrong to look backwards.

As Russell pointed out, “liberal virtues” are thus invoked in propagandist alignment with US financial/imperial interests, which to a large extent include the interests of people Pope Francis has called the bloody merchants of death, arms dealers.  (The US is by far the world’s biggest arms trafficker.)

Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry.  His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists.

(1) Russell, Bertrand. The Problem of China. Beijing: Zhong Yang Bian Yi Chu Ban She, 2011. Originally published 1922. Pp. 167-72. Print.

[2] Ibid. Pp. 160.

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The US has been known to use rhetoric of ‘ virtue : or ‘ democracy’ to suit it’s politics of war. The philosophy of Bertrand Russel has been aptly remembered here as his prophetic words are relevant even to this day. He had already foresaw the dominance of the US in a dangerously polarised world. The vausion he raises needs to be heard by historians as well as the political activists who follow the US draconian policies