Syria And The West: Morality Is Skin Deep
By Colin Todhunter
26 August, 2013
And here we go again. In Syria, things were getting desperate for Washington. It needed a major made-for-TV, cross-the-red-line incident involving chemical weapons. Unsurprisingly, by hook or by crook – probably crook (1) – it got it. The BBC, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and a multitude of other media outlets and politicians now clamour, or at least strongly imply the need, for direct military action to bolster the illegal ‘indirect’ military intervention from the West and its allies that has already been taking place for a long time.
The story being peddled goes that the (axis of) evil Syrian regime has used a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to help win a war it was already winning, thereby incurring the wrath of the US. Strange logic indeed.
It’s a case of déjà vu. British MP George Galloway in front of a US senate hearing back in 2005 exposed the ‘pack of lies’ that the US-led invasion of Iraq was built on. Similar forms of deceit have been the foundations for shaping public opinion regarding attacking Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and numerous other countries. The presence of WMDs was used to justify attacking Iraq, while ‘humanitarianism’ or ‘fighting terror’ was the excuse used elsewhere.
But what is it about the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that provokes a knee jerk reaction from media people and politicians who foam with rage and let seep from their mouths high minded platitudes about morality?
“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.” Oscar Wilde in ‘An Ideal Husband’.
If in the above quote from Wilde, we replace ‘people’ with ‘regimes’, we may appreciate the nature of the West playing fast and lose with its notions of morality. Supply arms, including chemical weapons, to dictatorial regimes throughout West Asia with atrocious human rights records because, notwithstanding the fact it is great business, they are ‘good friends of ours’ (to coin a highly apt mafia term). Yes, all friends and good ones at that, as long as they remain loyal to the ‘Project for the New American Century’ (2).
The PNAC, or the project for world domination, is partly built on gullible, easily led public opinion, which is (often) fanned by the emotionally laden letters ‘W-M-D’. A Pavlov’s dog public and media, which respond on cue to the moralistic bleatings of condescending criminals that masquerade as respectable politicians and who rely on the public’s ignorance to fuel their barbarity in the name of ‘protecting civilians’ from an impending bloodbath, while going on to cause one in Libya, to ‘defeat terror’, while funding it in Syria, or to ‘support democracy’, while undermining it in Egypt.
These politicians and much of the mainstream media confine the narrative about WMD to a military battlefield, or a threat of outright violent destruction. The term is never to be associated with the US dropping atom bombs on Japan, the West using mini-nukes in the form of depleted uranium or the use of white phosphorous to kill and maim (3). From the cancers caused to the environmental contamination, where is Hague’s, the BBC’s or any other number of media outlets’ moral indignation about this type of mass destruction?
Where too is their condemnation of treacherous economic, trade, food or agriculture policies that blight hundreds of millions across the globe? Where is their condemnation over the criminal manipulation of currency markets, commodities, interest rates and derivatives, or the neo-liberalism and the corporate-financial cartels that conspire to shape trade via the WTO, IMF or the World Bank (4,5,6,7,8)?
That’s right, condemnation of these economic and political weapons of mass destruction and suffering are nowhere to be seen or heard simply because such political figures and media institutions with their skin-deep morality are in place merely to serve the interests of fraudulent capital and its fraudulent policies.
This type of mass destruction and mass misery does not involve headline-grabbing, eye-catching episodes of carnage and death. This violence is structural in form, is arguably ultimately just as destructive and is ongoing and all pervasive (9). In Western countries, this is disguised as a need for ‘austerity’. In poorer countries, it is called ‘development’.
Under the ‘structural adjustment’ policies imposed on poor countries, it has become a case of export or be damned, embrace corporate agriculture or be damned, borrow and build dams or be damned. And, in the process, elites – both foreign and indigenous – prosper, while the people and the environment end up being damned anyhow (10). It’s almost becoming a cliché to mention the hundreds of thousands of farmers in India who ‘embraced’ it all and died. It’s no cliché though, it happened.
It’s no cliché that the petrochemical-backed, corporate-driven ‘Green Revolution’ is raping the environment (11). It’s no cliché to say that genetic engineering is a highly financially lucrative ‘experiment’ that is jeopardising our health and the future of humanity (12). Neither is it a cliché that millions, from Egypt to the US, are bearing the brunt of economic policies that result in misery for the many and record profits for the few.
Perhaps we should look at Hague and his ilk and assess whether they actually do care about the plight of ordinary folk in the manner they claim to. Do they really care about the plight of Syrians? Perhaps we might care to ponder that they clearly do not, given the back door deals and wars they have sanctioned for the benefit of powerful corporations (13,14).
Why should they care so much about people in far off places when they show little for those in their own countries? The post-war Keynesian consensus has been gradually dismantled, leading to the offshoring of much of their own economies and leaving millions in debt, in poverty, thrown onto the scrapheap or used as fodder to fight wars for the rich under the banner of ‘humanitarianism’ or ‘protecting our freedoms’. And, as far as ‘protecting our freedom’ is concern, look to Edward Snowden and especially Hague’s squirming reaction to the revelations to see how hollow this rings.
Moral outrage within certain influential quarters about the latest happenings in Syria might be enough to fool some of the public, but let the record show that this fake outrage runs skin deep and is extremely selective.
Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other newspapers, journals and books. His East by Northwest website is at: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com
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