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Issue #1550      6 June 2012

Culture & Life

The first casualty – again

There is a well-known saying, “The first casualty of war is truth”, and certainly aggressors, or those who mean to profit from a war, have no hesitation in lying about who caused the war, or who should be punished for it.

The principal photo used to illustrate the “Houla massacre” has been identified as showing bodies that are not even in Syria, let alone in Houla!

The world’s people will no longer accept that governments have the right to wage wars for the profit of their ruling elite or to seize the territory or resources of neighbouring countries, still less to deny a third country access to ports or energy facilities. So those who would covet these things resort to lies to justify their actions.

NATO’s war on Libya was justified with horror stories of massacres of civilians by the Gaddafi government, when all the verifiable evidence indicated that any killings were the work of the motley collection of mercenaries and foreign “special forces” from the NATO countries themselves.

Now the same scenario is being played out again, this time against Syria, a strategic Russian ally at the other end of the Mediterranean. NATO countries openly and blatantly acknowledge that they are not only arming “insurgents” in Syria but are paying them. These mercenaries are drawn from US allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey and from Saudi client the United Arab Emirates. French special forces are reported to be heavily involved also (certainly France and French oil combine Total are taking a particular interest in events in the region, as they did in Libya).

Unfortunately for NATO, Syria is proving a tough nut to crack. The puppet NATO “insurgents”, the so-called Free Syrian Army, have been routed more than once and only foreign support (and foreign troops) is keeping their “insurgency” alive. In Libya, NATO was able to misinterpret a UN resolution so that it allowed them to launch an air war against the country under cover of an apparent UN mandate. While the politicians argued, NATO was able to inflict thousands of casualties and tremendous infrastructure destruction on the country, while posing as the good guy.

After the fall of the Gaddafi government, NATO’s “insurgents” carried out a wholesale massacre of workers from sub-Saharan Africa living in Libya. No NATO leader condemned this outrage or took any action against it. And yet today, those same NATO leaders are posing as the champions of the weak and defenceless.

In Libya, NATO had accused the government of using artillery to attack its own civilians. This argument was also tried in Syria, but with less success. Journalists and various experts summoned to view the “victims of government shelling” in the town of Homs raised awkward questions, such as why so many of the victims had obviously died from small arms fire at close range, or had even been stabbed to death?

The same questions were raised with the most recent massacre allegation, in the town of Houla. The whole world was subjected to heart-rending news reports, especially from the BBC, showing rows of white-shrouded bodies – many of them the size of children – lined up for burial in mass graves. The accompanying commentary coyly explained: “we cannot show you the decapitated bodies of small children” and went on in that vein. Bob Carr rushed to expel two Syrian diplomats and other countries did the same.

But the principal photo used to illustrate the “Houla massacre” has been identified as showing bodies that are not even in Syria, let alone in Houla!

Italian photographer Marco di Lauro who takes photographs for Getty Images picture agency, originally took the shot on March 27, 2003; it depicts an Iraqi boy jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad. The image, which is published on Marco di Lauro’s website, is part of his story Iraq, the Aftermath of Saddam.

Di Lauro told Britain’s Daily Telegraph he nearly “fell off his chair” after finding his picture on the BBC’s website with a caption reading: “Photo from Activist. This image – which cannot be independently verified – is believed to show bodies of children in Houla awaiting funeral.”

“What I am really astonished by is that a news organisation like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all,” the photographer told The Daily Telegraph.

“Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose,” he added.

Meanwhile, political analyst Ibrahim Alloush told Moscow TV news channel RT that the way the attack was done and its timing “make it obvious” that Damascus was not responsible. “It would not make sense for the Syrian army to commit these massacres and withdraw, and then just let the rebels come and take photos and make documentaries about them,” he explained.

Alloush believes the crimes were committed “by the armed gangs supported from abroad, from … NATO specifically through Turkey. They also attacked the national hospital in the region and they set fire to it. Then they turned to civilian houses in some of the neighboring villages and they started killing indiscriminately,” he said, emphasising that among those killed were people loyal to Syrian President Assad.

Alloush also said that the timing of the attack makes it look suspicious.

“These crimes have come at a point when a political solution whas slated for the Syrian question, and these people do not want to see a political solution – instead they want to see an armed intervention, an international foreign intervention in Syria under pretext of massacres,” he concluded. And that conclusion is becoming more obvious all the time, a fact that is making the NATO allies more and more desperate to find a viable excuse for military intervention.

Almost certainly there will be another barbaric slaughter of civilians somewhere in the region as imperialism tries to create that excuse it so desperately needs. When it does, we can be sure of two things: an obedient mass media will give the concocted “evidence” full coverage, and our Foreign Minister will be in the front ranks of those rushing to support NATO and the US.  

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