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Issue #1776      May 10, 2017

Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award

“Helene Bertha Amalie ‘Leni’ Riefenstahl was a German film director and propagandist for the Nazis. In the 1930s, she directed Triumph des Willens (“Triumph of the Will”) and Olympia, resulting in worldwide attention and acclaim. Both movies are widely considered two of the most effective, and technically innovative, propaganda films ever made.” (Wikipedia)

In your average lifetime, everyone will get their share of war propaganda films. In America, it’s a kind of sacred tradition, where Hollywood does the job of revisionism, paving over an otherwise uncomfortable history with a new coat of stain. It’s necessary – not just to make us feel better about ourselves, but also to cover-up any inconvenient truths and high crimes of the state.

The White Helmets is used for the purposes of propaganda and made to reinforce a mainly US-UK foreign policy project.

To be honest, when I first heard about this film being promoted by Netflix, I wasn’t surprised at all because ever since the Syria conflict began in 2011, the establishment media has gone out of its way to falsely promote it as a “civil war”, and have used the NGO known as the White Helmets which calls itself the “Syria Civil Defence”, as its primary media protagonist in furthering that narrative.

The fact that a documentary about The White Helmets received an Oscar Award simply confirms what a glorious bubble the entertainment industry resides in, and how easy it is these days for a documentary film to be used for the purposes of propaganda and made to reinforce a mainly US-UK foreign policy project.

To Hollywood, it’s a feel good documentary, designed to make us feel good about a dirty war in Syria. But this is a level of distortion and spin that would make even Joseph Goebbels’ head spin.

In his essay published at Global Research, Dr TP Wilkinson explains the liberal obsession with cosmetic revisionism:

“The ‘wrong war’ thesis is elemental to what Carroll Quigley called ‘liberal imperialism’ in his history of the Anglo-American establishment. Liberal imperialists, to which the faux gauche (the descendants of Fabianism) also belong, do not oppose empire. They simply want it to be more aesthetically appealing, and lost wars are most un-aesthetic. So what is the liberal imperialist’s answer to unappetising military defeats? It is cosmetic surgery.”

Expensive war propaganda in Hollywood is nothing new. High profile films like Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper and Argo were all released to much fanfare. Each of them fulfilled a role in forming a more perfect American narrative, and in some cases completely rewrote history altogether. But these were meant to be theatrical releases so naturally there’s a generous dose of artistic license taken by the director. Nothing unusual there. It’s what Hollywood does. These films also had some distance between the present day and wars which had already lapsed.

A veneer of integrity is always important. Hollywood still purports to put a lot of currency in the truth. During this year’s Oscars, The New York Times ran a TV ad for the first time since 2010 entitled, “The truth is ... .”

This campaign is meant to decry fake news and its ugly cousin “alternative facts” to show what high standards the mainstream media has – which demonstrates the delusional world in which the establishment exists. Earlier this month, I wrote an exposé showing exactly how The New York Times has been America’s perennial leader in running fake news for the purposes of advancing a war agenda. It’s ironic that this advertisement would run on a night when an Oscar would be given to one of the most egregious propaganda films of all time.

Oscar triumph

This year, The White Helmets directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, took home an Academy Award for best documentary short. Unlike Argo, or American Sniper, this was a film about a war which is happening now, but this was not a conventional documentary film. The footage was provided by a terrorist-affiliated NGO based in Turkey, operating in Syria, and who is primarily funded by the US State Dept, the British Foreign Office, the Netherlands, and other NATO member and Gulf states to the tune of over US$150 million and whose chief remit is producing US-led Coalition propaganda images for mass media consumption. The film, funded and distributed by Netflix, seems to be an extension of that remit.

Normally we think of documentaries as films that are supposed to speak truth to power but this film does the opposite. It reinforces an Anglo-American establishment power structure responsible for one of the most violent, dirty wars in modern history. It reinforces a collection of lies placed on heavy rotation by the political and media establishments since the conflict began.

In every way, Syria is the wrong war. For the US and the UK, there’s much at stake – the legacies of two paradigmatic political figures, Barack Obama and David Cameron, along with the reputations of other architects of the west’s dirty war on Syria, like former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and British Foreign Minister William Hague.

Back when the war was getting started, both Clinton and Hague were busy front-running their “Friends of Syria” whistle stop tour around the Middle East and Europe, securing Gulf cash commitments while grooming their hand-picked “opposition” government in exile, holding court in various 5-Star hotels in Paris, London and Istanbul. The US had tried this only a year earlier with Libya, and at the time in 2011-2012, they had every reason to believe that the Libyan formula could be repeated in Syria. Those hopes were dashed by early 2013, when it became apparent that Libya was officially a failed state. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of extremist foreign fighters and jihadi soldiers of fortune began pouring into Syria.

An invasion

It was an invasion. This was the West’s proxy army, ready to decapitate the government, dismember the state and destabilise the region – with the full blessing of Washington DC and its partners.

The Troika of Washington-London-Paris then doubled down by pouring billions of dollars in lethal weapons to various fighting groups laying in waiting in Turkey and Jordan, as well as those already active in Syria. There were a number of well-documented arrangements, but one of the most successful working models was for the CIA and its European NATO partners illegally supplying the weapons funnelled through Jordan and Turkey – and all paid for by Saudi, Qatari cash. All the while, the public were told by the US-led Coalition all of this was for the “moderate rebels” in Syria.

These were meant to be the “freedom fighters” that Ronald Reagan referred to back in the 1980s. As it turned out, these freedom fighters in Syria were a chip of the old block from the violent, psychopathic US-backed and CIA-trained paramilitary death squads which would wreak havoc and terrorise El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras. In Syria, they are much worse in fact, as they employed a potent brand of warped, radical Salafi and Wahabist religious fervour as the central axis of their self-styled, Medieval nihilistic raison d’etre.

Yes, these are the moderates, backed by the US, UK, France, Turkey, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, every other NATO member state, and of course, Israel, who has skilfully stayed out of the media firing line. It’s a collective project. Their mission: “regime change” in Syria – to overthrow by force – the government in Damascus.

As dirty wars go, none is more filthy than this one. As the US and the UK are running point on public relations for this criminal enterprise, their big challenge has been selling it to their electorates. In order to justify the dirty war, a narrative has to be constructed and maintained. This requires a relentless negative public relations campaign demonising the Syrian government and all of its agencies. The following talking points are therefore reinforced:

  • Syria’s peaceful “Arab Spring” uprising happened in 2011, and was violently squashed by the government.
  • Assad is a brutal dictator, and is illegitimate.
  • The Syrian government and its armed forces are deliberately killing their own people.
  • The US-NATO and Gulf-backed armed “rebel” opposition is legitimate.
  • Syrian and Russian air forces are only killing civilians, and not militant and terrorists.
  • Terrorists do not exist in Syria, only “moderate rebels” and Syrians “fighting for freedom”.
  • Therefore, Assad must be removed from power and replaced with a US-approved government.

Enter Russia

Add to this, the entrance of Russia in the fall of 2015 at the lawful invitation of Damascus, and Russia can now be added to the demonisation campaign.

These talking points are then repeated and recycled, over and over, and held up as justification for US-led, crippling economic and diplomatic sanction against the Syrian state, and the destructive policy of flooding the region with arms. In the summer of 2014, an added bonus for the US was inserted into the mix – the emergence of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham).

The appearance of ISIS allowed the US to fly air sorties over Syria, allegedly to fight ISIS, although after three years the US has produced little if any verifiable progress in “defeating” ISIS. In truth, the US had hoped that ISIS, along with the other Al-Qaeda affiliates, would somehow do the job of destabilising Syria and overthrowing the government of President Bashar al Assad in Damascus.

But that wasn’t enough. Washington and London needed a face for the evening news. They needed to personalise the conflict in order to help maintain the illusion of a “civil war” in Syria. This is where the White Helmets come in. A merry band of men, comprised of “ordinary citizens, from bakers to teachers to painters,” all donning the White Helmets to save humanity in this moment of turmoil. Raed Saleh, the group’s spokesman says his organisation is guided by a verse in the Qu’ran:

“To save one life is to save all of humanity.” No doubt a beautiful line, but like so many aspects of The White Helmets it’s been applied cosmetically. Who would dare be so insensitive as to challenge such a perfect story? For war planners in Washington and London, The White Helmets provided the PR cushion they needed to help sell a filthy proxy war to western audiences. By creating and managing their own ‘first responder” NGO, the US, UK and its stakeholder partners have been able to leverage public sympathies – enough to keep the project going, until the war was either won or lost, or until someone caught on to the scam.

* This is an extract from Paytrick Henningsen’s globalresearch.ca article. Further extracts will appear in coming weeks.

Next article – Colombia – Between war and peace

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