The war on Syria has not only exposed the politicization of the western intelligence community, but also the militarization of journalism, American journalists in particular. And I am not talking here about the BBC-coined “journalism of attachment”, which enjoins journalists to abandon the Euro-American paradigm of social science inquiry and with it, all pretenses at “critical distance” , “emotional detachment” and “objectivity”— which, ironically, us natives have always been scolded for lacking—and fully embrace their emotions when reporting news stories. Nor am i referring to the “embedded journalism” that characterized western media coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion. No, this new trend in US journalism far exceeds the western journalist’s role as participant-observer and his/her default, establishment- friendly position .
Now we have a new phenomenon where the journalist assumes an unabashed role as war mobilizer-observer; his/her role is not merely to sympathize with or popularize the notion of military intervention, but to steal the initiative away from war-weary policy makers by actively agitating for war and rallying the public and military-industrial- complex for military conquest. This journo-warlord-ism can assume various modes of expression, ranging from the warmongering histrionics of establishment shills to the sneaky, underhandedness of so-called anti-establishment lefties’ not-so-secret itching for a US-led invasion of Syria.
An example of the former is Christiane Amanpour’s hysterical outburst on a CNN panel on Syria this week, which made Ad-Dounia Tv ‘s anchors look like paragons of objectivity. Speaking in a language and tone that violates every single standard of professional journalism that methodological imperialists have been shoving down our native throats for the past several decades, and with flagrant disregard for the scores of mainstream media reports (see here, here, here and here) that are now questioning the Obama administration’s flagrantly fabricated chemical weapons charges against the Assad government, a wide-eyed, finger-wagging, impassioned Amanpour exclaimed: ”I can barely contain myself at this point. And as bad as it is to decapitate somebody it is by no means equal, we can’t use this false moral equivalence. The president of the United States and the most moral country in the world, the most moral principles in the world…cannot allow this to go unchecked…. I am so emotional about this.” Lending an even stronger air of self-delusional psychosis to the mix was Reuel Marc Gerecht’s rationale for Assad’s alleged resort to chemical warfare: “There’s a reason why Bashar al-Assad used them, he needed to. If you look at the casualty rates in Syria, the regime is not doing very well.”
Not to be outdone by Gerecht’s and Amanpour’s complete denial of reality and outlandish explanations for Assad’s purported motives, in an article this week, Max Blumethal of “I quit Al-Akhbar because they allow the type of freedom of expression that journalists in my country can only dream of” fame, (recall his diatribe against myself and other al-Akhbar writers here) quips in with this precious insight: “Many residents repeated to me the rumors spreading through the camp that Bashar would douse them in sarin gas as soon as he crushed the last vestiges of internal resistance—a kind of genocidal victory celebration.” Like many others before him, Blumethal seems to be invoking the maniacal, psycho-killer theory given that all vacuous explanations on offer are counter-intuitive and defy basic logic.
In contrast to Amanpour however, Blumenthal belongs to the second category of journo-warlord-ism, which groups liberal and pseudo-leftist imperialists who are basically too cowardly to call for military invasion outright and hence, must resort to equivocation and verbal gymnastics to get their message across: “Indeed, there was not one person I spoke to in Zaatari who did not demand US military intervention at the earliest possible moment. ..Like most Americans, I am staunchly against US strikes, mainly because I believe they could exacerbate an already horrific situation without altering the political reality in any meaningful way. The Obama administration has made clear that its “unbelievably small” strikes would not be not aimed at toppling Assad but only, as Obama said, to send a “shot across the bow.” However, I believe that the refugees trapped in Zaatari deserve to be heard. “
If ever there was an equivocal anti-interventionism this is it: “I am staunchly against US strikes..[but] I believe that the refugees trapped in Zaatari deserve to be heard;” or put differently “I really don’t support military intervention but I am really in favour of military intervention.” More than this, although I am widely recognized as a progressive, anti-Zionist, I will only support a regime-change type of intervention that goes well beyond a limited strike, a full blown invasion no less.
And there you have it comrades, the new breed of journalist as proactive, war mobilizer-observer who emotionally reports his/her subjective reading of “facts” while urging reluctant policy-makers to abandon diplomacy, political dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in favour of bombing the living hell out of other countries.