As online commentary and opinion polls show, the mask has come off and the public is no longer under any illusion. Only 9% of Americans support intervention in Syria, and you can bet that number is even lower in most parts of the world.
As President Obama and his advisers ratchet up the pressure on the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, about 60 percent of Americans say the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. Only 9 percent of Americans say the United States should act militarily.And yet we have this surreal situation where major news outlets continue to credulously report the claims of the U.S. and its allies that they are preparing a strike on the basis that Syria allegedly used chemical weapons. Never mentioning that Bush bombed civilians in Fallujah with white phosphorus and depleted uranium in a violation of international law, as reported in the pages of The Guardian and the Independent.
Or that Reagan continued to support and funnel money to Saddam Hussein with full knowledge that he was using chemical weapons against the Iranians, as recently shown by leaked CIA documents.
In contrast to today's wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein's widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.There is also zero discussion of the broader context of the U.S. involvement in Syria. We're meant to believe that this imminent military action is the solemn moral duty of the U.S. to punish any state using chemical weapons and that it has nothing to do with the larger geopolitical struggle in the Middle East and the U.S. role in it. The press has no problem injecting context and analysis into issues when they want to, but apparently they feel that asking real questions about U.S. foreign policy is beyond their pay grade.
It's as if the Iraq War never happened, or perhaps the media interpreted that war to mean that they should cynically accept the lies of the U.S. government and give up on any meaningful role as a watchdog. The media often complains that their profession is endangered by the rise of the internet and the public increasingly turning away from mainstream news sources, but when a key moment like this arrives they completely abdicate their role.