The NY Times can claim, correctly, that it is the most informative newspaper in the world. It is therefore interesting to look at what it chooses not to tell us. Every day provides many instructive illustrations. Take today, Sept. 12 2013. Here’s a small sample.
Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/world/middleeast/us-backing-of-russian-plan-leaves-a-wary-israel-focusing-on-self-reliance.html?pagewanted=all) tells us that “The prospect of a Syria free of chemical weapons would be a great relief to Israel.” It is universally recognized that the removal of chemical weapons from Syria’s arsenal would be an enormous achievement. In his address to the nation, Obama stressed that Syria must live up to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which, he observed, bans the use of chemical weapons.
All that is true, but crucially incomplete.
The CWC outlaws “the stockpiling, production and use” of chemical weapons. The ban against stockpiling and production was carefully excised by Obama, and the media conform. Rudoren, for example, does not tell us that there is a state in the region that has annexed Syrian territory in violation of Security Council orders and that has produced and maintains an extensive stockpile of chemical weapons: Israel. How extensive we do not know thanks to the ban on opening the question.
We read constantly that Syria is one of five states that have not signed the CWC, which is true, but meaningless. What matters is ratification, and there are seven states that have not ratified the convention in addition to the five regularly mentioned: Myanmar (which is irrelevant) and Israel (which is highly relevant).
The world’s eyes are on Syria, which is joining the CWC. That is a perfect opportunity to impose the CWC on the region. But that cannot be done, can barely even be mentioned (try to find a mention by the political class or in the media). It is barred by US doctrine, adhered to religiously by the media and the intellectual community generally.
In another news report (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/us/politics/tea-party-extends-focus-to-include-rallying-against-a-syria-strike.html), Trip Gabriel writes that prominent members of the Republican establishment favor a military strike “in part, to send a message about American resolve to potential aggressors like Iran” – a theme stressed also by Obama, Kerry, and media commentators who reflexively adopt official state doctrine. They are saying that the US should carry out aggression in order to warn “potential aggressors” that they had better follow US orders – potential aggressors who have given no hint of intending aggression, have no record of aggression, and would not have the capacity to deploy force if they chose to as US intelligence reports.
It should be unnecessary to comment further, but the basic idea is standard in rogue states like the US. We are, for example, now commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 – the fortieth anniversary, that is, of the first 9/11, more serious in every major dimension than the second one, though one would hardly guess it from commentary here. One dimension in which it is more serious for honest Americans is that the US played a decisive role in this major crime. A prominent liberal international affairs specialist, James Chace, former editor of Foreign Affairs, explained with regret that it was necessary to “destabilize” Chile (by overthrowing the elected government and installing a vicious dictatorship) in order to bring about “stability” (meaning conformity to US demands). That insightful observation comes to mind when we are urged to carry out aggression, a major crime, to warn those we choose to call “potential aggressors”.
All of this also calls to mind a leading principle of international affairs: the Mafia principle. When the Godfather issues an edict, everyone must obey, or else. Disobedience cannot be tolerated. It is too dangerous. “The rot can spread,” as US planners put it; “dominoes may fall,” in another version. The “virus” may spread “contagion,” in the words of Henry Kissinger, one of the leading architects of the first 9/11. As official and media commentators now explain, it is crucial for the US to maintain “credibility,” in the manner of minor Godfathers like Mafia Dons. The world must understand that “What We Say Goes,” as the thought was expressed by President Bush I – the statesmanlike Bush.
Let us turn finally to columnist Nicholas Kristof (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/kristof-that-threat-worked.html), who triumphantly instructs those skeptical of Obama’s military strikes that the threat of violence can work. As he explains, “For decades, Syria has refused to confirm that it has chemical weapons. Now, facing a limited strike, its position abruptly changed to: Oh! We do have them after all! And we want to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention! We want to show them to United Nations inspectors.”
Let us put aside the standard and useful fabrication that Syria had refused to confirm that it has chemical weapons until the Godfather waved his bombs. In reality, that was officially conceded long ago, as reported in the London Financial Times, July 24, 2012 (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/83da4c76-d4c2-11e1-bb88-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz21XerGevZ) – unlike the state that has illegally annexed Syrian territory, which has not conceded even that it has nuclear weapons, though there is no doubt that it does.
More interesting is what Kristof does not say, along with numerous others, Obama included, who extol the efficacy of the threat of force – which happens to be in violation of the UN Charter, were anyone in the rogue state to care about such trivialities. The claim is accurate, and there are many illustrations. Among many, the threat of force enabled Russia to control Eastern Europe for 40 years. It enabled Hitler to take over Czechoslovakia. And there are many other illustrious predecessors. The Godfather and his minions are breaking no new ground.