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“With All Due Respect”: Alan Grayson v. “P”BS on Obama and Syria


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bold”>Speaking last night on the “Public” Broadcasting System’ nationalistic and militarist Newshour, Grayson forthrightly rejected White House’s arguments for attacking Syria. Perhaps I should also say “the mainstream war media’s arguments for attacking Syria.”
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bold”>Functioning as an aggressive stand-in for the imperial presidency of Barack Obama, “P”BS news host Jeffrey Brown pressed Grayson on: the United States’ supposed responsibility to “send a message” to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (and “to Iran”) about the use of chemical and other terrible weapons of mass destruction; the United States’ duty to behave like a “leader in the globe” in response to a “humanitarian crisis”; the United States’ need to maintain its global prestige and “credibility” by backing up the president’s “red line” rhetoric on chemical weapons; “the international community’s” need to maintain its “credibility” against a gross human rights violator (Assad); the president’s own global and domestic need to maintain his personal political “credibility.”

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font-weight:normal;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Grayson didn’t flinch in the face of Brown’s onslaught.
"The Administration is considering intervening in the Syrian civil war. We oppose this. There's no vital national security involved. We are not the world’s policeman, nor its judge and jury. Our own needs in America are great, and they come first…Notably, defense contractor Raytheon's stock is up 20% in the last 60 days. It seems that nobody wants US intervention in Syria except the military-industrial complex. [4]

 

The Real “P” in PBS 

Perhaps the most instructive aspect of the Grayson “Newshour” interview is what it says about the extent to which “P”BS repeats warmongering White House rhetoric and fans the flames of fake-humanitarian imperialism in brazen defiance of the “public” whose name it bears. Jeffery Brown’s performance was consistent with my longstanding suspicion (richly validated by the “independent” network’s power-worshipping, militaristic performances in the lead-ups to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and to Obama’s bombing of Libya) that the “P” in “PBS” really stands for “Presidential” or “Pentagon,” not “Public.” 

Just the previous evening, “P”BS’s Newshour mentioned significant (majority, actually) “public opposition” to attacking Syria in the U.S. only briefly at the end of breathless war-readiness coverage – as in "oh, by the way." The citizenry's view was referenced as an almost wholly irrelevant afterthought in the “public” network’s coverage. It was quite Orwellian. 

 

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Notes 

1. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/july-dec13/grayson_09-05.html 

2. Paul Street, “The War Train to Syria,” ZNet (August 29, 2013), http://www.zcomm.org/the-war-train-to-syria-by-paul-street.htm 

3. Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars The War is a Battlefield (New York: Nation Books, 2013), 248-49. Obama enters Scahill’s meticulously researched “dirty war” narrative on p. 243 and stays there for the rest of the book. For an especially ugly U.S. mass killing of Muslim civilians under Obama (one of many such episodes), see the story of the Bola Boluk massacre (May 2009), see Paul Street, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010), 59-60. 

4 http://dontattacksyria.com/ 

5. Anthony DiMaggio, “Manufacturing Consent on Syria,” Counterpunch (September 6, 2013), http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/06/manufacturing-consent-on-syria/. DiMaggio nicely describes the basic presidential game that “P”BS and other mainstream mass media outlets play along with: “ 

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