Friends sent me a link to Nick Cohen’s article in The Guardian, “The West has a duty to intervene in Syria”, Jan 1st, 2012.
I wrote a response to it in the comment box and kept a copy (see below). I posted my comment on The Guardian page after I had previewed it, but cannot find it now. I would like to be generous and think that I have made a mistake: my comment is still there but hidden from me, or I didn’t publish it as I imagined I did. Anyway, it is apparently too late to try again: comments on that page are closed. Hence, I will try to direct attention to it here.
By the way, the majority of responses to the article were ones I would agree with. It was heartening to see so many people with the same anti-war sentiments as mine. If my comment was censored, the only reason I can imagine for the editor doing so is that I gave some hard facts which contradict Nick Cohen’s line. This is only a guess.
(Please, if you find the comment on The Guardian’s page, let me know and I will rewrite this.)
I was appalled at (what I believe to be) the outrageous lies in this article and at the war-mongering. It was Winston Churchill who said that “truth is the first casualty of war”, wasn’t it? I am sure he wasn’t just referring to the propaganda of Hitler’s Germany.
I taught English at the British Council in Damascus for two years and was impressed by the hundreds of Syrian people I met, many of whom worked for the government. They were not a people and it was not a society capable of the actions described by Cohen. Now in Australia, I get to watch a lot of Syrian satellite TV; I recommend it for anyone who wants a reality check on what is happening in Syria. Syrians are not demons or ogres; in recent weeks they have been out in the street at huge rallies protesting against sanctions and the threat of foreign intervention. They are crowds like any crowds of reasonable people in any country wanting to be in control of their own affairs and having reason to trust the president to see them through this crisis more than any alternative offered by the opposition. Unfortunately, Al-Jazeera, now the propaganda tool of the emir of Qatar and extremist clerics, has confused so many in the world with its smear campaign against Syria; because it is seen as a trusted source, its distortions and fabrications get repeated in our media.
I visited Damascus in April and learnt first hand of the killings of soldiers and civilians then. The so-called revolution has not armed recently in order to survive. In April, there was an ambush of soldiers near Banyias which left 9 soldiers dead; it is quite well-documented. Also, the brother-in-law of a good friend was killed on 17th April along with his two teenage sons and a nephew. They were targetted by armed men on a public holiday when they were moving house; presumably they were killed because their car had army number-plates. Their bodies were apparently mutilated.
Much of this sort of violence would have been incited by the calls of extremist clerics, such as Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Adnan Al-Arour. The fatwa issued by Qaradawi for people to overthrow the ‘heretical’ government was issued in March. Al-Arour doesn’t ‘mince words’ in regard to the violence he supports for the cause. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwz8i3osHww&feature=related Their calls to kill are abhorrent, but Nick Cohen is making a similar call, really; the rhetoric differs, that is all.
I was encouraged by many of the comments on this page. Not every Guardian reader is taken in by the crudest war propaganda .