A Turkish fighter plane shot down a Russian bomber near the Syria-Turkey border early this morning. Turkey claims the Russian aircraft violated its airspace, while Russia claims it was flying over Syria. Oddly enough, both claims could conceivably be simultaneously true in a sense, but only because Turkey has infringed on Syrian sovereignty by extending its airspace five miles over Syrian territory.
The pilots were able to eject and begin parachuting down, but they were executed in mid-air by gunfire from fighters on the ground. The fighters were insurgents who have been battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in a war that has been raging since 2011. A video has emergedshowing insurgents standing over one of the dead Russian pilots.
A Russian helicopter searching for the downed pilots was also shot down, possibly with a U.S.-supplied anti-tank missile.
Turkey is a member of NATO, which means if it enters a war with Russia, it can drag the United States and most of Europe along with it. Such a war could rapidly go nuclear. In October, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stollenberg vowed military support if Turkey went to war with Russia.
Turkey is part of a U.S.-led coalition that has been training, financing, and arming the insurgents trying to overthrow Assad. Syrian regime change is official U.S.policy. That coalition also includes the U.K., France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. Israel has bombed the Syrian military directly. The insurgency those powers are supporting is dominated by radical Islamist mujahideen militias, including ISIS, Al Nusra (the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda), and others.
What happens when a young person joins the US military out of patriotism to defend the country, but finds himself or herself being sent back time and time again to immoral, illegal, and undeclared conflicts that have nothing to do with our national security? Some of them decide they must quit. They cannot continue their military service when they feel the government has violated its end of the contract by going to war in an unconstitutional manner. Though it may bring back memories of the 1960s and the Vietnam war, the fact is there are many who have a change of heart upon seeing the wars the US empire has become engaged in. Today’s Liberty Report is joined by special guest Justin Pavoni, formerly a USAF fighter pilot who came to realize that he could not continue to fight the empire’s wars.
I’ve written before about the way news of the declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence report spread: throughout early summer it headlined around the world especially in Britain, Germany, and Russia; yet there was complete mainstream media silence in the U.S. even as (in the words of a Daily Beast article) it “ate the web.”
While the document was referenced and analyzed in literally hundreds of independent/alternative and foreign media reports, major U.S. news maintained its silence, even after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.), head of the DIA at the time the report was prepared, confirmed its accuracy and importance in an Al Jazeera interview with Mehdi Hasan.
Even with Flynn’s public and unambiguous confirmation of the document, the American public remained largely in the dark as to the document’s existence.
While the rest of the world had easy access to the interview which featured lengthy discussion of the document with a man who was in 2012 and prior one of the top three highest ranking intelligence officials in Washington, it did not air on Al Jazeera America, and the program itself remains geo-blocked for Americans wishing to access it through Al Jazeera’s official YouTube channel.
By now you know the drill: The CIA or U.S. military forces unleash a drone strike or other aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or any other country that the United States claims the right to attack.
A US government spokesperson reports 5 or 7 or 17 or 25 or whatever number of “militants” killed – Taliban, or al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State fighters – according to its fill-in-the-blanks press release. Wire services, mainstream newspapers, television newscasters dutifully report in brief fashion on another successful drone or missile strike, fulfilling minimal journalistic standards by attributing it to the Pentagon, or intelligence or US government sources – sometimes even naming the spokesperson who issued the news release.
And then – usually nothing. Yes, sometimes someone with a little clout raises a stink – say the Afghan president, or some prominent local official who was an eyewitness to the attack, or Doctors without Borders after the US attack on their Afghanistan hospital in October. (*See footnote.) In such challenges to the Americans’ claims of killing only “militants,” these pesky eyewitnesses contend that many of those killed were actually noncombatants, even women and children.
From the horse’s mouth: For fear of upsetting readers, the paper silenced any commentary in the first days after the Paris attacks that might have suggested there was a causal relationship between western foreign policy in the Middle East and those events.
On the Opinion pages, one factor taken into consideration was timing – judging when readers would be willing to engage with an idea that in the first 24 hours after the attacks may have jarred. The idea that these horrific attacks have causes and that one of those causes may be the west’s policies is something that in the immediate aftermath might inspire anger. Three days later, it’s a point of view that should be heard.
In other words, the liberal Guardian held off offering a counter-narrative about the attacks, and a deeply plausible one at that, until popular opinion had hardened into a consensus manipulated by the rightwing media: “the terrorists hate us for our freedoms”, “we need to bomb them even harder”, “Islam is a religion of hatred” etc.
Excluding legitimate analyses of profoundly important events like those in Paris when they are most needed is not responsible, careful journalism. It is dangerous cowardice. It is most definitely not a politically neutral position. It provides room for hatred and bigotry to take root, and allows political elites to exploit those debased emotions to justify and advance their own, invariably destructive foreign policy agendas.
In the paragraph above, Elliott happily concedes that this is the default position of mainstream liberal media like the Guardian.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. This article is reprinted from his blog with permission.
Interviewed Thursday on Fox Business, Ron Paul predicted that there will be “a lot more” blowback along the lines of the killings in Paris last week if the US, France, and other nations do not cease their interventionist, militaristic foreign policies. In particular, Paul criticizes the United States government’s “foreign policy of constant occupation, bombing, and killing people, and eliciting this hatred toward us.” Terminating such a foreign policy, Paul explains, is the key to preventing violent retaliation.