Reprinted from Consortium News
Over the past few decades, the U.S. mainstream media has failed the American people in a historic fashion by spinning false or misleading narratives on virtually every important global issue, continuing to this day to guide the nation into destructive and unnecessary conflicts.
To me, a major turning point came with the failure of the major news organization to get anywhere near the bottom of the Iran-Contra scandal, including its origins in illicit contacts between Republicans and Iranians during the 1980 campaign and the Reagan administration's collaboration with drug traffickers to support the Contra war in Nicaragua. (Instead, the major U.S. media disparaged reporting on these very real scandals.)
If these unsavory stories had been fully explained to the American people, their impression of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would be far less favorable and the rise of Reagan's neocon underlings might well have been halted. Instead the neocons consolidated their dominance over Official Washington's foreign policy establishment and Bush's inept son was allowed to take the White House in 2001.
Then, one might have thought that the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- justified by a legion of lies -- would have finally doomed the neocons but, by then, they had deeply penetrated the national news media and major think tanks, with their influence reaching not only across the Republican Party but deeply into the Democratic Party as well.
So, despite the Iraq catastrophe, almost nothing changed. The neocons and their liberal interventionist chums continued to fabricate narratives that have led the United States into one mess after another, seeking more and more "regime change" and brushing aside recommendations for peaceful resolution of international crises.
As part of this phenomenon, there is profound cognitive dissonance as the rationales shift depending on the neocons' tactical needs. From one case to the next, there is no logical or moral consistency, and the major U.S. news organizations go along, failing again and again to expose these blatant hypocrisies.
The U.S. government can stand for a "rules-based" world when that serves its interests but then freely violate international law when it's decided that "humanitarian warfare" trumps national sovereignty and the United Nations Charter. The latter is particularly easy after a foreign leader has been demonized in the American press, but sovereignty becomes inviolate in other circumstances when Washington is on the side of the killing regimes.
George W. Bush's administration and the mainstream media justified invading Iraq, in part, by accusing Saddam Hussein of human rights violations. The obvious illegality of the invasion was ignored or dismissed as so much caviling by "Saddam apologists." Similarly, the Obama administration and media rationalized invading Libya in 2011 under the propagandistic charge that Muammar Gaddafi was planning a mass slaughter of civilians (though he said he was only after Islamic terrorists).
But the same media looks the other way or make excuses when the slaughter of civilians is being done by "allies," such as Israel against Palestinians or Saudi Arabia against Yemenis. Then the U.S. government even rushes more military supplies so the bombings can continue.
The view of terrorism is selective, too. Israel, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. "allies" in the Persian Gulf have aided and abetted terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, in the war against the largely secular government of Syria. That support for violent subversion followed the U.S. media's demonization of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Thus, trying to avoid another Iraq-style morass, President Obama faces heavy criticism from neocon-dominated Washington for not doing more to force "regime change" in Syria, although he actually has authorized shipments of sophisticated U.S. weaponry to the supposedly "moderate" opposition, which often operates under Nusra's command structure.
In other words, it's okay to intervene overtly and covertly when Official Washington wants to do so, regardless of international law and even if that involves complicity with terrorists. But it's different when the shoe is on the other foot.