In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.
On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.
On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.
For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other.
In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.
Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?
Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?
Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria?
And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?
The answer soon came on Twitter. Assad was an “animal.” Putin, Russia, and Iran were “responsible” for “many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack” – “Big price to pay.”
Around the world, people mentally braced for the worst. Would a global conflagration start in Syria with an American attack on Russian forces? A grim trepidation reminiscent of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis gripped the hearts of those old enough to remember those thirteen days when the fate of all life on our planet was in doubt.
Certainly there were enough voices in the US establishment egging Trump on. Besides, at home he still had the relentless pressure of the Mueller investigation, intensified by the FBI’s April 9 raid on his lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump’s only respite from the incessant hammering was his strike on Syria last year.
During the first Cold War both American and Soviet forces took great care to avoid direct conflict, rightly afraid it could lead to uncontrolled escalation. But now, in this second Cold War, western commentators were positively giddy at the thought of killing Russians in Syria...
...or rather killing more Russians, citing the slaughter of a disputed number of contractors (or “mercenaries” as western media and officials consistently called them, implying they deserved to have been exterminated). That’ll teach ‘em not to tangle with us! It was unclear whether the warning from Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov that Russia would respond against an attack by striking both incoming weapons as well as the platforms that launched would be taken seriously.
After a slight softening of tone by both Trump and Defense Secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis on April 12, during which a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was approaching Douma to conduct an on-site examination, there emerged a slim ray of hope that Trump would step back from acting on the transparently false provocation. (The slimness of any such hope was illustrated by the fact seemingly the most restrained of Trump’s advisers was somebody nicknamed “Mad Dog.”)
When on the evening of Friday the Thirteenth (Washington time) news came that the US had initiated military action, together with France and (the country Russia had accused of staging the Douma fraud) the United Kingdom, many feared the worst. The hasty timing was clearly aimed at preempting the arrival of the OPCW inspectors.
Of greater concern was the extent of the assault? If Russians were killed, Gerasimov was serious.
As it turned out, the worst didn’t come. World War III didn’t happen. Or hasn’t – yet.
In fact nothing much happened at all. According to the official US reports, something over a hundred missiles were launched at three targets. All missiles reached their targets – “Mission Accomplished!” The other side, however, claimed to have shot down roughly 75 percent of the incoming Tomahawks.
In the end, the damage was even less than from the follow-up to Idlib last year. No one was reported killed, neither Syrian nor Russian nor Iranian. Western governments claimed to have struck a serious blow at Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Syrians and Russians scoffed that the missiles had hit empty buildings and that Syria had no CW to hit since 2014, as certified by the OPCW.
In the aftermath of the missile show, media carried unverified reports that Trump had wanted a stronger campaign but deferred to Mattis’s caution, no doubt reflecting the views of professional military men who didn’t want to find out whether Gerasimov was bluffing. Mattis also reportedly wanted Congress to vote on any action before it was taken but was overruled by Trump.
There was even some speculation that the whole thing was a charade worked out in cooperation with the Russians. Even if true (and it’s unlikely) the mere fact that Trump would have to engage in such a ruse speaks volumes about the weakness of his position. “Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria,”writes Patrick Buchanan. “We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is ‘inoperative’.”
So was anything really settled on April 13?
On this occasion the West chose not to “cross the river,” much as Khan Ahmed’s force declined to do in 1480. For their part, the Russians in Syria, like their ancestors on the Ugra, were on defense and had no need to risk offensive action.
Unfortunately, unlike the “the great standing on the Ugra River,” which resolved the question of Russian independence and sovereignty in that era, nothing has been resolved now.
The question remains: will the US peacefully relinquish its position as the sole arbiter of authority, legality, and morality in a unipolar world in favor of a multipolar order where Russia’s and China’s legitimate interests and spheres of influence are respected? Or will we continue to risk plunging mankind into a global conflict?
A senior correspondent for German state media broadcast ZDF heute stunned his European audience during a report from on the ground in Syria when he gave a straightforward and honest account of his findings while investigating what happened in Douma. The veteran reporter, Uli Gack, interviewed multiple eyewitnesses of the April 7 alleged chemical attack and concluded of the testimonials, "the Douma chemical attack is most likely staged, a great many people here seem very convinced."
It appears that all local Syrians encountered by the German public broadcast reporter were immediately dismissive of the widespread allegation that the Syrian government gassed civilians, which the US, UK, France, and Israel used a pretext for launching missile strikes on Damascus.
ZDF heute: The world continues to puzzle over whether the banned chemical weapons were used in Douma. ZDF correspondent Uli Gack is in Syria for us: "you were in a large refugee camp today and talked to a lot of people - what did you hear about the attack there?" Gack responded, "the Douma chemical attack is most likely staged, a great many people here seem very convinced."
The German ZDF report is consistent with veteran British journalist Robert Fisk's investigation upon being the first Western journalist to gain access to the site in Douma. Fisk reported early this week, "There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had 'never believed in' gas stories–which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups."
According to the live report, some witnesses told ZDF that Islamist rebels killed victims with chlorine, filmed the scenes, then claimed an 'Assad chemical attack'. Though interviewing "a great many people [who] seem convinced" that a chemical attack did not actually happen, the reporter did not attempt to censor what he consistently heard from locals who were said to be in the area when the events occurred.
Increasingly, it appears that mainstream media gate-keepers are losing it over the fact that so many highly visible and respected reporters and broadcasters have featured reports this week which publicly question the Syrian chemical attack narrative and US coalition missile strikes that followed.
When America’s top thinking-man’s journal fails to consider at least one possible alternative as to who may have been responsible for the latest alleged chemical attack in Syria, aside from the ‘Assad regime,’ then we may conclude that the entire mainstream media complex is receiving its marching orders from above.
In an April 14 article in the erstwhile prestigious New Yorker magazine (“Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now”), author Joshua Yaffa singlehandedly proves there is absolutely no straying from the government-approved narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7. He also manages to pull Russia into the elaborate conspiracy theory, which is now accepted as bona-fide truth in the Western world.
“Moscow welcomes Assad’s defeat of the rebels, and has little concern for how he achieves it, but the use of chemical weapons is an embarrassment and source of unwelcome consequences for the Kremlin,” Yaffa writes with breathtaking arrogance, refusing to entertain the much more likely scenario that the rebel terrorists were responsible for the purported attack.
“One unresolved question is whether Russia … got assurances from Syria that it would refrain from using chemical weapons in the future.”
For any person with even a limited amount of critical thinking skills, this cannot be considered objective and impartial journalism in any sense of the word. Yet it is a prime example of what Western readers are being force-fed on a daily basis: Assad is guilty of carrying out a chemical attack on innocent civilians, nothing else to look at here, please move along [Thus far, there has been one notable exception to this rule, which has not been picked up by the US media, and never will be. Robert Fisk, a veteran British reporter of the Middle East, traveled to Douma for a first-hand account of the alleged attack for The Independent. After a lengthy fact-finding trip, which included interviews with numerous witnesses and medical staff, Fisk revealed what so many people had suspected: there was no chemical attack. The event was entirely staged by the notorious White Helmets 'rescue group'].
Consider the way UK broadcaster Sky News cut short Major-General Jonathan Shaw, a formerly high-ranking British Army officer, as he attempted to question what motive Bashar Assad would have had in carrying out a gas attack at this crucial juncture.
“The debate that seems to be missing from this is… What possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place?” Shaw ventured to ask.
"The Syrians are winning, don’t take my word for it, take the American military’s word for it.”
At that point, the interview was quickly terminated for a commercial break. Needless to say, Sky News and other Western media won’t be inviting Shaw back for his expert analysis anytime in the near future.
As if this even needs to be said, the function of the media is not to parrot the government line, but to challenge it every step of the way - and even more so when the consequences of failing to do so could result in the outbreak of a major conflict, possibly even World War III. Apparently that is a risk the useful idiots of the Western mainstream media are willing to take.
In reality, to call these journalists ‘useful’ would be an exaggeration, because they are actually not being very useful at all. By dutifully refusing to consider, even in passing, other alternatives in Syria they have betrayed their allegiances, which is obviously not to the pursuit of truth. To assume your audience is so blissfully ignorant that they cannot imagine other scenarios regarding the chemical attack in Syria for themselves only serves to further alienate the mainstream media monsters from their subscribers. Thus, Western journalists are not ‘useful idiots’ per se; they are simply being idiots.
Incidentally, this explains in a nutshell why the masters of the mainstream media universe are so terribly anxious to silence alternative media voices from the Internet. The existence of dissenting, unscripted voices throws into stark contrast just how biased, prejudiced and undemocratic the Western press has become. Better to manipulate the Internet algorithms than to risk Western audiences hearing voices that challenge the official narrative.
Once again, the ridiculously obvious question needs to be asked since the Western mainstream media refuses to:
Why would Assad, who was defeating the rebels on every military front with modern military technologies, resort to the most primitive and egregious form of military methods imaginable, that of chemical weapons?Why would he commit the one act that would undoubtedly bring NATO members into the fray, thereby destroying the results of an 8-year struggle?
The short answer is he would not.
Not in a million years. However, even if the Western media stubbornly refuses to consider that line of reasoning, it fails to explain why they were unanimously blaming Assad for the attack when experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not yet arrived in Douma to conduct their forensics work. Instead, they cast aside their journalistic duties in favor of serving as mindless cheerleaders for war.
Yaffa took the hysteria a notch higher, however, when he suggested that it was Russia that was behaving like a “madman” in Syria by warning it would
Strange that even the prospect of Russia actually proclaiming it would defend itself from an outright attack is deemed the delusional ranting of a “madman.” Such is the position of the Western media as it continues to perpetuate the myth of a Russian bogeyman as it works to undermine peace in favor of yet another regime change operation.
Clearly, alternative voices in the deeply compromised mainstream media jungle are needed now more than ever.
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