“Black Propaganda” and Moral Dualism in Sarajevo and Syria

The invisible Syrian Arab Army.

The invisible Syrian Arab Army.

In her book Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, Diana Johnstone discusses the use of “black propaganda”, which refers to the act of staging an attack on your own side; an element of psychological warfare. Johnstone writes:

Black propaganda does exist. A relatively harmless but fully acknowledged instance occurred in Croatia on 6 February 1993, when the Croatian army staged a fake “Serbian” artillery attack on the Croatian Adriatic port city of Šibenik in front of television cameras, which relayed the “Serbian atrocity” to credulous viewers. The deception was later exposed and even admitted. The officer credited with ordering the feigned attack, Davor Škugor, Chief of General Staff of the 113th Brigade of the Croatian Army, scornfully shrugged off the uproar with this observation: “There is no city in Croatia in which such tactical tricks were not used. After all, they are an integral part of strategic plans. They are only one in a series of stratagems we have resorted to during the war.”

While the general public in the West is unaware of this sort of thing, their governments are not so naive. But neither governments nor media would care to suggest the possibility of such cynical behavior, least of all on the part of the side already designated as “the victim of aggression”. Moral dualism is necessary to keep the public from awareness of a more troubling reality.

Johnstone also describes a number of atrocities that took place in Muslim held areas of Sarajevo, Bosnia – none of which were ever officially blamed on the Serbian side due to a lack of evidence, and all of which occurred immediately prior to UN meetings, peace talks etc. The writer notes:

It may be hard to imagine that the Muslims would kill “their own people”. However, in Bosnia there were several thousand mujahidin from Muslim countries, including veterans of the war in Afghanistan and Algerian Islamic terrorists, for whom Sarajevo’s fun-loving, often hard-drinking inhabitants were not exactly “their own people”. For the sake of the cause, such foreign fighters might have few qualms about killing a number of Sarajevo civilians, few of whom were likely to be devout Muslims.

There are striking similarities here to the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria, which almost resulted in NATO bombing the Syrian armed forces until public opinion, the Labour Party, and Vladimir Putin’s intervention led to Cameron and Obama backing down.

Although already quite sure that the Ghouta chemical attack was an attempt to frame the Syrian government, Johnstone’s writing on “black propaganda” has made me certain. You don’t need to have read Seymour Hersh’s investigative work on the subject to see how preposterous the notion that President Assad’s forces carried out the attack is, having been committed at the same time the UN were visiting the country to investigate earlier allegations of chemical weapons use. It is painfully obvious that it would be detrimental to Assad and his country’s survival to use chemical weapons, after Obama had publicly stated that such usage was his ‘red line’ that would result in him ordering air strikes. The Syrian state had everything to lose from doing so, and the rebels – firmly established as Assad’s “victims of aggression” – had everything to gain. Johnstone’s point about killing Sarajevo/Syrian citizens is equally applicable: the al Qaeda and foreign-dominated opposition – likely with the help of sponsors Turkey and Saudi Arabia – would not be troubled by sacrificing civilians to trigger a “humanitarian intervention”. It is highly likely that there have been several instances of the opposition in Syria using black propaganda for this reason.

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This image, supposedly depicting victims in Ghouta, was used by the BBC; it was actually taken in Iraq, 2003.

There are many other similarities between the wars in the Balkans and that in Syria, particularly the ‘moral dualism’ employed by the media and entities like the State Department and United Nations. The Serbs were the new Nazis; Milošević the new Hitler. Now in Syria Assad is the new Milošević, as well as also sometimes being the latest ‘new Hitler’. Of course Gaddafi was demonized in the same way. Johnstone notes that all the deaths publicised in Bosnia were of Muslims, in vastly inflated numbers. Pictures of dead Serbs were presented as Muslim Bosniaks, and Serb suffering was completely erased from the narrative. In media reports on Syria, the Syrian army are non-existent; there’s just evil Assad and occasionally his Alawite inner circle. Only the Kurds are fighting ISIS we are told, despite the videos and images that circulate on social media showing the mass-executions of Syrian soldiers. Every dead terrorist is a civilian butchered by Assad.

Maximilian Forte says in his Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa that “morality has been weaponized”: our governments preach about the responsibility to protect, while simultaneously facilitating genocide. Insisting that “Assad must go” because he’s “killing his own people,” when the reality is that NATO and its GCC allies have been transferring foreign mercenaries to Syria in order to kill its inhabitants.

For how much longer can these predators continue to destroy independent nations with no opposition or consequences?

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