Rape and Torture: Weapons in the Propaganda War
Eric Draitser, Stop Imperialism, May 29 2012
Eric Draitser, Stop Imperialism, May 29 2012
Rape and torture have become standard issue in the propaganda arsenal of Western media. Reports from organizations such as HRW and the UNHRC that claim to document the systematic use of rape and torture by the “enemies” of the West have become usual fare in the soft war against whomever the imperialists have chosen to attack. We have seen these claims used to legitimize aggression against Libya, Iraq, and now Syria. In an article published in The Telegraph, the author cleverly uses a quote from an HRW Deputy Director making a general statement about the use of rape in detention facilities in order to humiliate, degrade and instill fear. However, he makes no direct reference to Syria, though the article clearly attempts to draw that abstract connection. In fact, as one reads further, the claims of rape and torture at the hands of Syrian security forces come from “activists” (the usual anonymous term applied to any quotable voice parroting the Western talking points regarding Assad and the regime) who have fled Syria. In fact, the so-called activists are, in many cases, wanted terrorists who have fled Syria not in fear of persecution but for fear of being brought to justice for their crimes. It is significant to note that, even with the obvious bias from the “eyewitnesses” and the authors of the article, there is still no mention of actual Syrian forces engaging in these actions. Instead, it is all chalked up to “militias loyal to the Assad regime,” an important distinction which goes conveniently understated. In fact, the only mention of “security forces” involved in this sort of behavior is added in brackets by the authors of the article themselves. This shows how the Western media constantly manipulate quotes and facts in order to shape them to fit the narrative that the Western propagandists want.
In the run-up to the imperialist aggression against Libya last year, the lie that Gaddafi forces were using rape as a weapon was planted in the public mind, so as to legitimize the obvious warmongering of the West, providing NATO the human rights cover they so desperately needed for their “intervention”. Of course, as is so often the case, the fact that these claims were later proven untrue went conveniently missing from the standard narrative. But, by the time the myth was debunked, the PR damage was done: Gaddafi was a monster, the Benghazi “rebels” and NTC were heroic freedom fighters, and Libya was in dire need of the benevolent bombs of NATO. Almost as important as the content of the claims, was the nature of who made them. The UNHRC, HRW, AI and countless other organizations which are dependent on funding from the US and its allies lent credence to such charges, providing an air of legitimacy to claims which, otherwise, would have been dismissed as little more than NATO propaganda. In this way, these organizations are complicit in the instigation of war and the devastation wrought on Libya. The charges of rape and the systematic distribution of Viagra to Gaddafi forces served another crucial function: they framed the conflict in the public mind to be one between good and evil, rather than between government and rebel terrorists. This is a very significant manipulation because, in order to shape public opinion in favor of war, the forces of Western imperialism needed more than simply a justification, they required an emotional appeal: one that relied not on violence and warfare aimed at fighters, but one that was aimed at the most defenseless, women and children.
Libya was not the first example of this sort of manipulation for the purposes of legitimizing US aggression. One of the most well-documented instances of this blatantly false propaganda was the lead-up to the first and second Iraq Wars. Bush 41 utilized the completely fictional story of Iraqi soldiers barbarically killing Kuwaiti babies in incubators in order to justify the US aggression against Saddam Hussein in 1991. This claim, now totally debunked, painted Saddam as a vicious barbarian who craved death and torture for their own sake. This dehumanization of the enemy and the subsequent emotional and visceral response from the public, allowed Bush to launch his aggressive war. Moreover, this episode illustrated plainlythe complicity of AI and similar “watchdogs” in selling war. Like his father before him, Bush 43 employed the very same tactics to unleash the death and destruction of the second Iraq War. His administration claimed that Saddam ran a series of torture prisons, a fact that, though possibly true, was simply used to justify the aggression against Iraq for the sake of corporate profits and asserting US hegemony in the Middle East. The hypocrisy of these claims should not be lost on any political observer. Within a short time of deposing Saddam Hussein, the US had established its own series of “black site” torture prisons, of which Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg. Reports of US military, CIA, and Blackwater using torture on Iraqis began becoming more and more common until it had become quite clear that the US was systematically torturing prisoners, precisely the claim that was leveled against the “barbaric” Saddam.
The use of rape and torture lies for propaganda purposes serve a very specific function: they create a climate conducive to war-making when a government has successfully resisted all other attempts at subversion and destabilization. Like the Gaddafi government last year, Assad’s government has managed to stay in power in the face of a multi-faceted, international war being waged against it from all sides. Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the Washington imperialist warmongers are incensed that Assad has not yet fallen and that their terrorist proxies have been unequivocal failures. So they turn to their most effective weapon: lies. As we’ve seen in recent days with the Houla massacre, the Western media, as a mouthpiece for US-NATO propaganda, has launched an all-out media campaign of lies to convince the public that Assad is a heartless, inhuman butcher. The claims that Syrian military forces were responsible for the horrendous massacre have been refuted and debunked countless times, so much so that even the Western media has had to recast the narrative, constantly changing it in the face of evidence to the contrary. Whatever claims of rape and torture that might be true are likely being committed at the hands of the armed terrorist “opposition” in Syria. If we are to believe that there actually are eyewitnesses to these acts, as claimed in the above mentioned London Telegraph article, then it is clear these acts are being carried out by these militias who have no connection to the Syrian government or to the Syrian people and are part of the international subversion campaign. These death squads, like their antecedents in Central America and Iraq, are trained by the West and its proxies in the Middle East because the imperialists know that they cannot otherwise execute their agenda. It is necessary and, in fact, essential for the US and its allies to wage this propaganda war. Without it, rationality and sound political thinking might sway public opinion away from war and back to the idea that Syria belongs to Syrians. This basic conception completely derails the entire drive for war, preventing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the US from imposing their will on the people of Syria and continuing their imperialist domination of the region.