By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
President Obama’s proposed military strike means, practically speaking, that the U.S. will intervene on behalf of al Qaeda in Syria. Why is this dangerous proposal being taken seriously by Congress?
If the proposal were somehow designed to save the Christians and other minorities in Syria, that would be one thing. But there has been no announced intention to do that. In fact, as we have argued, the proposed strike on the Syrian regime puts Christians at more risk of genocide. Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt demonstrates that he has no regard for the rights of Christians in the Middle East.
But the proposal goes forward in Congress because very few Republicans are willing to stand up to media-hungry politicians such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a war hero from Vietnam who assumes the high ground in any military crisis or conflict.
McCain, however, said something the other day on Fox News that, in the words of “Jihad Watch” director Robert Spencer, demonstrates his “appalling ignorance” on Middle East matters. This wasn’t just a gaffe but a deliberate comment. More than that, it demonstrates how the media shower McCain with praise and respect when none is deserved.
Spencer notes that Brian Kilmeade on Fox News had objected to Syrian rebels yelling “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!” McCain shot back: “Would you have a problem with an American or Christians saying ‘Thank God, Thank God?’ That’s what they’re saying. Come on! Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.”
Spencer says “Allahu akbar” does not mean “Thank God.” It is a war cry which means “Allah is greater,” and “is essentially a proclamation of superiority.” Spencer notes it is the same cry that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members were shouting as they destroyed a Christian church and tore off its cross.
The exchange between Kilmeade and McCain has received more than 240,000 views on YouTube.
What is intriguing is how the rest of the media covered this. Many different publications, including Politico, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Mediaite, ran stories about the exchange which claimed that McCain had somehow “shamed” Brian Kilmeade and Fox News, as if McCain knew what he was talking about and that Kilmeade had been exposed as an ignoramus.
This, then, is why McCain succeeds with his policy of going to war on behalf of the mysterious “moderates” in Syria. We have a media that are afraid of telling the truth about the senator when he makes bone-headed comments that have no relation to reality.
McCain’s preference for “moderates” in Syria would be laughable, were it not so serious and coming at a time when America is on the verge of going to war.
Spencer writes, “McCain’s appalling ignorance and Obama’s ongoing enthusiasm for all things Muslim Brotherhood, including the Syrian opposition, are leading the U.S. into disaster.”
This is not necessarily news to those who have been following our reports about McCain’s praise of the Al Jazeera terror television network and his appearances on that channel. This is the same channel that has just been closed down in Egypt for inspiring violence and terrorism. But the media persist in conveying the impression that McCain knows what he is talking about and has some mastery over Middle East events.
In a commentary for the London Center for Policy Research, Jed Babbin says Obama may get a war resolution from Congress because “the Republican ‘leadership’ of national security affairs—at least the only ones who get media attention—is comprised of Obama’s most dedicated allies in Congress, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.”
The key phrase is “the only ones who get media attention.” This is why Obama invited these two to the White House after he announced plans to go to Congress. It was a careful strategy designed to create the impression of Republican support for Obama. McCain and Graham (R-SC) are assigned the roles of providing Republican cover for Obama’s policy. They have performed the same function in regard to his support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
In the case of Syria, however, Graham seems to have competition for the role of second fiddle, as Fox News Republican commentator William Kristol has been appearing all over the media, including NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN, to argue on Obama’s behalf. It was Kristol’s group, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), which released a letter arguing for a strike on Syria without congressional approval. Fox News commentator Karl Rove signed the letter, as did Randy Scheunemann, a former foreign policy adviser to McCain who lobbied for the Open Society Institute founded by billionaire financier George Soros.
Kristol’s group has also been critical of Russia for passing legislation to protect children from homosexual propaganda. An FPI scholar, James Kirchick, went on Russia Today television, wearing rainbow suspenders, to argue for gay rights in Russia, and complained when his audio was cut off. Perhaps war with Russia is next on the agenda. Obama might agree with that, if the war was based on protecting gay rights.
But remember that the push for intervention in Syria is based on the assumption that Syrian leader Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons. Kristol, who founded The Weekly Standard, has decided not to ask for proof and simply takes Obama’s word on this. This is not journalism, but advocacy and recklessness.
With House Republican leaders endorsing Obama’s policy, it was left to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to weigh in on Tuesday, citing a detailed report by terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky that the August 21, 2013, chemical strike in the Damascus suburbs was actually “a pre-meditated provocation by the Syrian opposition.”
Limbaugh, who clearly has no regard for McCain’s presumed stature in this debate, said the evidence shows that the rebels have access to chemical weapons and may have used them.
Limbaugh is not the best opponent of Obama’s policy that conservatives can offer. So it has to be noted that former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out that U.S. Government officials have always known that al Qaeda has been pursuing chemical weapons. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the rebels did indeed get access to and use them in Syria.
But whether Assad used the chemical weapons or not, McCarthy argued, “It diverts attention from the issue the interventionists do not want to discuss: the fact that al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood would be the chief beneficiaries of U.S. attacks against Assad’s regime, the fact that the toppling of Assad could very well be even worse for American national security than Assad himself has been.”
Limbaugh made the same point, emphasizing what will happen if Obama’s policy goes forward and the Syrian regime is toppled: “If they get rid of Bashar in Syria, it will be Al-Qaeda.”
To remind McCain and the media, al Qaeda is not a group of “moderates.”
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.