Latest, News, Our Picks

How the media manipulates the ‘Aleppo boy’

The case of the "Aleppo Boy" is the latest in a long line of examples of the use of media images to promote war.

Americans, as history has shown time and again, are a sentimental people ruled over by an elite of cynical manipulators. Every Jingoistic American war has been preceded by a campaign of propaganda and misinformation by the nation’s elites.

Whether it was the destruction of the Maine by vile Spaniards, Vietnamese Aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin, Kuwaiti babies dying in their incubators, or Iraq’s phantom stockpile of WMDs, the same pattern always emerges. A story is concocted by Pro-War Ideologues in America’s Yellow Press which if not an outright fabrication is at the very least a profound distortion of actual events.

This fictitious story then spreads like wildfire, scandalising America’s sentimental populace who then immediately demand their leaders “do something” about the terrible event they just read about. Their cynical Leaders, of course, are more than happy to oblige them with a new “Humanitarian Intervention”.

With the recent viral spread of a photograph of a battered young Syrian boy living in the Rebel-held areas of Aleppo, we are witnessing the beginning of a new cycle of Pro-War American Propaganda. While President Obama has tinkered with token arms shipments to various Syrian rebel, he has decided against the direct attack on the Assad Regime which had been urged by members of his cabinet, which notably included the current Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

With Clinton far ahead in the polls, and thus the de facto President Elect all of this is about to change. Clinton’s team has already explicitly stated that a direct intervention against Assad will be a “first key task” for her administration. This intervention will involve significantly more arms shipments to “Moderate” Islamist rebels as well as the establishment of a Humanitarian “No Fly Zone”.

But it will also seek to make the removal of Assad a top priority, this in spite of the fact that Assad is not only at war with the Islamic State but also with the group that until a few weeks ago was known as the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s main Branch in Syria.

The fact that an intervention which resulted in the defeat of Assad would be a boon for the Nusra Front, which would then be in de facto control of much of Syria, seems utterly lost on Clinton and her advisers. Unless of course, such an empowerment of Nusra is a feature and not a bug of her plan.

In any case, such an intervention will require, if it is to be successful, the implicit consent of the American population. A population which has become exhausted and disillusioned with American Interventions in the Greater Middle East. Therefore a concerted campaign of propaganda and disinformation will be initiated before the beginning of operations.

The viral photo of a Syrian Boy covered in dust and blood is the start of this propaganda push. The image is almost perfectly crafted to elicit the most powerful emotions from those who view it,  who after all does not feel sympathy for an innocent child caught in the midst of the carnage of a brutal civil war? Such sensational images are particularly effective when shown to American audiences, who are not only inherently sentimental but also profoundly ignorant about the rest of the world.

Most Americans are at least vaguely aware that there is a civil war going on in Syria, but they would be hard pressed to pick Bashar Al Assad out of a police lineup. This combination of sentimentality and ignorance is the perfect soil for NeoLiberal propagandists to plant the poisonous seeds of Jingoistic rage in.

We should expect more photos of bloodied Syrian children to be paraded before the eyes of America’s simple-minded populace in the months leading up to Hillary Clinton’s presumed inauguration, with the subtext being: Assad did this!

We should expect no fairness or balance to the coverage. We will not see the bodies of children who were beheaded by U.S. backed rebels nor their various other acts of savagery. Al Qaeda’s role as the vanguard of the rebellion will be downplayed and obscured by the shameless propagandists at CNN and the New York Times.

Little will be spoken of what a collapse of the Assad Government will mean for the various minority groups which currently enjoy its protection. The word genocide will not be spoken unless, of course, it is being dishonestly applied to Assad’s actions. We will hear nothing of the children who die daily in Yemen at the hands of a merciless, U.S. backed Saudi Government.

As Clinton’s drumbeat to war grows ever louder, more children will be exploited to serve as props in service of her NeoLiberal propaganda campaign, while a credulous American public is whipped into a frenzy of Anti-Assad hatred. The truth, as always, will be the first casualty.

Previous ArticleNext Article
P.T. Carlo
P.T. Carlo is a Freelance writer living in the United States whose work covers the intersection of Geopolitics and Ideology. He is a contributor for Social Matter and