On Friday 21 August 2015 in Melbourne, the Wheeler Centre and the Melbourne Writers Festival presented a panel discussion:
What’s it like to be a political reporter today, when breaking news is measured by second-by-second tweets (instead of next-day newspapers)? How has it changed over the decades?
In this Fifth Estate event, we’ll hear from Fairfax’s Latika Bourke and ABC TV’s Barrie Cassidy.
There was time for questions after the discussion, but there were no microphones on my side of the hall, so I submit my question on this page to Barrie Cassidy, Latika Bourke and Sally Warhaft,
ARE WE FLYING BLIND INTO A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD?
On August 21 2013, there was an alleged chemical attack in Damascus Syria. It almost led to US and UK military strikes against the Syrian government.
Professor Theodore Postol from MIT and Mr Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector wrote a paper on the alleged chemical attack in Damascus and concluded that the munitions could not have been fired from Syrian army positions.
In a letter to Dan Kaszeta, an ‘activist’ who disputed the conclusions of the paper, Dr Postol referred to the ‘scandalous failure of due diligence by the mainstream Western press.’
The report by Dr Postol and Richard Lloyd challenges the ABC and Fairfax narrative on Syria.
From the beginning of the crisis in Syria, there has been one basic narrative in ABC and Fairfax reports: Assad, the brutal Alawi dictator, did it (whatever it is). And the vast majority of people in Syria are ignored and the secular society they live in is unexamined.
Resources and geopolitics are key factors behind the wars in the ME. However, the war in Syria is also an ideological war, much like the war in Spain in the 1930s was an ideological war. The local rebels fighting the republican government in Spain were Franco’s fascist forces. The local rebels fighting the republican government in Syria are mostly ‘Islamists’, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda to ISIS.
ABC and Fairfax journalists reporting from the Middle East imply in their reports and tweets that they’re on the side of the ‘rebels’ in Syria, yet there is little to no examination of their ideologues. There’s little to no examination of who funds them and why and no investigation into the claims of ‘activists’ who support them.
Q: What impact might this common narrative on the war in Syria have on young Muslim Australians?
Q: Can the conformity, shallow analysis and lack of critical thinking evident in our mainstream media lead to even deeper intolerance and divisions in our society, and even to Australia’s being caught up in a much wider war? Are we flying blind into a very dangerous world?
National Coordinator “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria”
The Front Page of Ted Postol’s and Richard Lloyd’s Report:
Richard Lloyd, Former UN Weapons Inspector,
Theodore A. Postol, Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
January 14, 2014
What is the Main Policy Issue?
- The Syrian Improvised Chemical Munitions that Were Used in the August 21, Nerve Agent Attack in Damascus Have a Range of About 2 Kilometers
- The UN Independent Assessment of the Range of the Chemical Munition Is in exact Agreement with Our Findings
- This Indicates That These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013.
- This mistaken Intelligence Could Have Led to an Unjustified US Military Action Based on False Intelligence.
- A Proper Vetting of the Fact That the Munition Was of Such Short Range Would Have Led to a Completely Different Assessment of the Situation from the Gathered Data
- Whatever the Reasons for the Egregious Errors in the Intelligence, the Source of These Errors Needs to Be Explained.
- If the Source of These Errors Is Not Identified, the Procedures that Led to this Intelligence Failure Will Go Uncorrected, and the Chances of a Future Policy Disaster Will Grow With Certainty.